Transgender Awareness in Illinois Law

The movement in favor of creating a space for transgendered individuals has moved throughout the country and Illinois has been no exception. In June 2014, when Illinois legalized same-sex marriage, doors opened not only to same-sex couples but also to transgendered individuals.
In the last two years, Illinois has provided members of the transgender community the legal ability to change their gender markers on various legal documents, including their Illinois birth certificates, as well as their Illinois government IDs.
A person born in Illinois, with an existing Illinois birth record, may submit an application to the Illinois Department of Public Health seeking to have the gender changed on his or her own birth record after undergoing an operation(s) having the effect of reflecting, enhancing, changing, reassigning or otherwise affecting gender. However, genital reconstructive surgery is not required. You must submit a State of Illinois Gender Reassignment Application, an Affidavit for a New Birth Certificate After Completion of Gender Reassignment Surgery, and a physician affidavit. The physician affidavit that must be provided in support of your application will vary depending on whether your gender reassignment operation occurred in the United States.

To change the gender marker on your driver’s license, you must provide either a certified copy of your amended birth certificate or a letter or affidavit from your physician certifying that you have taken or are taking appropriate clinical steps to change your gender.

It may be necessary for a transgender person to get a court ordered name change for a number of reasons. Presenting official identification such as a birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card, or school identification card with a name and picture inconsistent with a person’s current gender identity may create difficult situations on a regular basis.

In some cases, it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer to help a transgender person navigate these processes. The name change process is typically more challenging, as it involves petitioning the court, and usually precedes the changing of the gender marker. Your lawyer should advise what tasks are best handled by a family law professional and what applications may be relatively straightforward.

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