Trans-ilience

Trans-ilience's Fundraiser

We can fund 25 gender-affirming name and/or gender marker changes! image

We can fund 25 gender-affirming name and/or gender marker changes!

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$1,930 towards $8,750

Please join me in supporting our trans and nonbinary neighbors.

Allen Neighborhood Center is partnering with Trans-ilience, a community-engaged research team focused on supporting the health and well-being of transgender and gender diverse communities by contributing to positive social change through research and advocacy, to help support folks who are interested in making a change to their legal name and/or gender marker.

We believe that the affirmation of one's identity should be a positive experience, and the reality is that navigating the legal process to change your name and/or gender marker is anything but. We can't change the systems today, but we can make it a little easier by providing guidance and monetary support through every step of the way. Our hope is that by helping fill out the forms and pay for the process, this path toward gender affirmation will be more accessible.


Are you a trans or nonbinary person living in Ingham county seeking assistance with your legal gender affirmation? Click here to fill out our request form and we will be in touch with you as soon as we launch the program!


Purpose of the program: This program would provide logistical and, if desired, financial support to transgender and nonbinary individuals looking to legally affirm their gender, including any of the following: legal name change, gender marker change on MI state identification/license, name and/or gender marker change on birth certificate. The program’s eligibility criteria: trans or nonbinary, ages 18 or up, live in Ingham county, and – for those seeking financial assistance – self-reported financial need.

Background information: Transgender (or, trans) and nonbinary individuals may affirm their gender through a variety of means, including socially (e.g., changing pronouns, name used, and appearance), medically (e.g., hormones or surgeries), and/or legally (e.g., legally changing their name and/or gender marker). Not all trans and nonbinary people will pursue all of these steps or any at all. Not all forms of affirmation may be accessible to all trans and nonbinary people or desirable. Although this process of gender affirmation is varied, for trans and nonbinary people who desire such changes, not having access to the means or resources to affirm their gender can cause significant distress and interfere with their daily lives. This program will specifically focus on one form of gender affirmation – legal gender affirmation – and improving access to legal name and/or gender marker changes as a way to promote health and wellbeing for trans and nonbinary people.

The requirements for a legal name change are burdensome. This includes a petition to the court, confusing paperwork, publishing the notice of a legal name change in a newspaper, getting a background check, attending a court hearing, and paying fees (in total, likely to be around $300-350). Such a process presents several barriers including having to interact with court officials and government employees who may ask intrusive questions or engage in discriminatory behaviors, navigating bureaucratic processes that are confusing, taking time off of work to attend a court hearing, a violation of privacy when publishing information in the newspaper, and fees are often prohibitive for trans and nonbinary people (whom research shows are already disproportionately likely to be living in poverty compared to cisgender people).

Due to all of these barriers to the process of legally affirming a person’s gender, many people are not able to do so. In the U.S. Trans Survey, one of the largest U.S. surveys of trans and nonbinary people’s experiences, only 10.7% of participants indicated that all of their identification documents reflected their affirmed name and gender (Scheim et al., 2020).

Identification documents impact nearly every aspect of a person’s life. For trans and nonbinary people, not having their name and/or gender marker updated on their identification documents can negatively impact them in accessing employment, healthcare, educational opportunities, housing, and many other aspects of daily life. For instance, even the act of simply going to dinner with others and paying with a debit card that does not have the correct name for a person places them in a situation where they could be outed to others if the name on the card is called out or seen when paying. In addition, there are significant safety concerns when trans and nonbinary people’s identification documents are not updated. The U.S. Trans Survey found that a third of people who needed to show their identification card but did not have a legal gender affirmation encountered subsequent negative experiences, with a quarter of these participants being verbally harassed (James et al., 2016). As such, having identification documents that do not match trans and nonbinary people’s identities increases risk for harm and marginalization (Wentling, 2020).

Research has also shown that having a legal gender affirmation is associated with access to resources, mental health, and wellbeing. In their comparison of individuals pre- and post-legal gender affirmation, Hill and colleagues found that those who had changed their name had higher income and more stable housing (Hill et al., 2018). Other research has shown that suicide attempt rates are twice as high for trans and nonbinary youth who are unable to update their identification documents due to restrictive policies (DeChants et al., 2022). Furthermore, suicide attempt rates are three times as high for youth who have legal capacity to make these changes but have not been able to update their identification documents compared to youth who have legally affirmed their gender (DeChants et al., 2022). In addition, having a legal gender affirmation is associated with less psychological distress (Restar et al., 2020), lower suicidal ideation (Scheim et al., 2020; Tan et al., 2022), as well as decreased odds of anxiety and depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol/substance use disorders (Yee et al., 2022).

Given all of this, improving access to legal gender affirmation is a possible way to promote healthier outcomes for this marginalized community (King & Gamarel, 2021; Restar et al., 2020; Scheim et al., 2020; Steadman, 2021) and has even been suggested as a form of suicide prevention (DeChants et al., 2022). The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, World Health Organization, and United Nations have even called for improving access for trans and nonbinary people to legally affirm their gender as a means to address this social determinant of health (Knudson et al., 2018; Malta et al., 2020; World Health Organization, 2015).

This program will help to address this important issue in our local community and potentially lead to better health outcomes for our trans and nonbinary neighbors. Join us in raising funds today to help make a difference!