Hear from one of our Q42 group members about the journey to changing your name
If exploring your gender has led you to a point where you feel the gender assigned at birth isn't you, there's a good chance you might also feel the name given to you isn't right either.
Finding one that fits better can be a tricky journey. Some people go for a name that's similar sounding to the one given at birth, some go for something completely new. What's important is that it feels right for you.
It doesn't matter how long it takes and doesn't matter how many times you change it to get the right one (in fact, trying different names with those close to you and hearing how they sounds can sometimes help to get a feel for what's right)
When it comes to the time where you feel you'd like to be known by that name there's a few things that might make things easier;
Telling friends and family
Ask your close friends or family to call you by your new name!
Sure, a lot of the time coming out like this is a bit trickier than just saying “Hey, I want to be called this name and pronouns” but sometimes it really can be that simple.
Like coming out, there’s loads of way you could do this. Some people have made songs (there's a whole bunch on YouTube) or written down what they want say in advance. Sometimes picking just one person you really trust to go to first helps. Some people have even made presentations or animations that explain things. If there's a character in a show or movie that captures how you feel, why not watch it with those close as a way of introducing the idea? For more tips, take a look at our coming out guide.
There's a good chance they'll be some questions coming at you when you do this, which is only natural. If you feel you can answer them, great! But don't feel pressure to do so, or to speak for all trans and non-binary people either. It's OK not to be able answer everything, you've only just got to this point yourself.
If a particular resource or video helped you to understand things, ask your friends or family to have a look at that. It might answer a lot of their questions, and if nothing else, buys you a little time to celebrate what a huge thing you've just achieved in coming out!
School and college
If you are okay with family seeing this new name, how about asking your school/college to change your preferred name?
This ought to be as straight forward as going to your student services and saying “Hi, I would like to change my preferred name on the register to this and can you let all my teachers know about this change.”
Because you're not changing your legal name, only your "preferred" one (the one you'd like to be known as), you don't need any documents or parental permission for a school or college to do this.
Not all schools and colleges will be aware of this, and it might be unfamiliar territory in some circumstances. If the person you talk to says they need to get advice on it, that's ok; the advice from the 2010 Equalities Act will back you up, as will pretty much all of the best practice guidance available to colleges. Sometimes, even though it really ought to be a simple thing, there may be fiddly data systems that need changing and they may not be sure how to do that, or they might want to make sure they follow a procedure so all students in the same position get supported in the same way.
If you get hassle with this though, you can point out you’re protected from discrimination such as this under the 2010 Equalities Act which clearly highlights gender re-assignment as a protected category. It also specifically mentions social transition (i.e. changing your name), so you don’t have to be even considering hormones or physical transition to be protected – the school really needs to change your preferred name if request it or they’re discriminating against you.
The current Ofsted framework also looks for inclusivity practices just like this which might be helpful to point people towards.
You can find useful docs about this on the Mermaids website. Here’s a couple of excerpts that might be handy…
“The equality Act protection from discrimination because of gender reassignment in schools… means that it is unlawful for schools to treat pupils less favourably because of their gender reassignments, and that schools will have to factor in gender reassignment when considering their obligations.
Gender reassignment is defined in the Equality Act as… anyone who is undergoing, has undergone, or is proposing to undergo, a process (or part of a process) of reassigning their sex by changing physiological or other attributes. This means… a pupil will not necessarily have to be undertaking a medical procedure to change their sex.
Pupils who are undergoing a social transition, for example, going by a preferred name or pronoun are protected by the Equality Act.”
Getting a deed poll
Most people, myself included, printed this deed poll on parchment paper to make it seem more professional but honestly, it doesn’t matter much.
To make your own deed poll, you simply use the wording below (this is for 16+ people, anyone below this age will need a parent/guardian to do this for them unless they’re in special circumstances such as emancipation):
I [old name] of [your address] have given up my name [old name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].
Signed as a deed on [date] as [old name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness 1 name] of [witness 1 address], and [witness 2 name] of [witness 2 address].
[your new signature], [your old signature]
[witness 1 signature], [witness 2 signature]”
This is from www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll.
Once you’ve done this deedpoll, you can basically use it everywhere. Very few places don’t accept this deed poll, but the places like banks, schools and the DVLA do.