When I first started the transition process, I didn’t realize how important my name change would really be. Initially, I even thought that maybe I’d just go by Rhys, and leave my birth name my legal name. Looking back, I think all of my hesitations around transitioning and stuff like changing my name were all born out of fear. Transitioning can be really, really overwhelming, expensive, and scary sometimes. It’s just a lot to take on – and I wasn’t sure that I was ready. But, I was, and after about 9-10 months on testosterone and completing my chest surgery, I realized how important getting my name change really was.

I waited to get my name changed until I could change my gender marker after my chest surgery. Almost immediately following chest surgery, and after receiving my SRS affirmation letter from Dr. Rumer, I pounced on the opportunity to change my name and gender marker. I had spent a lot of time thinking about whether I would change my last name to Harper – it is not my legal last name. I ended up keeping my legal last name, and Harper is my pen name, of sorts – I go by Rhys Harper in my business dealings, and also on Facebook and other social media. If you’re looking for me, Rhys Harper is how to find me. However, I did end up keeping my previous legal last name, and Harper is my middle name.

I changed my name in the state of New York, and here is how I did it:

  • Met with my attorney friend who helped me fill out the name change petition paperowork
  • Paid the $210 court fee to the Onondaga County Clerk’s office, who filed the name change petition and submitted it to the judge
  • Waited for the judge to approve the name change – it was sent back once because they asked for a more specific reason for changing my name
  • Once the judge approved the petition, I picked up the paperwork from the County Clerk’s office, and took the papers they gave me to the Post Standard, so they could print the decree in the paper stating that I received a name change
  • Once the decree printed in the paper, the Post Standard gave me proof of publication paperwork, which I took back to the Onondaga County Clerk’s office
  • The clerk’s office gave me the certified, original stamped copy of the name change order from the judge, which is the paperwork I present to my bank, my car financing company, my student loan company, the DMV, etc. for changing my name
  • Took the paperwork (along with my surgery letter) to the Social Security office, and requested a new social security card with my name (and gender marker change)