Name & Gender Change

The issue of legal name changing is one which has come up a lot recently and it seems that it is an area that a lot of people are a wee bit unsure of, so we’d like to give a brief overview of the options available to someone who wants to change their name and/or gender on official documents.

Process number 1: In Scotland, we can pretty much call ourselves whatever we like (this is unique from the rest of the UK), so a young person or adult can change any part or all of their name at any time and ask to be referred to as their new name.

Process number 2: There are circumstances where having written evidence of your name change will be required, for example if applying for a bank account.

There are 3 possible ways in which to do this:
  • Have a letter from a professional person confirming your gender identity and name change (a professional person would be a Doctor/Lawyer/Social worker or Teacher)
  • You can change your name by deed poll – this should be a free service.
  • In Scotland the most common way for someone to change their name is to do a Statutory Declaration witnessed by a Justice of the Peace at their local Sheriff Court. There is usually no charge for this service.

All of the options above will allow a service user to change their name on almost everything, with the exception of their birth certificate, their marriage certificate/civil partnership certificate, any decrees (formal court debt registration documents), or past educational certificates.

Legal Name change

It is important to note that it does not allow for a change of gender, this is particularly relevant in relation to a passport.

Process number 3: For many trans people, particularly transsexual people, the change of gender on documentation is just as important as the name change is. This is a particular issue in relation to passports and driving licences as they are recognised as legal ID in most circumstances. This is also a relatively straight forward process.

A young person or adult can get this using a combination of the statutory declaration (outlined above) and a letter from their Doctor, this could be their GP or it could be a gender specialist, which states the person is “a female-to-male transsexual person who is living permanently as a man” or is “a male-to-female transsexual person who is living permanently as a woman”. Your Doctor is entitled to charge a fee for this, although they may not do so.

The person does not need to have lived in their acquired gender for any specific time period nor do they need to have had hormone or surgical treatment, to be able to use these 2 pieces of evidence to apply for their passport or driving licence to be changed into their new name and acquired gender.

Process number 4: None of the above processes allows you to legally change your gender, although changing your gender on your passport or driving licence is possible, that does not change your legal gender, only a change on your birth certificate is classed as a legal change to your gender.

To achieve this, a service user would need to apply for a gender recognition certificate. There are strict requirement around this which are as follows:

  • They must be over 18.
  • They must have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender and intend to live permanently in their acquired gender for the rest of their life.
  • They must have, or have had, gender dysphoria.
  • They must provide two medical reports (one from their GP and one from their Gender Specialist) confirming the diagnosis and detailing any transition-related medical treatment (such as psychological counselling, hormones and/or surgical procedures) that they have received.
  • It is not necessary for the person to have undergone any surgery but if they haven’t then one of the reports should indicate whether they are waiting for any surgery or give any reason for the person deciding not to have any surgery.