Empowering Identity: A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Your Gender Marker in Ohio

Introduction to Gender Marker Change in Ohio

In order to change the gender marker on your birth certificate to conform to your gender identity, you must apply for a birth certificate correction. This is done in the Probate Court in the County in which you live, you were born, or where your mother resided when you were born. R.C. 3707.15. 

Documentation and Procedure for Gender Marker Correction

The Court will require you to file an Affidavit To Correct Gender Marker in Birth Record. You will also need the applicable filing fee, copy of original birth certificate, and valid ID. Some courts may require additional documentation. It is best to call ahead to your county probate court to determine what additional documentation is necessary. Once you have submitted the Affidavit, the Court may set a hearing. If a hearing is scheduled, it is important to be prompt to avoid having your request dismissed for failure to appear. Once the Court issues an Order granting the change, the Order must be filed with the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics. Vital Statistics will then issue a new birth certificate with the correct gender.

Giving Ohioans The Right to Change Their Birth Marker

Ohio was one of the last states to allow transgender individuals to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. In 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio issued a ruling that struck down Ohio’s prohibition on changing gender markers on birth certificates as unconstitutional. The Court determined that the Plaintiffs seeking to change their gender marker did not have equal protection under the law. They, transgender individuals, were treated differently than cis-gender individuals. Cis-genders could make changes to their birth certificates (correcting spelling errors, changing gender from “U” (undetermined) to male or female).

The District Court decision effectively required all Ohioans the right to change their gender marker. However, there was no mechanism in the law to direct which agency was responsible for accepting and processing the gender marker change. The Department of Health determined it would only make a gender marker change if ordered by a court. Probate Courts already handle name changes and it seemed logical that Probate Courts would handle changing gender markers on birth certificates (or at least issuing the Order the Department of Health required). 

Current Legal Landscape and Ongoing Cases

The above process is currently under review by the Ohio Supreme Court in In Re: Application for Correction of Birth Record of Hailey Emmeline Adelaide. The case is set for oral argument on April 4, 2023. The question before the Court is whether Probate Courts have the authority to change the gender marker on birth certificates. This is because there is no Ohio statute that specifically directs the Probate Court to handle this issue. There is no Order prohibiting gender marker changes while Hailey Emmeline is being decided. Until a decision is rendered, the process outlined above stands.

Completing Your Birth Marker Changes

In addition to changing your gender marker on your birth certificate, Ohio has mechanisms to change your name and your gender marker on your driver’s license. Federally, there are processes for changing your gender marker on your passport, social security registration, and selective service registration.If you are considering changing your gender marker as part of your transition,  Equitas Health has a great DIY Guide that outlines changing your birth marker on all government documents.

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