Home / Issues / Transgender / Identity Documents

Identity Documents

On April 10, 2012, USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum which specifies the requirements for updating the gender marker on immigration identity documents.

This excellent Guidance, parallels the guidance issued in January 2011 by the Department of State issued guidelinesfor correcting the gender marker on U.S. passports.

If you are having difficulties obtaining documentation from CIS that matches your gender, please let us know.

Obtaining Proper Identity Documents

What are the requirements to correct my gender on USCIS documents?

Under the April 10, 2012 USCIS memo, there are several forms of proof that you can use to update your identity documents.  These documents include but are not limited to:  naturalization certificate, green card, and an employment authorization document.

You may correct your gender on these documents after transitioning by presenting to USCIS:

  • An amended birth certificate, passport, or court order recognizing the corrected gender or
  • A medical certification from a licensed physician that the individual has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (male or female) and language that the doctor either treated the individual or has reviewed and evaluated the medical history of the applicant; and
  • A recent photograph.
  • The applicant may also be asked to submit evidence of identity in the corrected gender, if it’s available but can still obtain the USCIS document in the corrected gender even if other documents in the corrected gender are not available.

Significantly, proof of sexual reassignment surgery is not required.

What must I do to change my name on my identity documents?

You must submit proof that you completed a name change according to the relevant state or foreign laws.

Also, specifically for naturalization applications, there is an option on the form to change your name with Immigration (presumably to allow new Americans to make their names sound less “foreign”) so you should be able to change your first name from a male sounding name to a female sounding name without going through a legal name change in court.

I have not taken any medical steps to transition.  Can I change the gender marker on my documents?

Probably not.  A licensed physician must certify that you  have had appropriate clinical treatment to transition.

I’ve had bad experiences with doctors, can a social worker sign my certification?

No, the Guidance specifies that a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) must sign the certification and must include a medical license or certificate number as well as other identifying information.