Change of Gender Marker

Becoming Who You Are: Updating Names and Gender Markers in Pennsylvania.

A legal name that matches one's true identity is an incredibly important part of transitioning. Having official, government-issued identity documents is crucial to many aspects of everyday life, from driving a car, paying with a credit card, applying for jobs or school, voting, or boarding a plane.  According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, less than half of respondents did not have their preferred name and/or gender designation on any identification documents.  Having documents that reflect an individual’s gender identity is one way that transgender and non-binary individuals can continue to lead authentic lives

Unfortunately, many transgender individuals suffer legal, social, and financial discrimination simply as a result of their gender identity. These challenges are in addition to the harassment and violence transgender individuals experience in daily life.  Transgender people combat a number of forms of legal and social discrimination, most often in the form of dead-naming.  When a person’s legal identity is not accurate with how they identify, they can experience discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and financially where they can be denied a host of tools such as loans or credit cards. While there are laws on the books protect against some forms of discrimination, there is no law or policy prohibiting discrimination in insurance protections.  One way to potentially mitigate some of these issues is to present documentation that corroborates a person’s identity.


Not all government-issued documents contain gender markers.  However, those that do include:

  • Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate*
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License or State ID


In relation to Pennsylvania state-issued documentation, often when an individual seeks to update and/or change their gender marker, they will be required to submit additional medical documentation.

Notably, the following government-issued documents permit an individual to select (X) as their gender marker:

  • United States Passport
  • Pennsylvania Driver’s License

 The (X) designation refers to those individuals that are intersex, gender nonconforming, non-binary,


Updating State Identification

Bring your court-ordered name change document along with a new social security card, the PennDOT forms, and any required fees. You may also be asked to provide other documentation supporting your identity such as a state-issued government ID or passport. There are name change forms and also a Request for Gender change by filling out the applicable form. No one likes going to the DMV, but name change forms must be submitted in person at your local Driver’s License Center. Upon completion of the process, you may be asked to update your voter registration information.


Update passport

As of April 11, 2022, the United States Government permits individuals to not only select their preferred gender marker but also has made available the option to select (X) as one’s gender marker on their United States passport, recognizing those persons who are transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming.  The selection of a particular gender marker does not require the submission of medical documentation.

Visit the United States Department of State’s website for detailed information related to the selection of your gender marker.


Update birth certificate

Obtaining a new birth certificate requires submitting a form, the applicable fees, and a certified copy of the name change order.

Unfortunately, amending the sex destination on the birth certificate is more complicated. The request must include a letter from your physician on letterhead stating that he or she is your attending physician and that you have completed or are in the process of completing appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. The letter must include a verification stating that he or she declares under penalty of perjury that the foregoing letter is true and correct.

Maintaining a consistent identity where all your legal and account information matches your presentation may help reduce the likelihood of being a victim of legal discrimination. The path to becoming who you are is a difficult one, and it may feel like the process of legally changing your identity is daunting, but a knowledgeable and dedicated attorney can help support you through the process. If you have any questions about the process of changing your name or gender, do not hesitate to reach out to our Firm.


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Our Main Line LGBTQ Rights lawyers have represented clients. We believe we are different from many other Main Line, Montgomery County LGBTQ Rights attorneys, and Chester County LGBTQ Rights attorneys. 

Our Main Line family LGBTQ Rights lawyers can be contacted via emailor please call the Law Offices of Jennifer J. Riley at 215-283-5080.