Transgender individuals in West Virginia (WV) and elsewhere face challenges when it comes to the promise of equal rights and fair treatment in society. If you are a transgender West Virginia resident simply trying to have your legal records reflect your true identity, you want a WV transgender rights attorney who is compassionate and experienced—and who understands gender identity laws in WV—to walk alongside you through the process.
Transgender West Virginia: Name and Gender Change Issues
State and federal laws, case law and legal precedent regarding transgender right and issues are quickly evolving. As new cases come to the forefront and are decided, attorneys for transgender individuals and interest groups must keep up with these changes so they can best represent and counsel their clients.
One area to watch related to transgender rights in West Virginia is name and gender change issues, policies and procedures. The law and protections in this area are rapidly changing, and the best legal representation will come from an attorney who works specifically in this field and is up-to-date on current events, lawsuits and legislation.
Legally Changing Your Name and Gender Marker
A West Virginia resident may request a legal change of name under the conditions outlined in WV Code §§ 48-25-101 through 107. If you qualify to legally change your name under the statute, the first step is to file a petition with your county’s circuit court. A notice of the name change must be included in a local publication, though the exact process for this varies by county. Next, the court holds a hearing and, if granting the petition, issues a final order authorizing the name change.
With documentation of the court order for a change of name and a letter from a physician indicating a change in gender marker, a transgender West Virginia resident may then pursue a name and gender change with the US Social Security Administration.
Driver’s License or State ID Gender Identity Laws in WV
A new state-issued identification card or driver’s license may be obtained from the WV Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with proof of having taken the steps above to legally change your name, but such was not always the case.
Prior to 2015, WV DMV policy required individuals to appear in their driver’s license photos according to their gender listed on the license. After three individuals threatened to enforce their rights through court proceedings, the DMV avoided a civil action for discrimination against transgender West Virginia residents by changing its policy. The DMV now allows individuals to appear in driver’s license and state identification card photos as they generally present themselves in daily life. Additionally, the gender marker on your driver’s license or state ID may be changed with a Gender Designation Form signed by a physician.
WV Transgender Birth Certificate Policies
If you were not born in WV, the laws of the state of your birth govern your ability to change the name and gender on your birth certificate. However, changing your name on a WV birth certificate does not appear to be possible currently.
West Virginia previously established a procedure for applying for an amended birth certificate with a new gender marker. However, in 2020, the WV Supreme Court of Appeals issued a memorandum (unpublished) decision in In re G.M., holding that the WV Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) does not have authority to alter the gender marker on a West Virginia birth certificate. Pending litigation in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia challenges that decision, arguing that the supreme court’s decision violates LGBTQ rights in WV, specifically free speech, due process, and equal protection rights.
Finding a WV Transgender Rights Attorney
The status of LGBTQ rights in WV will likely continue to be volatile for some time, unfortunately. Transgender West Virginia residents and their families need someone they can trust to advocate for their rights and work with them to advance the cause of equality for all. If you or someone you know need assistance navigating gender identity laws and policies, WV transgender rights attorney Andrew Brison of The Law Offices of M. Andrew Brison, PLLC can help. Reach out to schedule a consultation by calling 304-397-8225 or completing the firm’s online contact form.