Name and Gender
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Riverside County Superior Court is encouraging people to submit documents online through their eSubmit-Document Submission Portal rather than coming to the court in person. They have waived the electronic submission fee at least through June 30, 2020. The court is also closed at least through May 29, 2020 except for emergency matters.
SB310 now allows inmates within the California Department of Corrections to obtain a court order changing their name and/or gender without the Warden’s consent. Inmates can use the same forms as people who are not in prison or jail, but must provide a copy of the filed petition to the prison or jail. People required to register as sex offenders must still demonstrate that granting the requested change is in “the best interests of justice.”
SB179 allows a person to have a non-binary gender marker on their California birth certificate, driver’s license, or state ID, and to get a court order changing their gender to non-binary. Note that there may be obstacles in changing gender on other states’ or federal identity documents (such as a passport) or records to non-binary. Please consult an attorney if you are considering changing your state ID or getting a court order changing your gender to non-binary.
SB179 also removed the requirement for a medical declaration to change gender on a birth certificate, driver’s license, or state ID, or for court orders changing a person’s gender. A person can make a declaration that the change is to conform their legal gender to their gender identity, and not for any fraudulent purpose.
NAME AND GENDER CHANGE
California law no longer has the roadblocks that previously prevented many transgender people from correcting their identity documents. Below are the important parts of the law that you should be familiar with before starting the process of changing your name and/or gender marker:
California Civil Code 1277.5
Sub. (a)(1): If no objections are filed within six weeks of the filing of the petition “the court shall, without hearing, enter the order that the change of name is granted.”
Sub. (b): “The proceeding for a change of name to conform the petitioner's name to the petitioner's gender identity is exempt from any requirement for publication.”
Sub. (c): “Objections based solely on concerns that the proposed change is not the petitioner's actual gender identity or gender assigned at birth shall not constitute good cause.”
This means that you will not be required to appear for a court hearing unless someone files a legitimate objection to your name change, or there is some other complication with your petition (i.e. undisclosed criminal record).
California Civil Code 1277
Sub.(b), protects people seeking a name and/or gender marker change from having to make that information public. In order to qualify for those protections, you need to meet the provided exceptions, which are: avoiding domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, or human trafficking. See sub. (b)(2).
Sub.(5), permits any name and/or gender marker change applicant to request the Court seal the petition. In deciding whether to seal the petition, the Court considers the following factors:
(A) There exists an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to the record.
(B) The overriding interest supports sealing the record.
(C) A substantial probability exists that the overriding interest will be prejudiced if the record is not sealed.
(D) The proposed order to seal the records is narrowly tailored.
(E) No less restrictive means exist to achieve the overriding interest.
HOW TO OBTAIN A COURT ORDER CHANGING YOUR NAME AND GENDER
1. Fill out the forms for a name and gender change, available on the California Courts’ website here:
2. Make a copy of your completed forms.
3. File your forms with the superior court in the county where you live (e.g., Riverside County Superior Court).
4. If no one contests the name and gender change the court will grant the change and will not require the petitioner to appear for a hearing. The court's clerk will inform the petitioner that the judge ‘may’ require them to appear if there is a problem with the forms. If this occurs we encourage you to consult an attorney to get guidance on how to respond. If you need help finding an LGBTQ-friendly attorney, you can contact the National Center for Lesbian Rights at 1-800-528-6257 or info@NCLRights.org, or online at www.nclrights.org/GetHelp.
If the petitioner’s presence is not required the court clerk will call the petitioner and inform them to pick up their name and gender change form called NC-230 Decree Changing Name and Gender. The petitioner will receive ‘two’ free certified copies which can be used for changing documentation with the Social Security Office, Department of Motor Vehicles, Passports, etc. It is important to get additional certified copies for updating petitioners information on utilities accounts, credit cards, titles, rental agreements, etc.