The other day I thought about whether it would be possible to legally change my name to all lowercase letters. I did some research and found out a few things.
In the United States, changing one's name can be as easy as simply using the new name consistently in practice. It doesn't necessarily need to be done in court, and using a different name is not illegal as long as it's not being used for fraudulent purposes, or inconsistently (which would then be considered an "alias"). The most common reason to have it done in court is to have a formal record of the name change showing the new name for proof to other government agencies, companies, and universities that may require proof of that new name.
But that's just another legal document, just like my drivers license. If one moves to a new address, the DMV needs to see proof of that in the form of, say, a gas bill or phone bill with the new address in order to issue a license with the changed address. If I told Nicor my new name was something else when I established the account, I'd have a gas bill with that name, that the DMV would acknowledge as proof to issue a drivers license. Then that drivers license could be used as proof to a bank employee to open an account in that name, and so on. Once the initial document is produced with the changed name, everything after it seems to trust that first source.
While all of that is fine for changing the actual letters of a name, the varying case of letters ("Peter von Nostrand" vs "Peter Von Nostrand") is usually not recorded on many official documents and everything is simply shown in all uppercase. My birth certificate, passport, social security card, drivers license, state ID, credit cards, and statements and bills from my banks and utility companies all show my name in all capital letters. I think the only important document I have that shows case may be my high school diploma, which I don't have in my files for some reason.
danah boyd had her name changed to reflect all lowercase letters (which Wikipedia refuses to acknowledge (update: wikipedia has accepted her lowercase name) because her name has consistently been printed with normal capitalization in the media), though the initial reason for her change-of-name court petition was to change her last name. I haven't been able to find anyone that has done a change-of-name to simply change case.
Given that the uppercased version of my name is not changing, I don't believe I need to bother petitioning the court to make it so. would they even consider and recognize it as a change? None of my legal documents and identification would be printed any differently afterwards.
Although I've already been doing so for quite some time, from this point forward I will consistently write and print my name as "joshua charles stein" and make efforts to have it reflected as such when my name is being written or printed by someone else. Good thing I won't need new business cards.