2020 Update On Transgender Name Change In California

As time passes, the process of Transgender Name Change in California is becoming better and smoother. In 2017, California Governor – Jerry Brown signed bill AB179 into law. This law effectively replaced law AB1266, hence making the process of name and gender change easier and more accessible for all people. Among other things, the AB179 law establishes a new gender category known as ‘non-binary’ that transgender people can use to identify themselves in State IDs and official records. In 2019, all California ID centers such as the DMV have an obligation to offer people who identify as non-binary official documents, licenses and permits that reflect this gender identity. 

Starting from September 2018, residents have been able to petition for a name change in California and a gender change without having to get a letter from a physician or providing any other type of gender declaration document. Additionally, people looking for either of these changes are no longer required to undergo a public hearing. The law continues, for people who are looking to change their names to reflect their gender identity and/or change their gender identity, the rule excusing them from having to advertise or publish their petition information. In the year 2019, ID centers in California such as the DMV are required by law to include a new non-binary marker to indicate the gender identity of people who identify as non-binary.

Since the 2014 law on name change and gender change was enacted courts have become much better about processing the changes requested by applicants. The changes that came with the 2018 law set up new procedures and  some new lack of experience by court personnel. Now that more time has passed again, the courts are almost perfect at completing the new name and gender change petitions. 

Which Was the First Bold Step for Transgender Name Change in California?

Today, any California resident can quickly apply for a name or gender change. The new California law has different sections that apply to both the name change and gender change application process. It is important to note that when applying for either of these changes, there are different forms, and procedures. Costs are uniform for the different procedures, but vary slightly, county-by-county.

When applying to get your name and/or gender changed, there are different forms that you have to acquire and different procedures that have to be followed. It is important to note that the application for a name or gender change is no longer required to be accompanied by a Physician Declaration 

Under the new law, if you are looking to change your name or gender, you should follow the following steps:

  • Find and prepare the correct set of court forms for the correct U.S. Superior Court
  • To change your name only, to conform your name to your gender identity, you should file the requisite forms at the courthouse and at the same time pay the appropriate filing fee. You can also apply for a court fee waiver request. Subsequently, the court will set aside a date to complete your petition.
  • If you have filed a name and gender change petition, you also need to find and file those forms. These are not the same as the name change only forms.. Under the new law, people who only file for a gender change petition do not have to advertise their petition.

If someone objects to your petition, the court may schedule a hearing to decide the objection. If that happens, the court will let you know and you need to attend the Hearing.

  • The last step is to get your Certified Decree, upon approval. You can then go ahead and start changing your Government records, financial records and official records to reflect your new status. Each court has their own process for letting you get your Decree, so find out and follow the steps established for your court.

Some courts schedule a “hearing”, in order to have a completion date set. Technically, people petitioning for gender identity change ARE NOT required to attend the petition hearing. However, all petitioners (name change and gender identity change petitioners) have to get Certified Copy(s) of a Court Decree from the courthouse in order to change the information on official records and important IDs, so if you can go to such a hearing, it would probably be useful to getting it done as quickly as possible.

What Are the Costs of Transgender Name Change in California?

The costs of applying for an adult name change can vary depending on your place of residence. However, in the entire name change process, the biggest costs are for filing and processing the petition. These costs can vary between $435 – $480 depending on your current county of residence. However, the court can waive filing and processing fees if you qualify for low-income states. (If you think you may qualify for the court waiver, consult us to get advice on whether you really qualify).


Should you choose to use a Name Change Full Service Specialist, they can help you complete the proper forms and file it all in the correct court. They will also be able to help you understand the easiest and quickest way to get your Certified Decree, upon approval.

The cost of preparing a name or gender change petition can run from zero to thousands of dollars, depending on what you do yourself or who you have help you. If you decide to file your application personally, you may not accrue a lot of costs but you will definitely spend a lot of time on the process. You can end up taking between 10 – 20 hours. Most name change service providers will charge you between $35 – $500. However, the cost of name change services can go up if you need the services of an attorney. You may need to consult a lawyer during the name change process if you have a criminal history. If you need the services of a lawyer, you can end up paying between $500 – $3500. Without a criminal history though, lawyers aren’t needed for this.

EZ Name Change, is a full-service name change specialist, offering help with name change and name and gender change petitions. Below is a summary of their charges:

  • Initial payment for petition preparation – $115
  • Court filing fee – $435 (This can change to $450, $465 or $480 depending on your location)
  • Full-service petition filing, gender annotation/declarations where appropriate, advertising services when needed, setting of petition hearing and provision of a FULL REPORT with all the requisite copies – $120
  • TOTAL CHARGES – $670 (typical but some counties are higher)

When the 2014 and 2018 laws on Transgender Name Change were enacted, the process of establishing appropriate legal names and gender identity for Californians became accessible and user-friendly. . We truly appreciate this step of inclusion and want to thank the people who played a crucial part in making this happen. They include:

Governor Jerry Brown

Toni Atkins – Assembly Member

The Transgender Law Center

Equality California


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