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Why changing your identity documents matters when you’re not cisgender

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2020 | LGBTQ+ Law

People get name changes all the time, for all kinds of reasons, but for transgender and nonbinary people alike, a legal name change is a deeply personal experience. It is, in effect, a way to affirm one’s identity and control your own narrative.

If you’re contemplating changing your name to better reflect your identity, you’re joining a growing number of nonbinary and trans people of all ages who are doing the same thing for reasons that are both personal and practical:

  • Many trans people, in particular, feel disconnected from their birth names and the gender identity it carries. It can be incredibly uncomfortable, and feel disrespectful, when someone addresses you by your “dead” name in public or private.
  • If your appearance doesn’t match your name, you may constantly be subjected to extra scrutiny every time you present your identification somewhere, whether that’s at a bar, to security at an airport or when cashing a check.
  • Trans people also have to worry about being outed (or having to out themselves) when their name doesn’t match their appearance, and that could put them in danger if they’re in a situation where someone is transphobic.

Even though there’s a growing understanding that gender is more of a social construct and an internal feeling than something that can be easily determined by looking at someone, 32% of trans or nonbinary people who present in ways that are odds with their identity documents say that they’ve experienced harassment, assaults and denials of service because of it. Even an encounter with a police officer at a traffic stop can be dangerous. Mismatched appearances and names can also cause problems when someone is seeking employment.

Changing your name and your other identity documents can be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. Our office can help you accomplish your goals. For more information about our services, please continue reviewing our site or contact us directly.