Legal Name Change
Last month, I made the decision to go forth with my legal name change. I've gone by Dill Werner since I was 13 and have wanted to legally change my name for over a decade. Eighteen years. I've been Dill for eighteen years. That name could go to college and start collecting student loans now.
However, the process is often very lengthy and expensive. Coming out as trans masc genderqueer affirmed that I needed to go forward with the name change. It will alleviate my dysphoria and allow me to shed my abusive past. I am not that person anymore. I never really was. I am them. Dill. If you've been following me on Twitter or Instagram under the hashtag #NonbinaryDill, you'll have heard about some of these steps. I'm going to lay it all out in a simple process. What you'll find online isn't accurate or grossly out-of-date.
Now, I will be talking about the steps I've taken so far to change my name. I can only speak as someone living in the state of South Carolina. The process varies from state to state. I was not attempting to change my gender marker since SC doesn't recognize gender X, and I am not binary male or female. That's a whole different thing. This is just a legal name change.
I will be discussing the paperwork that is needed to present a petition to the court for a new name. I can either have my petition granted and then my name will be changed without having to go to court (YAY!) or have to plead my case before a judge. I'm hoping it will go something like this:
"Why do you want your name changed?" the judge asks. "Because I haven't gone by that name in 18 years," I reply. "No one calls me that. They call me Dill." They considers it. "Oh. Yes/No."
Gavel bangs. Much crying either way.
Name Change Information Papers!
The first step is to call SLED—South Carolina Law Enforcement Division—and request a name change packet. They didn't ask any questions other than, "Who and where do I send this to?" The packet will include:
One request for a name change
One fingerprint card
One request for a background check
One request for a sex offender registry check
One affidavit stating the requestor hasn't committed a crime or been charged with a crime under their name (there's a place where you can write in if you have and under what names)
A request for a self-addressed, stamped envelope
A request for either a money order, cashiers check, or certified check for the amount of $25.00 for processing fees.
The $25.00 fee covers the background checks. You will have to pay $10.00 to be fingerprinted with the paper card. Digital fingerprints are $50.50. You can't go just anywhere and have your fingerprints taken. When I lived in a different place in SC and was fingerprinted for my teaching job, all I had to do was walking into the police station.
Fingerprints post detention center.
This time, I had to call and find the exact place where they did fingerprints at TWO specific times. When spouse and I went to the detention center, the man wasn't there and wouldn't be for 30 more minutes. I kept my receipt in case they aren't able to read the fingerprints. Then, I can come back with the new sheet and be reprinted for free.
As a word of advice, always have the correct amount IN CASH for everyone. If it says $10, then bring a ten dollar bill and your government ID, no change or $20. I purchased a $25.00 money order with cash at CVS, and it was $26.25. I seriously had no idea how to fill out a MoneyGram or where to sign my name. If you don't either, view this wiki: How to Fill Out a Moneygram Money Order
The affidavit has to be notarized before it can be sent back. I was lucky that I knew a few notaries. One that worked with my spouse agreed to do it for free once that ran a check on me to make sure I wasn't some nefarious criminal! I'm not. Squeaky clean. I might've yelled at a duck one time when I was a six. UPS offers notary services. While it's unclear if they charge, the fee can range from $2 a signature to $20. I found one source that said $1 for UPS and other mailbox stores. Your bank can notarize something for free. Local police departments have notaries for a small fee. If you're getting your fingerprints done at a station, it wouldn't hurt to ask.
So, you've filled out your form stating your full legal name, all your aliases, and the new name you wish to use. Then, you agree to all the background checks, arrange the $25.00 money order or certified check, do the affidavit, have it notarized, get fingerprinted, and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. What next? Put it all together, slap a bunch of stamps on it, and send it off.
My in-laws are only the most serious of serious about things.
That's where I am. If I'm granted my petition, I'll have to pay a $150 filing fee and get a new passport ($97), a new "real" ID ($10), and change other fun stuff like my birth certificate. I can't wait! The sooner no one calls me by that other name again, the better. :)
I'd like to thank everyone who donated to my ko-fi fund raiser and made this possible. With their help, I am able to change my name without forgoing medical treatment. Not only that, but I had extra funds when some of the fees came up less expensive than I thought. So, I went through #TransCrowdFund on Twitter and donated to those in need with the surplus.
Dill Werner is an author of queer fiction for adults and young adults and sensitivity reader. They graduated from the University of South Carolina with degrees in Creative Writing and German Language and Literature. They have taught ESOL in Germany and German in the United States, which wasn’t confusing at all. An advocate for trans* and nonbinary people, they have written about demisexuality for YAPride, have been interviewed on demisexuality for The Daily Dot, and were featured on Culturess’s 20 Nonbinary Creators You Need to Keep An Eye Out For. They live in South Carolina with their spouse and three-toed bunny. You can follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Come for the cute bunny pictures, stay for the discussion on gender and asexuality.