When you get to the stage of deciding to live full time in your chosen gender, one of the bigger jobs is legally changing your name and then the subsequent changes to various documents and records relating to this. Here is an outline of some of the procedures, problems and assistance available.
Legally changing your name is a fairly simple procedure (and can be done whether born in New Zealand or overseas), it requires you to fill out a “Change of name by statutory declaration” form (BDM120 if over 18 years old) – which can be downloaded from the Department of Internal Affairs website www.dia.govt.nz (look in the births, deaths and marriages section). You complete this including your new name and get your signature witnessed by a Justice of the Peace (just look up the nearest one on the phone book – they do not charge for witnessing a signature). The completed form is then mailed to Wellington with the appropriate fee of $80.00, however you should also get a new birth certificate (if born in New Zealand – an extra $26) and also a certified copy of the Statutory Declaration ($20). Some authorities seem to require one and some the other so it is much better to get both. The certified copy of the declaration is the one needed to change drivers licence and overseas passports. It takes around 2 weeks to get the paperwork back before you can proceed with getting other records changed.
Now that you have the right paperwork, you can then get the new name and appropriate photo in your driver’s licence which is the main form of identification people tend to carry. You must visit a driver licensing station (typically AA), fill out a form, present the certified declaration and proof of address (a bill or similar), and then get a new photo and signature taken. You will initially get a temporary paper licence and the plastic version with photo will arrive in a few weeks by mail. You can only get the gender marker changed when it gets changed on your birth certificate, but your gender marker does not appear on the licence – just in the computer records.
You can also apply for your New Zealand passport in your new name. You will need new photos (countersigned by someone who knows you and has some official position (employer, minister, Dr etc), the form to use is just the standard NZ Passport application form – again available from the Department of Internal Affairs website. You don’t even need to send any documentation about the name change as they already have the original records. The cost for this is $150.
Next there is a major effort to get your name changed everywhere you can think of, bank a/cs, credit and store cards, accounts such as power, phone etc, magazine subscriptions, tax records, insurance and many more. Most are fairly simple, a faxed or photocopied version of the new birth certificate along with a short covering letter usually suffices. For some you can simply change your name using their online service (Flybuys and Foodtown card spring to mind). You will inevitably forget some but will catch them as you get mail to the old name and some will screw it up and misspell your new name or not send a new card. Your mileage may vary, but a number of our members have not had any trouble changing gender for any their accounts.
Here is the experience of changing bank details one of our members, Cathy Parker:
The whole process was pretty simple, the bank surprised me as I expected that to be fairly hard, I visited the manager a few days before my transition to sort this, he didn’t think there were any issues but needed to check with head office re security they held, he rang me a few hours latter to say it was all done and new cards ordered. The most amusing one was Telstra Clear – they ignored my letter so my second attempt was by phone, the customer service lady said “But Cathy is a girls name” so I explained briefly and her response was “That’s cool”, she then held the line whilst I faxed the birth certificate through and did the change while I was on line.
Other things to change are profiles for any online groups, One login people have had difficulty changing is Trademe login usernames. They generally just won’t change it. You can change all the profile details to your new name.
For those with UK passports, the procedure for changing this is similar to the New Zealand one except they require the certified copy of the Statutory Declaration (which they return but it can take 6-8 weeks). For the UK passport you can change the gender, all that is required is a letter from a medical professional (for instance Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychotherapist or GP) which needs to state that the gender change is permanent with no plans for reversal.
So whilst changing your name can be a time consuming process, it is ultimately very satisfying to see all the cards with the correct name on them and pull the mail from the box with the correct name on it, well worth the effort.