Why would someone want to change their name?
Some trans* people feel that the name they were given at birth doesn’t fit with their gender identity. For instance, say someone was given the name “Kevin” at birth. Kevin is traditionally a boy’s name. However, Kevin identifies as female, not male, and would now like to have a more traditionally “female” name, like Lisa.
Other trans* people may want to change their name to a more gender-neutral name. Take Kevin again — maybe instead of wanting a traditionally female name, Kevin prefers to go by a name that isn’t a “boy’s name” or a “girl’s name,” like Jordan.
In addition to having a name that you prefer, getting your name legally changed could have some safety or privacy benefits.
You don’t have to get your name “legally” changed to go by a different name.
Some people are happy having two names — their “official” name from birth (which is the one that appears on their ID card, Social Security card, birth certificate, etc.) and their “preferred” name that their friends and families use. Sometimes you can use your preferred name on documents or cards — credit card companies might let you get a card with your preferred name on it, or your school might agree to put your school records in your preferred name.
Getting a legal name change means you can have your preferred name on all of your official documents.
You cannot have your preferred name on your ID/Driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Security card, or passport without getting a legal name change. Legally changing name requires filing a request with a Maryland court. You can get a legal name change in Maryland even if you are under 18 years old.