Maryland continues to progress in advancing the rights and inclusion of Transgender people, but major legal and bureaucratic barriers, including access to changing one’s name and gender on identity documents, remain. These barriers put transgender and non-binary people at risk for discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and travel.
Why is this important?
In the USA, state and federal identification documents are essential to accessing jobs, housing, health care services, public health and social benefits, and basic political and civil rights. As a result, people whose identification does not reflect their chosen name or gender identity may avoid seeking jobs, health care services, and other benefits for fear of being “outed” as transgender and facing discrimination and violence. But, when identity documents do reflect someone’s chosen name and gender identity, they are more likely to seek and access these services and rights with far less fear of harassment. One pilot study demonstrated that transgender women of color who were able to change their name and gender to match their identity were three times more likely to own or rent a house, less likely to postpone medical care due to gender identity, and less likely to experience verbal or physical harassment. Creating accessible and affirming processes for legal name and gender changes is a first step in addressing the disproportionate violence and negative health outcomes experienced by the Trans community.
What is the current process?
Currently, there is a multi-step process to change one’s name and gender identity on Identity Documents. Normally, one must obtain a legal name change, then update Social Security record, Driver’s License or State/Territory ID, Passport (if you have one), and birth certificates (if you have need or want to). Currently, obtaining a legal name change requires a person to complete a “Change of Name” petition, file it with one’s local circuit court (typically costs $165 or a completed fee waiver), publish notice of name change in one’s county or city newspaper, and receive a signed order for name change. This process is much more cumbersome for minors. Click here for FAQs.
FreeState Justice can support you in obtaining a legal name change and gender marker change.
What are the Issues and What Can We Do?
Need for third-gender marker on state-issued IDs
Strict and cumbersome physician requirements for birth certificate update
Strict and cumbersome identity document updates for minors