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Texas Name and Gender Marker Change Guide

LGBTQ+ Rights & Gender Identification

This guide explains how to change your name and/or your gender marker in Texas, as well as detail how to update various documents afterwards. 

How do I change my name or gender marker?

In Texas, you usually need a court order to change your name or gender marker. Once you get a court order, you use it to have your IDs or other information changed.

  • You can always use a different name in your everyday life. Many people go by a nickname, middle name, or chosen name. However, most legal name changes in Texas (outside of changing your last name during marriage or divorce) require a court order.
  • You can change your gender marker on some federal documents and out-of-state IDs without a court order, typically by using a doctor’s letter or other proof. However, changing your gender marker on Texas documents (like your driver’s license or birth certificate) generally requires a court order.

You can have just your name changed, just your gender marker changed, or both your name and gender marker changed at the same time. If you want to change both your name and gender marker, you can change both at once so that you don’t have to pay to have your IDs changed multiple times.

What proof do I need to get a name or gender marker change court order?

Name Change – Texas Family Code, Chapter 45.

You can change your name for almost any reason. However, you will need to show that you are not asking for your name change to do something illegal, like lie to others or run away from law enforcement or creditors.

To ask a court for your name change, you send in a petition that includes basic identifying information and a fingerprint card. Some counties might make you get a full background check as well. You might also have to give the court additional information if you have a criminal history.

Do I need to discuss any criminal history?

You must tell the court about any felony or class A or B misdemeanor charges that have been brought against you. This may include charges that were dismissed or sealed, and people are often surprised to learn that dismissed charges will appear in their background check. You can find resources for help related to your criminal history at the bottom of this article.

You do not have to tell the court about class C misdemeanors. Class Cs include traffic tickets and other types of tickets where you cannot be sentenced to jail, you can only be told to pay a fine. 

Again, depending on the county where you file, you may have to get a full background check. You can get your background check done anyway to find out what charges you might have to tell the court about. The most complete background check in Texas is the Criminal History Report from the Texas Department of Public Safety. You can learn how to get your DPS Criminal History Report under Question 1 on the DPS FAQ page. If you have questions about your criminal history or how to find your criminal history information, ask an attorney.

If you have to register as a sex offender, you must let local law enforcement know that you are going to ask for a name or gender marker change. You will need to show the court proof that you told law enforcement. This is usually done with a letter sent by certified mail, so that you get a receipt and proof your letter was delivered.

Felony Convictions
If you were convicted of a felony, you must wait two years after you complete your entire sentence before you may ask for a name change. 

  1. If you finished your sentence in jail, you would need to wait two years from the day you were released. 
  2. If you were in jail and then released on parole, you would need to wait two years from the day you are discharged from parole. 
  3. If you were placed on probation, you will need to wait two years from the day you complete probation. 

If you finished your sentence in jail or on parole, you can try to get your certificate of discharge from the Classification and Records Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. If you finished your sentence on probation, you can try to ask the Court that sentenced you or the Probation Department that supervised you for your certificate of completion of probation. If you have multiple felony convictions, you need a certificate of discharge or certificate of completion of probation for each one. Your DPS Criminal History Report may also include enough sentencing information that you can use it as proof to show it’s been more than two years since you completed your sentence.

NOTE: A new Texas law was passed in 2019. Now, if you’ve been convicted of a felony, you can change your name to the primary name listed in your criminal history without waiting two years. This may help if you’ve been using your chosen name for a long time, and your chosen name is the primary name in your criminal history. You can check which names are listed in your criminal history by getting your DPS Criminal History Report using the instructions above.

What is required in Texas for a gender marker change?

For gender marker change, there is no Texas law that says what proof you need. This means it’s up to individual judges to decide what proof they want to see. 

Generally, you need at least one doctor’s letter that says you are receiving clinically appropriate treatment related to your gender identity. Some judges may require multiple letters, proof of certain treatment, like surgery, or treatment for a certain length of time. Click here for a sample letter for use in Travis County.

Some judges may not grant gender marker changes at all.

For judges that will grant a gender marker change, you will likely need to give them the same criminal history information you would for name changes. See the Criminal History section, above.

NOTE: Be careful if you’re handling your own case!  Older cases in Dallas and Houston have denied gender marker changes on appeal. A bad decision on appeal could prevent district court judges in your area from granting future gender marker changes for anyone else. If you feel you have been wrongly denied a gender marker change, you should contact an attorney.
 

Getting Gender Marker Change ONLY

You must file a Petition to Change the Sex/Gender Identifier of an Adult. You can find forms for only gender marker change from the Travis County Law Library on their website.

Again, forms from the Travis County Law Library are for Travis County and should not be used anywhere else. If you have questions about where you can or should file, ask an attorney.

 

What is required in Texas for getting BOTH a name and gender marker change?

If you want to change both your name and gender marker you can do both at once. That way you only have to pay once for things like court fees and changing your IDs. If you decide you just want to change one of them, that’s fine too. You can always change your name or gender marker again or change them separately, but you may have to pay fees again.

You must file a Petition to Change the Name and Sex/Gender Identifier of an Adult. You can find forms from the Travis County Law Library on their website

The forms also have instructions for filing your case and getting your court order. The Travis County Law Library forms are for Travis County and should not be used anywhere else. If you have questions about where you can or should file, ask an attorney.

What is required in Texas for getting only a name change?

You must file a Petition to Change the Name of an Adult. You can find more information and forms for only name change on TexasLawHelp.org.

These name-change only forms can be used anywhere in Texas.


NOTE: If you file for just a name change, you may run into courts that are unfamiliar with transgender or nonbinary people. If you’re changing from a stereotypically masculine name to a stereotypically feminine name, such as from Alexander to Alexandra (or vice versa), this may disclose your gender identity to the judge and court staff. However, your name change cannot be denied simply because of your gender identity. If a judge denies your name change, you should contact an attorney.

Name changes are filed in state district court. You can ask your local district clerk about how to file your name change and to see if your county will have you get a background check. If you have questions about where you can file your name change, ask an attorney.

Is a fee waiver available?

Courts charge filing fees when you file a new petition, which often cost about $300 for a name or gender marker change. If you’re worried about being able to afford the fee, you can file a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment (known as a Pauper’s Oath or Affidavit for Declaration of Indigency) asking the court to let you file for free. You can find the form on TexasLawHelp.org.

You can call your local court to ask about fee waivers. Some courts may want you to attach proof, like proof of income (such as paystubs), proof of government benefits, or proof of expenses. If you have questions about whether you can file for free, ask an attorney.

How do I file these forms with the clerk’s office?

Many courts have changed how they work because of COVID-19. Some have re-opened to work in person, while others continue to work remotely.

With e-filing you can scan and send your documents to the court online. Anyone can make a free e-filing account at www.eFileTexas.gov.

If you can’t e-file, you can ask the district clerk about your options or you can talk to an attorney for help.

Some judges might consider your case “on submission,” meaning they will simply review your paperwork to make a decision. In other courts, you might have to have a hearing. Some courts will schedule you for a hearing, either in person or with video conferencing software like Zoom. Other courts won’t schedule you for a specific hearing time but might set aside a specific day and time every week when people can walk in to have their name change heard. You can contact the clerk for more information about completing your case. 

Have court procedures in Travis County changed due to COVID-19?

In their Fourth Amended Emergency Order on March 1, 2021, the Travis county civil and family courts have paused almost all in-person work and are handling most cases remotely. You can find the latest orders on the court website.

Have court procedures in other counties changed due to COVID-19?

If you’re getting just your name changed in another county, you should ask the local district clerk about your filing options and about changes to how they are handling cases during COVID-19.

Do I need certified copies of my order?

If your court order is granted, you should get at least 5 or 6 certified copies to make sure you have enough to update your IDs. If you need more copies later, you can order more from the clerk.

The clerk may be able to mail you certified copies of your order, hold copies for you to pick up in person, or email you digital copies. If you can, it’s usually better to get physical copies because many people will want to see the clerk’s raised seal on the paper to make sure it’s an official document of the court.

NOTE: if you filed a fee waiver, the clerk should waive fees for copies. If you did not file a fee waiver, certified copies usually cost just a couple of dollars ($1-2 certification fee, and $1-2 per page).

How do I change my name and gender marker if I’m a minor?

Name Change - Texas Family Code, Chapter 45  

To change the name of a minor, a caregiver having a legal relationship to the minor, meaning the parents, guardians, or conservators, must file a Petition to Change the Name of a Child. Minors at least 10 years old must agree to their name change in writing.

If more than one caregiver has a legal relationship with the minor, meaning the child has two parents, two guardians, or two conservators, both can petition together as co-petitioners. If one caregiver agrees but the other does not, the caregiver who does not agree must be told about the name change and will be given the chance to fight against the minor’s name change in court.

You can find forms for only name change of a minor on TexasLawHelp.org. These forms can be used anywhere in Texas.

How do I change my gender marker if I’m a minor?

Like with adult gender marker changes, there is no Texas law that says what proof you need to change a minor’s gender marker. This means different judges may or may not grant a gender marker change and may ask for different proof. And like a name change for a minor, the parents, guardians, or conservators must ask for the minor’s gender marker change.

You can find forms for a minor’s gender marker change or a minor’s name and gender marker change from the Travis County Law Library on their website

If minors are concerned that one of both of their caregivers may not agree to a name or gender marker change, they may choose to wait until age 18 when they can ask for their own name or gender marker change as an adult. You should contact an attorney if you’re worried that one or both of your parents, guardians, or conservators won’t support your name or gender marker change.
 

 

What if I want to update documents outside of Texas, like a birth certificate from a different state?

Each state and each ID has its own rules. The National Center for Transgender Equality has an ID Documents Center, with information about updating IDs from all over the U.S. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has information about updating documents in other countries.

Ask an attorney if you need help with documents outside of Texas.

Are there surgery requirements for a gender marker change?

Some state laws require proof of surgery to change the gender marker on a birth certificate. Note that the gender marker forms from the Travis County Law Library do not mention surgery. This leaves you with 3 basic options:

  1. You can try to apply with the standard forms available from the Travis County Law Library, but there’s no guarantee the other state will change your birth certificate.
  2. If you’ve had or plan to have gender-affirming surgery, you can ask an attorney about drafting custom gender marker change court documents that specifically mention the surgery. This might give you a better chance of getting your birth certificate changed.
  3. You might decide not to change your birth certificate. There are not many times you will need to show your birth certificate to someone else. If you need it as proof of citizenship (such as when you apply for a Texas driver’s license or a job) you can use a U.S. Passport instead, which is easier to update with the correct gender marker—see U.S. Passport section, below.
 

Do all states require a court order to change your gender marker?

Many states let you change the gender marker on your birth certificate without a court order. Some let you update by self-determination, meaning you don’t have to give any evidence. Other states ask for less proof than a court order, like a simple doctor’s letter. 

If your birth certificate is from one of these states, you may not need a court order for gender marker change. If you change the gender marker on your birth certificate, you should then be able to use the updated birth certificate to change the gender marker on other documents, like your Texas driver’s license. You might prefer this, because it means you get to decide your own gender instead of a judge deciding for you. 

However, it can take weeks or months for a state to change your birth certificate. If you’re also changing your name you will most likely need to get a court order anyway, so it might be easier and faster for you to get a court order for both name and gender marker change at the same time.

It’s up to you how to move forward, and you can ask an attorney for advice.

What do I do after I get a court order?

Getting a court order does not automatically change your name or gender marker. You must then apply to have each one of your IDs and all your information updated. Information about changing specific IDs is below.

Getting a court order isn’t a perfect guarantee that everyone will immediately update your information. You shouldn’t have any issues with the standard government IDs listed below, but if you have issues getting other information updated you can ask an attorney for more help.

It’s usually best to update Social Security first, because other government agencies will often check your information with Social Security. However, you can update your IDs in whatever order you’d like. You usually have to show other IDs regardless of which ID you’re updating, and chances are some of those won’t be updated with your new name or gender marker yet. That’s fine, because the court order is proof of your legal name and/or gender marker change.

There may be some IDs you can’t update, or you may not want to update some of your IDs because you don’t really use them, they cost too much, it’s too difficult, or some other reason. It’s usually easier when all of your IDs match, but it should be okay if some don’t. You should always keep a copy of your court order to prove you’re the same person listed on mismatched IDs, and you can ask an attorney for more help if you have any issues.

How do I update my information with the Social Security Administration?

You should change your name and gender marker with the Social Security Administration (SSA) first, because many government agencies will check your name and gender with Social Security.

Step 1: Complete an application for a new social security card.

You can find the form here.

Step 2: Gather appropriate documentation.

You will need to bring at least one of the following as proof of identity:

  • U.S. driver’s license
  • State-issued non-driver identification card
  • U.S. Passport

If you do not have one of the above documents and cannot get one within 10 days, you may use one of the following documents that includes either your photo or your date of birth:

  • Employment ID card
  • School ID card for the current school year
  • Health insurance card or Medicaid card (not a Medicare card)
  • Certified copy of your medical records from a clinic, doctor, or hospital
  • U.S. military identification card
  • Life insurance policy

NOTE: immigrants who qualify for a social security card and minors have different proof of identity requirements. You can learn more on the SSA website or read the full policy in SSA’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS).

In addition to proof of identity, you will need to bring at least one document for proof of name change and proof of gender marker change.

Acceptable documents for proof of name change:

  • Marriage document
  • Divorce decree
  • Certificate of naturalization
  • Court order

Acceptable documents for proof of gender marker change:

  • Full validity, 10-year U.S. Passport (5-year U.S. Passport for minors) with the new gender marker
  • State-issued birth certificate with the new gender marker
  • Court order
  • Medical certification signed by an MD or DO. 

Step 3: Apply for a new social security card.

Mail or take all necessary documents in-person to your nearest local SSA office. Social Security will mail original documents back to you if you apply by mail, but it is recommended you complete this step in-person so that you do not have to go without an ID. 

Find your nearest office here.

Always stay polite. If the worker at the Social Security Office doesn’t know about gender marker change, ask to speak to a manager or supervisor. If needed, you may point out the gender marker change policy on the Social Security website in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 10212.200 Changing Numident Data for Reasons other than Name Change.

NOTE: Social Security offices are still mostly closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however they are offering appointments for some in-person services. This means, even if you’re able to get your court order, you may have to wait before you’ll be able to go in and update your social security card. You can find more information on the SSA’s website

Will changing my information with Social Security affect anything else?

You will keep your same Social Security number and record. Changing your name or gender marker does not affect your social security if you’re getting or will get any social security benefits.

If you get Medicare or Medicaid, then the gender marker listed on your insurance may be changed when you update Social Security. Sometimes insurance companies won’t pay for care when they think your gender marker doesn’t match with the services you received. You should work with your provider or contact your plan to try to fix the denial. You can also ask an attorney for advice or more help. See the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s Trans Health Project for more information about health insurance.

How do I update my Texas driver’s license?

The Texas Department of Public Safety says on its website that you need an updated birth certificate or a court order to change the gender marker on your driver’s license. You must tell DPS about a name change within 30 days. If you’re a registered voter, you should be able to change your voter registration when you apply to change your Texas ID.

To change your name or gender marker, apply to replace or renew your ID. A replacement costs about $11, and it will not update your expiration date. A renewal costs about $33 and will update your expiration date. For more information on fees, see the DPS website.

Step 1: Complete an application to replace/renew/change your driver’s license or ID. 

The form can be found here.   

Step 2: Gather appropriate documentation. 

For proof of name change you may use:

  • Marriage license
  • Divorce decree
  • Annulment
  • DSHS marriage verification letter
  • Certified court order
  • Updated birth certificate
  • Certificate of Naturalization

For proof of gender marker change you may use:

  • Original certified court order
  • Updated birth certificate

You may also need to bring proof of citizenship or immigration status and proof of identity. See a list of acceptable IDs for proof of citizenship or immigration status here. See a list of acceptable IDs for proof of identity here.

Step 3: Apply to replace/renew/change your driver’s license or ID. 

Take your application and all necessary documents to your local DPS office to apply in person. You can make an appointment here.

As with Social Security, if the front desk worker doesn’t know about gender marker changes, you can ask to speak to a supervisor or manager. 

Some people have been able to change the gender marker on their Texas driver’s license or non-driver’s ID by using updated out-of-state IDs, or even based on their appearance. However, because DPS says you need a court order or updated birth certificate, you should get a court order before trying to change your ID.
 

NOTE: Texas DPS offices are offering appointments during COVID-19.You can find more information on the DPS website.
 

If you’re younger than 26, you may want to look at the Selective Service information below.

 

What if my license is suspended and can’t be renewed or updated?

Even if your driver’s license is suspended, you can apply for a non-driver’s state ID with your new name and gender marker.

You can check your driver’s license eligibility on the DPS website.

If your license is suspended or you are having issues with traffic tickets, you should contact an attorney. You can find resources for help with driver’s license eligibility at the bottom of this article.

How do I update my Texas birth certificate?

Texas will change a birth certificate that is “proved by satisfactory evidence to be inaccurate.”  Vital Statistics will take a court order as proof of name and gender marker change.

You can find more Information on the Vital Statistics website.


Step 1: Complete an application for amendment of birth record.

The application Form VS-170 can be found here.

  • NOTE: In the Fee Schedule on page 1, you should fill in the box for “New Birth Certificate based on child’s sex or parent’s race or color See ‘Correcting the Child’s Sex or Parent’s Race or Color’ on Page 3.” 
  • At the bottom of page 4 you should also check the box that says, “We are/I am requesting a new birth certificate be filed to incorporate the correction to the child’s sex or parent’s race or color.”
  • This costs $10 more, but it makes sure that Vital Statistics will print a new birth certificate with the changes. Otherwise, Vital Statistics will attach information about the change to your original birth certificate without changing the birth certificate itself.

Step 2: Gather appropriate documentation.

You will need proof of identity. Texas Vital Statistics has a list of acceptable IDs here

You will also need proof of name and/or gender marker change. You need a certified copy of your court order to change both your name and your sex marker.

NOTE: Vital Statistics has previously refused to change birth certificates based on an order for “Gender Identifier Change,” because gender on Texas birth certificates is listed as “Sex.” This is why the forms in this guide are for “Sex/Gender Identifier Change”. That way, you should be able to change all IDs whether they list your gender marker as “Sex” or “Gender”.

Step 3: Apply by mail.

You cannot ask for a change to your Texas birth certificate in person. You MUST apply by mail.

  • Regularly processed requests are sent by USPS to:

    Texas Vital Statistics
    Department of State Health Services
    P.O. Box 12040
    Austin, TX 78711-2040
     

  • Expedited requests must be sent by overnight mail, such as FedEx, LoneStar, or UPS (NOT USPS) to:
    Texas Vital Statistics
    MC 2096
    1100 W. 49th Street
    Austin, TX 78756

Check the Vital Statistics website or the application form for any changes to the mailing addresses. Processing time for a regular application currently takes about 25-30 days, and expedited applications are processed first. Check for updated processing times here.

A fee schedule may be found on the Vital Statistics website. A regularly processed request costs $37, plus the cost of mailing. An expedited request costs $42, plus the cost of expedited mailing.

NOTE: Because you can only ask for a Texas birth certificate change by mail, COVID-19 should not change anything.

 

How do I change a birth certificate for a minor?

If both parents are listed on the minor’s birth certificate, then both parents must complete and sign Form VS-170. If one parent’s rights to the child have been terminated, the parent who still has rights to the child can apply on their own and attach proof that the other parent’s rights are terminated. If the minor has a legal representative, meaning a guardian or conservator other than their parents, then their legal representative must apply and attach proof that they are the minor’s legal representative. Otherwise, the minor may wait until they are 18 to ask for a change on their birth certificate themselves, under the process for adults listed above.

How do I update identification documents from other states?

The National Center for Transgender Equality has an ID Documents Center that has information about how to update documents all over the U.S. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has information about updating documents in other countries. You should ask an attorney if you need help with specific documents.

Remember that some states will let you change the gender marker on your birth certificate without getting a court order. However, you would still likely need a court order for name change and may want to go ahead and get a gender marker court order at the same time. You can ask an attorney for advice.

How do I apply for a U.S. passport?

On June 30, 2021, the current administration announced exciting changes for U.S. Passports and other documents issued by the Department of State.

You are now able to self-certify your gender on your passport. That means, when you apply, you simply check the box for the gender marker you want on your passport and your passport will be printed with the gender marker you selected. You do not have to submit any other forms or provide any other proof. You can read more on the Department of State’s website here

They are also planning to offer a new gender marker, likely an X, in recognition of nonbinary, intersex, and other gender expansive people. However, they have not announced a specific date when an X gender marker will be available.

NOTE: The Department of State has almost completely re-opened. You can find more information about their work during COVID-19 on their website.

How do I update my gender marker on a U.S. passport?

If you are getting a passport for the first time and have already changed the other IDs you need to show in your passport application, you should be able to apply normally. If you’ve had a passport but it’s now expired, you can apply for a new passport with your court order using the same instructions for updating a passport below.

If you already have a passport and you’re changing your gender marker, you apply as if you’re applying for a new passport.


Step 1: Fill out an application for a new passport.

The Form DS-11 is on the Department of State website here.

Simply check the box for the gender marker that you want.

Step 2: Gather appropriate documentation.

You will need: 

  • an ID that matches your current appearance 
  • a passport photo that matches your current appearance
  • proof of citizenship, and 
  • a copy of your court order if you’ve legally changed your name. 

Step 3: Apply.

Apply in-person at your nearest passport acceptance facility. Find more information and a fee schedule on the Department of State website.

You can locate your nearest passport acceptance facility here.
 

Limited Validity Passport
The Department of State previously issued 2-year limited-validity passport to applicants whose doctor specified they were “in the process of getting appropriate clinical treatment”. If you have a limited passport for this reason, and it’s still valid, you can use the same Form DS-5504 to ask for a full-validity passport. 

If your 2-year passport has expired, you can apply for a regular passport using Form DS-11 under the instructions above.

How do I update with a name change ONLY for a U.S. passport?

If you only changed your name and not your gender marker, the process for updating a passport can be different. If it’s been less than a year since you got your passport, you will apply by mail. You will need:

  • Form DS-5504
  • Your most recent U.S. Passport
  • Your court order for name change, and
  • Once color passport photo.

You should not have to pay any fees unless you ask for expedited service. You MUST send your documents by USPS to the address listed on Form DS-5504. Other companies cannot deliver to the P.O. Box.

If it’s been more than a year since got your passport, you might be able to renew your passport by mail using Form DS-82. You must submit your most recent passport with your application, and the passport must:

  • be in good condition (only normal “wear and tear”),
  • have been issued when you were 16 or older, and
  • have been issued within the last 15 years.

If your passport doesn’t meet those three conditions, you’ll have to apply for a new passport normally using Form DS-11 under the instructions above. See the Department of State’s website for more information.

Is the process for passport renewals different?

Once you’ve changed your name and gender marker, you should be able to renew your passport as normal once it expires, without the extra proof like a court order. If you decide to change your name or gender marker again, you’ll need to follow the instructions above to update your passport again, instead of renewing. Find more information about passport renewal on the Department of State’s website

What is required to change immigration documents (USCIS)?

Immigrants may ask to have their gender marker changed on USCIS-issued documents such as Employment Authorization Documents, Refugee Travel Documents, Permanent Resident Cards, and Certificates of Citizenship or Naturalization. You should use the standard form for requesting the desired document. 

The policy is available in the new USCIS Policy Manual here and here

The policy expressly says that USCIS does not need proof of sex reassignment surgery and that USCIS workers should not ask for any evidence related to surgery.

USCIS will take any one of the following as proof of gender marker change:

  • A court order granting change of sex or gender;
  • A government-issued document that has the gender you’re asking for on your immigration documents. 
    • Acceptable government-issued documents include an updated birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, or other official document showing identity issued by the U.S. Government, a state or local government in the United States, or a foreign government; or
  • A letter from a licensed health care professional saying that the gender you’re asking for is your gender. 
    • Some agencies, like the Department of Statement for passports, will only accept a letter from a doctor. However, USCIS will take letters from a variety of healthcare professionals including, licensed counselors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers, and therapists.
    • You can find a sample letter in the Appendix to Chapter 5 of the USCIS Policy Manual here.  

However, in practice, some immigration workers don’t know about gender marker changes. This means you might get asked inappropriate, invasive, or rude questions, or you might be asked for more evidence of gender marker change than you need to give. It is also expensive to replace immigration documents.

Therefore, you should contact an attorney before trying to change immigration documents on your own.
 

Name Change
You can also ask for a name change on your USCIS documents. USCIS will take any one of the following as proof of name change:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court order

You can also legally change your name when you naturalize to become a U.S. Citizen. You can ask for a name change when you apply to naturalize, and then when you take your citizenship oath with a judge, the judge can legally change your name at the same time.

If you’re going to naturalize soon, you might not need to get a court order for name or gender marker change. You would be able to change your name during your naturalization and could change your gender marker using a letter from a licensed health care professional instead. You can then use your updated Certificate of Naturalization to apply to have your other Texas and U.S. IDs updated. It’s up to you how to move forward, and you can ask an attorney for more help.

NOTE: USCIS is continuing work during COVID-19, including these types of applications. You can find more information about their COVID-19 plan here.

How do I change other documents?

In almost any other situation, you should be able to change your name and/or gender marker by using either a certified copy of your court order or an updated ID. You will need to contact each organization or agency to find out exactly what they require.

 

How do I update voter registration?

To change your voter registration, see the Vote Texas website. If you only changed your name and you live in the same county, you can change your information online here.

If you’ve already changed your Texas driver’s license or state ID, you may have updated your voter registration at the same time. You can check your registration information here.

NOTE: Jury wheels in Texas are made up of two lists—a list of registered voters and a list of U.S. citizens, 18 or older, who have a valid Texas driver’s license or non-driver’s ID. Unless you are exempt from jury service, your old name may remain on the jury wheel and you may receive a summons under your old name until you update both your driver’s license/state ID and voter registration.  The jury wheel is only updated once per year, so you may receive a summons under your old name if you’re called before the wheel gets updated. 

 

How do I update information with banks, creditors, and financial institutions?

Most financial accounts do not track your gender, but you should still change your name on bank accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc.

You should not need to change your name directly with the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). The credit reporting agencies will continue to list your old name as long as they continue to receive reports from your creditors under your old name. Therefore, it is most important that you update your name with every creditor individually. Even after changing your name with every creditor, your old name may still show on your credit report for several years.

How do I update information related to student loans?

For student loans, it is usually easiest when you change your name and gender marker either before you start applying to college or university, or after you’ve graduated from higher education. If you change your name before applying, then the college or university will have your chosen name from the beginning and your loans and financial aid can be issued under that name. If you wait until after you’ve graduated or finished, then you should only have to update your name and gender marker with your loan providers.

If you change your name and gender marker while enrolled in higher education, it may take additional work. You will have to update your information with your educational institution, with FAFSA, and with your loan providers. It can be confusing to manage and coordinate so many different pieces of information, and if any information is inconsistent it may result in delays or problems receiving your student loans or financial aid. Be prepared to advocate for yourself and update all your information as quickly as possible. 

Selective Service requirements can also affect your ability to receive financial aid—see Selective Service section, below.

How do I update legal documents?

You should update any legal documents you have, such as titles, a will, powers of attorney, a lease or contract, etc. Contact an attorney for help.

How do I update a deed for real property?

If you owned land or a home before your name change, the title will be under your old name. It is hard to change a deed in Texas, although you may not need to change yours. You should keep a copy of your court order in case you need to prove that you are the person listed in the deed. However, if your deed stays under your old name you may continue to receive property tax bills under your old name.

To change your deed, you would likely need to have a new deed prepared “transferring” the property from yourself under your old name, to yourself under your new name. You should contact an experienced real estate attorney for more information. If you ever sold your property, whatever real estate or title companies you work with should be able to help you update the title, if it needs to be updated for the sale.

How do I update a car title?

The Texas Motor Vehicle Title Manual can be found on the Department of Motor Vehicles website here, under TAC, Tax-Assessor Collectors, Motor Vehicle Title Manual. 

Under 16.12 Change of Name, you should apply for corrected title and include both your original title and a certified copy of your court order for name change. Use Form 130-U, which comes with detailed instructions labeled VTR-130-UIF. Both can be found on the DMV website here.

If there is still a lien on your car, you may have to work with your lienholder to get a certified copy of your original title.

NOTE: The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is offering some services with an appointment. You can find information on their website.

How do I update a will?

If you have your own will, you should contact an attorney to discuss whether you need to update it. Your will may need to include both your old name and your new name, just in case any of your property is still listed under your old name. 

If you are named in another person’s will, this may or may not affect your ability to inherit. A court will likely have to decide on a case-by-case basis what to do. You should still be able to use your court order to prove that you’re the person listed in the will. However, other potential heirs may try to argue that, because your name doesn’t match, you shouldn’t be able to inherit. That way they can get a larger share. You should ask anyone has named you in their will to discuss with their attorney whether they should have their will updated.

How do I update a professional license?

Any licensed professionals (attorneys, medical providers, pharmacists, insurance agents, cosmetologists, etc.) should contact your licensing board or organization for information on updating your license. 

How do I update information related to employment?

Updating employment documents and records will depend on your employer. Larger employers may already have name and gender marker change policies in place. The HR Department is a good place to start, if your employer has one and you feel comfortable speaking to them. Otherwise, talk to your direct manager or supervisor. If you experience discrimination in employment because of your gender identity you should contact an attorney.

How do I update information related to education?

Updating educational records is a decision made on a school-by-school basis. Refusing to use your chosen name and pronouns or to update your educational records may violate federal laws like Title IX and FERPA. If you experience discrimination in education, or a school refuses to update your records, you should contact an attorney. 

How do I update my health insurance?

If you get Medicare or Medicaid, then the gender marker listed on your insurance may be changed when you update Social Security. Otherwise, you can contact your Medicare or Medicaid provider, or other private insurance provider, about updating your name and gender marker. 

Your health insurance should provide the same coverage regardless of your gender marker. However, sometimes insurance companies won’t pay for care when they think your gender marker doesn’t match with the services you received. You should work with your provider or contact your plan to try to fix the denial. You can also ask an attorney for advice or more help. See the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund’s Trans Health Project for more information about health insurance.
 

How do I update my criminal history and background checks?

Criminal records cannot be changed. Any criminal records under your old name that show up in a background check will continue to show up. However, there are two types of checks—fingerprint-based checks and name-based checks. A fingerprint-based check will most likely associate you with any criminal records under your old name, while a name-based check might not. But name-based checks may use other identifying information, such as your birth date or social security number. Your other identifying information will match with your old records, but the person asking for the background check may or may not actually connect those records to you if you’ve legally changed your name.

Name-based background checks may also search for additional information besides just your criminal history, such as old education and employment records or credit information. Again, even if you’ve legally changed your name, your other identifying information may show a match with records under your old name, but the person asking for the background check may or may not actually connect those records with you.

 

How do I update military records?

The National Center for Transgender Equality has a guide for changing your DD214 Military Discharge Record and the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). You can contact an attorney for more help. 

The Modern Military Association of America is the largest non-profit for the LGBTQ+ military and veteran community.
 

 

How do I update selective service records if I have a name change?

If you are registered, you must tell Selective Service if you change your name. Selective Service asks you to contact them for information about legal name changes. You can call 847-688-6888 or toll-free at 888-655-1825.

How do I update selective service records if I change my gender marker?

You can find the Selective Service System’s policy on gender identity and registration here

If I’m assigned male at birth, what are the selective service requirements?

Individuals assigned male at birth are required to register with Selective Service starting when you turn 18 and ending the day you turn 26. If you are required register, you must register within 30 days after your 18th birthday.

You must register with Selective Service to be eligible for government student aid, as well as for most government employment, if you apply with a male gender marker.  

Texas DPS automatically sends your information to Selective Service if you apply for a Texas driver’s license listing “Male.” If you have ever had a Texas driver’s license that lists your gender as male, you are likely already registered. You can check your registration here

If you were assigned male at birth but got a female gender marker on your Texas driver’s license before age 18 (meaning you were not automatically registered), you can register here.

If I’m assigned female at birth, what are the selective service requirements?

Individuals assigned female at birth are not required to register with Selective Service. However, Texas DPS will automatically send your information to Selective Service when you apply for a driver’s license or ID listing “Male.” If you change your gender marker to male before you turn 18, or at any time until you turn 26, and you then obtain a “Male” Texas driver’s license or ID, DPS may automatically register you with Selective Service. You may try to ask DPS not to send your information to Selective Service.

You must register, or prove you don’t have to register, to be eligible for government student aid, as well as most government employment, if you apply with a male gender marker. 

If you have changed your gender marker to male (and were not automatically registered because of your Texas ID), you can either choose to register or ask for a Status Information Letter. 

You may register here.

You can otherwise ask for a Status Information Letter (SIL) from Selective Service. The SIL will explain that you do not have to register. The letter only says you don’t have to register and doesn’t explain why, so it should not out you as transgender. The form to ask for an SIL can be found here.
 

NOTE: A lawsuit is challenging the rule that only individuals assigned male at birth are required to register. The Fifth Circuit recently decided that a male-only draft is constitutional. The parties have asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case. You can find more information here.

On March 25, 2020 the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service also released its Final Report recommending that Selective Service registration be made gender neutral, which may result in future changes to the Selective Service System. You can find the full report here.
 

 

Legal Resources

Texas Legal Services Center Medical-Legal Partnerships
Patients of our partner organizations (Kind Clinic and People’s Community Clinic) should ask your provider for a referral. 


Pro Bono Clinics

  • University of Texas School of Law - Gender Affirmation Project: Law students under attorney supervision can help prepare court documents for name and gender marker change for free. Pro bono clinics are held multiple times each semester. Watch the Project’s Facebook page for updates and upcoming events.
  • Trans Legal Aid Clinic Houston: Hosts name and gender marker change clinics in Houston. See their Facebook page for information.
  • Houston Volunteer Lawyers (Income and residency requirements): Hosts Gender Marker and Name Change Clinics in Houston. Check eligibility requirements on their website.

Legal Aid (income and residency requirements)
Generally, to qualify for Legal Aid your income must be below 125% of the Federal Poverty Line, which looks at your household income and the number of people that live with you. In 2021 for one person, 125% of FPL is $16,100 per year. For two people—$21,775 per year, for a family of four—$33,125.


Some legal aid organizations may get other funding that lets them serve people whose income is above 125% FPL. Even if you think you might be over income, you can still try to apply.

  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: 1 (888) 988-9996
  • Legal Aid of Northwest Texas: 1 (888) 529-5277
  • Lone Star Legal Aid:
    • East Texas from Texarkana to Galveston.  See if your county is in LSLA’s service area and find contact information to apply with your local office.


Other Legal Service Providers
Driver’s License Recovery and Occupational Driver’s Licenses:

Criminal Record Expunction and Nondisclosure:

Military:


Self-Help Resources