What’s in a name change?

Olivia Short ’17

Senior Giorgia Close has always been known as just that– Giorgia. But only on January 4 did this become legally true. Giorgia changed her name through the Hamilton County Court.

People get name changes for a variety of reasons, such as marriage, divorce, or being transgender. Giorgia made the decision simply because she’s never been called her birth name (which she doesn’t want to disclose. “It’s dead!” she said in a happy-yet-chill-yet-assertive way.)

The process itself is about three months of form-filling and waiting. Before a name change can take place, a notice must be posted in the Court newspaper. It’s a pretty dry read, simply stating “[Birth name] will change her name to Giorgia on this date.” Publicizing name changes in this way keeps people updated and could weed out suspicious cases.

Next came the actual court meeting, which took place on January 4. Giorgia swore on a Bible according to Court protocol, and answered some questions from a judge (who reminded her a lot of Doug Dimmadome, owner of the Dimmesdale Dimmadome.) The questions were, once again, pretty dry and legal in nature: “Are you changing your name to run from the law?” (No.) “Are you attempting tax evasion?” (No.) And, because Giorgia is still a minor: “Do you have written consent from both of your parents?” (Yes.)

A few signatures later, it was official.

The name change process costs $600 in Hamilton County, which is high compared to other parts of the country. The fee is $360 in all counties of Utah, and a striking low of $150 in King County, Washington.

One downside– all of Giorgia’s previous legal documents are now void. Things like her driver’s license, birth certificate, and state ID all contain her old name, which is no longer legally recognized. All these documents must be replaced after a name change.

And perhaps the worst, due to her timing, Giorgia needs to contact all the colleges she’s applied to and inform them of the name change. Her original applications from late 2015 all contained her birth name, but her high school transcript says Giorgia.

Costs and inconveniences aside, name changes are important. It’s validating to have one’s identity officially recognized.

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