A name change is important – you want to be yourself, and when you’re transgender, your name is a big, big part of it. This got brought up in a comment on my last post, so I thought I’d go into a bit of detail about the costs for a name change here where I live in the state of Pennsylvania.
The Process and the Costs of a Name Change
To do a name change, the first thing you need to do is get a copy of your birth certificate to prove that you are you. (Sorry, Russell Nash, they check a lot more these days.)
Then you get to go… get fingerprinted! That costs money, usually about $15.
Then after filling out the forms, you go with the required documents: a copy of your birth certificate, a copy of your social security card, state-issued photo identification, and the original fingerprint card.
Then you file the name change petition, which costs about $333.23 (payable by credit card, cash, or money order).
You will wait for it to be processed, which takes one to three months.
Then when you get the “OK to go!” letter, you need to schedule your hearing and then get two judgment searches from the state, one for Family Court ($20) and one for Civil Court ($58.52).
You also have to publish it in two newspapers, in the classified. For Pennsylvania, they require the Legal Intelligencer (presumably so lawyers can always scream) ($150), and one other newspaper of which they will tell you what’s acceptable. I was unable to get anything tracked down firmly… but it looks like it would run about $60.
Then you get proof of all of this and go to the court on the scheduled day, and hope the judge isn’t cranky that day and lets your petition go through.
You’ve now spent:
Six hundred and twenty-six dollars, and seventy-five cents.
And that’s the low end. It could go as high as $1000, and then if you need a lawyer… plus the costs of multiple copies of the court order for your birth certificate update, your Social Security update, your state ID update, your bank, any and all bills you may have in your name, keeping a copy with you in case something gets weird…
That’s just to change your legal name to be congruent with your identity.
Hardly seems fair…
I may need to move back to New Jersey, maybe, where there’s no publication requirement and Governor Murphy had things set up to make tracking this information down incredibly easy and centralized for people who are transgender.
Some places are great. Some… are not. (Talking about you, Florida.) It’s no wonder we’re seeing a lot of transgender people moving to safe(r) states.