For transgender individuals, changing names and pronouns is often the first major step in their transition. Unfortunately, the cost of securing a name change is often prohibitive to transgender Americans because many live below the poverty line. In North Dakota, this is especially the case, and many transgender folk postpone changing their name until better financial times come. However, having the incorrect name on legal documents, job applications, and name tags can create even worse barriers to transgender folk who are trying to live an open and affirming life.
In North Dakota, the court fees associated with a legal name change are around $90. In addition, getting a North Dakota Driver’s License updated is around $10. Additional costs include transportation to and from the courthouse, which in rural communities may be a significant journey.
In March 2017, our Board of Trustees approved the creation of a second program called the Dignity Justice and Courage Fund (DJC Fund) which exists to provide financial assistance to transgender North Dakotans. DJC Fund will provide $150 transition assistance grants which will be disbursed twice a year. The number of grants will be dependent upon the funds we raise. This amount should cover the court cost and driver’s license update in North Dakota, as well as assist in transportation costs or loss of work income for the date of court. In addition, DJC Fund will work to connect transgender North Dakotans to existing funding sources to help with other costs including passport and birth certificate updates, hormone costs, and surgery financing.
Our first disbursement will be in July 2017, and we hope to raise enough money for 5 grants ($750). Our second disbursement will be in December 2017, and we hope to raise enough money for an additional 5 grants ($750). The board has approved $300 from the general fund to provide for the administrative costs of DJC Fund, and the program is expected to raise an additional $300 to provide for these costs in FY2018. The total amount we hope to raise in FY2017 is $1,650.
Learn more About applying for a grant, joining DJC Fund as a fundraiser or grant coordinator, or starting a fund in your state ► darcycorbitt.org/djcfund
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