Maryland name change for transgender people

Disclaimer: This is legal talk, not legal advice. Laws vary by state, and some of the information discussed on this page may not be applicable in your case. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and provide it without warranty. Laws change and this information may contain errors and omissions. It is up to you to confirm any information herein by doing your own research.

Maryland allows for people in our community to change their names before they have sex reassignment surgery.

A reader writes in June 2007:

I am 21 years old and I live in the state of Maryland. I think my experience in changing name will be helpful for other TG women in Maryland.

I downloaded the forms I needed to change name from the internet, filled them out and headed on out to my local courthouse. When I arrived at the family clerk's desk, she told me I had no good forms and gave me other forms so I wouldn't recommend downloading them from the internet because you might be wasting your time. I filled the forms out, gave her $105.00 (filing fee) and she asked me where I wanted to post the publication notice and I told her the Gazette Newspaper which I paid $50.00. And that was basically it, EXTREMELY easy. I decided to put on the "reason for change" section, "transgender woman." About 1 or 2 weeks later I received a letter from the court enlisting my case number. Two weeks after that I received my court order for name change from the judge which was approved. It's that easy. Before I started the name change I thought it would be difficult or complicated but it was pretty simple.

The following day I went to my local social security office. I took a certified copy of the court order which I had to go get from the clerk's office. I got 4 copies and I paid $30.00 for them. I took my passport, drivers license and a form I downloaded from the internet which they need when you are going to change your name on your social security card. I literally had to wait 3 hours until they called my number. Time went by so slow and unfortunately they had no air conditioning so it was a little uncomfortable as well. Finally they called my number and I told the lady that I have a court order for name change and she requested to see it. She asked for my DL and passport. She made a copy of everything and returned the items back to me. She told me "You will receive your new card with your new name in about one week." That was it. Pretty simple, huh? By the way, on the form you are supposed to list the changes you want to make and I thought I'd give it a shot and wrote female instead of male even though I haven't had SRS yet. Hopefully they will change it without a problem, we'll see.

The day after, I went to the MVA to change my drivers license which to me was most important. I knew I was not going to have a problem changing my name on DL because I had the court order with me but I really wanted to change gender from M to F as well but again I haven't had SRS yet. I decided to email MVA and I did this while I was still waiting for my court order to arrive in the mail. I asked them how would I go about changing gender on my DL. According to them, there are 3 requirements:

1. Letter from me formally requesting a change in gender status. They wanted the letter to explain the reason(s) for my request and how I believe I would benefit from it.

2. Letter from my physician administering my hormone therapy and assisting me with any plans I may have for surgery. They wanted the letter to indicate the length of time I have been in treatment as well as a statement clarifying the doctor's impression of my treatment progress and my prognosis for favorable outcome.

3. Letter from my psychotherapist stating the length of time I have been in treatment, the length of time I have recognized my desire to live in my desired gender, the length of time I have been living my desired gender (both privately and publicly). They also wanted the therapist to summarize my situation, the progress of treatment, the anticipated course of treatment, obstacles to be overcome, and prognosis.

Once I had all 3 letters, I was to send them to the MVA for review. To be honest, I thought it was too much to go through and I was really desperate and excited to change it right away so I decided to go to MVA without the letters and see what happens. When my number was called I told the man assisting me that I wanted to make a name change. I gave him my court order and DL. He made a copy and returned the court order and kept the DL. He changed the old name to my new name and asked me if the information was correct and I said yes. As he was typing something, I asked him "How would I go about changing the M to F" and he asked me "Are you going through a sex change?" and I told him "Yes." He did not say a word after that. After several minutes of silence he told me I had to pay $30 for the name change so I gave him my visa card. Then I had to take a new picture which would match my new name. Then he told me to wait in the waiting area. After a few minutes of waiting, he calls my name (new name, of course) and gave me my DL. I was ecstatic when I looked what was next to "Sex." Guess what? He changed it to an F. I was so thrilled. I thanked him and he said good luck with everything. It doesn't hurt to give it a shot. You might get someone that is generous and understanding like I did. And I did it without the letters requested. Then I just went to the other section of the MVA and changed the title and registration card for my vehicle. They printed out my new paperwork with the new name and was out of there in 10 minutes.

Later that same day I went to my bank, my mobile phone service, and called my insurance and changed the information. It was all pretty easy to do. Note, I did not even need my social security card to make any changes because no one ever asked for it. I was going to go to the MVA first to change the information but when I called customer service they told me that I would need my new card first that is why I went to social security first but the man that assisted me at the MVA didn't even ask for it.

A reader writes in July 2003:

I changed my name in the State of Maryland. Total cost: $90.00.
Attached are the forms that need to be filled out. They are filled out in compliance with the instructions provided by the Family Court clerk. They are in Works format and can be read by Microsoft Works or Microsoft Word. (If needed, I can convert to another format. Let me know.)

The three files are:
Name Change Petition: The form that petitions the court for the name change,
Name Change Publication Notice: The form that fulfills the requirement for notice, and
Decree For Name Change: The decree mailed back after approval.
I did NOT have to appear in court.

I filed on May 12, 2003, received a copy of the newspaper publishing the notice on May 29, 2003 and received, via mail, the decree on June 26, 2003.

A reader writes in August 2003:

Note: This is a summary of my own experience in working out my personal identity management, and is not intended as legal advice.

Name Change: Common Law

As an alternative to obtaining a court-ordered name change under the provisions of the Maryland State Civil Rights Law, there is the option of utilizing a "common law" name change. The only requirement for a common law name change is to adopt a name and use it consistently. However, as simple and informal as that may be, it does not automatically provide any documentation upon which an identity can be reliably built.

In order to provide a legal documentation of a common law name change, I drew up a document entitled "Declaration of Common Law Name Change." The actual document format I used for my own declaration was an Affirmation, but such a format is not available to non-attorneys.
You will note that the declaration document has been written in such a manner as to avoid the use of gender/sex specific personal pronouns (and I believe the papers used for a court-ordered name-change can be prepared in such a way as to completely omit the use of such gender/sex specific personal pronouns).

Here is a version of the document, modified to be both acknowledged (for recording purposes, if the declarant wishes to have the document recorded in county clerk records) and sworn to as an affidavit. Bracketed "[ ]" matter requires input; Matter enclosed by "{ }" applies only in certain cases:

STATE OF MARYLAND
COUNTY OF [COUNTY-NAME]
-----------------------------------------------------------x
In the Matter of the Common Law AFFIDAVIT AND
Change of Name of:
DECLARATION OF
[OLD-NAME]
CHANGE OF NAME
now known as
[NEW-NAME]
-----------------------------------------------------------x
[OLD-NAME] , now known as [NEW-NAME] {formerly known as [OLDER-NAMES-IF-ANY-WITHIN-10-YEARS]}, being duly sworn, deposes and says, and does hereby solemnly declare the truth of the following statements:
1. Deponent-Declarant resides at [STREET-ADDRESS], [MUNICIPALITY, Maryland [ZIP], {and formerly resided at [FORMER-RESIDENCE-ADDRESSES-WITHIN-10-YEARS].
2. Deponent-Declarant is a [non-operative/pre-operative/post-operative] transsexual, and is living as [male/female].
3. There is no fraud, misrepresentation or interference with the rights of others involved in this declaration. Affirmant has not ever been convicted of any crime, and has never been adjudicated a bankrupt. There are no judgments or liens against affirmant, nor are there any actions or proceedings at law or equity against affirmant seeking money damages.
4. Deponent-Declarant hereby declares that pursuant to the common law applicable in the State of Maryland, the Deponent-Declarant does hereby change Deponent-Declarant's name from [OLD-NAME] to [NEW-NAME]for all purposes, subject only to the continued use of the name [OLD-NAME] wherever necessary to do so.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Deponent-Declarant has executed this Affidavit and Declaration on the [DAY] day of [MONTH], in the year [YEAR].

_______________________
[OLD-NAME]

_______________________
[NEW-NAME]
Sworn to before me this
[DAY] day of [MONTH], [YEAR]

____________________________
Notary Public
STATE OF MARYLAND )
: SS.:
COUNTY OF [COUNTY-NAME] )
ON THE DAY OF IN THE YEAR BEFORE ME, THE UNDERSIGNED, PERSONALLY APPEARED
, PERSONALLY KNOWN TO ME OR PROVED TO ME ON THE BASIS OF SATISFACTORY EVIDENCE TO BE THE INDIVIDUAL(S) WHOSE NAME(S) IS (ARE) SUBSCRIBED TO THE WITHIN INSTRUMENT AND ACKNOWLEDGED TO ME THAT HE/SHE/THEY EXECUTED THE SAME IN HIS/HER/THEIR CAPACITY(IES), AND THAT BY HIS/HER/THEIR SIGNATURE(S) ON THE INSTRUMENT, THE INDIVIDUAL(S), OR THE PERSON UPON BEHALF OF WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL(S) ACTED, EXECUTED THE INSTRUMENT.


_______________________________________
Notary Public

Once I prepared and executed my declaration in several counterpart originals, I proceeded to make use of the document to implement name changes.

First Stop: Social Security
Living in Westchester, I went to the Social Security office in the White Plains vicinity, (which had moved since the last time I was there). I filled out a form to apply for a new social security card with my existing number. For identification, I had my existing driver's license, my existing social security card, both in my old name, and my Declaration. While I already had a credit card (a subsidiary card on an existing account), and a couple of club ID cards, these were not acceptable as proof of identity of my new name. The Declaration was. The clerk did go to the back office to confer with a supervisor, but when she returned I was told that I would receive my new card in about two weeks. I received a letter confirmation within a few days, and the new card arrived in about ten days.

Second Stop: The Bank
My next stop was the savings bank where I have my checking account. I had to close the existing account and open a new one with the new name. Again, the manager was consulted, but the procedure was fairly uneventful, and again, I left an original of my Declaration. I made sure that I asked for an ATM Card to go with the new account.
Third Stop: The Cable Company
I went to the cable company and added my name as the addressee for the cable bill. I have an unusual situation as I sublet my apartment, and the utilities are in the name of the prime tenant, c/o my name. The cable company made it easy - I didn't need the Declaration - and used one of my starter checks to pay the existing bill.

Next Step: Wait a bit
Well, I had to wait for the Social Security Card, the ATM Card, a bank statement and the next cable bill before I could get on to the next step. (I already had a credit card, as I noted earlier).
Department of Motor Vehicles
The Maryland State Department of Motor Vehicles currently requires "six points" of identification in both old and new name in order to change name on a driver's license. I met these requirements within a few weeks of starting the process:

Existing Maryland State Driver's License - six points of identity under old name
New Social Security Card - 2 points
Credit Card - 1 point (no matter how many credit cards, they all count as just one point)
ATM Card - 1 point
Bank Statement - 1 point
Utility Bill - 1 point

One could use a lease, a deed, a rent receipt, or any of several other specific "points" of identification in order to make up the required six points.
At the Gaithersburg office of DMV, I obtained a form, had my picture taken, and proceeded to fill out the form. In addition to the name change itself, I filled in under "other" things to change, the designation of "sex" on the basis of "pre-op transsexual living as female."
I also provided the clerk with an original declaration.
The procedure was uneventful - the clerk did not even consult a manager.
Other things
Then there are magazine subscriptions, employment and school records and still more things that haven't come to mind.

A reader sent this in October 2003:

For Maryland this is what I did yesterday:

1. Went to this site: http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms
(The "Free State" is Electronic after all)

2. Clicked on "Domestic Relations"

3. On next page clicked on "Name Change"

4. On next page went to "Case Type: Name Change - Adult

4a. There are six (6) forms listed, all PDF files and the ones that need to be are 'screen fillable'.

4b. The first form is DRIN60. Its not a form, it the step-by-step instructions. Print this out its very good, very simple and very clear.

4c. Filled out the forms online.

5. Printed out the forms.

6. Carried the forms, an original copy of my birth certificate and my $90.00 filing fee to the Circuit Court for my county.

7. Handed all to the clerk (before 4:30PM closing time).

8. Chose a newspaper in which the public notice will be printed. Recommend you know which one before you arrive.
Note on the newspaper publication: My county arranges for it but the instructions on the DRIN60 say some counties make you do it yourself.

9. Got my receipt, with my case number printed on it.

10. Am waiting for newspaper to send me a bill (said to be about $30.00) for the publication.

11. Was told all should be done within 35 days.

12. If no one objects I'll receive the signed order in the mail.

The clerks were very nice. They liked the online forms better than the ones they would provide to people making a request of them. One clerk said, "These forms are much prettier than ours!"

I recommend using the PDF forms but if someone doesn't have a computer or printer (Web TV anyone?) they can always request the forms from the clerks.

The forms are:
DRIN60 <http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/drin60.pdf>
DCIR <http://www.courts.state.md.us/courtforms/dcir03_f.pdf>
DR60 <http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/dr60.pdf>
DR61 <http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/dr61.pdf>
DR75 <http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/dr75.pdf>
JO12 <http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/jo12.pdf>

I had fun! I felt great afterwards and can't wait for the order. Notifying my creditors et al? No. I'm not looking forward to that task, but a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do.

I hope this helps someone.

Other resources

 

Maryland state law


Precedent for transsexuals

[no specific case noted]