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How to Legally Change Your Name and Gender in North Carolina

In North Carolina, you have the right to change your name and gender marker on your driver’s license and other official documents. However, the process is not always easy. It is also crucial to note that changing your name is separate from correcting your gender marker. Let’s look at how to legally change your name and gender marker in North Carolina. We will also look at the challenges you may face when making these changes.

Legal Reasons for a Name Change in North Carolina

Our state makes allowances for a name change for:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Adoption
  • Naturalization as a citizen
  • Other good causes (reasons can include that you don’t identify with the gender assigned at birth, or other case-by-case reasons)

Trans, GNC, and non-binary individuals often face misunderstanding and outright discrimination when expressing their authentic gender. When your identification documents do not match your gender expression or identity, others may mistrust your intentions and you can be the target of harassment or worse. 

It can be problematic to present your ID if your appearance does not match the gender marker on your license. Many employees may make ignorant comments or simply state that you don’t look like your ID. Even merely buying alcohol can cause a misunderstanding if your name is typically associated with a different gender than your gender presentation.

Because misunderstandings and discrimination occur, changing your name and correcting your gender marker can help you live your life authentically with less anxiety and stress. 

How to Legally Change Your Name and Gender

You can start changing your name by giving 10 days’ notice of your name change application by publication at the courthouse.

However, the state will waive the need to publicize your change for 10 days if you can provide evidence that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual offense, or stalking. You can prove this with law enforcement, court, or other government records. You can also verify you’re facing domestic violence with documentation from an affiliated program of the Domestic Violence Center Fund.

Next Step in a Name Change

Your next step is to file a petition at the county’s superior court clerk where you live. However, there are many steps you have to go through in preparation to file the petition. You’ll also need to gather and provide:

  • Proof of good character by at least two citizens of the county who know your standing in the community
  • Results of a state and national criminal history record check conducted within 90 days of the date of application. You will have to first obtain fingerprints to request these criminal history reports. 
  • A sworn statement that you are a bona fide resident of the county and proof of residency (such as a government ID or lease)
  • A sworn statement about whether you have outstanding tax or child support obligations
  • Any other information that the clerk determines is necessary for the complete review of the name change application.

In your application, you’ll need to give

  • your current legal name
  • county and date of birth
  • full name of your parents as shown on your birth certificate
  • the name you want
  • your reasons for wanting the name change
  • whether you legally changed your name in the past

After filing, you can expect to receive your Order and Certificate of Name Change anywhere from a couple of days to 6-8 weeks later, depending on the county. 

Name Changes for Minors

It’s not unusual for teenagers to discover that the name or gender given at birth is incorrect for their individual gender identity. With parental consent, minors can lawfully modify their names before they turn 18 years old. Depending on age, it’s different for those under 16 years old than for an individual between 16 and 18 years old. 

However, if only one parent is consenting or the other parent has “abandoned” the child, it may be more legally complicated, although not impossible. If you are a minor or a parent assisting your child in obtaining a name change, we strongly advise that you contact the Scharff Law Firm for guidance.

Finalizing Your Name Change & Gender Marker With NC DMV

After you obtain the legal name change order, you will need to provide the order to the DMV to get the correct name on your license.

When you go to the DMV to change your name with the court order, you can also fill out and submit a “Sex Designation Form” to request an amended driver’s license with the correct gender identity marker.

You’ll also want to give your new name to the Social Security Administration, banks, utilities, and other companies where you have accounts. It’s essential to start signing with your new name for official signatures once your name change is complete.

Birth Certificate Name Changes

Once you have your name change court order, the next step is to file to change your name with NC Vital Records on your birth certificate. You will have to submit an application, amendment processing fee, and copy of your name change order. 

Correcting Your Birth Certificate Gender Marker

Unfortunately, right now North Carolina is still limiting the ability to correct your gender marker on your birth certificate to people who have had “sex reassignment surgery.” If you were born in North Carolina and need to correct the gender marker on your birth certificate, you’ll first have to obtain proof from a doctor to submit when you amend your birth certificate. 

NC Law G.S. § 130A-118 states that the state will  “change the sex on your birth record because of sex reassignment surgery if you send one of these:

  • A notarized statement from the physician who performed the sex reassignment surgery 
  • A notarized statement from a physician who can certify that you have undergone sex reassignment surgery

NC does not define what constitutes “sex reassignment surgery.” That designation is between you and your physician. Therefore if your physician agrees that your treatment constitutes sex reassignment surgery, then they can send a notarized statement saying that you have received it. 

Correcting Gender Marker on Passports

In June 2021, the State Department announced that it would no longer require passport applicants to submit a medical certification to change the gender marker on their passports. Transgender individuals can submit a passport application with the chosen gender marker selected. As of April 11, 2022, applicants can also choose an “X” gender marker on their passport. Applicants can refer to the State Department’s website for more information on correcting their gender marker.

Scharff Law Firm Can Help

The Scharff Law Firm has successfully helped many individuals in North Carolina change their names and gender markers, including more complicated cases for minors and second name changes. As a queer attorney, the owner of Scharff Law Firm, Amily McCool, is passionate about assisting others in the community with changing their name and correcting their gender marker to help them more fully live authentic lives. We understand the process and can help you navigate the legal system. Contact us today for a free consultation.


  1. https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByChapter/Chapter_101.pdf