Please be aware that this information is just a guide, not legal advice. If you have an experience that is different from what is listed below, please notify us of your experience so that we can adjust this resource. If you feel that you have been wrongfully denied a name or gender marker change contact GLAD or the RI Chapter of the ACLU for assistance.
If you are looking for guidance on Name and Gender Marker changes in other states or on federal documents, you can find a comprehensive resource here.
RI Name Change
This process is slightly different for each city/town, including cost. The reason is that some municipalities require public notice in a local newspaper and some do not. You will generally have to complete the steps listed below:
*** Important*** There is a line on this form asking for reason for the name change with instructions to “be specific”. You do not have to disclose your gender identity or say that you are changing your sex to change your name. It is within your rights to answer with “preferred name” or “common usage”. Be aware that this form and your answers will become part of public record.
Obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate. If you live out of state this can often be done by mail. If you live in Rhode Island, you can get it from the Vital Records Office or through the Clerk’s Office in the city/townin which you were born.
Get a BCI check- you might be able to do this at your local RI police department OR (recommended) go through the Attorney General’s office by following theinstructions that are listed here.
***Important*** It costs $5 but they DO NOT take cash- you will need a check, money order, or credit card.
**Also Important** Some towns will include acquiring the BCI check as a part of their name change procedure and some require you to do it on your own. Be sure to ask the Probate Court in the city or town n which you reside (see below). The cost should be the same either way.
Contact the Probate Court in the city or town in which you reside. You can find the list of probate contacts here. Ask them for clear instructions for their legal name change process including all fees involved, acceptable payment methods and when probate court is in session. Some are only in session once a month, others 1-2 days a week. You will typically need to bring them your paperwork so they are sure it is all in order before you will get an appointment to see the probate judge.
Appear before the Probate Judge. You may want to bring a friend for support and as a witness. When complete, be sure to get multiple copies of your name change document. You will need at least 2 copies to complete the other document changes. It is usually less expensive to get an extra copy while you are there than to have to go back again later. (It is also possible to take the one official copy, make photocopies and get the photocopies notarized as official/true copies of the original.)
Name Change next steps
Once your name change is final, you want to get it changed on all of your other documents as soon as you can. You should change it with Social Security first (if you are also planning to change your gender marker, its possible to change both at the same time. See the Gender Marker Change with Social Security section below) then wait 24 hours before going on to do your RI Driver’s Liscence/ID, car registration, US Passport, credit/debt cards, etc…
Don't forget about changing your health insurance! In most cases, you will need to update your insurance before you can update the name on your medical records. If you have insurance through the insurance exchange, you will have to change it with them first. A health insurance navigator may be able to help you with this process.
Name Change on RI Birth Certificate
The applicant must submit to The Registrar of Vital Records a certified copy of the probate court order changing the name, including applicant’s name at birth, date and place of birth, and new name. The applicant will receive an affidavit in the mail that must be signed in a notary’s presence. It is not clear if this is to be done at the main office, by mail or if you can do it at your local clerk's office. If you have more info about this please let us know.
Gender Marker Change with Social Security
***Important*** as of May 2012 it is no longer necessary to change your gender with social security before changing it on your RI driver’s license. You also do not have to do this to change it on your US passport.
**Also Important** In 2011, Social Security stopped the practice of sending “No Match” letters to employers when a person’s stated gender does not match the gender SSA has on file.
Gender Marker Change on RI Driver’s License or ID Card
In an effort to stream line this process the RI DMV updated this policy and created a form in May of 2012. Print out and complete the top section of this form the bottom half must be completed by a physician, licensed therapist or case/social worker. Follow the instructions listed on the form carefully.
Gender Marker Change on RI Birth Certificate
*** new regulations as of November 11, 2014***
Gender Affirmation surgery is no longer required to update your gender marker on your Rhode Island birth certificate.
You will need: A letter from a medical provider on office letterhead, stating that you have undergone "treatment appropriate for the individual for the purpose of gender transition based on contemporary clinical standards", AND Your own letter requesting your gender marker be changed (see the model language below for details). Both letters must include your full name and date of birth.
The new certificates will not be marked as amended on the gender marker line, but will be marked as amended on the name line if your name has been legally changed.
The cost appears to be $10 to update the certificate and $20 for a certified copy (each additional copy is $15).
They accept cash, check or money order if you go in person. And will only accept check or money order if you do it by mail. Check/money order should be made out to "General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island".
People can do this in person or by mail at the RI Dept of Health, Office of Vital Records, rm 101, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02903.
Here are the steps for changing gender and name on a Rhode Island birth certificate:
1. Applicant Affidavit
Submit an affidavit, which is a signed written statement, where you state:
“I, [NAME OF APPLICANT] [DOB: MM/DD/YYYY] under the pains and penalties of perjury, declare that I have undergone appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition based on contemporary clinical standards, and that I am no longer the gender recorded on my current birth certificate. I am therefore requesting that the gender marker on my birth certificate be changed from [MALE/FEMALE] to [FEMALE/MALE]."
2. Medical Provider Affidavit
Submit an affidavit executed by a physician, certified nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant (registered to practice in Rhode Island, any other state, or with appropriate documentation from a foreign country), that states:
“I, [NAME OF MEDICAL PROVIDER], declare under the pains and penalties of perjury that I am a licensed physician/certified nurse practitioner/physician’s assistant in good standing in [STATE OR FOREIGN COUNTRY]. I have treated and/or evaluated [NAME OF APPLICANT] [DOB: MM/DD/YYYY]. I make this affidavit in support of [NAME OF APPLICANT] ’s request that the gender marker on the birth certificate be changed from [MALE/FEMALE] to [FEMALE/MALE] . I certify that [NAME OF APPLICANT] has undergone appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition based on contemporary clinical standards."
NOTE: A person who is intersex and wishes to change the gender on their birth certificate can use this same procedure, and the Medical Provider Affidavit merely needs to state that, in the medical provider’s professional opinion, the individual’s gender on the birth certificate should be changed.