How will Bruce Jenner’s name change go? Jenner brought a sense of (semi) normalcy and calm to his large, mixed brood of sons, daughters and step-children on E!’s “Keeping up with the Kardashians”. Bruce, a former Olympian, married Kris Kardashian in April 1991. After more than twenty years together, Bruce and Kris Jenner separated in October 2013. Kris filed for divorce in September 2014 citing “irreconcilable differences.”
Since the separation and, especially over the last few months, Bruce has started to look a little different. He’s had his nails manicured and painted pink. He has been growing his hair longer and has been seen wearing a ponytail while out and about. Then, in January 2015, sources close to the Kardashian/Jenner family revealed that Bruce is transgender and soon will be making his transition from identifying as a male to living life as a female. As is usually the case in Hollywood, TV deals have been inked, a documentary series scheduled and a Diane Sawyer interview filmed, all of which focus on Bruce’s journey.
So much of a transgender man or woman’s transformation focuses on the medical and social aspects of the transformation – How will he dress? What bathroom is he going to use? Will he take hormones? Will he get sex reassignment surgery? – But seemingly countless legal issues also affect men and women who have chosen to publically assume their true gender identity.
A deceptively complex issue faced by all individuals in the transgender community is their name – what is their name? For example, when Bruce begins to live publically as a woman, he will be identified by a female name (rumor has it that he has chosen “Belinda” or “Bridget”). What should he do? For social networking cites like Facebook and Instagram, the change is simple. You just log in to your settings and change your name. But what about a more official, legal change? How does this person want to be identified on paperwork at the office or on their bank accounts?
In Pennsylvania, transgender individuals can obtain a legal name change without getting sex reassignment surgery. Any person seeking to change their name must first submit a formal petition to their local court. After various prerequisites are met, such as publication of the name change in local newspapers and fingerprinting requirements, just to name a few, a Judge can grant permission for a person to legally change their name. With the Judge’s permission, you can change your social security card, your birth certificate, even your employment and bank records to reflect your new name.
Changing your legal name is not the same as changing your legal sex. To change your sex, you must first have reassignment surgery. Obtaining a legal name change does not have any impact on the “M” or “F” designation listed on your Driver’s License or other identification. The law in Pennsylvania requires that your physical organs match the sex definition on your identification. After the surgery has been completed, you must obtain a letter from your treating physician verifying that you had the surgery. That letter is submitted with a petition the local Court, in which you request permission to change your legal sex designation. After obtaining a Court Order, you can then obtain a new birth certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Vital Records, one that officially designates the change of sex.
If you have questions about a legal name change, contact the Pittsburgh name change attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100 to discuss your case.