For the last couple of years I’ve traveled on my old male passport and relied on talking my way past the border guard with mixed results. Well this year my passport is up for renewal and I’m going to try and get it changed to female at the same time as changing my name and photo.
What I Needed
So I looked into the requirements on the UK passport website, and they have a helpful leaflet explaining the process for transgender people to change their name and gender.
The first thing the leaflet says is:
You can apply for a passport in an acquired gender. This option is available to those who do not hold a Gender Recognition Certificate or have not have gender reassignment surgery, as well as those who have.
So that’s a good start. It does state that there may be extra identity checks, which is understandable.
So on to the section about changing gender for existing passport holders.
Please follow the guidance on how to make changes to your existing passport in the “Applying for
a passport” booklet.
You should select the “Changes to your existing passport – New Name” option under section 1,
as we do not record gender change as a specific category on our application form.
Under section 2, you should complete the details relating to your acquired gender, but you will
also need to include previous names used in your birth gender.
In addition to your old passport, you will need to include one of the following as part of
• a birth or adoption certificate in your acquired gender
• a Gender Recognition Certificate
• a letter from your doctor or medical consultant confirming that your change of gender is likely to
be permanent, and evidence of your change of name such as a deed poll.
Visit www.gov.uk for further information.
Well the only one of those options I have is a letter. But does it need to be a Gender Identity Doctor from the clinic? or will my GP be acceptable? The information on Gov.uk referred me to the leaflet. I love it when they do that! It happens a lot at work when we check a council’s site for information on an issue and see “Call [My Work] on [Number] for more info on this issue”. So I clicked on contact us. I was impressed to see that there is a specific option for transgender enquiries. I sent an email, and within a couple of hours I received this reply.
Dear Miss B
Thank you for your enquiry.
If a GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate) has not yet been issued medical evidence is required to confirm that the orientation of the changed gender is likely to be permanent. This may take the form of a letter from the applicants’ medical consultant or General Practitioner.
Getting my Documents Together
So my GP is an option! I called my surgery and arranged for my GP to call me back. He asked me a few questions about how long I’d been full time, my progress with the clinic and took both my old and new names and said he’d arrange for a letter to be typed for me to collect the next day.
When I collected my letter from the clinic I was a little horrified to see it was addressed to Mr Sadie. Thankfully a quick word with the receptionist saw my file updated. Previously the receptionists have been reluctant to change name/gender and it required a poke from the Doctor to get them to add a “Known As” before I legally changed my name.
The next step was to visit a local photo and print store to get my photo taken. Knowing the Passport Office are very strict on the photo requirements (if it looks even remotely flattering they will reject it!) I thought it best to pay a little more and have someone guide me rather then rely on a photobooth. The store will also retake free of charge if the photos are rejected. Well I’m glad I did speak to them, because my fringe covers my eyebrows which the passport office don’t like. So I was asked by the photographer to part it. Worst Photo Ever!
As my appearance has changed rather a lot since the photo in my previous passport was taken, I decided it would probably be a good idea to get my photo countersigned. The manager of the office where I work was happy to do so. While this isn’t strictly necessary it’s probably a good idea if you changing gender.
So then it was just a case of filling in the form with my new details. I did need to include my previous male name on my first application as a woman, but reading the paperwork it states that for transpeople their former birth name is not required on any subsequent applications. It also states..
Your passport will show your name and acquired gender as given on your passport application and will not make any reference to your birth gender or any previous name in your birth gender – this applies to both the passport book and the passport chip.
Finally I decided to pay the extra and use the Check and Send service at the Post Office. This costs an extra £10, but includes insured next day postage. The lady from the Post Office made sure everything was filled in correctly, as well as my GP letter I also had to include my Deed Poll and proof I was using my new name and gender. I included my Driving Licence and a wage slip as proof. She also checked the photos to make sure they were unlikely to be rejected. With everything done it was just a case of waiting.
The New Passport Arrives
A week later I received a text stating my new passport had been dispatched, and the following day another saying I’d missed the delivery (must get the landlord to fix the doorbell) and so I had to reschedule through the website.
Finally I received the new passport yesterday, I did have to show my credit card (as that was the only ID I didn’t send off) it has my new name in it as well as an “F” in the gender box!
I hope this blog helps my Transgender readers understand a bit more about the process. I hope it will make it easier for you when it comes to getting your passport updated.