Why this article? This article is meant to provide some basic information on questions I get asked all the time by transgender people and their families about name and gender changes. Some of the information here applies for those who are simply seeking to change their name or their child's name unrelated to gender transition. I sincerely hope you find this article helpful. If you find any typos or information that needs to be updated, please let me know.
Read: What You Get When You Hire Me for Name or Gender Change -- New article added May 16, 2021 that breaks down the process, the fees, and the timeframe.
If you are transgender, live in Arkansas, and wish to change your name, the good news is that the process is simple. Arkansas law allows you to change your name for any reason but not for purposes that are fraudulent, to escape a debt, or for any other unlawful purpose. Some states require publication of the name change in newspapers, but Arkansas does not.
Below are the common options for updating your name and gender marker.
Option 1. Self-Help
Please Note: My Fees for Document Review Services: After you have prepared your court documents for name change, I am happy to review them and provide feedback for a $125 fee. If you want me to review your court documents for name and gender change or just gender change, my fee is $175.
My Fees for Help After You've Filed Your Own Case: If you have filed your own court documents and you needs assistance, for example to file an amended petition and to help you complete the court process, my fee starts at a flat fee of $200 depending on what is needed in your case.
A number of groups and individuals have collaborated to publish the 2020 Arkansas Name & Gender Change Guide (updated January 2020), to help people through the process of changing name and gender marker. Using the guide, you can draft your own paperwork, file it with the court, attend a hearing before a judge, and then obtain a certified copy of your name change order after the judge signs it. Courts charge around $165 to file a new case in person at the clerk's office, and up to $5 for a certified copy of the order depending on the county in which you have filed your petition.
After you obtain a certified copy of your name change order, you can follow the guide and use your name change court order to update your name on your Social Security Record at the Social Security Administration and update your name on a new or renewed U.S. Passport. You are also able to update the gender marker on your Social Security Record and U.S. Passport by obtaining a letter signed by your doctor (usually your primary care physician, or a doctor with whom you have a doctor-patient relationship) that says you have had "appropriate clinical treatment" for transition to female/male. Surgery is not required to update the gender marker on your Social Security record or U.S. passport. If you do not have a passport, or you need to renew it and update the gender marker, you will need to use the form DS-11. If you have never had a passport, you must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility.
The sample physician letter mentioned above can be found in the guide linked to above. The same letter will work for both the Social Security record and passport.
After you update your Social Security record, you will also be able to update your Arkansas driver's license with your new name, a current photograph, and the correct gender marker. Surgery is not required to update the gender marker on your Arkansas driver's license. Go to your local revenue office (or another one that is trans-friendly) and bring your current driver's license, your name change court order, and a payment method and request a new driver's license with your new name. You may ask the clerk to also change the gender marker for you. There is no official form, but you may use the "Driver's License Gender Designation Form" in the guide if you wish...it may be helpful to the clerk but is not a requirement. That form was created for convenience.
Getting a duplicate driver's license or ID card for Social Security Name Change
When you send in your application to update the name and/or gender on your Social Security card/record, they require original copies of documents. One of the documents for proof of identity is your driver's license or ID card. To get around having to send in your only driver's license or ID card, you can order a duplicate license online for $10 or an ID card for $5. If you get duplicate driver's license, the duplicate that you get in the mail in about 3 days you should use for driving...the old one (the one you currently have now) can still be used for identification purposes (but not for driving) which you can submit with your Social Security name/gender change request.
Obtaining a duplicate AR DL/ID Card online: If you send in your original DL/ID card to SSA, it is recommended that you obtain a replacement/duplicate card from your local revenue office. The cost is about $10 for a DL and $5 for an ID card. If you obtain a replacement DL/ID card, you should to send your old one card to the SSA office and keep the replacement/duplicate until you can get a new one with your new name and the correct gender marker.
You can request a duplicate ID card online at: https://mydmv.arkansas.gov/
Look for the section that says "Get a Duplicate DL or ID" and click the link for "Get A Duplicate." The duplicate card will be mailed to you in about 3 days.
Arkansas Legal Services Online provides interactive forms to Arkansans representing themselves in a civil court matter, including adult name change and fee waiver:
- Main Name Change web page at AR Legal Services: Name Changes
- Self-Help Forms - Interactive Name Change Petition for Adult is an easy to use interactive form that will produce some of the documents needed to petition for an adult name change with the court.
- Self-Help Forms - In Forma Pauperis is a fee waiver request for people who qualify based on income level.
Civil Cover Sheet & Civil Disposition Sheet
The Arkansas Judiciary website provides current copies of the Civil Coversheet and Disposition sheet that you will need when filing your name and/or gender change:
- Court Forms - Civil Division web page Be sure to down load 2 files:
- "Civil Cover Sheet"
- Direct Link to Document: Civil Coversheet
- Direct Link to Document: Civil Coversheet Instructions
- For detailed instructions, please read the document titled "Civil Cover - Instructions" which is available at the Court Forms link above.
- Fill in the County in which you are filing.
- Fill in the Filing Date on which you are filing your documents with the clerk.
- Leave blank: District, Judge, Division, and Case ID. (We don't know these at the time of filing)
- Type of Case: Select "(OM) Civil - Other"
- Even though you are technically the "Petitioner", enter your personal details in the first column titled "Plaintiff"
- Last Name, Suffix, and First Name
- DL/State ID - If you have an Arkansas Driver's License then enter "AR/123456789" indicating the State that issued the license or id, and the number on your license/id.
- Address: Your home address
- City, State Zip: Your home address
- Phone: A good contact phone number for you
- Email: A good contact email address for you
- Self-represented: Select Yes if you are filing the documents yourself. If you are being represented by an attorney, they will likely be filling out this document for you.
- DOB: Your date of birth
- Interpreter needed: Select No if you don't need an interpreter. If you do, then select the language from the list or enter the language if it's not in the list.
- For the information items below the main table, you only need to select the last one "Manner of Filing (choose one)" -- select "(MFO) Original".
- "Civil Disposition Sheet"
- Direct Link to Document: Civil Disposition Sheet
- The Disposition Sheet is typically filed when you file your proposed order. You can file all of your documents at once.
- For detailed instructions, please read the document titled "Civil Cover - Instructions" which is available at the Court Forms link above.
- The clerk of court can help you fill out what is needed when you file your paperwork at the courthouse.
- Basically you will fill out the case number after one is assigned to your case, the case caption or title (if your petition for name change is titled "In Re Sherlock Holmes" or "In The Matter of Sherlock Holmes" or "In The Matter of Name Change of Sherlock Holmes" then in the Plaintiff box (before the "v.") enter "In Re" or "In The Matter of" and then in the Defendant box (after the "v.") enter the rest of the title. So it could look like this: "In The Matter Of" v. "Name Change of Sherlock Holmes."
- Unless instructed otherwise:
- "Trial Type" -- leave blank
- "Was an interpreter use for this case? -- check either Yes or No. If Yes, then fill in the other details under this section. If no, leave these items blank.
- "Wan any party self-represented for any portion of this case?" -- If you are filing the court documents yourself with an attorney, check Yes, and then in the section "If so, who?" enter your name. In parentheses, you can add Petitioner, like this: "Sherlock Holmes (Petitioner)."
- "Disposition Date" -- this is the date that the judge signs the order, so you can leave it blank since we don't know yet.
- "Manner of Disposition (Choose One)" -- this will likely be "(MDJD) Jugdment/Decree/Order" if the judge signs your proposed name change order. Leave blank the section "If consolidated, case ID:" since it likely won't apply if you are simply filing a name change. If there is another case that you are involved in and the court can consolidate them for efficiency, then you'd use this section, but it's fine to leave it blank.
- "Was a money judgment entered?" -- Check "No" and leave the rest of the items and the table in this section blank.
Option 2. Attend a Local Name and Gender Change Clinic
Periodically throughout the year, several groups and various people come together to help transgender people complete their own court paperwork for name and gender changes. At the clinic there will be at least one attorney, one physician, several notaries, and other assistants who will all work together to help you prepare the court documents that you can file on your own. You will still need to pay the $165 filing fee when you file it at the courthouse, and any other charges to obtain certified copies of your order. Some counties, such as Saline, provide certified copies of the orders at no charge. Pulaski County charges $5 per certified copy.
Please call or e-mail me if you want info about upcoming clinics. I will post them here when I learn of the them.
Option 3. Use an Attorney to File Your Name and/or Gender Change Petition
I have been helping transgender people with name and gender changes since 2009 and would be happy and honored to help you with this part of your transition. My flat fee for a name change is $375. For a name and gender change or just a gender change, my flat fee is $425.
The attorney e-filing fee is $185. So if we are doing a just name change, the total flat fee is $560. If we are doing name and gender change or just a gender change, the flat fee is $610.
I have helped clients all over Arkansas with name and gender changes, and if you live outside of Pulaski County, we can usually handle everything by phone, email and certified mail. A gender change petition is different from a name change petition in that we will need to get an affidavit from your primary care physician or the surgeon who performed the surgery and file that with the petition. If a gender change court order is granted by a judge, then you will most likely be able to update the name (if you've changed it) and the gender marker on your birth certificate, unless you live in one of the few states that may not allow gender marker changes to birth certificates (Ohio and Tennessee are two).
My services for these types of cases include handling all of the court paperwork, obtaining three (3) certified copies of your court order, and providing you with detailed and customized instructions on updating your Social Security record, renewing or obtaining a U.S. Passport, updating your Arkansas or out-of-state driver's license or trading in your out-of-state license for a new Arkansas license, and updating the name and gender marker on your birth Arkansas or out-of-state birth certificate. Until you have updated all of these documents, you may call me or email me without any extra charges. For clients who prefer to meet in person, we can meet to prepare the court paperwork and then meet again to review the customized instructions. For those who cannot meet in person, we can review the instructions by phone if you have any questions.
I get a lot of questions about updating name and gender marker on birth certificates. Please note that in some states, including Arkansas, some form of "surgical procedure" is required to update the gender marker on your birth certificate. In other states, such as California, you only need to provide documentation of having "appropriate clinical treatment" for gender transition and surgery is not required. If you were born in Arkansas or in another state that requires surgery to update the gender marker on the certificate, I recommend that you apply for at least a U.S. Passport Card, which is similar in size to a driver's license. The card is different from a U.S. Passport Book which allows for a wider range of air travel. If travel is not a concern, the Card is cheaper and easier to carry around than the Book. In most situations where you would be asked to provide a birth certificate, you can substitute the U.S. Passport Card. Cards cost less than $100. Books cost more than $100. If you only update the name on your birth certificate and do not update the gender marker, than presenting your birth certificate will potentially out you as transgender. Some clients and others I have talked to who are in this situation have been fine with the U.S. Passport instead of updating the birth certificate.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading this article. I hope it was helpful for you. If you find any errors or inconsistencies, or you have any suggestions for improving this information, please let me know.
Here are some additional resources:
Arkansas Birth Certificate
- AR Dept. of Health - Vital Records/Certificates
- $15 to make an amendment
- $12 to obtain a certified copy
Arkansas Driver's License (ID card is a similar process)
- Driver's Services Frequently Asked Questions (look for "name change ")
- State Map to look up various offices by County
- Look up Driver Control Offices
- U.S. Passport Fees vary if you get a "card" or "book"
- U.S. Passport Gender Designation Change page. On this web page you will find a link to download a MS Word document of the physician's medical certification letter.
- Physician's medical certification template - (direct link) (same letter can be used for Social Security)
- LGBTI Travel Information
Social Security Administration
- FAQ: How do I change my gender on Social Security's records?
- Learn what documents you will need to get a Social Security Card updated.
- POMS - RM 10212.200 Changing Numident Data for Reasons other than Name Change. On this web page, scroll down to "C. Exhibit – Sample Letter from Licensed Physician Certifying to the Individual’s Gender Change" for the content of the physician's letter (same letter can be used for U.S. Passport).
- Main policy manual page at SSA: SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS)
Thanks! - Mike Lauro
501-613-6529 (call or text)
Updated: 06/09/2021 (updated flat fees for document review)
Updated: 05/17/2021 (added info about getting duplicate driver's license or id card, updated SSA and Passport links)
Updated: 05/16/2021 (update flat fees, included document services after you've filed your own case, added link to article describing more details about what you get when you hire me, what is included in the process, and how long it takes.)
Updated: 04/01/2021 (include flat fees and e-filing fee in Option 3)
Updated: 03/07/2021 (add direct document links for Civil Coversheet (and instructions) and Civil Disposition Sheet.)
Updated: 11/11/2020 (extensive updates based on current events and developments since 2019)
Updated: 2019 (minor edits)
Updated: 2018 (minor edits)
Updated: 04/20/2017 (added Passport LGBTI Travel Info)
Updated: 03/18/2017 (added AR Legal Services self-help form links)