I recently changed my name and gender marker on my passport. Having an ID that more accurately reflects who I am is not only affirming, it also means I don’t need to explain why the passport doesn’t match the person the official sees in front of them every time I need to use it.
Going into it, I did a lot of research, I read lots of conflicting information and it led me to the conclusion that there is a lot of misunderstanding within the trans community on what documentation you need to change the gender on your passport. Having been through the process, I wanted to share my experiences in a bid to help clarify matters.
While you can change the gender marker on your passport with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), it isn’t the only way to have it changed. Indeed this route is described as overly bureaucratic to the point of being dehumanising. It also takes a long time to process and so many people, despite desperately wanting to have their gender marker changed, put it off altogether.
To get a GRC, which is only required to change the gender marker on your birth certificate, you need to apply for it with the Gender Recognition Panel. The process involves submitting medical reports, proof that you’ve lived in your gender for two years and a declaration from your spouse if you are married or in a civil partnership.
The good news is there is an alternative route, the Gender Marker Change letter. It is still onerous but decidedly less so than applying for a GRC, though the only use for this is for updating your passport.
To change gender-marker, I needed a letter from a consultant involved in my care to say that my change of gender is going to be permanent. While it is not ideal to have to provide evidence to prove my gender, in the scheme of things it is a relatively small inconvenience on my journey.
I also needed additional documentation as I was changing my name, as is the case with many trans individuals. For this, I needed a deed poll, mine was “unenrolled” which basically means I declared my change of name in front of two witnesses. There is a process to enrol it with the courts, but this is not needed for a passport application. I also needed to provide proof that my name is being used in my day-to-day life; for this I used a bank statement.
In terms of the practicalities, a gender marker change is just like any other passport renewal. I went onto the government’s website, filled in the online application form and then I was asked to post the required documents (naturally you need to have all of the necessary documentation in place before you begin the passport application process). I printed off everything that I needed and took it to the post office, to send my documents using sign-for mail. The passport office processed the application, printed my passport and everything was sent back to me in about a week.
My main issue with the process is that they only allow M for male or F for female as gender markers on passports, if given a choice I would much have rather have something like an X to indicate that I’m non-binary. A few countries already have non-binary markers and are allowed under international agreements, but it is just another thing that the UK is lagging behind on.
Although with all of that in mind, having a female gender marker on my passport absolutely reflects my identity more accurately than it did before and puts my mind at ease, so I am really glad to have gone through this rather simple process.
GenderGP now offers Gender Marker Change Letters through an HPCP accredited clinician.
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