if you're transgender, one of the inevitable parts of transitioning is changing your name. unfortunately, this process is way more confusing than it ought to be. this is made even worse by the fact that laws around this are frequently changing — for better and for worse — so what little information you can find online is almost always outdated.
this guide is based off my own personal experience. as far as i know, it's the easiest and cheapest way to change your name, given you are a transgender person and you live in Maryland. thankfully, Maryland is one of the best states in the USA for this, so the process isn't really difficult, and is completely private. this process also changes your gender legally; which frankly isn't as important since the MVA lets you ask for whatever gender marker you want, but it's nice to have.
STEP 1: GETTING A COURT ORDER
to start with, you'll need to fill out CC-DR-120. using this form is how you can change your name without the records being made public. make sure to bring your old birth certificate; along with driver's license and passport, if you have them.
you'll have to file it at the circuit court in your county, and pay $165 as a filing fee. after about six weeks, you'll get the court order in the mail, and then you can move on to the next step.
STEP 2: UPDATING SOCIAL SECURITY'S RECORDS
you'll need to find the closest social security office and go there in person for this. go to the SSA's website and ignore all the stuff begging you to not go in person, then just type in your ZIP code and it'll spit out the closest office and its hours.
fill out a copy of SS-5 and bring it, along with your court order, old driver's license, and old social security card. you'll get a new social security card in the mail after a week or two.
STEP 3: UPDATING YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE
go to the MVA. you will probably need an appointment. bring the court order and your new social security card. they'll take a new picture. you can get your gender marker set to whatever you want here; M, F, or X. it will cost $20 to get a new card issued.
once you've done all that, you'll have changed your name without some weirdo being able to find your old one with a single search online. fun!