Considerations When Legally Changing Your Child’s Name

Have you made legal changes to your child’s name? There are some considerations when legally changing your child’s name.

Parents, it is shocking to see that my state’s Case Search lists my name for changing my daughter’s name. We live in a state that allows parents to change the gender assigned at birth and the child’s name. I recognize how lucky I am because many do not have this luxury.

Why is this important? In 2017 the new administration dismantled Title IX protections for our children, dismissed employment protections for our community, nominated three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, and effectively erased LGBTQ references from government documents and websites. To see the Human Rights Campaign, Timeline of Hate click here. When they float the topic of making a national policy to discontinue genders assigned at birth to change, I jump into action. If you would like a copy of our Name Change Check List click here.

It is a daunting process and takes time so I suggest moving forward with the process as soon as you can in your journey. I was able to complete our name change process without a lawyer. A great resource for people in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area is the Whitman Walker Clinic. They also have legal resources. Another resource is the National Center for Transgender Equality which provides a map and information state-by-state. It is important to remember that the laws of the state where a child is born govern the birth identification. So even if you live in a different state, the birth state has governance over that document.

Back to Case Search where we started. Changing my daughter’s name meant taking out an advertisement in our local newspaper announcing the name change (a legal requirement that has since been abolished). I never considered this to be part of my “record.” Here is what a lawyer tells me:

“There is no statute that provides for expungement of name change records. There is a process that allows you to petition to seal records in a judicial proceeding.  There is a First Amendment dimension to this, though it is not substantial for something like a name change. Some records get sealed compulsorily. Most juvenile records fall into this basket, but name changes are not listed in the statute. I wouldn’t undertake such a request without counsel.”

I will update my blog with the resolution once we arrive at that place. For now, it is important to do what you can to protect your child’s identity. Legal protections are precarious and given the outlook of midterm elections, it is best we act to protect our children while we still can. To my fellow parents who had their beautiful babies in states that do not allow name and/or gender marker changes for their TNBY children, I am with you and will continue to push the needle. Our entire parent community needs to mobilize by supporting candidates in local, state, and federal elections who will support our children. Now is the time. Board of education elections matter, county commissioner elections matter, governors, senators, and judges matter.

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