Rhode Island 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.

I received this note from an attorney in April 2004:

I am licensed as an attorney in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and willing to provide you with some information on name changes in Rhode Island. Below is a short discussion that may help your readers.

You can change your name by yourself, but an attorney is recommended due to some of the unique situations in Rhode Island. Name changes are done by the probate court in the city or town that the person resides in. Each city or town has an appointed judge. You need to get a copy of the petition from either the court clerk or from the states online website

http://www.state.ri.us/archives/probateforms.htm

Complete the form fully, obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate (it can't be from a church) and pay the fee. The court will give you a hearing date and do a BCI or criminal check on you and advertise legal notices in the local newspaper. Make sure you have given a reason for the name change, such as "that is the name people know me by or the name is more consistent with my appearance." The hearing will be held at the probate court. In most cities and towns, this is the council chambers in the city hall. You may want to arrive early since some towns require you to sign in before your case is heard. If you're the last to sign in, you may be waiting hours to be heard.

Because each city and town has a different judge, there is not a lot of consistency as to how a judge may perceive your situation. This is where an attorney may be helpful. You should avoid giving the judge any opportunity to deny the petition based on fraud as this is the easiest way for a judge to deny a petition if he/she is not trans friendly. Once the petition is granted, the clerk will mail you a certified copy. If you were born in Rhode Island, you should get another copy and forward it to the Health Department's Division of Vital Statistics as a copy of your birth certificate is there. At the same time you can ask for a new copy of your birth certificate showing only your new name.

A trans friendly lawyer is at http://www.robertlapointe.com/

Other resources

 

Rhode Island state law


Precedent for transsexuals

[no specific case noted]