LGBTQ Notary Association

LGBTQ Notary Association Blog

How Do I Notarize For A Transgender, Gender Non-Binary, And Or Intersex Person?

Article By: Zara Shea

In a society that celebrates diversity and inclusion, notaries have a pivotal role in upholding principles that reflect fairness and respect. When notarizing for transgender, gender non-binary, and intersex persons, it is crucial to create an environment that recognizes their dignity and unique identities. Here's how notaries can provide services that align with legal mandates and ethical considerations:

🌈✨ Respect Pronoun Usage

Pronouns are more than mere words; they are affirmations of a person's identity. Always use the correct pronouns and, when in doubt, ask politely. If you make a mistake, apologize sincerely and move on without making a scene.

🌈✨ Educate Yourself

Understanding the diverse experiences of transgender, gender non-binary, intersex, and LGBTQ+ communities is not just a professional requirement; it's a human one. As notaries, it's vital to take proactive steps to educate yourself. This involves:

  • Understanding Terminologies: Familiarize yourself with terms like cisgender, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, and intersex. Each term has specific meanings, and using them accurately reflects your respect and knowledge.
  • Recognizing Different Experiences: Understand that each person's experience is unique. Gender identity and sexual orientation are multifaceted and can vary widely among individuals.
  • Seeking Professional Training: Consider attending workshops, seminars, or online courses that focus on LGBTQ+ inclusivity and awareness. Many organizations offer specialized training that can deepen your understanding.
  • Reading and Researching: Books, articles, and online resources written by LGBTQ+ authors or experts can provide valuable insights. Engaging with authentic voices and perspectives enhances empathy and awareness.
  • Connecting with Community Organizations: Collaborate with LGBTQ+ advocacy groups or community organizations to stay updated on best practices, laws, and policies that impact the community.
  • Listening and Learning from Others: Engage in respectful dialogues with LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. Listening to personal stories and experiences can offer a firsthand understanding that goes beyond textbooks.
  • Reflecting on Personal Biases: Self-reflection is essential to recognize any personal biases or misconceptions. Challenge yourself to grow and adapt to ensure an unbiased approach to your notarial duties.

By investing time and effort in these areas, you not only fulfill your professional responsibilities but also contribute to creating a more inclusive and empathetic society. Embrace continuous learning to foster empathy and avoid misunderstandings, ensuring that you're always prepared to serve all clients with the respect and dignity they deserve.

🌈✨ Handling Non-Binary Identification in States Without Clear Guidance

In some states, there may be a lack of clear guidance on how to handle identifications that don't fall under the traditional male (M) or female (F) categories but identify as non-binary (X). This can pose challenges for notaries seeking to follow the law while also respecting the gender identity of individuals.

At the federal level, the United States has recognized the non-binary "X" gender marker on U.S. passports, underscoring the importance of acknowledging diverse gender identities. Additionally, 16 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico, allow the use of the "X" marker, reflecting a growing recognition of non-binary identities. This federal acknowledgment, alongside the policies adopted by these jurisdictions, signifies a crucial step towards inclusivity, mandating that all notaries, irrespective of personal beliefs, treat transgender, gender non-binary, and intersex people with dignity and respect. This requirement is especially pertinent given that the United States is a secular nation, where the acceptance of U.S. passports and out-of-state identifications from these jurisdictions effectively makes the respectful treatment of all individuals a nationwide standard for notarial services.

For notaries operating in states without explicit guidelines for non-binary identification, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Consult Legal Guidance: When in doubt, consult with a legal expert or the governing body for notaries in your state to understand the specific requirements and best practices in handling non-binary identification.
  • Follow Existing Laws and Regulations: Adhere to the existing laws and regulations governing notarization in your state, while also respecting the client's gender identity. Ensure that you comply with the legal requirements for identification without discrimination.
  • Provide a Respectful Environment: Approach the situation with sensitivity and respect. Communicate openly with the client, explaining the legal requirements and asking for their preferences in handling the situation.
  • Document Carefully: Maintain detailed and accurate records of the notarization, including any unique circumstances or challenges encountered. Clear documentation can provide protection in the event of legal scrutiny.
  • Advocate for Inclusivity: If applicable, consider advocating for clear and inclusive guidelines within your state. Collaborate with professional organizations or LGBTQ+ advocacy groups to promote awareness and change.

While the lack of clear guidance can be challenging, notaries must continue to uphold the principles of fairness, respect, and non-discrimination in all notarial acts. By following best practices and remaining committed to inclusivity, notaries can navigate these complex situations with professionalism and integrity.

🌈✨ Handling Identification with Old Images That Don't Match Current Appearance

In notarial practice, there may be instances when a client presents identification with an old image that doesn't align with their current appearance. This is particularly relevant for transgender and gender non-binary individuals who may have transitioned or changed their expression since the photo was taken. Here's how to approach these situations:

Transgender Female with Identification Looking More Masculine:

  • Exercise Sensitivity: Recognize that the image may represent a previous phase in the individual's life. Approach the situation with care and avoid drawing unnecessary attention to the discrepancy.
  • Verify Identity with Other Means: If needed, request additional identification or information that verifies the individual's identity without focusing on gender appearance.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Treat the situation as you would with any other client where there is a discrepancy in appearance, without singling out or stigmatizing the individual.

Transgender Male with Identification Looking More Feminine:

  • Exercise Sensitivity: Understand that the image may reflect a previous stage of transition. Handle the situation with empathy and discretion.
  • Verify Identity with Other Means: Seek other ways to verify identity, such as additional identification or documents that align with current legal requirements.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Focus on the task at hand and avoid personal or intrusive questions related to appearance or gender identity.

Gender Non-Binary Person with Identification Not Matching Current Appearance:

  • Exercise Sensitivity: Acknowledge that gender expression can be fluid and that the identification image may no longer represent the individual's current appearance.
  • Verify Identity with Other Means: Utilize other forms of identification or verification methods that comply with legal standards, without focusing on gendered appearance.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Conduct the notarial act with respect and integrity, ensuring that the individual's unique identity is honored without bias or discrimination.

Some states allow the use of witnesses as a form of identification. If you encounter a situation where traditional identification methods are challenging or unclear, the use of credible witnesses may be a legally acceptable option. However, laws and regulations regarding the use of witnesses as a form of identification vary from state to state. When in doubt, always consult with your local notary law or seek guidance from the governing body for notaries in your jurisdiction. Understanding and following the specific legal requirements in your area ensures that you conduct notarial acts in compliance with the law while maintaining respect for the diverse identities of your clients.

These scenarios highlight the importance of empathy, sensitivity, and professionalism in handling identification discrepancies related to gender appearance. By adhering to best practices and focusing on the legal requirements of identity verification, notaries can create a respectful and inclusive environment that recognizes the dignity of all individuals.

🌈✨ Avoid Assumptions

Appearances can be deceiving. Refrain from making assumptions about someone's gender identity, sexual orientation, or intersex status. Respect people's autonomy to disclose personal information as they see fit.

🌈✨ No Snide Behavior

Create a safe and respectful atmosphere by avoiding derogatory comments, jokes, or any form of snide behavior related to gender or sexual orientation. Your professionalism sets the tone for a positive experience.

🌈✨ Avoid Microaggressions

Even unintentional expressions of bias can be hurtful. Stay vigilant and mindful of your actions and words to create a supportive environment.

🌈✨ No Gossip

Respecting privacy means not engaging in gossip or unnecessary discussions about personal matters. Keep conversations focused on the task at hand.

🌈✨ Avoid Invasive Questions

Limit your questions to those necessary for the notarial act, refraining from probing personal or sensitive areas. Respect for privacy is key to a successful transaction.

🌈✨ Respect Privacy

Confidentiality is paramount. Do not disclose information related to an individual's gender identity or sexual orientation without explicit consent.

🌈✨ Supportive Language

Choose words that affirm and include. Inclusive language fosters trust and openness, making the notarial process smoother for everyone involved.

🌈✨ Support in Difficult Situations

If a client faces difficulties, respond with compassion and understanding. Your empathy and support can make a world of difference.


The role of notaries extends beyond witnessing signatures; it involves nurturing an environment that upholds the dignity and respect of all individuals. By adhering to the code of conduct laid out by the Office of Notary Public, notaries can foster an inclusive environment that resonates with the principles of equality and justice for all, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.

The tide has turned, and the expectations for notaries in the United States have never been clearer. This code of conduct serves as a beacon, guiding the way towards a society where everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Thank you for reading! If you are an ally of the LGBTQ community, please consider Joining our Notaries Association! LGBTQ clients everywhere are looking for notaries who are specifically LGBTQ friendly, would you consider allowing us to add you to our area map, so that we can serve as many LGBTQ clients in as many locations as possible?

If you feel that you may not be ready to join yet but still want to be helpful, please consider making a donation.

If you haven't already, please consider reading the Notaries LGBTQ Code of Conduct for better context on how to handle certain situations.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Have a wonderful day!

XOXO, Zara Shea

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