Name changes should be cheap and accessible

Badge or register vector isolated sticker hello my name is in trendy flat style on white background. EPS 10

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Badge or register vector isolated sticker hello my name is in trendy flat style on white background. EPS 10

Beck Iannucci

TW: suicide. depression 

Names are part of who we are and should reflect us accordingly. A name is how people address you, but also how they perceive you. Sometimes names are unique and sometimes names are uncomfortable. Taking the steps to legally update a first name should not be costly. Everyone should feel comfortable when applying for a credit card, writing their name on legal documents, when reading the name on a package, even when receiving spam mail. There shouldn’t be pieces of a deadname lingering. Loving your name is a basic part of human life. The acknowledgement that the people around you understand and accept you is extremely important.

What happens when people don’t have this luxury? Firstly, their mental health is severely impacted. A study was conducted where trans people between the ages of  15-21 described where they could use their chosen names. The study showed that being able to have their names used meant a 71% decrease in depression, 34% decrease in suicidal thoughts, and a 65% decrease in suicide attempts. Meaning something as simple as calling someone by their name can save a life.

What barriers are in the way? Firstly, you have to consider unsafe environments. Young people and people that can’t afford to move out might be in danger if they update their name. Secondly, there are travel fees and name fees. This is where money becomes a big obstacle. If you don’t have a place nearby where you can file papers you´ll have to pay for transportation to get there — assuming you don’t have access to a device. Your second option would be to travel to a library and use one of their computers. Then you have the court date where you need to explain why you want to change your name — which is annoying and invasive. Then you stack on more travel fees and more time out of your schedule. The next issue is the final price, varying depending on region. You could have to pay less than a hundred dollars or it could go up to hundreds. To put this into perspective, it costs sixty-five dollars to change your name in New York City — for an adult or person under eighteen. This doesn’t include a newspaper post — which is mandatory — but this is still on the cheaper side. It costs between twenty to a hundred and ten dollars to change  a passport and a driver’s license. Keep in mind there might be other accounts that you need to change that come with a fee. However, if your name doesn´t pass through the first court or doesn´t qualify, that’ll be another two hundred and ten dollars of court fees. Overall, the process is lengthy, takes months, should be accessible, and should have a set price that’s affordable.