These guides are not written by lawyers, nor should they be interpreted as legal advice. They are based on the personal experiences of many members of the North Alabama transgender and non-binary community.
This presentation from the Magic City Legal Center covers the process for name and gender marker changes, for adults and minors. The slides are also available.
A lawyer is generally not required when updating your documentation (except when attempting to change gender marker on an Alabama birth certificate). However, if you are having trouble with this process there are two legal firms we recommend:
- The Magic City Legal Center. You can email Sydney Duncan at SDuncan@mcac-bao.org
- Maynard Cooper
Changing your name
The process for changing your name varies by county:
You'll need to fill out the appropriate paperwork and bring it to the Madison county probate office (which is in the Madison County Services Center) along with the other documents listed on the forms.
After a several weeks (~6 currently), the court order for name change will be mailed to you.
You may also need to specifically ask them to return your birth certificate.
You'll need to fill out a name change request form and schedule a hearing with the county probate judge in Athens. The clerk will inform you of all the paperwork to bring.
At the scheduled hearing, the probate judge will review your documents and you'll need to swear and affirm to a few things. Once that's done you'll get 3 copies of your court ordered name change.
The office staff and judge are very friendly, so don't be intimidated! This process typically only takes about a week to get scheduled.
Please refer to this page for details on the process in Morgan county.
After the court order
Once you have a court order for your name change, the first place to visit is Social Security. When you update with Social Security they will give you a letter indicating that you requested changes. This letter is important, so hold on to it!
24 hours after updating with Social Security you can update your driver's license. Most DMVs should be able to change your name. Be sure to bring your letter from Social Security in addition to your court order. While you're at the DMV, you should also update your car registration and title.
Once you've updated your driver's license you should start updating all the other places that know your name. Some important places to notify:
- Your employer's HR department
- Credit card companies
- And many more (it's amazing how many people know your name!)
Updating your gender marker
In most circumstances, surgery is not required to update your legal gender markers. Hormone treatment or other steps indicating "medical transition" are usually required.
As far as we are aware, no form of non-binary gender marker has been obtained on any official Alabama state documentation.
Passport gender markers are entirely self-identified. Refer to this guide from the state department for details.
Refer to this guide from the National Center for Transgender Equality. Marker changes have been done successfully at both the Huntsville and Decatur Social Security office.
If you were born in Alabama, there are a few lawyers in Birmingham that have helped several people update their birth certificates without requiring surgery. See the section about lawyers at the top of this page.
If you were born outside Alabama, refer to the specific guide for your state.
Alabama Driver's License
According to ALEA's interpretation of Alabama law, proof of GCS is required to change the marker on you driver's license. However, ALEA will also update the marker on your driver's license if you provide an updated birth certificate with your new gender marker. Thus, depending on your circumstances, it is possible to update your marker without GCS.
Once you've updated your birth certificate, bring your updated birth certificate and doctor's letter indicating medical transition to the Madison County Service Center DMV (recommended) or DMV on Church Street in Huntsville (not recommended). Most DMVs cannot update your marker, but these offices are known to work and several people have successfully updated their markers at these locations. The offices have been known to reject people who don't bring both the doctor's letter and the updated birth certificate.
Even if you haven't updated your birth certificate, you could also try the state ALEA office in Jefferson County. Specifically try the office at 908 Bankhead Hwy W, Birmingham, AL 35201. Bring the standard doctor's letter (the same one used for social security and passports). However, there are reports that this won't work even at this DMV. It's not clear why yet.