To change your name on legal documents, you must first get a legal name change order in your local County Probate Court. This is necessary to prevent fraud. The three-step process to get the order is as follows:
You first must file a legal name change petition with your county probate court stating that you have been a resident of the county for at least one (1) year. The petition must be accompanied by a certified copy of a birth certificate. Once the petition has been filed with the county probate court, a hearing will be set in front of a probate judge or magistrate to determine whether to grant the legal name change request. The petition request form can be found at www.supremecourt.ohio. gov/LegalResources/.1
Once the hearing has been set, you must give proper notice within 30 days of the hearing via publication in a county-wide circulated newspaper. This requirement may be waived in some circumstances.
At the hearing, the probate judge or magistrate will examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the legal name change petition and determine whether to grant the legal name change order.2
A lawyer is generally not needed for this process. However, if the judge or magistrate does not grant the name change order, a lawyer may be able to assist you. Check with your local legal aid clinic or the local Bar Association to see what free or reduced services are available in your area.3
If the judge grants the legal name change order, you will receive a certified and signed order, which can be used to obtain a new ID or other legal documents reflecting the name change.
For many years, the state of Ohio was one of only two states that did not allow for an individual to legally change the gender marker on their birth certificate. However, on December 16, 2020, a Federal District Court held in Ray v. McCloud that it is unconstitutional to deny a transgender person the ability to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. We are presently awaiting procedures from the Ohio Department of Health for how this decision will be implemented. We look forward to helping transgender people born in Ohio change their gender markers on their birth certificates as soon as this information is available.
Due to cost and convenience, we encourage you to consider waiting until these new procedures are available to change both your legal name and gender marker on your birth certificate. However, if you would like to change your legal name first, you can follow the instructions below.
In order to change your legal name on a birth certificate, you must first receive a legal name change order from a probate court. Upon receiving the legal name change order, the individual can complete an application for a certified copy of one’s birth certificate with the Ohio Department of Health. The legal name change order MUST accompany the application for a certified copy of a birth certificate in order for the birth certificate to reflect the updated legal name. The application for a certified copy of a birth certificate can be found at odh.ohio.gov. The completed application and the accompanying legal name change order must be mailed to the following address:
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 15098, Columbus OH, 43215
Once the completed application and accompanying fees ($21.50) have been received and processed, the Ohio Department of Health will mail the updated certified copy of the birth certificate to the address listed on the application.4
The process to legally change the gender identification marker on an Ohio Driver’s License or State ID is as follows:
You must submit a “Declaration of Gender Change” form to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Ohio Department of Public Safety. The form can be found on the Ohio BMV website (www.bmv.ohio.gov/forms) or can be requested to be sent by mail by calling the Ohio BMV at 1-614-752-7500.5
The form requires you to provide contact information, date of birth, current Ohio Driver’s license or State ID number, and an authorization of the release of necessary medical information from a licensed physician or psychologist to the Ohio BMV.
The form must be signed by a licensed medical professional, stating that you transition has been conducted, or is currently being conducted, in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care. The medical professional can either be a physician or a psychologist, and they must provide their medical license or certificate number on the form. The psychologist or physician must also offer their professional opinion of your birth gender and current gender identity.6
Once the form has been completed in its entirety, it must be mailed or faxed to the Ohio BMV at the following address:
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Attn: License Control
P.O. Box 16784, Columbus, Ohio 43216
Upon processing (7-10 Business Days) you will receive written notification that your gender marker has been changed. You should then take the written notification to their local BMV to get their new Ohio Driver’s License or State ID issued, and surrender your previous ID. Please note that the State of Ohio only allows you to change the gender marker on your license or State ID one time.
The following documents need to be presented to a local Ohio BMV office to change the name on an Ohio Driver’s License or State ID:
- Legal name change order from a probate judge or magistrate.
- Social Security Card/Number (this does not need to be an amended social security card, just one stating your previous name that matches the legal name change order).
- Current State Issued ID. If the current ID is expired, or this is a first issuance, then a birth certificate and a legal name change order documents are necessary to change one’s name.
Equitas Health holds occasional free Name and Gender Change Legal Clinics around the state to assist transgender Ohioans with the process of changing their name and gender on legal documents. If you are interested in utilizing Equitas Health Legal Clinic’s free services, please contact www.equitashealth.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (614) 340-6729.7
It is possible for a you to change your gender identity on Social Security records. It is best to obtain an amended license or State ID prior to obtaining a new Social Security Card. The following is a list of accepted documents needed to begin the process of changing the gender identity marker:
- A fully amended license or state ID reflecting the preferred gender-identity.
- A fully amended U.S. Passport reflecting the preferred gender-identify.
- A court order directing legal recognition of gender change.
- A letter from a licensed physician or psychologist certifying the individual has undergone, or is currently undergoing, clinical treatment for gender transition.
When you have decided which document to use from the list above, you can complete the Social Security Administration’s application for a Social Security Card, found at www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf. Once the application is filled out entirely, with an attached copy of your chosen document, it can be submitted either in person or by mail to any Social Security Administration office.8
It is possible for you to change your name and gender identity marker on your U.S. Passport. Please note that #6 is not necessary if every other piece of documentation has your correct gender identity. If your physician provides you with #6, it is not necessary to provide details of care (such as hormones or treatments), it is only necessary that you have received clinical treatment appropriate to facilitate your gender transition. If your physician’s letter says that you are “in the process of transition” you will only receive a limited, 2-year passport. The National Center for Transgender Equality suggests that you do not apply for the limited passport (unless necessary), but rather work with your doctor to get a letter that says you have received treatment.9
The following documents and fees need to be gathered and submitted in person to any Passport Acceptance Facility (usually a post office) to complete this process:
- A completed application for a U.S. Passport. The application can be found at any Passport Acceptance Facility, or online at https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/212239.pdf;
- Proof of U.S. citizenship. This can be a previous U.S. Passport, certified Birth Certificate, or a certificate of Naturalization;
- Proof of identity that contains the individuals signature, such as a State issued License or ID;
- A 2×2 color photograph of the individual;
- A legal order of name change granted by a probate judge (only applicable if the individual seeks to change their name as well as their gender identity marker);
- A letter from a certified medical physician or licensed psychologist confirming the individual has completed, or is currently completing, a gender transition; and
- The appropriate fee associated with renewing one’s passport or obtaining a passport for the first time.10
Ohio is one of 28 U.S States that does not have statewide protections against housing, employment, and public accommodation discrimination for LGBTQ individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. While there are not statewide protections (yet) offered to trans people, there may still be some remedies for discrimination.11
Some cities and villages in Ohio have local laws prohibiting discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If an LGBTQ individual lives in one of these municipalities and is being subjected to discrimination within that city, they should contact their cities Community Relations Commission or other discrimination complaint unit.
If you do not live in one the cities or villages that offer protections from discrimination, there may still be remedies afforded to those experiencing discrimination. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) investigates charges of discrimination in three major areas: employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Although discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression are not expressly prohibited in Ohio, LGBTQ people should always file complaints of discrimination with the OCRC because such complaints are often still investigated. Additionally, OCRC may investigate discrimination of trans people based on sex, making it possible to achieve a successful result.
A discrimination complaint can be filed in person, through the mail, or online. The procedure for filing a discrimination claim can be found at www.crc.ohio.gov/FilingaCharge/ChargeFilingProcedure.aspx, or can be filed in person at any regional office. The OCRC has regional offices located in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron, Cleveland, and Toledo.
Please note that the OCRC has a six-month statute of limitations for filing an employment or public accommodation discrimination complaint, and a one year statute of limitations for filing a housing discrimination complaint.11 This generally means that you need to file a complaint within six months of when you learned you experienced discrimination.
If an LGBTQ individual faces workplace discrimination, there may be remedies available by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).12 The EEOC investigates claims of discrimination in violation of federal law. Under current federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sex. The EEOC has held that discrimination against LGBTQ individuals constitutes discrimination because on sex or sex-stereotyping, and thus is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Please note that this interpretation has not been made by the Supreme Court of the United States.13
To file a formal complaint of discrimination against an employer, you should call your regional EEOC office and make a phone appointment to file a formal charge, or file a formal charge in person at any regional office without an appointment. The contact information for the regional office in Ohio is listed below:
Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building
1240 E. 9th Street, Suite 3001, Cleveland, OH 44199
If the EEOC representatives believe there is a valid claim, a formal investigation into the matter will be made. Please note that all charges of discrimination must be made within 180 days of when the discrimination took place.14
Additionally, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal aid. This includes public K-12 school systems, as well as public colleges or universities. The Department of Education (DOE) has determined that sex-based discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, sex-stereotyping, and transgender status.15
Sex-based discrimination in education can be reported directly to the college or universities Title IX or Legal Affairs office, which federal law mandates must be investigated immediately.
Additionally, anyone (including victims or someone on behalf of the victims) may file a formal complaint of discrimination to the U.S. DOE’s Office for Civil Rights. The complaint must be made within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. The complaint can be filed online at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html. Additionally, a complaint can be filed in person, by telephone, by e-mail or by mail at Ohio’s local U.S. DOE office, located at the following address:
U.S. Department of Education
1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 325, Cleveland, OH 44115
Telephone (216) 522-4970
Filing a complaint with the EEOC or DOE does not prohibit you from filing a federal lawsuit alleging sex discrimination based on Title VII or Title IX.16
1 Legal Resources, Supreme Court of Ohio, www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources (March 10, 2017)
2 Ohio Legal and Medical Info, TRANSOHIO, www.transohio.org (March 10, 2017).
3 Family Law, Ohio Legal Services, www.ohiolegalservices.org/public/legal (March 10, 2017)
4 Legal Changes, Ohio Department of Health, www.odh.ohio.gov/vitalstatistics (March 9, 2017)
5 BMV Forms and Manuals, Ohio BMV, www.bmv.ohio.gov/forms (March 10, 2017)
6 TransOhio, www.transohio.org (March 10, 2017)
7 Name and Gender Change Legal Clinic, Equitas Health, www.equitashealth.com/services (March 10, 2017)
8 General Question, Social Security Administration, www.ssa.gov (March 10, 2017)
9 Know Your Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, www.transequality.org (March 10, 2017)
10 Gender Designation Change, U.S. Department of State, www.travel.state.gov (March 10, 2017)
11 Charge Filing Procedure, Ohio Civil Rights Commission, www.crc.ohio.gov (March 10, 2017)
12 Employment Resources, Transgender Law Center, www.transgenderlawcenter.org/resources (March 10, 2017)
13 Authority and Role, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), www.eeoc.gov (March 10, 2017)
14 EEOC, www.eeoc.gov/field/cleveland (March 10, 2017)
15 Title IX, Know Your IX, www.knowyourix.org (March 10, 2017)
16 Title IX and Sex Discrimination, U.S. Department of Education, www.ed.gov (March 10, 2017)