Gender, Name Change Guide for WV Now Available

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Those wishing to change their name and gender on state identifying documents now have a step-by-step guide for the process.

The first-ever Name and Gender Change Guide for West Virginians also provides contacts for financial assistance and legal counsel, Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider said. Print and online copies are available for free.

“At Fairness we regularly receive calls, emails, and messages from people who are looking to initiate this process, and it can be very daunting for them,” Schneider said. “We also understand that everyone’s situation is different and that some individuals have unique needs regarding this process, but this document will lay out the basic steps to be taken.”

The 37-page guide is the result of a collaboration between Fairness; the law firm of Bryan, Cave, Leighton and Paisner; National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE); Whitman-Walker Health; Charleston attorney James M. Barber; and Latham and Watkins LLP.

NCTE estimates that only 11 percent of transgender people nationally have proper identification documents. From getting pulled over by a police officer to simply applying for a job, lacking accurate identification can be dangerous because it automatically outs the individual as trans. Being outed poses the risk of verbal harassment, discrimination and even violence.

“The name and gender change process is complicated, expensive, and overwhelming to navigate. NCTE was proud to partner with West Virginia advocates to create this guide so trans folks can access updated and accurate IDs to go about their daily lives free from discrimination and harassment,” said Arli Christian, NCTE state policy director.

Following advocacy by Fairness, the state Legislature passed a law in 2015 making it easier for transgender people to change the gender marker on a driver’s license.

But that process can still be intimidating for many, Schneider said.

From transphobic court and DMV clerks to those who simply do not understand the process, a lack of resources can often leave trans individuals feeling like they are lost with nowhere to turn.

“We hope this guide alleviates some of that stressful burden for people by providing all of the resources they will need to get through this process,” Schneider said.

The guide can be found at http://bit.ly/WVGenderChange