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Legally Transitioning: How to Change Your Gender Marker in Pennsylvania

By: Kate Sullivan

Transgender or “trans” people may decide to change their legal name and/or gender marker as part of their journey to live as their authentic self. About 1.6% of the U.S. population identifies with a gender that is different from what was assigned at birth. Each state has different processes and regulations for changing gender on common identification documents. Here are a few ways Pennsylvanians can change their gender markers.

Your Driver’s License

The National Center for Transgender Equality gave a grade of “A+” for how transgender-friendly the driver’s license gender marker change policy is in Pennsylvania. To update your gender marker on your Pennsylvania driver’s license, you need to fill out a Request for Gender Change form DL-32 and bring it to a PennDOT Driver License Center. No proof of medical transition is required.

You can also opt for a gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses for those who identify as non-binary.

Your U.S. Passport

You can easily change your gender marker on your passport by submitting an application (DS-5554) for your passport with the correct gender marker selected. You do not need to provide any documentation (medical or other) to change your gender, even if the gender you select on the application does not match the gender on your previous passport or other documents. Passport specialists are trained to treat transgender applicants with respect, and they need to address applicants with the right pronouns.

Your Birth Certificate

For those over the age of 18, you must submit to the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records:

  • Your birth certificate with requested changes

  • An application for a Certified Copy of Birth Record

  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID

  • A check or money order for $20

  • A physician’s statement that you have had appropriate treatment for gender transition

While Pennsylvania does require medical evidence to update your gender marker, appropriate treatment does not have to include any gender-affirming surgery.

After you update your gender on your birth certificate, any other update to your gender listed on your birth certificate will require a court order.

Birth Certificates for Minors

For those under the age of eighteen, a parent must complete the application, but no medical documentation is required. The parent should indicate which gender should appear on the birth certificate, sign in the presence of a notary, and include a copy of the parent’s government-issued photo ID.

Policy and law about gender markers is always evolving. In March 2023, Pennsylvania State Senators re-introduced a bill that would amend the Vital Statistics Law of 1953 and remove sex assigned at birth from birth certificates altogether. The bill recently has been referred to the Health & Human Services Committee in the Pennsylvania State Senate.


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