Fairness West Virginia releases
updated Name & Gender Change Guide

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Fairness West Virginia today published an updated version of the WV Name & Gender Change Guide in light of recent changes to the process for updating birth certificates.

The updated guide, published in collaboration with Legal Aid of West Virginia and the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, explains how a person can update their driver’s license, birth certificate and other crucial ID documents.

“When a transgender person is forced to present identification that does not reflect who they really are, it can trigger various forms of abuse and discrimination,” said Isabella Cortez, Gender Policy Manager for Fairness WV. “Transgender people who may otherwise move through the world undetected by those who would discriminate against them are often outed by an old gender marker, an old name, or an old photograph.”

A 2015 national survey of transgender people living in the United States shows that presenting an inaccurate ID can have disastrous consequences. Nearly one-third of transgender people who have shown IDs that do not match their presentation reported negative experiences, including 16 percent who report being denied services or benefits.

“We shouldn’t have to jump through so many hoops just to get IDs that reflect who we really are,” Cortez said. “I’m hopeful that this updated guide will help members of our community get those necessary documents more easily.”

In recent years, the Department of Health and Human Resources required transgender people to obtain a court order to correct the gender listed on a birth certificate. The WV Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that courts did not have the authority to order such a change. The ACLU of West Virginia and other groups brought a lawsuit against DHHR to seek other ways to correct these documents. That lawsuit was ultimately settled, with DHHR agreeing to a new policy that allows people to amend these documents without a court order.

“You need legal documentation like a birth certificate to get a passport, to replace a social security card, to get a driver’s license, ” said Molly Russell, Pro Bono Supervising Attorney with Legal Aid of West Virginia. “Educating the public on policy changes is critical. We want to ensure that any person who is going through the name change process has the correct information and paperwork. Our ultimate goal is to make this as easy as possible. We’re thrilled to partner with Fairness WV and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence to update this guide.”

Recognizing that transgender people are not the only group who need to update their IDs, Fairness WV and Legal Aid of West Virginia partnered with the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence on this update.

“Empowering survivors of domestic violence to update their IDs with a new name is not just a legal process — it can be a crucial step toward reclaiming their identity and independence,” said Tonia Thomas, a Team Coordinator with WVCADV. “It can represent a beacon of hope, signaling the beginning of a new chapter where they are no longer defined by their past, but by their strength, resilience, and the unwavering support of a compassionate community.”

The guide can be accessed on Fairness West Virginia’s website, and printed copies are available upon request. A Spanish translation of the guide will be available soon.



Please direct questions and interview requests to Jack Jarvis, Communications Director, at 304-250-9320 or jack@fairnesswv.org

Fairness West Virginia is the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair treatment and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer West Virginians. Our mission is to ensure LGBTQ people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community. We are open to everyone who believes in fundamental fairness.


Updated Name & Gender Change Guide