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Can You Legally Change Your Gender in the UK

November 15, 2021

Since 2005, transgender people in the UK are eligible to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate which allows them to formally change their gender. In this article, we explain what this certificate entails and what steps you need to take to apply.

What Do I Have To Prove To Change My Legal Gender?

In the United Kingdom, you are considered to be of the gender that is registered on your birth certificate. Transgender individuals identify with the gender opposite to the one that was assigned to them at birth. Although you can always self-identify as the opposite gender, you will legally be treated as your birth gender unless you have a formal gender change.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 enables transgender individuals to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). After you obtain this certificate, you will be considered in the eyes of the law to be of 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.
  • Have all the rights of a person of your acquired gender. The Gender Recognition Certificate: pensions and benefits note guide explains how obtaining a GRC will affect your National Insurance, pensions, and other social security benefits.

Currently, only male and female genders are legally recognized in the UK.

Requirements for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate

You have to meet certain requirements if you wish to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate: 

  • You must be above the age of 18
  • You must have 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
  • 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. This panel is made up of legal and medical experts who will review the evidence before deciding whether to issue a certificate. In most cases, the procedure takes place without a hearing, but more complex cases may require one.

Do I Need To Have Gender Reassignment Surgery?

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

What Happens if I Am in a Marriage or Civil Partnership?

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse or partner must give consent before you can be issued a Gender Recognition Certificate. They have to sign a statutory declaration which you will include in your application. After you receive a GRC, you will continue being married but the marriage will change from opposite-sex to same-sex marriage or vice versa.

However, if your spouse or partner does not give consent, you will be issued an interim Gender Recognition Certificate. This certificate is valid for six months. It is not a legal recognition of your acquired gender and you can only use it until you end your marriage or dissolve a civil partnership. 

Does legal gender change affect parental status?

Your gender change does not affect your parental status as the mother or father of your child. However, it is not possible to change your child’s birth certificate to include your acquired legal gender.

How Do I Legally Change My Gender?

There are three different ways to legally change your gender in the UK: standard route, alternative route, and overseas route.

Standard route

You can use the standard route option if: 

  • You are over 18
  • You have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria
  • You have lived under your acquired gender for two or more years
  • You intend to live under your acquired gender for the rest of your life

Alternative route

This option applies if: 

  • You are over 18
  • You are in a marriage or civil partnership
  • You have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or had sex-change surgery
  • You live in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland
  • You have lived under your acquired gender for six or more years
  • You plan to live under your acquired gender for the rest of your life.

Overseas route

The overseas route must be used if: 

If you are not sure which application route is the most suitable for you, you can contact the administration team for the Gender Recognition Panel for advice by phone at 0300 123 4503 or email [email protected]

To apply for Gender Recognition Certificate, regardless of what route you chose, you must: 

  • Fill in the appropriate GRC form:
  • Complete and sign the right statutory declaration for your circumstances:
  • Attach the necessary supporting documentation
  • Send the application to the following address:

Gender Recognition Panel

PO Box 9300

Leicester 

LE1 8DJ 

How much does a GRC cost? 

The fee for changing your legal gender in the UK is £5. The amount was reduced from £140 in May 2021 in order to make the process more affordable for transgender people.

You will also have to pay up to £50 for a medical report from your doctor stating that you have gender dysphoria. 

Finally, a statutory declaration where your spouse agrees to change the terms of the marriage costs £5 plus £2 for each additional required document, such as a birth certificate.

Is legally changing gender reversible?

Currently, the process of changing gender in the UK is reversible. If you change your mind, you can apply to have your Gender Recognition Certificate revoked.

Can I Change My Name Before My Gender?

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

Similarly to changing gender, you can start by using and getting known by your new name without any legal procedure. However, to prove that you have formally changed your name, you must have an official document such as a deed poll

What Is a Deed Poll?

A deed poll, also known as a change of name deed, is legal evidence that you have changed your name. This is the most common way of changing your name in the UK.

You can use the deed poll to update your name on official documents including your passport, driver’s license, and bank account. All government bodies accept a deed poll as proof of your name change.

It is important to keep in mind that changing your name does not automatically change your gender. You will still need to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate from the Gender Recognition Panel if you wish to change your gender legally.

What Forms Do I Need To Change My Name?

Deed poll forms - adults

If you are 18 or over, use the following forms to enroll the deed poll at the Royal Courts of Justice:

  • LOC020 – Change of Name Deed for an Adult (deed poll)
  • LOC021 – Statutory Declaration for an adult
  • LOC025 – Notice for the London Gazette for an adult

Deed poll forms - minors

Children under 18 who wish to change their name require permission from both parents or guardians. In this case, the following forms must be used: 

  • LOC022 – Change of Name Deed for a Minor (deed poll)
  • LOC023 – Suggested form of Affidavit of Best Interest
  • LOC024 – Statutory Declaration for a Minor
  • LOC026 – Notice for the London Gazette for a Minor.

How Do I Change My Name?

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