Minnesota 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.
Minnesota allows for women in our community to change their names before
they have sex reassignment surgery.
A reader sent the following in June 2003.
Here's what I had to do in my state (Minnesota)..
You must live in the country where you are filing
You must have lived in Minnesota for 6 months
You must have two adult witnesses who have known you for at least a year.
They should be able to speak and understand English.
1. Pick up the forms at the local courthouse. I picked mine up in the Hennepin
County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis. You will need a name change request
form and a court order for name change form. I you own land, they need a legal
description of the property. Don't sign the forms because they need to be
notarized by a clerk.
2. You will need a hearing date. You will be sent to the appropriate desk
and made to fill out another form. They will also ask for a $250 fee, then
ask you to set up a date. Pick an appropriate date.
3. They will ask how many copies of the court order you want. Two is the
optimal number, and that will cost an addition $50 apiece.
4. Go to the hearing. The judge will ask who is getting the name change,
then ask some questions of the witnesses. This is the first embarrassing part
because you are essentially being outted for a courtroom full of people. Hold
your breath and hope that your judge is a nice guy/girl. ^^;
5. You will need to pick up your newly approved copies of the court order
at the desk that the information desk directs you too. They take about a day
to prepare, and will have a neat little seal and such. You will also recieve
a sheet that suggests places where you need to change your name.
The places I had to go:
1. Social Security office for new card
2. New driver's license (required within 30 days of name change)
3. Change name with office/college
4. Change name on the bank account (harder than it looks
5. Doctor's office
Other suggested things to do is change your name on your car title, call
social services offices, amend your will and change your voting registration.
That's all there is to do in Minnesota.
A reader sent this in August 2003:
It looks like someone has given you pretty good info on my home State of
Minnesota though I have some things to add to it:
1. Due to cuts from the recent State Budget Crisis the Court filing fees throughout
the State of Minnesota have gone up sharply, especially in the poorer counties.
2. If at all possible have blood relatives (Mom, Dad, siblings) as your two
required witnesses. Judges reportedly seem more willing to "rubber stamp"
the petition if the family obviously is supportive.
3. A lot of people here don't know this, but you can add additional things
to your name change petition in the "Other" space provided. I added:
"I also petition the Court to order the Department of Health to ammend
my birth records by changing my sex designation from 'Male' to 'Female.'"
(You have to be VERY precise in what you write in the petition and limit it
to EXACTLY the wording you want - adding it to your name change petition also
saves you an additional filing fee and Court appearance). I am pre-operative,
by the way, and the Department of Health had already declined to change my
birth record sex designation.
I had letters with me in Court from my doctors indicating their belief that
I have an intersex condition (at the time still being investigated), however
the Judge in my case never asked to see the letters - but I had them with
me just in case he asked for documentation to justify changing sex designation
on the birth records. My Mother and my older Sister were my sworn witnesses.
The Judge simply asked them if they believed he should grant my petition -
they couldn't shout an emphatic "YES!" fast enough. The Judge then
said "If there are no objections, then, I see no reason not to grant
the petition as requested." He specifically wrote on the order "The
Minnesota Department of Health shall change birth record to show new name
and designate sex as 'female.'"
In Minnesota the Department of Health officially says there are three ways
to get the sex designation changed on your birth records:
1. You MUST be post-op with a notorized document or sworn affadavit (preferably
from a US surgeon) who performed SRS on you. You file a form at the Department
of Health with your documentation for review, pay something like $20 and they
decide whether or not to grant the request.
2. You can submit the filing form and fee with documentary proof of some kind
that you have been living as your target sex for at least seven years (what
is an "acceptable document" is totally at their discretion) and
the Commissioner will decide whether or not to change your birth records [
I should point out that this is an old "Common Law" method of establishing
identity and the burden of proof for the petitioner is high, with so very
few documents being deemed "acceptable" this option is effectively
3. (They only reluctantly told me about this option) Obtain a Court Order
that your birth records be ammended. The Order carries the weight of Law and
the Department of Health MUST make the stated changes and cannot refuse to
abide by it or they will be held in contempt.
The specific State Law regarding the Court's authority to order birth record
changes is kind of buried among Adoption Law (but not exclusive to it) and
reads as follows:
Minnesota State Statute 144.218
Subd. 4. Incomplete, incorrect, and modified vital
records. If a court finds that a birth record is incomplete,
inaccurate, or false or if it is being issued pursuant to
section 259.10, subdivision 2, the court may order the
registration of a replacement vital record, and, if necessary,
set forth the correct information in the order. Upon receipt of
the order, the registrar shall register a replacement vital
record containing the findings of the court. The prior vital
record shall be confidential pursuant to section 13.02,
subdivision 3, and shall not be disclosed except pursuant to
NOTE THE LAST PART! I was told by a legal professional afterward that, because
my birth records were changed by Court Order, my prior birth record is "confidential.
. .and shall no be disclosed except pursuant to court order." In other
words, the original birth records are effectively SEALED! I haven't bothered
to verify whether or not mine actually are or not, I don't care so long as
they've been changed. When you change your birth records through the clerical
system within the Department of Health (by filling out their forms and paying
their filing fee) you are offered NO such protections. Your previous record
can be obtained without a subsequent court order (by any authorities or relatives
authorized to access your vital statistics records).
Minnesota actually is somewhat restrictive in who has legal access to even
the non-sealed birth records and a signed release from you may be required
for someone else to obtain a copy of the Birth Certificate anyway. Minnesota
states that Birth Certificates are only available to the following individuals:
Person Named on the Certificate
Mother/Father (or Legal Guardian)
Husband/Wife of Person Named on Certificate
Son/Daughter of Person Named on Certificate
Sister/Brother of Person Named on Certificate
Legal Representative of an Authorized Person
Individuals with a legitimate and legal reason to search for genealogical
If what I was told was true about my original record being sealed, changing
your vital statistics records via court order can offer an additional "roadblock"
for anyone snooping into your past - a major consideration for anyone planning
on living "stealth."
The certified copy of my ammended record says my name was changed on [date]
and that "data items other than the registrant's name or date of birth
were ammended by Court Order on [date]." But it doesn't say WHAT data
was changed and if anyone wanted to find out they'd probably have to obtain
their own court order to look at the original, un-ammended record, and either
way I would be informed of the request (because even un-sealed records often
require written consent from the preson named in the record), so I'd have
an opportunity to contest the right of whomever it was to see the record at
It seems most people aren't aware you can add additional requests for changes
to birth records beyond your name to your name change petition - if you get
a sympathetic (or apathetic) Judge you CAN get your sex designation on your
birth certificate changed at the same time, regardless of surgical status
or whatever the Department of Health "authorizes."
Anyway, that was my experience here in Minnesota. In case you're wondering,
I'm NOT a lawyer, paralegal, or law student (though I had one Law class in
college); and I didn't have a lawyer help me with my name change at all either
(though I had access to a very good one in my family, I didn't ask for his
Other comments and resources
In June 2003, a reader wrote:
In looking at what you have for Minnesota, the main thing I would add is
that the dollar amounts vary considerably from county to county. I worked
in a rural county and the fees and costs for court filings and orders were
not as high as what the person from Hennepin County mentions.
Minnesota state law
For a complete understanding of the law see Chapter 259.10 and 259.11 of the
Legal precedent for transsexuals