Transgender residents of Florida, just like all other residents, have the right to petition the court for change of a legal name. As in every name change case, whether the petition will be granted is determined by the following eligibility guidelines:
- Whether the petitioner has an ulterior or illegal motive in seeking the name change (such as attempting to avoid criminal prosecution, attempting to avoid a debt, or attempting to assume the identity of someone else). Though there is not much case law on the matter, changing a name to reflect a transgender identity should not be considered an ulterior motive.
- Whether the petitioner’s civil rights have been suspended (for example, by being convicted of a felony). This is not a bar to a name change so long as the petitioner’s civil rights have been restored. Keep in my that procedures to restore civil rights differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and depends on where you were convicted of the felony. In some states, civil rights are restored automatically upon completion of a probation period; in Florida, a person has to apply to have his or her civil rights restored, and the restoration process can take years to complete.
- Whether granting the name change will invade the property rights of others. For example, a petition to change a legal name to “Coca-Cola Jones” would probably be denied because this could infringe on the intellectual property rights of Coca-Cola, Inc.