Transgender Name Change in California is getting really good. In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB179 into Law. This new law largely replaces AB 1266, making Name Change and Name and Gender Change even easier and more accessible. Among other things, it establishes a new gender category for State ID and Official Records: Nonbinary. In 2019, California ID centers, such as DMV, are required to allow the nonbinary gender identity on their licensing and other documents issued to Californians.
California residents can Petition, starting in September 2018, for Change of Name and Gender WITHOUT needing a physician’s letter or declaration. Also, these Petitioners do not need to attend a public hearing. Publishing (or Advertising) is not required for Petitions seeking to change a person’s gender marker, or a name if it’s to conform to the person’s gender identity. In 2019, California ID centers, such as DMV, are required to include the new Nonbinary marker to indicate a person’s gender.
Since the 2014 law was enacted, the courts had become pretty good at smoothly processing Name Changes to conform to gender identity. It may be a bit rocky for the 2018 changes until all the court personnel has enough experiences. So, let’s get them some experience:)
Transgender Name Change in California – The first bold step
Transgender Name Change in California was made much better since a 2014 new California Law took effect (AB 1266, see (now) CCP Section 1277.5). California courts have been processing each Transgender Petitioner, under the new laws, more and more smoothly. A few clerks, and even some judges, weren’t familiar with the new processes early on. But, even when those processing problems happen, they can be cleared up quickly when the law is cited and reviewed.
Now, California residents can Petition for Change of Name, Change of Name (to conform to the Petitioner’s Gender Identity) or Name and Gender. Each of those types have different forms, costs and procedures. And each type has special sections of California Law that apply only to them.
For Transgender Petitioners, if you want to Change just Your Name (and not also your Gender Marker at the same time), the Law refers to that as a Petition to conform to the Petitioner’s gender identity. It allows the Petition to be processed without publication of the Hearing (No Advertising). And, it also requires the court to Grant the Petition without appearing at a Hearing, unless objections are received. See below for the costs and time frames, etc.
If you want a Petition to Change Your Name and Gender, that process has it’s own set of Forms and a variation on the process. Most notably, a Petition for Name and Gender used to have to be accompanied with a Physician Declaration. The law no longer states that you must have a letter addressing Health and Safety Code sections 103425 and 103430.
The newly modified process is:
- Prepare the correct set of Court Forms for the correct Superior Court
- File the Forms at the courthouse and pay the filing fee or use a Court Fee Waiver Request. Set an Approval date.
- Be sure your confidential background check is promptly processed by the court. This may mean an extra Form and/or process, depending on where you live now.
- Monitor the court case. Upon Approval, get your Certified Decree(s) from the court. Start changing your Government and Financial ID and records
- Neither Name (Gender Identity) or Name and Gender Petitioners ARE technically required to attend a Hearing. But, all Petitioners need to get their Certified Copy(s) from the courthouse in order to Change Important ID and Official Records.
Transgender Name Change in California – Costs
COSTS – Adult Name Change costs vary depending on where you live. The largest cost is what the Court charges for filing and processing it. That cost will be between $435 and $480 to file, depending on the county where you live now. The court can waive that charge if you qualify because of low income (ask us about court fee waiver forms if you think you may qualify).
UPDATE NOTE: Advertising/Publishing is no longer required by for these two types of Petitions. The 2018 Name Change Law revisions made that clearer. Advertising costs run between $50 and $500 depending on the county where you live now and the newspaper chosen. So, it’s a definite cost benefit besides the issue of no longer needing to worry about unwanted publicity. If we help you with Full Service, we will document the Petition and transmitting documentation to make sure your Petition takes full advantage of these better rules.
Petition preparation costs can run from zero to thousands of dollars. If you do everything yourself, you won’t pay to prepare your own Petition correctly. But, you will have to invest the time to do that properly. Figure on between 5 and 10 hours. Name Change services charge between $115 and $400. Attorney’s charge between $400 and $3,500 for the same thing. If you want legal advice, for instance because you have an unresolved criminal history, you may need an attorney. There are Forms suppliers that charge between “Zero” and $169. If you use one of those, be prepared to be asked to pay (no such thing as “Zero”) and not necessarily get the correct, up to date and complete set of Forms (most of those places aren’t California based).
SUMMARY – EZ Name Change Costs
- $115: Initial Payment (Petition Preparation)
- 435 Court Filing Fee (can be 450, 465, or 480 depending on your location)
- 120 Full Service Filing, Name Change for Gender Identity Annotations, Citations, Setting Hearing date and providing a Full Filing and Completion REPORT with copies of everything.
($235 TOTAL, with approved Fee Waiver)
Certified Copies of your court order are, upon approval, $40.50 each (or free with approved Fee Waiver).
When California’s laws changed, in 2014, Name Change and Name and Gender change became more user friendly. For that, we thank the people who helped make it happen, including Assembly member Toni Atkins, Equality California, the Transgender Law Center, and Gov. Jerry Brown. As of September 1, 2018, it got better still. Thanks again to most of the same people.
At EZNameChange.com, we’ve already been helping Trans people through the new process. Legal Name Change for Californian’s is all we do. We’re Specialists. If you want to do your Name Change or Name and Gender Change all by yourself, you can. If you want to just ask a question or two, we’ll be happy to help. Alternatively, we will take you all the way through the process if you want that kind of help. We feature low-cost, minimum bother, and maximum of satisfaction. Check out our Yelp reviews. Go ahead. Push our buttons!
* The language of the Name Change laws talks only about a Petition that “seeks to conform the petitioner’s name to his or her gender identity”. The Name Change Laws exempt Petitioners that fit the description of seeking to conform the petitioner’s name to his or her gender identity. And yet, court instructions refer to compliance with Health and Safety Code sections for Petitioners seeking Name and Gender Change, which do require Advertising and Hearing attendance. Or do they? The courts may have to eventually settle on whether a Petition to Change a person’s Name and Gender IS or IS NOT a Petition that seeks to conform a person’s name to his or her gender identity. Until then, the Name and Gender Change Petitioner must make a practical decision about whether or not to Advertise AND/OR attend their Hearing.
UPDATE NOTE: With the 2018 changes (see AB179), it is MUCH CLEARER that Petitions for Change of Name and Gender ARE NOT REQUIRED to do publishing or advertising or attend a public hearing, unless an objection, with merit, is raised properly and timely. Such objections are VERY rare.