Here you can get help with some of the legal aspects of being trans, like changing your name or your passport.
Changing your name
The law about names in the United Kingdom is pretty unusual, but most people don’t know this. If you use a name so much that you are known by that name, it becomes your legal name. For example, Reginald Dwight is known as Elton John and that is legally his name.
Sounds simple… But, in order to have your name changed in other official places, you generally need an official document to prove that you’ve changed it. Usually people use a deed poll, which is what we explain below. There are other ways, all of which cost money, which is why we haven’t gone into detail about them here.
The deed poll consists of three sections called declarations: committing the person to abandoning their former name, using only the new name and requiring everyone else to use only the new name. It then needs to be signed and dated by the person changing their name and signed by one or two witnesses. After that, it can be used to change the name on your driving licence, passport, bank card, etc.
Lots of people think you have to pay for a deed poll. You do not! There are websites which charge large sums of money for deed polls because of this. This website creates free deed polls. You might like to use thick, or certificate paper to print it on. The paper you use legally makes no difference, but often people create problems for you if they decide it doesn’t look ‘legal’ enough.
People under 18 often use the above deed poll without any problems. You might occasionally have difficulty though – if so, have a look here how the government advise changing your name if you’re under 18.
Changing your title (Mr, Ms, Mx…)
So here’s another thing most people don’t know: your title has no legal bearing, unless it’s something like Doctor or Professor! You can ask to be called Mr, Ms, or Mx (the most common gender-neutral title) without needing any legal documents. If anyone tells you otherwise then ask them to cite their legal source – they won’t have one! If they tell you it’s just company policy, then their company policy is transphobic, which is against the Equalities Act 2010.
COMING SOON! Helpful template letters
Even though it’s against the law, some places might refuse to change your title or gender marker in their system without a letter, or mistakenly believe that you need one – and sometimes, it’s just easier to have something backing you up in black and white! We will soon have some template letters that you can use to change your name [at school, at your GP, etc.] to download here.
Changing your passport or driver’s licence
In order to change the part of your passport that says M or F (the gender marker), you don’t need a Gender Recognition Certificate, or a new birth certificate – although both of those things can be used to get a new passport! You do need a letter from your doctor stating that you intend to live in your ‘new’ gender permanently – it’s important the letter includes the word permanent. This letter doesn’t need to be written by a doctor at a Gender Identity Clinic; your GP should be able to write it for you.
Drivers licences in the UK do not have a gender marker, but have a gender code in the licence number. This can be changed if you want in the same way you’d change your passport.
The information contained on this page is intended as a general statement of the law, and is true at time of writing. Specific advice on a particular problem should always be sought from a qualified source.