Changing Name and Gender legally

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Changing Name and Gender legally

Postby Kate » March 27th, 2016, 9:05 pm

Changing your name and gender is a very important and validating part of the transition process. However sometimes it can seem exhausting and confusing. So here are the basics. This information is relevant for NSW though it should be consistent for all Australia jurisdictions (see note at end).

The good news is that you really only need two documents. The bad news is that acquiring these two can take a little time.

Step 1:
The first document you really need is to get a "Letter of recognition" from your GP or medical specialist (e.g. Endocrinologist). If your GP or specialist is experienced in assisting transgender patients they should know how to write this (essentially it just needs to have your preferred / new name, your preferred gender designation and their signature and medicare provider number) however it is probably also worthwhile to get them to fill out this form:
as you will need it later to change your gender on your passport. (NB: Some doctors may require you to come back to get the passport form done once you have registered your new name as this is strictly speaking a legal document and should use your registered name).

Step 2:
You now need to register a change of name with the register of Births Deaths and Marriages in your relevant state. In NSW it is easiest to go in to a Service NSW office (the old RTA offices) and get them to help you fill in the form. You will need:
1. Your original Birth certificate. If you haven't got it or have lost it there is a section of the form where you just ask the BDM register to do a search for one.
2. Some form of photo ID. This will be in your OLD name and gender e.g. drivers licence, passport, Centrelink photo card.
3. That letter that you got in step 1 that says you are known as and are living successfully as (your new name) of gender (your preferred gender).
4. Proof of your current residential status in NSW / your relevant state or territory.

Just as a tip. If you DONT have a copy of your original birth certificate tick the box to get a copy. You will need it to apply for a new passport.

Now you wait. For 4 weeks!!! 8 weeks if you don't want it urgently!

OK now you should have 2 documents:
1. Your change of name certificate. Note that unless you have had surgical procedures confirming your gender (i.e. SRS / GRS) this document will STILL list your gender as Male (Female if you are FTM). that is why you also need:
2. Your letter of recognition of gender from your GP or medical specialist. This will acknowledge your preferred / true gender.

These 2 documents are now your magic key for getting just about any regulated authority in Australia to recognise your new name and gender.

Now you take these 2 documents and start changing all of your other ID. There is no necessary order in doing this but I would suggest the following being from most important in terms of your acceptance by others:
1. Drivers licence. Again go in to your Service NSW office to get this done. They will issue you with a new drivers licence photo ID as well which is useful. NB: You NEED the change of name before getting your drivers licence. You can change your gender easy enough with just your letter of recognition but as NSW drivers licences no longer list a gender changing your gender only is barely worthwhile, particularly if you are changing your name.
2. Medicare card. This is a good one as it also is really good for opening new bank accounts if you want / need to.
3. Bank accounts, Credit cards and ATM / Eftpos cards. These are good as nothing bites harder than being acknowledged for your true gender and name and having to hand over a credit card and say "actually, yes that was my old name". Been there. Sucks.
4. Any other miscellaneous ID's e.g. club membership cards, local library card etc.

There are only 2 bastions of real pain in the neck you are going to have to deal with. The first is a Passport. Even if you aren't intending to travel OS for a while a passport in your correct name and gender is incredibly useful as it basically along with a drivers licence means that you can file away that change of name certificate and letter of recognition in a safe place only to be used in extreme circumstances (because lets face it, no one really wants to present documents with their old name and gender ANYWHERE on them once they have transitioned).

The good news is that you only have to make one application to get your passport changed and it is one of the few documents that actually has documentary evidence you can present to someone of your gender.
The bad news is that it is a bit of a pain in the neck, its expensive AND you get that crappy photo in your passport (no smiling, not too much makeup, no wigs, no hair on face. My LEAST female looking photo ever since transition).
You will need:
1. Your original birth certificate
2. Your change of name certificate
3. Your letter of gender recognition from your GP / medical specialist.
4. Medicare card, Drivers licence or other ID in your new name.
Get an interview with your local Passport officer (usually found at your old Post Office), fill in the forms and send it away.

The last documents that are pains in the neck are any land titles that you may have in your name (e.g. if you have a mortgage). Frankly the easiest way to do this is to take EVERYTHING you have to your solicitor (most local solicitors are pretty cool and helpful) and get them to do it. Trust me. I have a tertiary degree and I'm pretty good with legal type stuff but that form and process defied any sort of decoding.

Hope all that helps. It is time consuming. It took me a little over 3 months to get all of my relevant ID changed and I still have a couple of dribble bits and pieces not done (stuff like library cards and RSL Club membership card). It is however very validating and really helps you to settle in to yourself once you've got it all done.

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