On December 1, 2020, film and Netflix star Elliot Page announced that he is transgender and debuted his new name. Nearly immediately, various news outlets began reporting on the announcement, often referring to Page with the caveat of “formerly known as”. While this transition is likely the most high-profile example in the years since Caitlyn Jenner’s 2015 transition, Page’s experience is far from unusual. Transgender YouTuber Noah Adams (stage name Noah Finnce) also recently posted a video detailing his experience with so-called fans attempting to seek out his female birth name and encourage other fans to use that name in place of his chosen name of Noah. Adams described his experience in changing his name as an attempt to shed his history of negative mental health and self-hatred at feeling trapped in a body that did not match his identity.
In Illinois, changing your own name as an adult is a very simple process for anyone who has resided in the State for over six (6) months and does not have certain criminal convictions. The applicant for a name change does not need to justify the desire for the change; they simply need to verify both on the request filed with the court and in front of the judge on the hearing date, that they meet the requirements for residence and criminal history. Additionally, a notice must be published prior to the court date to inform any potential creditors who may need to alter any judgments for debts owed.
Changing the name of a minor child is only slightly more difficult, as all surviving parents of the child must be personally notified, but a public notice need not be filed. In the case of a child’s name change, the judge will often ask for a brief rationale for the change to ensure that the child and the parents have fully thought out the decision. Again, there is no interrogation or lengthy justification required.
While changing a name is a simple process, if the requirements for notice are not correctly met or the assurances of criminal history are not properly verified, the process can become delayed or more costly, as the notice may need to be re-attempted for each new court date. If you need assistance in filing for the change of your name or that of your child, contact Kiswani Law, P.C. for a consultation.