Court order to recognize gender in California

This guide can help you:

  • Understand when you need a court order recognizing gender to update gender markers
  • Ask for a court order recognizing your or your child's gender 
  • Find out where to update your gender marker on your IDs
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The steps and forms you need to fill out vary depending on your situation. Answer a few questions to get the right set of instructions.

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In California, you can ask the court for an order recognizing your or your child's gender (recognizing a change of gender). When you ask for the order, you can ask for a gender marker of female, male, or nonbinary. The process takes about two months.

When you need a court order to update gender markers

You may not need a court order to update a gender marker on identity documents. 

California identity documents: You don't need a court order 

You do not need a court order to 

  • Amend a California Birth certificate
  • Update a California driver's license

Find out how to update identity documents from each government agency identity.

Out-of-state birth certificates: You may need a court order

Find out what the place that issued your birth certificate requires. The Transgender Law Center has a State-by-State Overview: Changing Gender Markers on Birth Certificates

Federal identity documents: You don't need a court order 

You need a court order to change your name. 

If you also want to change your name, you will need to get a court order. You can ask for a name change and gender recognition order at the same time. Or, you can just ask to change your name to match your gender identity.

Steps to get a court order

To start the process, you file forms with the court

You pay a $435-$450 filing fee. If you can’t afford the fee, you can ask the court to waive it. 

If you’re asking for a court order recognizing your child's gender, your child's other parent may need to get a copy of your request before the judge will make a decision. This is called serving court papers. 

You do not need to provide any medical documentation to get a court order recognizing gender or to change California state-issued documents. You (or your child if you're asking for them) do not need to have undergone any gender-affirming care. Other states have different rules. If you want to change an identity document issued by another state or country, find out what they require.

A judge will make a decision in about 1 to 2 months

After you get the court order, you can use it to have identity documents updated.