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Primer on Transgender Legal Name and Gender Changes in Indiana

Transitioning from female to male (FTM) or male to female (MTF) is a lengthy process – one that is often marked more by struggle than by celebration. For people who are transgendered, being able to legally change their name and gender marker is a momentous milestone. Telling loved ones of your new name or proper pronouns is certainly a big step, but there comes a time when it’s important to transform them from mere preference to official terminology. The process varies from state to state, and not all judges are willing to grant it, so to save yourself from any problems in the future, it’s wise to consult an attorney.

Much of the way we are distinguished throughout life is by name and “gender marker.” From the time we are born, those two pieces of information are listed on our birth certificates and become inextricably linked to our identity. Many transgendered people put a lot of thought into choosing the name that they feel better represents who they are and as such, they are faced with having to amend many documents including driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards, birth certificates, school records, government records, and medical records.

A court order is required in Indiana in order to change your name for reasons that are unrelated to marriage, divorce or immigration status. The petitioner must be 17 years old and CANNOT:

  • Be in jail or prison
  • Be required to register as a sex or violent offender
  • Be seeking a name change to avoid creditors.

There are special filing requirements for people under age 17 and those who have been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years.

Securing a name change involves many steps including filling out a packet of forms, publishing notice of the name change in the paper multiple times prior to the court hearing, and having the change notice verified by a notary.

Many individuals who feel they were assigned the wrong gender at birth live in fear that they will be discriminated against or even physically harmed due to being transgendered. Having documents reflect who they really are can offer an unparallelled sense of peace that their privacy won’t be invaded and they won’t be outed against their will. Having a “physician’s statement of gender change” form signed by a physician as well as a physician’s signed statement using certain gender transition language can ensure that all the bases are covered for what an agency or organization may ask for as proof of a gender change.

Unlike some states, Indiana does NOT require any gender reassignment surgeries as a prerequisite for changing gender markers. You need only have had “appropriate clinical treatment.” Some individuals have had varying levels of success changing their driver’s license before any other document while others have found it easier to change their birth certificate first. Every record and form of identification comes with its own nuances that can best be addressed with legal advice.

No one who is dealing with transgender issues should also have to worry about being treated fairly and respectfully by a legal professional. The experienced lawyers at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law are here to help – without judgment. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana, Floyd County IN, and Clark County IN. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or through our online form.

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