Changing Legal Documents
Many transitioners will disagree with the facts I have written in this essay.† Please keep in mind that these are not my rules, and that I did not make these rules.† I myself dislike these rules and the difficulties they have caused in my life.† These rules were created by government agencies.
My experience is limited to the United States, so if you live in any other country, your laws might be different from those of my country and I would not know whether or not you could change the sex marker in your records, or what you would need to do to effect the changes in your record.
In the United States, you can generally change your name on almost all records and documents when you begin your RLE, whether or not you have had an orchiectomy.† But most government agencies will not change the sex marker until your sexual reassignment surgery is completed.
Drivers licenses and state IDs
Some states will grant you an F sex marker on your driversí license or state ID when you change your name and begin transitioning, even before any genital surgery.† Other states require you to have genital surgery before they will change the sex marker on your license.† Some states, which do require the genital surgery, will specify that you had completed the sex reassignment surgery, while some of the other states might not specify the exact genital surgery necessary.† I donít know if orchiectomy alone would permit you to have your sex marker changed in your state.† I have personally applied for a license in one state where I had disclosed my orchiectomy, yet they would not grant me an F sex marker until I had the whole SRS.† So in most states, having an orchiectomy will not matter because they will either change your sex marker anyway, or not change it at all until your SRS is completed.
As of 2005, more and more states are synchronizing their data with the Social Security Administration.† So those states that now change the sex marker for pre-ops might discontinue doing so within the next several years.† There are even reports of state DMVs requiring pre-ops who have already obtained new licenses with an F marker to exchange them for licenses with an M marker.
SSA (Social Security Administration) records
Prior to 2002, some pre-ops were able to change the sex marker on their Social Security record.† Having an orchiectomy seemed to improve the odds that the clerks would be willing to change the sex marker, and some were even lucky enough to encounter a clerk who was kind enough to change the sex marker without any surgery at all.
But on October 3rd, 2002, the Social Security Administration changed their rules and now refuses to change the sex marker until you have had the complete SRS surgery.† Some pre-ops who managed to change their sex markers before October 2002 have even reported that the SSA changed those markers back to M.
The SSA spells out their policy for changing data in their records at:
and specifies that sex reassignment surgery must have been completed before changing the sex marker.† Although this policy states that only a physicianís letter stating completed sex reassignment surgery is required, some recent post-ops have reported needing a court order for gender marker change or an amended birth certificate.
While your Social Security card does not list your sex (it displays only your name and Social Security number), the SSA does keep other data on record including sex and your birth date.† Unfortunately, they can and sometimes do disclose your sex to your workplace, and they did do this to me in 2004.
Does the SSA change the sex marker after having only an orchiectomy?† I have found out for myself that the answer is no.† I began my RLE in December 2002, only two months after SSA implemented the new policy, and I did let the clerk know I had the orchiectomy, but the SSA still wonít change my records until I have my SRS.
Generally, you will need to have SRS before obtaining a permanent US passport with the sex marker changed to F.
However, the US State Department has proven to be a little more considerate than many other government agencies for those of us who need to travel to Thailand or another country outside the United States for our SRS.† It is not necessary to have an orchiectomy before obtaining this temporary passport.† After SRS, a surgeons letter stating that your sex reassignment surgery was completed will be sufficient for obtaining a permanent ten-year passport with the sex marker changed to female.
For more information on obtaining this temporary passport, I have composed a separate page which describes the process and lists everything which I think you will need:
To obtain the temporary passport, you will need a letter from your surgeon specifying that you will have sex reassignment surgery to completely change your sex, and the date of the surgery.† It might help if you also have one or two therapist letters recommending SRS, your flight itinerary, court order for your name change, and proof that youíve been on HRT.
One word of caution: some countries, especially in southeastern Asia, will not admit a traveler whose passport will expire in less than six months.† For this reason, you should probably wait until your SRS date is less than six months away before you apply for your temporary passport.
Most states will change the sex marker on your birth certificate, but none will do so before you have completed your sex reassignment surgery.† Some states, including the one I was born in, will require a court order for sex change along with the doctorís or surgeonís letter stating that sex change surgery has been completed.† As of 2005, several states will not change your sex marker on your birth certificate even after SRS.† As far as I know, at least most states do not consider an orchiectomy to be equal to sex reassignment surgery.
For more information about the requirements for changing your sex marker on your birth certificate in the specific state you were born in, refer to these two sites:
Birth Record on Kindred Spirit Lakeside.
Changing Birth Certificate by Dr. Becky Allison.
So in summary, an orchiectomy alone will probably not enable you to change the sex marker on any of your records before SRS.† Generally, if an agency would not change the sex marker on your record when you first began RLE, you wonít be able to change the sex marker with that agency until youíve had the complete SRS.
Some pre-ops have claimed that they were able to change the sex marker on all of their records and documents after they had their orchiectomy.
I have read many of these claims myself, and several of these people have even implored me to change the sex marker on my records based only on my orchiectomy.† Some pre-ops claim that after an orchiectomy, you can have your orchiectomy surgeon or even your GP write a letter stating that you have completed sex reassignment surgery.† One person who claimed to have changed her documents before SRS recommended that I see a specific doctor for the purpose of obtaining this letter.† I did see this doctor and asked as recommended, but was told that she could not write the letter until I had my SRS, and that my orchiectomy was insufficient for this letter.
Most government agencies on the state and federal levels, especially the SSA, require that you have completed your sex reassignment surgery and present a surgeonís or doctorís letter stating that sex reassignment surgery has been completed.† Unfortunately, the orchiectomy procedure alone does not complete sex reassignment surgery in the eyes of the law.† The phallus remains after orchiectomy, therefore a doctor could not even state that youíre not male anymore.† As far as government agencies are concerned, phallus = male and vaginoplasty = female.† If a doctor did write a letter claiming completed sex reassignment surgery after youíve only had the orchiectomy, he or she would be committing fraud.† If I were a doctor, I myself would not risk fraud by composing a letter claiming completed sex reassignment surgery for a patient who had not yet had SRS.