Changing your gender (by deed poll)
You can start living in another gender at any time (and at any age). You don’t have to follow a legal process, to begin with, or register the change of gender — you can simply start living in the new gender.
You can use a change of gender deed (deed poll) to prove your change of gender. This can also include a change of name and/or title.
A change of gender deed is a formal (legally binding) promise that you will live in a new gender for the rest of your life.
If you want to change your name to some other name, belonging to another gender, you’ll need a deed poll as proof of your change of name. You don’t need to start living in a new gender if you’re not ready. Nevertheless, many people choose to start living in their new gender when they change their name.
You can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) after living in your new gender for 2 years (in some cases 6 years). (You don’t have to apply for a GRC if you don’t want to.)
Changing a child’s gender (under 16)
At the moment we only issue change of gender deeds for people over 16. (We’re working on this.)
However, you can change your child’s name to anything you wish — including a name belonging to another gender. You can also change your child’s title.
Deed polls for children under 16 will always need to refer to the child as either “he”, “she”, or the gender-neutral “they” — and you can choose whatever you (and your child) would rather on your documents. You can choose either the gender your child is currently living in, or their new gender (if different). If your child wants to start living in their new gender at the same time as changing their name, it’s up to you whether we use the old or new gender.
Is a “change of gender deed” a kind of deed poll?
Yes. A change of gender deed is a deed poll, just as much as a change of name deed, and it’s used in a similar way.
Most people know that a deed poll is for changing your name. But in fact a deed poll can be used for other purposes too — changing a name is just the most common one. Thus we can also combine a change of gender and name (and title) on the same document if you wish.
In the U.K., you can start living in a new name, or a new gender, whenever you like. (You don’t have to get permission or authorisation.) So you can change your name or gender in much the same way.
The term “deed poll” (technically) means that the deed is a (legally binging) promise made (and signed) by one person only. (Unlike a contract which involves two people.) But most people associate deed polls with a change of name because it’s very common.
How to change your gender
You don’t have to follow any legal process to start living in a new gender (in the U.K.). You can start living in a new gender at any time, and you can have your new gender, name, and title updated on all your documents and records including your passport and driving licence.
Your birth certificate can also be updated but, unlike other records, not straightaway. You’ll need to live for at least 2 years in your new (male or female) gender before you can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate, which would update your birth certificate. (Bear in mind that only male and female are legally recognised genders in the U.K. at the moment.)
Nevertheless, to prove your change of gender you’ll normally need to have —
- a “deed poll” document (change of gender / name deed) — which we can prepare for you
- for some organisations (e.g. HM Passport Office), a supporting letter from a doctor or a specialist in gender dysphoria
(You don’t need to have had any surgery to change your gender.)
The process of changing your name is very similar to changing your gender. You can start to use and be known by a new name — even one of the opposite sex — without any formal legal process, although you must have a deed poll to prove that you’ve changed your name.
You can use a change of gender deed (deed poll) to prove to organisations that you’ve formally chosen to transition to your new gender. You can choose whether to include a change of name and/or title at the same time (on the same document).
What genders can be documented
On a change of gender deed you can change to or from —
- neither male nor female
“Neither male nor female” means any kind of gender which is not male or female. Bear in mind though that — although the law may change in the future — only male and female genders are legally recognised in the U.K. for now.
We’re supporting other, non-traditional genders notwithstanding the fact that they may not be recognised everywhere, because —
- the reality is that this is what some people want, and choose, to do
- we think that a third gender option should be recognised by law
Why a “change of gender deed” (deed poll) is needed in the U.K.
We are the first (and the only) deed poll service to offer change of gender deed polls.
A change of gender deed isn’t a legal requirement for a change of gender. But neither is a change of name deed a legal requirement for a change of name. You just have to start living in the new gender, or being known by the new name.
A deed poll is used to declare — in the most solemn way — that you’ll take on a new gender, or name, for all purposes. This is then evidence of your bona fide intention to change your gender, or name — and it’s conventionally accepted by all organisations (for changes of name at least) as proof of the change.
When a person changes their name (and title) as part of a change of gender, they’re often making their first formal step in transitioning to the new gender.
Although a change of gender deed isn’t required by any government body, most organisations want to see a change of name deed changing your name to something matching your new gender.
So it makes sense to document your change of gender at the same time — and on the same document — if this is what you want, after all.
We think that —
- as much importance should be given — on any formal document used as part of your gender transition — to your change of gender, as to any change of name or title
- it should be easier to prove that you’ve started to live in a new gender
- it should be easier to prove how long you’ve lived in your new gender (because you must have lived in your new gender for at least 2 years before you can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate)
- the emphasis should be on your right and choice to identify as one gender or another, rather than —
- the change of gender being seen (and “diagnosed”) as a medical condition (gender dysphoria)
- your having to prove that you’ve changed your gender to a panel (the Gender Recognition Panel)
- it should be possible to prove that you’ve changed your name without having to change your name at all, because —
- you may already have a unisex name (e.g. “Alex”, “Sam”, “Jamie”, “Kim”)
- you may want to change your name to an invented or uncommon name which doesn’t clearly belong to any particular sex
- you may have already changed your name
- it should be possible to change your gender (by deed poll) at a different time to your name and/or title
- it should be possible to prove that you’ve changed to neither male nor female (whether that’s because you identify as gender-neutral, “non-binary”, both genders at the same time, a fluid mix of genders, a gradual change of gender, or you just don’t want to be categorised)
A change of name deed is used (to prove a change of name) because there is no government-issued document / certificate which records or registers a change of name, in the U.K. A person only has to become known by their new name in order for it to become their new legal name. But you do need a way of proving it — e.g. when applying for a passport, or opening a bank account.
Starting to live in a new gender is quite similar. To begin with, you just need to start living in your new gender, and, although your “legal gender” may not have changed (until you get a GRC), you can still have your new gender shown on your passport and other documents and records. In fact you must do this, for at least 2 years, before you can apply for a GRC and update your birth certificate.
Up till now, most people use a change of name and/or title deed to (indirectly) document their change of gender. But we think that just as much importance should be given to the change of gender (as to the change of name) on any formal document which is used to tell organisations about that change of gender.