One of the best things about being trans in the UK is that changing your name is a doddle.
All you need to do is print out a sheet of A4 that says your name used to be such-and-such, it is now such-and-such, and you require everyone to use this new name in future. Then you get two friends to sign it and voila! You’ve legally changed your name. No solicitors. No courts. No registration. That is literally all it takes.
This sheet of paper is called a Deed Poll. A good website for generating your deed poll is https://freedeedpoll.org.uk/ . There are other websites which charge for the pleasure of having your deed poll registered, or some other service, but those really aren’t necessary.
Pro tip: Print multiple copies and get them signed in case one gets lost. Also, some places require your original deed poll rather than a photocopy so it’s handy to have more copies spare.
Where Can I Use My New Deed Poll?
Practically anywhere. A deed poll is all that is needed to update your details with:
- Energy Companies
- Phone Contracts
- Driving Licence
NHS & Gender Identity Clinic
Changing your name with the NHS is easy, just show them your deed poll, but changing your gender marker is done in an odd way. It is not possible to update your medical records with a new gender, so they have to create a new NHS number for you with your updated gender, and then transfer your details across to the new file. Most GPs should be able to arrange this for you.
Be sure the contact the Gender Identity Clinic AND your GP about the change in name or gender since these two places don’t share information, and if the GIC has out of date info, it could affect the waiting list.
Your exam board can update your old exam results as well. If you went to a gendered school (eg all girls or all boys school), the exam board can even update the school you studied at so your exam certificates don’t out you. They may need additional ID to do this, but with your deed poll you can get that ID. More information about this can be found at https://www.aqa.org.uk/contact-us/past-results-and-lost-certificates
Passports are a little trickier. It is simple enough to change your name with a deed poll (for a fee), but changing that pesky gender marker is more difficult.
To change the gender marker on your passport, you need a letter from your GP or the GIC stating the following
This is to confirm that my patient previously know as [insert patient’s old name and date of birth], is currently undergoing gender reassignment and as part of the process has changed their name by statutory declaration to [insert patient’s current name] on [date of the change].
[insert patient’s current name] now lives as [insert patient’s gender] and this change is intended to be permanent.
There is also the usual fee for updating a passport. More information about updating your passport can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/applying-for-a-passport-information-for-transgender-and-transsexual-customers
Birth Certificates are the only thing you need a Gender Recognition Certificate to update.
To acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) you need to have been living “in-role” for at least two years, and have been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria. You can then apply through these forms : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/applying-for-a-passport-information-for-transgender-and-transsexual-customers
There is a charge of £140 and sadly there is no guarantee that you will be successful in your application. It is really hit and miss. However, the government is currently reviewing the Gender Recognition Act which could make it a lot easier for transgender people to update the gender on their birth certificates. This could be some time in 2019, but the government has a lot on their hands at the moment so I doubt they are rushing this.
Having a birth certificate in your gender will also let you update your gender with HMRC. This is important because it will decide your pension age, and if you were to die, your birth certificate could have the wrong gender on it.
Unfortunately, there is still no legal recognition of non-binary people in the UK and so I don’t believe there is anywhere that can change a gender maker to anything other than M or F. This is hopefully going to change with the review of the Gender Recognition Act.