Wisconsin 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.
Name change procedure is governed by Wisconsin Statutes 786.36-.37.
You must be a resident of Wisconsin. The petition must be filed in the county of your residence. The court may grant the petition “if no sufficient cause is shown to the contrary.” That could be pretty broadly interpreted either for or against a petitioner.
Four forms are required:
* Petition for Change of Name
* Order for Hearing
* Notice of Hearing
* Order for Change of Name
Each county has separate requirements. Contact your county via the information below:
786.36 Changing names, court procedure. (1) Any resident
of this state, whether a minor or adult, may upon petition to
the circuit court of the county where he or she resides and upon
filing a copy of the notice, with proof of publication, as required
by s. 786.37, if no sufficient cause is shown to the contrary, have
his or her name changed or established by order of the court. If
the person whose name is to be changed is a minor under the age
of 14 years, the petition may be made by whichever of the following
(a) Both parents, if they are living, or the survivor of them.
(b) The guardian or person having legal custody of the minor
if both parents are dead or if the parental rights have been terminated
by judicial proceedings.
(c) The minor’s mother, if the minor is a nonmarital child who
is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry
under s. 767.60, except that the father must also make the petition
unless his rights have been legally terminated.
(2) The order shall be entered at length upon the records of the
court and a certified copy of the record shall be recorded in the
office of the register of deeds of the county, who shall make an
entry in a book to be kept by the register. The fee for recording
a certified copy is the fee specified under s. 59.43 (2) (ag). If the
person whose name is changed or established was born or married
in this state, the clerk of the court shall send to the state registrar
of vital statistics, on a form designed by the state registrar of vital
statistics, an abstract of the record, duly certified, accompanied by
the fee prescribed in s. 69.22, which fee the clerk of court shall
charge to and collect from the petitioner. The state registrar of
vital statistics shall then correct the birth record, marriage record
or both, and direct the register of deeds and local registrar to make
similar corrections on their records.
(3) No person engaged in the practice of any profession for
which a license is required by the state may change his or her given
name or his or her surname to any other given name or any other
surname than that under which the person was originally licensed
in the profession in this or any other state, in any instance in which
the state board or commission for the particular profession, after
a hearing, finds that practicing under the changed name operates
to unfairly compete with another practitioner or misleads the public
as to identity or otherwise results in detriment to the profession
or the public. This prohibition against a change of name by a person
engaged in the practice of any profession does not apply to any
person legally qualified to teach in the public schools in this state,
nor to a change of name resulting from marriage or divorce, nor
to members of any profession for which there exists no state board
or commission authorized to issue licenses or pass upon the qualifications
of applicants or hear complaints respecting conduct of
members of the profession.
(4) Any change of name other than as authorized by law is
History: 1973 c. 263; 1977 c. 449; 1979 c. 32 ss. 63, 92 (14); 1979 c. 221; Stats.
1979 s. 786.36; 1981 c. 245; 1983 a. 447; 1985 a. 315 s. 22; 1993 a. 301; 1995 a. 201;
1999 a. 83.
Although a woman may adopt the surname of her husband subsequent to marriage
by customarily using that name, there is no common law, case law, or statutory
requirement in Wisconsin that she do so. If the woman continues to use her antenuptial
surname, her name is unchanged by the fact that marriage has occurred. In re Petition
of Kruzel, 67 Wis. 2d 138, 226 N.W.2d 458 (1975).
The state’s interest in identifying a convicted felon by his current name during
incarceration and while on parole was sufficient cause to deny a name change petition.
Williams v. Racine County Circuit Court, 197 Wis. 2d 841, 541 N.W.2d 514 (Ct.
WARDS, SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE, NAMES, HEIRSHIPS 786.58
5 Updated 01–02 Wis. Stats. Database
Unofficial text from 01–02 Wis. Stats. database. See printed 01–02 Statutes and 2003 Wis. Acts for official text under s. 35.18
(2) stats. Report errors to the Revisor of Statutes at (608) 266–2011, FAX 264–6978, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wisconsin recognizes the common law right to change one’s name through consistent
and continuous use as long as the change is not effected for a fraudulent purpose.
State v. Hansford, 219 Wis. 2d 226, 580 N.W.2d 171 (1998).
Although s. 69.15 (1) (a) provides for changing a name according to an order in
a paternity action, it does not provide authority to order a name change in a paternity
action without complying with the procedural requirements for a name change under
this section. Paternity of Noah J.M. 223 Wis. 2d 768, 590 N.W.2d 21 (Ct. App. 1998).
A legal name change gives a person a positive right to use that new name. That
positive right may be relinquished by the person’s conduct in the carrying of his or
her name. If the person uses another name, others have the right to call the person
by that other name and to create and file documents under that name. State v. Tiggs,
2002 WI App 181,___ Wis. 2d ___, 649 N.W.2d 709.
In the Name of the Father: Wisconsin’s Antiquated Approach to Child Name
Change in Post–Divorce and Paternity Proceedings. Ritterbusch. 83 MLR 279.
Women’s names in Wisconsin: In Re Petition of Kruzel. MacDougall, 1975 WBB
786.37 Change of name, notice of application. Before
applying to the court for changing or establishing a name, the
applicant shall publish a class 3 notice under ch. 985 stating the
nature of the application and when and where the application will
be made. This section does not apply to the name change of a
minor if parental rights to the minor have been terminated and
guardianship and legal custody transferred under subch. VIII of
ch. 48, and the minor has been placed in a permanent foster home
or a permanent treatment foster home, where the guardian and
legal custodian have petitioned to change the minor’s name to the
name or names of the minor’s foster parents or treatment foster
History: 1975 c. 261; 1979 c. 32 s. 63; 1979 c. 330 s. 13; Stats. 1979 s. 786.37;
1987 a. 403; 1993 a. 446.
Precedent for transsexuals
[no specific case noted]