An LGBT Person’s Guide To Legal Name Changes In Virginia

[caption id="attachment_3136" align="alignright" width="410"] Jacob Haley[/caption] Name changes are one of the most frequent inquiries we receive at Equality Virginia.  This is an issue that impacts the entire LGBT spectrum. We read about Jacob Haley’s incident last week when he was wrongfully denied a legal name change by a Louisa County Circuit Court judge. Haley is a transgender man who wanted to change his legal name from his female birth name to his male name.  This should have been a straightforward process until he encountered a judge who moved away from the legal process and began asking for medical paperwork. further interviews several trans people that have successfully had a name change. No additional documentation is required for a legal name change in Virginia.   While the Department of Motor Vehicles requires medical documentation for a gender marker change, Haley should have been granted this request for a simple name change. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="225"] Mandy & Kristyn faced changes when changing the name on their driver's licenses after marrying in 2012.[/caption] According to the Code of Virginia, § 8.01-217, any person desiring to change his own name may apply to the circuit court of the county or city in which he resides. The order shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant's former name or names, new name, and current address. A simple application for name change is on the Virginia Judicial System’s website and can be completed with a notary public. Form CC-1411 includes basic instructions to submit a copy to the court and does not request attachments.   Filing fees are paid in cash or by check or money order to the circuit court of residence. We have also heard challenges from gay and lesbian couples wishing to change their names after they have been married out-of-state.  Virginia’s 2006 Anti-Marriage Amendment prevents state agency from recognizing any of these partnerships. Equality Virginia told the story of Mandy and Kristyn who were married in DC in 2012, but denied a name change at their local DMV. DMV clarified its policy this year citing on its website it will not accept marriage certificates from gay and lesbian couples or civil unions. Couples wishing to change their name also must receive a court order to present to the DMV following the same process above. While there have been cases of arbitrary judges denying name change orders, many couples have successfully completed a name change.  If you encounter problems, seek counsel through our Legal Resources and report discrimination through our Tell It program to share your story.