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.
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 week or two, the court order for name change will be mailed to you.
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.
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.
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.
This uses the same letter as you use to update with Social Security. Refer to this guide for details.
Many people in the area have successfully updated their passports, but there also have been reports of problems (particularly a few cases from Birmingham).
This is currently a pre-requisite for updating your driver's license, to the best of our understanding.
If you were born in Alabama, there is a law firm in Birmingham that has helped several people update their birth certificates without requiring surgery. You can find their contact information here.
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.