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Changing your name following a change of gender
August 2022

Changing your name on official documents can be done for all kinds of reasons. In the UK, you can change your name to anything you like, provided that the purpose of the name change is not for illegal or immoral purposes. You are not restricted to names with specific gender connotations.

A change of name is most often achieved using a legal document called a “change of name deed” (sometimes called a “deed poll”). However, in some cases, it may be more appropriate to use a statutory declaration (“stat dec”).

A change of name deed enables a person to change any part of their name, such as changing a forename or surname; adding or removing names; or changing the spelling of any part of your existing name.

Changing your name can seem simple enough but the process can be frustrating if not done correctly. At Jolliffes, we have specialist Family Law solicitors who are able to guide you through the process in a simple and friendly manner.

 

Do I need to have gone through Gender Reassignment to change my name following a change of gender?

As part of your transition from one gender to another, you may also wish to formally change your name. You can do this at any time, either before or after applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

You can start using a new name without any legal procedure by asking your friends, family and third parties to address you by that name. However, many institutions and organisations (for example, the Passport Office, DVLA, banks and building society, GPs and local authorities) will ask you to prove that you have formally changed your name by providing a change of name deed.

At Jolliffes, we can prepare a change of name deed or statutory declaration for you that should be accepted at all major organisations; however, specific advice should be taken from any agency that you need to contact to advise of a name change as they may have their own specific requirements (for example, requiring the change of name deed to be enrolled at court, which we can also assist with).

At the time of writing, the United Kingdom legally recognises each person as the gender assigned to them at birth (as documented on their birth certificate) unless and until they have applied for, and been granted, a Gender Recognition Certificate.

After you have obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate, you will be legally treated as your acquired gender. This means that you will:

  • obtain a new birth certificate showing your new gender, provided that your birth was registered in the United Kingdom or with the British authorities abroad; and
  • have all the rights of a person of your acquired gender.

You can, of course, self-identify as a different gender to the one assigned to you at birth until you have applied for (and received) a Gender Recognition Certificate. However, you should bear in mind that the UK currently only legally recognised two genders: male and female.

 

Requirements for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate

At the time of writing, you must meet the following requirements if you wish to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate:

  • you must be above the age of 18;
  • you must have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (also known as gender identity disorder). This is a condition where you experience distress because of a mismatch between your birth gender and the gender you identify with;
  • you must have lived in your acquired gender in the UK for at least two years prior to the application; and
  • you must intend to continue living in your acquired gender permanently.

If you meet all the requirements, you can apply to the Gender Recognition Panel for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

You do not need to have had gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy or any other treatment to legally change your gender in the UK.

 

Change of name for children

At Jolliffes, we have helped many adults legally change their name through the preparation of a change of name deed. However, a change of name for children can be more complicated than for an adult changing their name.

For children, a change of name can only be undertaken if both biological parents (and anyone else with parental responsibility for the child) are prepared to consent to this in writing and it has not otherwise been disapproved (for example, under a court order).

As with adult change of names, specific advice should be taken from any agency that you need to contact to advise them of a name change as they may have their own specific requirements (for example, some agencies may require that the change of name deed be enrolled at court).

 

Need help?

At Jolliffes, we treat all our clients with respect and understanding and we can guide and assist you towards the best possible route.

If you wish to discuss changing your name following a change of gender, speak to one of our specialist Family Law solicitors today on 01244 310022 or at law@jolliffes.com

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