Guide to changing your name and gender markers in Georgia.

Legally changing your name is an important element of social and legal transition, and is a way you can affirm to yourself and others a self more reflective of your true identity. There are also many advantages to changing your legal name to the name you use socially--many businesses will only let you use your legal name for accounts and services, schools and universities require your legal name to register, to get housing you need to use your legal name for a credit check and for the lease, etc. 

The process to change your name and gender markers in Georgia is not particularly difficult, but it is tedious. Changing your name and changing your gender require court orders. You can either (1) first file to change your name and then file to change your gender with two separate cases or (2) file one pleading that asks the court to change both your name and gender at the same time.

This second method is used by some jurisdictions--and I developed the pleadings after discussing this issue with the Superior Court of Richmond County--but judges that are not familiar with gender changes may be confused by them. The upside is that you save time and only have to pay one filing fee.

If you've already changed your name, then you will only need the gender change pleadings.

Links to the three intakes are on the sidebar on the left.

(EDIT 6/15/2017 - Links are currently disabled as we improve the intakes by automating the document production. Copies of the filing that you can fill in yourself are here:

Georgia requires you to have undergone gender reassignment surgery in order to change your gender on your birth certificate and drivers license. The federal government does not require surgery to change the gender in your passport. They require that a physician certify that you have had "appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition."

Changing your name in Georgia

I will prepare the court filings for you for free if you like--you will need to enter your information on my website here. A sample set of court filings is available here (scroll down to name change-adult).

Take your paperwork to the clerk of the superior court for the county where you reside. The clerk will help you file the paperwork but will not give you legal advice.

You need to pay two fees: a filing fee to the court and a fee to the local newspaper that will publish notice of your name change. These fees vary by county, but should be no more than $300-ish. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you can ask the court to waive the fee. You do this by filing a poverty affidavit and proposed order and then waiting for the court to grant or deny the waiver. The clerk will have a form poverty affidavit for you to complete and file.

 Once you pay the fee or it is waived, the clerk will file your paperwork. Some clerks may require a case filing form (like this). Some clerks may require you file the petition, notice of petition, and proposed final decree all at once; others may only require the petition. Bring all your paperwork just in case.

The clerk may forward the notice to the newspaper to publish or that may be your responsibility: be sure to ask. The clerk may also schedule a court date for your final decree, or it may be your responsibility to contact the clerk or judge's chambers to schedule the date. Be sure to ask.

Note that many counties now have electronic filing, where you can file this paperwork online. Look for instructions on the clerk of court's webpage if you want to efile, but know that you can also go in person.

Once filed, you are required to publish notice in the "legal organ," or newspaper of record for your county, for four consecutive weeks. A list of legal organs is here; you can also ask the clerk of court. Once the newspaper has finished publishing your notice, they will mail you an affidavit saying they published the notice.

You must also wait 30 days from the filing date, although publishing notice for four weeks usually takes longer than 30 days.

Once you have the publisher's affidavit and 30 days have passed, you are ready for the judge to sign the final decree. Call the court to schedule a court date if the clerk did not schedule one for you. 

If the clerk scheduled a court date for you and you later cannot make it, call the court to reschedule. If you do not show up to your court date, the judge may dismiss your petition.

On your court date, bring copies of your filings, the publisher's affidavit, and a photo ID. After the judge has signed and filed the final decree, get 3 or 4 certified copies from the clerk's office. You'll need them for changing your driver's license, Georgia birth certificate, and passport.

If the judge denies your petition despite you having everything in order, please email me (ryan@thelockefirm.com) or call me at 404-909-7795.

Changing your drivers license

To change your name:

You'll need a certified copy of the court order, and you must go to DDS within 60 days of the final order. You will also need to bring the other documents that you normally need to renew your drivers license (refer to the DDS page here). The renewal fee is $20 and you will need to surrender your old license.

To change your gender:

You can either bring a certified copy of both the name change and gender change court orders OR a letter from a doctor certifying that you have had a "gender reassignment operation." The law does not define what a "gender reassignment operation" is, so chest surgery, orchiectomy, hysterectomy and the like will work. The letter can be from any doctor familiar with your treatment, not just the surgeon who actually performed the operation. A sample letter is here.

You will also need to bring the other documents that you normally need to renew your drivers license (refer to the DDS page here). The renewal fee is $20 and you will need to surrender your old license.

You can change your name and gender on your drivers license at the same time.

If they refuse to change your ID:

First, ask to see a manager, tell them you have the documents they need, and demand that they change your ID. If they refuse again, try a different location (you can go to any DDS location in any county to change your name and gender). If you are refused twice, or if they say that they will not accept a doctor's letter, please email me at ryan@thelockefirm.com.

Changing the gender on your birth certificate

(UPDATED 2/13/2017 -- The Vital Records Service now requires a court order to change the gender on you birth certificate. Previously they accepted a physician letter.)

You must first be granted a name change before you can be granted a gender change. You can either (1) first file to change your name and then file to change your gender with two separate cases or (2) file one pleading that asks the court to change both your name and gender at the same time.

This second method is used by some jurisdictions--and I developed the pleadings after discussing this issue with the Superior Court of Richmond County--but judges that are not familiar with gender changes may be confused by them. The upside is that you save time and only have to pay one filing fee.

If you use the combo filing, follow the procedure for the name change, above. If you only need to change your gender, the process is nearly the same as changing you name--and you'll be familiar with it because you are required to change your name by court order before you can change your gender through court order. The main difference is that you do not need to advertise in the legal organ for a gender change like you did for your name change.

I will prepare the pleadings for you for free--the intakes are on the left sidebar.

Once the court issues an order changing your gender, get a certified copy from the clerk of court and gather together:

  • A cover letter (sample here);
  • The certified copy of the court orders;
  • An official copy of your birth certificate;
  • A money order for $35 (add $5 for each certified copy you need).

Send the package to:

State Office of Vital Records

1680 Phoenix Boulevard, Suite 100

Atlanta, GA 30349

The processing time is 8 to 10 weeks.

They also have walk-in service where they'll amend your birth certificate the same day.

If they refuse to change your birth certificate or ask for more information, please email (ryan@thelockefirm.com) a copy of their response to me.

Changing your passport

To change your name, the federal government will accept the court order.

To change your gender, the government requires either a certified copies of the court orders or a letter from a doctor. Unlike Georgia, the federal government does not require that you undergo surgery to change your gender. They only require that you have received "appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition" and will accept a letter from a doctor familiar with your treatment (sample letter here).

If the doctor certifies that your gender transition is "in progress" then the government will issue you a passport valid for 2 years. If your gender transition is "complete" then you get a passport valid for 10 years. Whether your transition is complete is between you and your doctor--passport workers are not permitted to question you about it--so I recommend asking your doctor to write that your transition is complete.

If you are only changing your name you can mail everything to the address on the passport correction form.

If you are changing your gender or have never had a passport, you need to apply in person at the post office.

If you have never had a passport bring:

  • Certified copy of the court order OR your doctor's letter
  • A completed passport form (Form here) (State Department's passport wizard here).
  • Your original birth certificate or naturalization certificate
  • Current ID, such as driver's license. This can have your old name or incorrect gender.
  • Photocopies of the birth certificate and ID
  • A passport photo (details about specifications here)
  • A check or money order for the $110 fee.

If you are correcting or updated your passport, bring:

You'll receive your passport in the mail in 4 to 6 weeks. You can expedite the processing and delivery of your passport with additional fees. The fee schedule is here.