I changed my full name (and gender). What account do I need to change?
December 23, 2015 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Because of transgender reasons, I recently legally changed my name in court (and at Social Security and the DMV). I have taken care of my bank and my work accounts. Credit card companies and my ISP require me to mail the paperwork. I feel like I'm missing a lot - can you give me some examples of other stuff I will need to change? What is the most important stuff that I should do first?

I have direct deposit through work. What if they don't change my name in time for my next pay period, but the bank does? Will it go through?

How does this work with the IRS and state taxes (Wisconsin)? Will my W-2 be in my new name? What if HR screws up (likely) and issues in my old name? I also have a 401k and HSA and (paid off) student loans.

I was unable to change my gender marker with the Social Security Administration because my doctor didn't include all the info in his letter (he's rewriting it). How important is this to change it, since it's not printed on the card?

Anyway, a checklist would be great. I went through this when I got married and changed my last name so you think I'd know all of this, but that was a long time ago when I had fewer things to worry about. And people are more understanding. Now they require more paperwork and some are kinda weird about it.
posted by desjardins to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Passport is the biggest one that sticks out for me - but if your doctor's letter didn't include updating the gender marker - that may have to wait until you have the updated letter.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:58 AM on December 23, 2015

Note to other trans people: SSA has the specific wording of the letter your doctor must write and I recommend they follow it. He had the gender stuff, he was missing his medical license number and even though I could look it up online, they would not take it.
posted by desjardins at 9:05 AM on December 23, 2015

Do you live in a state where you're eligible to correct your birth certificate? If so, that can save you some hassle down the line by having all of your vital documents "match" each other.
posted by decathecting at 9:08 AM on December 23, 2015

Yep, and I selected that option, but I can't change the gender on the birth certificate without bottom surgery, which will probably never happen because $$$$$. I have heard that does not cause too many problems though - you can still get a passport.
posted by desjardins at 9:25 AM on December 23, 2015

What if they don't change my name in time for my next pay period, but the bank does? Will it go through?
It probably will. I didn't change my last name for a few months with my bank but my paychecks from work with the new name were still deposited. If a direct deposit gets rejected, my job issues a paper check but it is usually delayed. If your job issues you a bad W-2 - ask them immediately to issue a new, correct one.

I also have a 401k and HSA
My 401K company changed the name on my account after my employer notified them. I'd give it a month or two and then call them if it hasn't changed on your account/statements. As for your HSA, call and ask the bank that administers it. Your employer might take care of that one, too.
posted by soelo at 9:33 AM on December 23, 2015

You mention DMV, make sure you get your name changed on the title of your car as well as on your license. I assumed they were one in the same, but no, I had to bring in the title as a separate transaction.
posted by cabingirl at 9:45 AM on December 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

You mention having done this when getting married. It turns out a lot of wedding sites have exactly this kind of checklist.

list 1 (scroll down)
list 2
list 3

Here's even a Pinterest board with a bunch of OTHER links to name change checklists.

Your experience this time will obviously be different than when you did it after getting married, but it's a good place to start. Also, you'll notice from the links that there are several services you can pay to do this for you as well, for around $30. Not sure how trans* friendly those services are, but the lists themselves should get you pretty damn far.

Congrats and good luck!
posted by Brittanie at 9:57 AM on December 23, 2015

First of all, congratulations!

You'll want to update the name information on all your bills, for example your utilities and phone bills. Depending on your housing situation, you can change the name on your lease or home loan paperwork. Other places to update your name include health insurance, car insurance, homeowner's or renter's insurance, voter registration, and credit cards. Oh, and Amazon, Netflix, ebay, and all your online membership stuff.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 10:01 AM on December 23, 2015

You might want to opt to get a paper check rather than direct deposit for your tax refund, if you're getting one. A friend of mine changed his name and gender at least a decade ago, and the IRS still uses his birth name, which screws up direct deposit. (He has had no trouble depositing checks with his birth name, just getting direct deposit.)
posted by (Over) Thinking at 11:43 AM on December 23, 2015

If you are named as a beneficiary on someone else's life insurance, IRA, will, etc., that person should update the beneficiary information.
posted by merejane at 2:02 PM on December 23, 2015

Credit reporting agencies? I don't think the gender would make a difference, but the new name might screw something up if not fixed.
posted by ctmf at 2:15 PM on December 23, 2015

I had W2s in both names and my taxes were fine. The IRS only cares that your social is the same on all your documents. Since you have a court order and a doctor backing you up, you can easily resolve any questions they might have.

Change the name and gender on your college diploma if applicable. You don't necessarily need to pay for a new one, but if you needed transcripts for some reason, it would be wise to know they would arrive in your correct name. Colleges collect gender information and a wrong gender marker will sometimes make you impossible to find in their database if someone if trying to verify your education.

Reregister to vote. It should be no problem to just make changes on a new form and send it in; you might have to show up to make sure they did it right though. If you move, don't report ever having voted in your previous name or they will change it back to your old name. I don't know if it's malicious or someone just not understanding the concept of a name change, but it's happened to me twice with my name, twice with my gender honorific in several different counties.

Update your library card (and consider paying off any fines.)

If you expect to need proof that you paid off your student loans, or if you paid taxes and claimed the interest payments within the last seven to ten years, change your name with the student loan people. If you don't expect to ever need their help for anything and your student loans are no longer impacting your tax situation, don't bother.

If you're a blood or bone marrow donor, check that your information is correct. Trans people are not barred from donating blood (trans men are under the same rules as other men who have sex with men; trans women are under the same rules as other women.) You shouldn't be hassled by your blood donation location, though of course some people are. Be The Match will only record gender information based on your DNA's XX or XY, and you have to escalate several levels up the customer service chain to get a note in your file about your correct gender.

Ask your bank what they will do if your direct deposit is in the wrong name. Generally speaking, only the number has to be the same, plus they will have a record of the name change in your file. Check with your payroll department to see what they plan to do. If the direct deposit bounces, your company should get a paper check to you ASAP (there are legal repercussions for companies that don't pay employees on time, so they will put some hustle on it.) It will somewhat depend on the timing of the name change and how competent your payroll department is.

If you have a paper check in any combination of your old and new names, if you show up with your ID and court order, the bank will cash it for you. This happens all the time and they won't even bat an eye.

Banks are not allowed to collect gender information per se; it is a legal matter regarding sex discrimination in lending. However, they may have an honorific on file for you, so check that you're in there properly under Mr/Dr/Rev or whatever the case may be.

Your ID may arrive with the wrong gender/right name since the DMV verifies their info from the SSA database. But if you met your state's DMV's requirement for a gender change (which is often different from the SSA) then they should change it for you as soon as you bring that to their attention.

CVS and Walgreens source their rewards card database information from their pharmacy records regardless of what information you give them, so if you ever got a prescription from them way back when, they will have a hard time changing your name in the system. I don't know why that bothers me, but it does. If you escalate with their online customer service, they will fix it (eventually.)

If your work handles your 401k account, they should update the servicer within a few weeks. You can call the servicer anyway just to make sure. This is one of those things where unless you're drawing on it right away, you can get around to it in the near future.

Your SSA change is somewhat important, since most government entities verify information via their master database. Your employers and your future employers will receive a no-match letter if your gender on your ID and I9 don't match, and while you've probably already disclosed to your HR now, it's a hassle to have to do so over and over again. Sometimes if there's a no-match at the DMV you'll get an incorrect gender marker on your ID when you renew it and have to go through the whole process of showing up with a doctor's note again, whereas if you get the SSA done, it usually won't come up. In the future, if you don't appear to match your SSA record and your documents are mixed up, they can deny your SS benefits and it's a major, major hassle.

I've never changed anything on my birth certificate, and I always have to show up with my court order, which is a minor hassle. The I9 does not require a birth certificate to prove you're legal to work in the US (just state ID and SS card), and the US passport services don't require you to change your birth certificate; they just require a court order and a doctor's note, so that's good enough for me.

If your credit cards will make the change but refuse to send new cards (Thanks a lot, AmEx), make the change, wait a couple weeks, and report your card as lost. They'll replace it for free. Some credit card companies will accept a letter with a copy of your court order and ID; some will want a specific form.

If you move house, set up mail forwarding for both names so you don't miss anything. The second time you move after this, only forward the current name (good fix for junk mail.)

Your work should automatically update your medical insurance, but if they don't, you might have to do it. If you have a spouse on your insurance, make sure they stay on your insurance during this process (sometimes the system is not set up properly and changes that it doesn't expect will bork the entire thing and de-marry you.)

Your state may or may not allow you to change your name and gender on your marriage record and children's birth certificates; if not, get extra copies of the certified name/gender change court order and keep them with your marriage certificate and/or children's paperwork. If you have children, update their school and doctor's office. Similarly, if you take care of your parents or ever make decisions for them, update any accounts and make sure they have a copy of the court order in case they have to prove you're related for some reason.

Do you have an advanced care directive or a will? Update it. Bring your court order and get the advanced care directive or will notarized.

Do you belong to a gym? Check to see what they have on file. If you get hassled in the locker room, you want there to be no reason for the staff to kick you out.

If you have an Amazon.com account, you can change it with no paperwork. If you're an Amazon seller, you have to verify your identity and either show them your banking information with your new name or send paperwork. I believe eBay and PayPal are much the same; anything with an exchange of money needs to be consistent.

Phone company; usually you can do this over the phone or online.

Utilities: you may have to show up, sometimes you just send a letter and copy of your court order and ID. Call them to find out.

Jury duty: have your court order with you when you report, even if your summons arrives in the right name, since their database might not be perfect either.

Credit reports: they should update automatically when you pull your report after all of your accounts have been changed. That said, I have credit reporting with Experian and they caught my accounts, but not my account with them (which has damaged my faith in their recording.) They don't require a form, just a copy of your information.

Have you switched doctors within the last five years, and do you expect to possibly need to access your old medical/vision/dental records? If so, fill out a release of information to your current doctor at the same time as you update them with your new name and info. This is less vital if you don't expect to have any medical records you'll actually need.

Order new checks. Order business cards just for funsies. Get something monogrammed. Get some of those personalized pencils! Congratulations!
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:01 PM on December 23, 2015 [10 favorites]

The one that snuck up on me when I did this was my frequent flyer account.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:19 PM on December 23, 2015

Your state may or may not allow you to change your name and gender on your marriage record

There was an option to change my name on my marriage record but since I am divorced I didn't do it. Is there any reason to? Pretty sure my ex doesn't want to be on record as having a "gay" marriage and I wouldn't want to do that unless there was a compelling reason to. (There are no kids and no other ties between us anymore, btw.)
posted by desjardins at 6:46 PM on December 23, 2015

If you're not married now, then I don't think it matters. If you share assets, make sure the change is made across documents relating to those, but your marriage certificate isn't important any more.

For others reading this, it used to be that transition would put your spouse's rights in question when your marriage magically became "gay." It no longer legally matters what gender you marry, yay! But databases have not caught up yet, so be aware that you may wind up with "computer says no" problems. Be assertive!
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:26 PM on December 23, 2015

I'm not sure if you already have a passport or not, but if you have a passport in your old name - are there any active valid visas? If so, you may need to contact that particular country's embassy for advice, since Immigration can be very particular about names.
posted by divabat at 5:39 AM on December 24, 2015

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