File the name change paperwork with the court. Different states have different fees and procedures, check with others who have already transitioned in your area, or check the information on http://www.tsroadmap.com/index.html, which includes information for many places including all the US states.
Some weeks later, or possibly longer, you’ll get the official copies. Get at least two copies (I managed) but four or five would be better.
While it is legal to change your name without going through the court, you will likely have problems with other record updates without the court document.
There are basic things that need to be resolved before you go full time, or at worst just after.
- Update your social security information – this is very important because non-matches in the payroll system where you work will trigger alerts.
- Update your driver’s license. In Mass I did this before the social security change and it should have been after. The two compare records.
- If you have or want a passport then do the paperwork for that change.
Social security and the dept of state, which handles passports, no longer require a surgeon’s letter to change your gender marker. However, states differ a great deal. Changing your name should be as simple as presenting existing identification and the cour document.
One reason the driver’s license (or an alternative state or federal id) is useful is because many places will only need to check that before updating records.
Expect much more process with financial institutions.
My two colleges were widely different. One was good with a fax of the court document and the other required I send them one of the originals (which was, of course returned).
Don’t be surprised if you are still doing some of the odds and ends a year after. Expect your old name to persist in some places indefinitely. For example, even though my health plan has my new name and female gender in the records, when the surgeon’s office contacted there system my sex came up as male. I double checked with the health plan and it is definitely in their main records correctly.
Do take advantage of the name change to lose annoying phone callers. I just say, “Oh, I don’t believe he’s available anymore”, absolutely perfect!