Legal Name and Gender Marker Changes
We recognize that for many transgender individuals, legally changing their name and/or gender marker is an important step on the journey toward authenticity. Whether you want to change your name legally with the State of Ohio or change the gender marker on your driver's license and birth certificate, the information available here can help you navigate the process. For more information, see a complete guide from Trans Ohio and Equitas Health.
Name Change in the State of Ohio
Changing your name legally in the State of Ohio requires a court order, newspaper advertisement, and court hearing.
1. Probate Court
Complete and submit an application to your county probate court for changing your name. You must be a permanent resident of that county for at least a year prior to submitting the application. For instructions on getting a court order for a name change in Franklin County, see the tip sheet created by Equitas Health.
If you are only a temporary resident of Franklin County but have your permanent address in a different county, you will need to go to probate court in the county of your permanent address. If you have a permanent address outside of Columbus, Equitas Health also provides a full directory of requirements per county.
2. Newspaper Advertisement
The State of Ohio requires you to advertise your application in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the hearing on your application. The court will provide additional details once you submit your application.
3. Hearing in Court
You will be provided notice of a date for your hearing at which, after some questions to ensure that you have complied with the process, the judge will officially order your original name changed to your new name. The court order obtained after this decision can be used to change a number of records (financial, etc.).
Changing Name and Gender with the Ohio BMV
The Ohio Department of Public Safety Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) allows individuals to change their name using a written court order. The BMV will also allow individuals to change the gender marker on their driver’s license with the written authorization of a qualified professional.
To update your name on your Ohio driver’s license or Ohio ID card, take both of the following to any local BMV license agency:
- Your current driver’s license or ID card; and
- A certified copy of the court order approving your name change.
The BMV should issue you a new license or ID card with your updated name. At this time, you may also update your name on your voter registration.
Gender Marker Change
To update your gender marker on your Ohio driver’s license or ID card, complete these steps:
Complete the Declaration of Gender Change Form
Download the Declaration of Gender Change. Fill out the sections labeled "To Be Completed by Applicant” and “Release of Information.”
Have your physician, psychologist, or therapist complete and sign the section on your Declaration of Gender Change Form labeled "physician/psychologist's statement."
Mail or fax your completed Declaration of Gender Change form to the BMV.
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Attn: License Control
PO Box 16784
Columbus, OH 43216-6784
Phone: 1-614-752-7500/Fax: 1-614-752-7987 P
In 7-10 days, you will be notified by letter if the gender change is approved, and you will receive a document that may be presented to any local BMV license agency.
Once you receive the letter, take the following documents to any local BMV license agency:
- Your current driver’s license or ID card; and
- Declaration of Gender Change approval letter.
The BMV should issue you a new license or ID card with your updated gender marker. (Be prepared to take a new photo!) Also, note that your old driver’s license/ID must be surrendered.
Name and Gender Marker Changes on Birth Certificate
Present a certified copy of the court order recognizing your name change to the Ohio Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics, and request a new birth certificate.
Gender Marker Change
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has established new procedures that allow transgender people to correct the gender or “sex” marker on Ohio birth certificates. In addition, birth certificates can now be issued with a gender-neutral gender marker (X). ODH’s new process empowers transgender people born in Ohio to correct the gender marker on their birth certificate so that it truly reflects who they are. Equality Ohio and Equitas Health are currently offering legal clinic on birth certificate gender marker changes.
What is the process for correcting the gender marker on an Ohio birth certificate?
- To correct the gender marker on a birth certificate, a person must obtain an order from a probate court for a correction of their birth certificate.
- The required court order can be issued by a probate court in Ohio, or a court in the state where the person resides.
- If an individual requires a gender-neutral gender marker, this can also be requested in the probate court; if the court so orders, ODH will designate the person’s gender by using an X.
- A person may also request a court order approving a name change at the same time and in the same court where they seek correction of their gender marker. Additional requirements for a name change are set forth in Ohio’s laws.
- Once the birth certificate gender marker correction is approved by a probate court, the probate court will automatically send its order to ODH, and ODH will automatically perform the correction.
- ODH will seal the old birth certificate when it receives the probate court’s order, and the prior (i.e. uncorrected) birth certificate will not be accessible to anyone except the applicant. ODH will issue a new, corrected birth certificate, and it will not be evident that there has been any change.
Student Legal Services (SLS) provides legal services to eligible Ohio State students. These services include assistance with the legal name change process. For more information and to schedule an appointment to speak to an SLS attorney, visit studentlegal.osu.edu.
For more comprehensive information on the processes outlined above, please take advantage of these resources:
- Name and gender change legal clinics are available through Equitas Health and TransOhio
- Virtual Clinic, All Ohio, September 8, 2021, 6 – 8 PM, Participate via Zoom or Phone
- Virtual Clinic, All Ohio, October 13, 2021, 6 – 8 PM, Participate via Zoom or Phone
- Virtual Clinic, All Ohio, November 10, 2021, 6 – 8 PM, Participate via Zoom or Phone
- Virtual Clinic, All Ohio, December 8, 2021, 6 – 8 PM, Participate via Zoom or Phone
- The Ohio Name Change Microgrant is a fund created in partnership with Equitas and TransOhio to raise money for people seeking to change their name and/or gender marker to better fit their gender identity. To qualify, you must identify as transgender and/or nonbinary, be a citizen of the United States, attend a name change legal clinic through Equitas, and adhere to set policies and procedures. You can apply now! Email your completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality - ID Documents Center