Texas 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.

Texas allows for people in our community to change their names before they have sex reassignment surgery, but some judges and some parts of the state are better than others.

From a reader in March 2011:

Having changed both my name and my gender identifier in the recent past and then finally transitioning on the job within the federal government (which I can also provide some details on), I wanted to point you to an article I posted with details about the name and gender change IN TEXAS. It's on my blog at http://jamiward.blogspot.com/2010/12/documentation-change-101.html
with a follow up at
http://jamiward.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-can-go-rong.html
Feel free to copy any and all of either or both or link to them or whatever is best for you. I just hope this can help someone else here in Texas.

From a reader in December 2004:

Texas name and gender change procedure is very erratic lately. Last October I got an orchiectomy from Dr Peter Raphael in Dallas. His office wrote a really nice letter supporting my name change saying "Stephanie has had irreversible surgery that fulfills all state requirements for having a legal female ID", or words to that effect. As I understand it, both case law and legislation in this area is a little gray, so while not a fib, it was no worse than the mega-spins the neocons tell the press everyday. Apparently the Texas Department of public safety in Austin is very kindly changing the gender marker on drivers licenses when name changes are done, just because they are so big-hearted! It happened to me in August of this year.

I had tried twice in court to get a court ordered drivers license gender marker change, and had failed twice for the "F", but went ahead and just was going with merely the name change. I was told by the clerk at the department of public safety office that "she was sorry I couldn't also get my gender changed", and to I had better hurry over to the social security office to get that changed too, because they cross check records.

I went to the social security office and ask to get my name changed. The clerk told me that she would have to see a letter from my surgeon before she could update the gender on my social security records also. I had brought all of my paper work and quietly mentioned that my letter from my surgeon was "on the top of that pile over there...". and she just said "oh, ok". After another 5 minutes of data entry or something , she did for just a second or two, picked up my letter and looked at it,but I'm sure she didn't have time to read it with any accuracy. After another five minutes passed she told me my new social security card would be arriving in a week or two!

About 6 days later, I got my new drivers license and it had an "F" on it. It was (sniff) a very touching moment to open that letter and see it! I initially thought that my luck with Social Security influenced it,BUT I've had two trans-friends in this area that have ONLY gotten a name change and have also , this year, gotten gender updated with no specific request to do so.

A reader sent the following in June 2003:

I had a transgender attorney, whom you may have heard of, named Phyllis Frye handle the legal work for me. Here in Texas, there are places where judges are friendly, and places where they aren't, so she knew which district court to use. Apparently, this can make all the difference in the world. My court order has wording that instructs the Department of Public Safety to change both name and gender, and it also has a paragraph that says all public and private agencies within the jurisdiction of the court should change name and gender.

Since then, I have changed a lot of things. Driver's license was first, and the lady at the counter checked with someone else before proceeding.

Things like college transcripts, credit cards, etc. have been absolutely no problem, and most have been handled by fax or mail.

Last week, I finally went to the social security office. I had heard that they would change name, but not gender without a birth certificate change. They looked at the court order wording though, and interpreted themselves to be covered by it, so I got both the name and gender done.

As an aside, the clerks who I've worked with have been uniformly nice to me. Some have even been interested in the process and wished me good luck! I have encountered no unfriendliness, so people should not stress out too much over doing these little chores. I think a lot more people are aware of what this is all about as more and more TV documentaries and talk shows are showing us in a favorable light.

The only thing I have left is birth certificate, which will have to await SRS since it is in Louisiana.

Another reader sent the following in June 2003:

texas-petition.doc

texas-order-doc

Here are examples of the necessary petition and order for a name change in Texas. It should be pointed out that Phyllis Frye has a particular judge (whose identity she does not disclose to anyone other than her own clients) who will grant name changes to a Texas resident who lives in a different county. Texas law requires that the petitioner must file in their COUNTY OF RESIDENCE. These examples have been used successfully without an attorney since January of this year (2003).

The judge that Phyllis uses will also issue an order to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to change the gender designation on the petitioner's driver license or DPS-issued identification card prior to SRS. Is this worth the money she charges for her services? That's up to the individual to decide. I did not change mine and never had a problem.

For those who might be unwilling or unable to use Phyllis, here is how to use the examples attached (Word 97 files):

1) Open the files and change all the name, address, driver license and social security number information. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you read what the petition states. If you have a computerized criminal history, e.g., you have been CHARGED (even if you have not been convicted) with a crime punishable with any kind of jail sentence, then you need to truthfully state so and provide the information in the petition. The name change can still be granted but making false statements in the petition is a serious violation of the law.

2) Go to a notary public and sign your original petition in front of the notary.

3) Go the District Clerk's office in your county of residence and file the original petition and the original order. Bring at least two copies of each. The District Clerk will charge you a filing fee which will be your primary expense. You should be prepared to pay this fee by cash, money order or check. They will also assign a number to the petition and inform you which district court will be hearing the petition. This would also be a good time to ask about the procedure for getting certified copies of the order if the judge decides to grant your petition.

4) Go to the court coordinator for the court your petition has been assigned to and obtain a hearing date. The court coordinator will inform you as to the specific procedures in that court. Some judges will require you to submit fingerprints. Some judges will not even require a hearing in person. There is no way to know in advance and if you live in county with more than one District Court you will not be able to pick and choose the judge,

5) Follow the court's procedures TO THE LETTER and in a timely manner. There is nothing that will hurt your chances more of an uneventful process than not doing what the judge wants you to do and doing it on schedule. If you must appear in person for the hearing, be prompt and be dressed in a conservative manner. You're asking for the judge to do something that she or he is not required to do so don't hurt your chances by being late or dressing in a way that prejudices them against you. Just in case, bring extra copies of the order. Be prepared to answer the judges questions under oath as to the statements you have made in the petition.

6) If the judge signs the order get at least two certified copies following whatever the normal procedure is. There will be a fee for obtaining certified copies.

A reader writes in August 2003:

A note for Texas readers:

You can waste your time, money and energy with an Attorney who doesn't know what they are doing, OR you can go to straight to someone who routinely handles trans-issues. In the course of getting this taken care of I retained counsel from from three different attorneys, and spent a great deal of money. The first attorney was independent counsel, the second attorney was with a top ten law firm, the third attorney (again independent counsel)was Ms. Frye. The first attorney was successful with my name change, but I did all of the leg work myself. Had he been more knowledgeable about trans-issues, he would have known that this could all be accomplished in one fail swoop. I hired a second attorney from one of the top law firms in Texas to accomplish the gender change. We were shot down three times in the courts in Dallas (the county in which I was born) and were politely asked not to return. We were informed that the entire circuit of Judges knew my case, and none would agree to grant the Order for the gender change. Ms. Frye accomplished the desired results (with one exception*)in an efficient and expedient manner. Yes, the cost was a bit more than I expected, especially having already payed through the nose for attorney and court fees, but as we all know, you get what you pay for.

I would highly recommend that anyone in Texas who needs this vital documentation changed to do it all at once, and do it with Ms. Frye. Don't make the false assumption that I did years ago by thinking that you have to have completed your SRS before getting the gender on your driver license in Texas changed. Ms. Frye can accomplish the name AND gender change* all at once. Had my first attorney had this information, I would not have had to live in role for years with an "M" on my drivers license. Had my second attorney known how to draft the Petition, I wouldn't have been shot down in court. You can see where I'm going with this. Even with the constant research I did during my transition I didn't come across this information. Hopefully, others can learn from my mistakes, and use this information to make their journey easier.

*While select Texas courts will grant the Order for Petition of name and gender change, none will amend the birth certificate to say "female" due to the outcome of the Christie Lee Littleton case. As of today, that is where we stand. Hopefully someday this decision will be reversed, but until then, your sisters in Texas will have to deal with this humiliation and discrimination.

On the issue of stealth:

The section of your web-site that covers "stealth" and "Choosing a name" should be taken with all seriousness. Innocently enough, in 1999 when I had my name legally changed I decided to keep my last name given at birth. Being an only child from a single parent household, it was a decision I made in order to show respect to my mother. It was done with the purest of intentions, but I know now it was a mistake. I had lived in stealth for almost three years with my new identity, and assumed that the hardest parts of my transition were over. My success was due in part to completely changing careers and going into a field where no one knew me, even by association. I had gone through the difficult "on the job transition" at my previous job before landing a very promising career in the law industry.

Everything in my life seemed perfect; a loving boyfriend, a great career, a beautiful home. But this year my dreams of remaining stealth were shattered. A mean spirited attorney did a Lexis/Nexis and Google search on my last name, did a cut and paste of all of the data he collected on me into an email, and sent it around to his buddies in the firm. The header read: "I guess this confirms what we've suspected all along. What a freak." The evidence was especially damning, given he included my Petition for Name Change. By the time friends of mine (who up until that point didn't know I was transsexual) took their complaints of slander discrimination to Administration, the damage had already been done. Imagine my humiliation when I met with the Director of Personnel and the Director of Administration to discuss the situation. FYI - amazingly he wasn't fired.

My advice to your readers: Use this web-site and the suggestions contained within like you would sage advice from an older sister. You can spend years trying to do things your own way and buck the system, and get nowhere fast. But a more constructive use of your energy would be spent learning from the mistakes of others, using this web-site as it is intended, and paving the way for younger women like yourselves with the stones of wisdom. The choice is yours.

Other resources

Phyllis Randolph Frye at transgenderlegal.com may be able to assist you.In July 2004, I received the following addendum from Ms. Frye:

1. In addition to my link at transgenderlegal.com, they can learn more at my law firm's link at nsflaw.us which lists information on me and on the areas of practice that my tg-friendly partners also do. That includes not just the TG stuff, but divorces, setting up a business, wills and probate, other contract and employment problems. Imagine -- dealing with lawyers that you don't HAVE TO explain the tg stuff to!

2. I will do TG name change and legal gender identification correction on the drivers license work for ANY TG PERSON, mtf or ftm who lives ANYWHERE IN TEXAS.

3. In addition. I will do Texas Birth Certificate amendment -- whether or not they currently live in Texas -- for ANYONE WHO WAS BORN IN TEXAS AND HAS COMPLETED THEIR SURGERY.

The best way for anyone to make a general legal inquiry of me is via prfrye@aol.com.

Thank you very much,

NECHMAN, SIMONEAUX AND FRYE, PLLC
Phyllis Randolph Frye, MBA, PE
Attorney at Law
3400 Montrose, Suite 509
Houston, Texas 77006
713-227-1717
pf@nsflaw.us or prfrye@aol.com
www.nsflaw.us

Texas TG Political Action, TGAIN, Texas Gender Advocacy and Information Network: rhost@flash.net

Texas LGBT Section of State Bar (SO&GI) via mkatine@wba-law.com or rthompson@velaw.com

Other Houston TG inclusive groups that Phyllis endorses:
local LGBT political e-mail net via brandon_wolf@email.msn.com
local LGBT lawyers group (BAHR) at jadcock@brsfirm.com
local LGBT roller skaters group at april.lauper@mwk.com
local LGBT friendly Christian worship at mccr@neosoft.com
local "GRANDFATHER" of LGBT rights movement at rayhill@iah.com

A reader wrote in June 2003:

Also, and this was from my personal experience with my transition, the only place I had a problem getting the name updated on records at was my high school records - not someplace I was going to bother updating things at, but I happened to have a job interview across the street from the Houston School District administration building, so I stopped by and gave it a shot. In 1998 they balked at my request. But, I got occupied with other matters and never really pressed the issue.

Examples

A reader sent the following examples in August:

Texas Petition example (Word doc)

Texas Order example (Word doc)

Texas state law

The applicable main law for adults is in the Texas Family Code at TITLE 2.B § 45.101.

http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/fa.toc.htm

This gets you to the main page. From there you open or download chapter 45 in either PDF or word format.

SUBTITLE C. CHANGE OF NAME
CHAPTER 45. CHANGE OF NAME

SUBCHAPTER A. CHANGE OF NAME OF CHILD

§ 45.001. Who May File; Venue
A parent, managing conservator, or guardian of a child may file a petition requesting a change of name of the child in the county where the child resides.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.
§ 45.002. Requirements of Petition
(a) A petition to change the name of a child must be verified and include:
(1) the present name and place of residence of the child;
(2) the reason a change of name is requested;
(3) the full name requested for the child; and
(4) whether the child is subject to the continuing exclusive jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155.
(b) If the child is 10 years of age or older, the child's written consent to the change of name must be attached to the petition.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.
Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1390, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.
§ 45.003. Citation
(a) The following persons are entitled to citation in a suit under this subchapter:
(1) a parent of the child whose parental rights have not been terminated;
(2) any managing conservator of the child; and
(3) any guardian of the child.
(b) Citation must be issued and served in the same manner as under Chapter 102.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.
§ 45.004. Order
(a) The court may order the name of a child changed if the change is in the best interest of the child.
(b) If the child is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of a court under Chapter 155, the court shall send a copy of the order to the central record file as provided in Chapter 108.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.
§ 45.005. Liabilities and Rights Unaffected
A change of name does not:
(1) release a child from any liability incurred in the child's previous name; or
(2) defeat any right the child had in the child's previous name.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

SUBCHAPTER B. CHANGE OF NAME OF ADULT

§ 45.101. Who May File; Venue
An adult may file a petition requesting a change of name in the county of the adult's place of residence.

Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

§ 45.102. Requirements of Petition
(a) A petition to change the name of an adult must be verified and include:
(1) the present name and place of residence of the petitioner;
(2) the full name requested for the petitioner;
(3) the reason the change in name is requested; and
(4) whether the petitioner has been the subject of a final felony conviction.

(b) The petition must include each of the following or a reasonable explanation why the required information is not included:
(1) the petitioner's:
(A) full name;
(B) sex;
(C) race;
(D) date of birth;
(E) driver's license number for any driver's license issued in the 10 years preceding the date of the petition;
(F) social security number; and
(G) assigned FBI number, state identification number, if known, or any other reference number in a criminal history record system that identifies the petitioner;
(2) any offense above the grade of Class C misdemeanor for which the petitioner has been charged; and
(3) the case number and the court if a warrant was issued or a charging instrument was filed or presented for an offense listed in Subsection (b)(2).

Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.


§ 45.103. Order
(a) The court shall order a change of name under this subchapter for a person other than a person with a final felony conviction if the change is in the interest or to the benefit of the petitioner and in the interest of the public.
(b) A court may order a change of name under this subchapter for a person with a final felony conviction if, in addition to the requirements of Subsection (a), the person has:
(1) received a certificate of discharge by the pardons and paroles division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or completed a period of probation ordered by a court and not less than two years have passed from the date of the receipt of discharge or completion of probation; or
(2) been pardoned.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

§ 45.104. Liabilities and Rights Unaffected
A change of name under this subchapter does not release a person from liability incurred in that person's previous name or defeat any right the person had in the person's previous name.
Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

§ 45.105. Change of Name in Divorce Suit
(a) On the final disposition of a suit for divorce, for annulment, or to declare a marriage void, the court shall enter a decree changing the name of a party specially praying for the change to a prior used name unless the court states in the decree a reason for denying the change of name. The court may not deny a change of name solely to keep last names of family members the same.
(b) A person whose name is changed under this section may apply for a change of name certificate from the clerk of the court as provided by Section 45.106.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, § 7.10(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 45.106. Change of Name Certificate
(a) A person whose name is changed under Section 6.706 or 45.105 may apply to the clerk of the court ordering the name change for a change of name certificate.
(b) A certificate under this section is a one-page document that includes:
(1) the name of the person before the change of name was ordered;
(2) the name to which the person's name was changed by the court;
(3) the date on which the name change was made;
(4) the person's social security number and driver's license number, if any;
(5) the name of the court in which the name change was ordered; and
(6) the signature of the clerk of the court that issued the certificate.
(c) An applicant for a certificate under this section shall pay a $10 fee to the clerk of the court for issuance of the certificate.
(d) A certificate under this section constitutes proof of the change of name of the person named in the certificate.
Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, § 7.10(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, § 6.06, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Precedent for transsexuals

[no specific case noted]