Vermont 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.

A reader wrote in August 2010

I'm the founder of a new organization up here called Vermonters Ending Transgender Oppression (VETO). Our website is http://vtveto.wordpress.com. My work for this organization led me to call up all of the area offices (probate court, DMV, SSA etc.) and inquire about name and gender change procedures in the state of Vermont. We've got guides on our website about how to go about each, but we are small, and your site is one of the first that many trans women learn about and go to (including myself, years ago when I started transitioning). Therefore, we wanted to share the information that we've got so you could publish it on your site. Here is what we've got, synthesized as much as possible:

Name Change: Vermont

Vermont name changes are done at the probate court office and are simple and inexpensive when compared to most other states. You do not need to schedule a court hearing. Go to the probate court in your county, and request a form. It's a one-page document, and they can help you if you have any questions. You can fill it out there and then. You do NOT need to fill out the information about a spouse etc. There is a $75 filing fee, and then if you're born in VT it is $15 for a new birth certificate (which will be amended with your old name struck through). You do not need to publish anything in a newspaper or anything like that. One to Two weeks after you give the court your paperwork, you'll receive a court order certifying your name change in the mail. Bring this to the DMV for a new photo ID, and the SSA for a new Social Security Card.

ID Gender Change:

Vermont There are 2 ways to change your gender in Vermont. If you have not had GRS, you can request a letter from your therapist or doctor declaring that you are "irrevocably committed to the gender change." Bring this to the DMV and tell them that you would like to update your license and have the paperwork to change the gender marker on it. This change only affects your DMV IDs, and your SSA information, probate court information, etc. will be incongruent with your license, but it is helpful because of the "front-line" nature of how we use drivers' licenses today. If you have had GRS, you can go to the probate court with a surgeon's certification that they performed a gender reassignment surgery for you, with the date and the procedure. This gets submitted to the court, and will change your gender globally (you'll get a court-order to bring to the SSA and DMV and Passport Office etc.). It sounds as though people don't do this very often, from the sound of the person on the phone's voice, and they could not tell me if there was a filing fee or not, so better to expect one and be pleasantly surprised.

I got this in June 2008:

VT name changes go through probate court; there's one in every county. The form is available online at http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/eforms/Pc%20122.pdf and is quite short – no lawyers. Once you've completed it you bring it into probate court along with a certified birth certificate and a photo ID, pay the $50 filing fee, and sign the form in front of the register. That's it – one trip, no appointment with the judge, and no questions about why you want to change it. You could do the whole thing in one day.

Within a few days they'll mail you two certified copies of the Order Changing Name (I filed the petition on Thursday and received the order on Saturday). The DMV is no longer informed automatically; you have to notify them yourself within 30 days by submitting this form http://www.aot.state.vt.us/dmv/documents/TA/VL/Tavl015.pdf along with a certified court order. Also, assuming you're born in VT, after 30 days you can contact the city/town clerk of the place where you were born to change your birth certificate. Unfortunately, VT only issues amended birth certificates – they strike out your old name and insert the new name above it, but your old name is still visible.

I was not required to publish a legal notice in the newspaper. I'm not sure if this is no longer done, or if I escaped that requirement because I had just turned 18 and have no spouse or dependents.

I got this in June 2008 as well:

I had my name changed in Essex VT. You can make an appointment ahead of time, so that you can get everything done in one day in theory. You show up, meet the judge. He will ask you questions, and you tell him your info. You have to surrender your birth certificate here. It doesn't matter where you were born. They will give you your name change court order on the spot. Also asks for your social security number. By the way, you also do not need to list anything in the newspaper or send out any notices.

In September 2003 a reader sent the following:

Legal name change is very easy and inexpensive in VT. I went through it about 8 months ago. NO LAWYERS NEEDED!!!!

Contact county court clerk. I did this by phone. They mailed me a simple form which I filled out (current name, requested name, married?, minor children?) and sent back with the $35 fee. If you are married or have minor children, there may be additional notices required.

Within a week they scheduled me an appointment with the judge, which was within another week or so.

I went in, met with the judge in her chambers. I went en femme, but I don't know if it mattered. She asked me if I was of sound mind, and signed the request. Took five minutes.

I then had to publish a legal notice (in a from provided to me by the court) for two consecutive weeks in a local paper OR IN A PAPER IN AN ADJOINING COUNTY. (Some people may prefer this. I did) This cost about $40.

The paper sent "tearouts" of the published notice to the Court, and the court promptly sent me two certified copies of the name change. Additional certified copies cost $5 each, but photocopies suffice for notifying banks, etc.

Whole thing took about two months, but most of this was the fact that the paper messed up on prompt publication. Thoretically it could be done in closer to a month.

There were absolutely no hassles of any kind.

The court automatically notifies other state agencies of the change (tax dept, DMV, etc.) I still had to go in for a new Driver's License with a new photo. DMV would not change my gender to "F" without a surgeon's letter. All my vehicle registration renewal notices have arrived in my new name.

If I had been born in VT, they would also have automatically issued an amended birth certificate.

Other resources

 

Vermont State law

Precedent for transsexuals

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