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Thursday, 14 April 2011 03:12

Exploring Gender: Call Me Cael

Written by  Cael

changeSo I decided on a name: Jacob Cael. Jacob to keep a name my mom and dad agreed upon and Cael to keep my C. Cat has been my nickname for a very long time, so I wanted to keep the spirit of it.

When you are identify as any form of genderqueer and don’t fit within the bounds of your given name, the process of legally changing your name is a good one to know. The law and cost differ from state to state and also county to county. Based on my research for myself, I will list the process in Virginia to give an outline of what the procedure entails. For more information on individual states and counties, contact a local circuit court, local lawyer, or visit a local government website.

The cost for a legal name change in the city in which I live is $41, to be paid cash, check, credit (MC or Visa), or debit. You must have a local address, your parent’s names (including your mother’s maiden name), the date and place of your birth, felony conviction record (if you have one), whether you are currently incarcerated or a petitioner within any court, and former name or names (if you have any).

According to Virginia state law, the application must be taken under oath at the local circuit court, perhaps with a hearing depending on local law. Unless there is reason to believe the name change is taken under fraudulent circumstances or it violates the rights of another party, the name change will be granted. The name change would then be filed by the clerk of the court, and copies would be sent to the State Registrar of Vital Records and the Central Criminal Records Exchange.

Following the change, it is important to notify the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles (it is a $5 fee for a new license in VA), and your bank and other personal services. In regards to your voter registration, you must contact the local Registrar’s Office, and for your personal property, you must contact the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office. Note that you have a limited amount of time to contact these divisions in some instances without being in violation of the law, so be sure to keep in mind the important things you must do following the name change.

Keep in mind that this will not change the sex on any of your documents. A name change is only a name change. You must reference yourself in the pronouns of the sex assigned to you at birth when filling out the legal documents to submit. The F can only be changed to an M with a letter from your doctor indicating the completion of your transition (in VA for sure, I’m not certain what the law is in other states), but at least the name can be a good first step.

Does anyone have any name change stories? Any knowledge of the process other states? If so, please leave it in the comments. The more information we can share with each other, the better.

VA state law:


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