Tips for Choosing Your New Name as a Transsexual Woman
If your like many transsexual women - you’ve had more than one female “name” during your journey through transgender expression. Which name should you go with if & when you proceed to full-time?
Often, transgender women select unique monikers that represent a hybrid of their new female identity & their old male version. That’s fun but not usually best.
What’s my advice?
Select a female name that’s definitely female & easy to spell & pronounce.
Why is that so important?
Simple: when you first transition to full-time, your voice is often your weakest tell-tale trait. You’ll usually feel insecure using it often. If you choose a uniquely spelled name? You’ll likely have to repeat it more than once for people to get it right - perhaps with a more masculine inflection than you wish. Thus, if you have to spell or repeat your name during brief encounters you might get read for all the wrong reasons.
Also, “the phone” is one of the most challenging aspects to “pass” as female. If you call someone and begin your dialog with: This is Tammy Smith”…the person on the other end will almost always respond with the appropriate gender since Tammy is only known as a female moniker. If you called with a unique hybrid name, say: “Tamorrow Smith” & you still have a slightly husky or falsetto voice? You’re likely to get “Sir-ed” often. My given name was “Rayvon” - if I had integrated that into my current calling it would have probably become “Raynee” - which would mean I would have to repeatedly spell it and resolve pronunciation - at a time when I wasn’t confident with my feminine voice.
Finally, avoid any “stripper” names like “Mercedes” “Bambi” or “Cherry”. Again, early-on you’ll be dealing with enough issues from your transition with family and your career. Owning a name that reinforces what many automatically assume about transgender works against you.
In summary, I would suggest:
- Choose a name that’s definitely female
- Avoid unique spellings to any name - if you’re thinking Temera - just go with Tammy.
- Avoid overly glamorous or “stripper” monikers
Chapters in This Section include:
MTF Gender Transition Introduction
Secrets to a More Successful MTF Transition
Non-verbal Female Communication Skills
Five Keys to MTF Transition Success
Ten Most Common MTF Transition Traps
Finding an MTF Transition Mentor
Choosing Your New Name as a TS Woman
The Stealthy Transsexual Woman
Total Stealth for MTF Transsexual
Surviving an MTF Transition
Five Mistakes Transsexual Most Often Make with Transition
Success with a Partial Transition
Transgender Depression and Suicide
Shortcuts to a Successful MTF Transition
Final Steps to MTF Gender Transition
Hope it helps!
This page is badly out of date. Please note:
- The page essentially dates to 2001, although a few later updates are included.
- Some of the information on this page is derived from Adele's excellent but now off-line Bird Cage website of c.2001, with amendments and additions based upon my own experience
- Since 2004 it has been possible in the UK to change the "sex" on a birth certificate under the Gender Recognition Act - subject to a successful application to the Gender Recognition Panel. This page does not reflect the new procedures.
- Most of the information on this page is not relevant outside the United Kingdom and (at a stretch) the Republic of Ireland.
Many of the communications suggested below will require a covering letter, this is a template similar to that I used:
Ref: [appropriate reference number, account number, etc., if any]
Dear Sir or Madam,
Subject: Change of Personal Details
I have the condition transsexual syndrome and am undergoing sex reassignment to female. I have changed my name by statutory declaration to Miss [insert your new name] as part of this process. Your assistance in making the relevant changes to your records, and in preserving full confidentiality, would be appreciated. I enclose copies of my name deed, and confirmation of treatment.
Formerly: [old name]
Alter and add to it as required in each case.
Choosing Your New Name
When choosing your female name try to keep your initials and surname the same as before - for example "Allison Beverley Smith" is a probably a better name for an "Allan Brian Smith" to adopt than "Jane Helen Monroe" would be. Avoid over-the-top drag queen style names or names that are too obviously derived from a male form - these might help confirm slight suspicions about your gender and help "out" you. Avoid very unusual names which may make you stand out. Also avoid names that are trendy at the moment but were rare when you were born. Unfortunately boring, common and traditional girl names are undoubtedly the safest choice.
Legal Methods Technically there are three methods for legally changing your name in the UK:
- Common Usage
- Deed Poll
- Statutory Declaration
Statutory Declaration The following is the pattern I used for making my Statutory Declaration, just type into a word processing package like MS-Word in the layout as below.
I, [insert new name here], of [insert address here]
DO SOLEMNLY AND SINCERELY DECLARE AS FOLLOWS:-
I was formerly called [insert old name here] and am a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies by birth.
I absolutely and entirely renounce, relinquish and abandon the use of my former names of [insert old name here], and assume, adopt and determine to take and use the names of [insert new name here], in substitution for my former names of [insert old name here].
I shall at all times hereafter in all records, deeds and documents and other writings, and in all actions, proceedings, as well as in all dealings and transactions on all occasions whatsoever use and subscribe the said names of [insert new name here] as my name in substitution for my former names of [insert old name here] so relinquished as aforesaid to the intent that I may hereafter be called, known or distinguished not by my former names of [insert old name here] but by my names of [insert new name here] only.
I authorise and require all persons at all times to designate, describe and address me by the adopted names of [insert new name here].
AND I make this solemn Declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835.
Signed: [your signature]
SIGNED AND DECLARED at:
in the County of [insert county name here]
this day, the [insert date here] Before me, [insert Solicitor's name/stamp here]
Ignore the brackets and italics which I added just to indicate where you need to add your own details, don't change the format or punctuation. Print it out on heavy, good quality, A4 paper of say 150gsm, use margins set to one inch (25.4 mm) all round, 12 point Times New Roman for the body text and 14 point Times New Roman for the title. I did 10 copies knowing that some places wouldn't return them - and I still ran out!
Take your carefully produced Statutory Declaration forms to a Solicitors Office, a name change is a standard procedure so anywhere that does family law or has a legal aid logo in the window should be able to process it. You sign the copies in the presence of a solicitor, and they countersign and add their official stamp. This costs about £10 - I suppose you can shop around by phone to get the best price if you really want to.
After the statutory declaration, the next essential is a letter from a medical practitioner certifying that you are undergoing sex reassignment treatment. You will need to send this to various organisations to help facilitate your name and gender change.
If you are not under psychiatric or clinical supervision then this letter is probably most easily obtained from your local GP where you are registered. I actually for a long time used a letter provided by a surgeon at an overseas hospital, however this was on occasion queried (although never refused), and a letter from a UK based practitioner is undoubtedly preferable.
Doctors & Psychiatrists
Your medical files have to changed in to your new name, and ideally to those of a female patient. A recent (2006) correspondent says "... I went to see my GP, she change[d] the name for me. Therefore, from now on, both electronic noticing board and prescription will show Ms. XXXX. Due to the database check, as long as the gender is M[ale], “Miss” can not be select. This is before any doctor’s letter and Deed poll signed. Therefore, it is possible to change this item before any other documents."
Below is a standard letter for your doctor to use as a Letter of Medical Evidence, there are many slight variations of it in common use. To avoid confusion and unnecessary hurt and embarrassment it is deliberately worded to omit any use of the words he, she, him, or her! It must be printed on headed paper to be of any use.
(Headed paper with address of GP, Consultant Psychiatrist or Clinic)
Medical Reference No. Date:
To whom it may concern,
This is to confirm that my patient, Mr [insert previous name here] is currently undergoing gender reassignment to female, and as part of this process has changed their name by Statutory Declaration [or Deed Poll, whichever is applicable] to Ms [insert new name here]. Ms [new name] intends to live permanently in her reassigned gender.
Your assistance in making the relevant changes to your records and in preserving full confidentiality will be appreciated.
GP or Psychiatrist's signature:
When I asked my GP to write this letter for me I gave him an original copy of my Statutory Declaration. You can expect your doctor to make a small charge (£7-£12) for the letter. Make a good number of photocopies of this letter, send out the original only when you have to - and with a return SAE! The same correspondent reported that when visiting a psychologist in the UK for an initial consultation, he gave her three similar letters for the Passport Office, DVLC, and "other".
Where some form of identification is needed as a woman, this is normally best met by the production of a driving licence or a passport. The good news: These and other identity documents may according to prevailing practice be issued to you in an adopted name with a relative minimum of formality. In the case of transsexuals, the documents are issued so as to be in all respects consistent with the new identity. Thus, the practice is to allow the transsexual to have a current photograph in his or her passport, etc, and the prefix "Mr", "Mrs", "Ms" or "Miss", used as appropriate.
Pre-Transition Advice Choose your new name carefully (see above). If you expect to eventually transition, avoid when ever possible using the prefix "Mr" or full forenames on documents, e.g. have "A B Smith" on your cheques rather than "Mr Allan Smith". Avoid using a forename in your signature, so the credit card of "A B Smith" can then be used by either Allan or Allison. If you have to give a photo with an application, use the most androgynous picture of yourself that you can find, ideally slightly unfocused (difficult with modern cameras!).
Building up a financial background and credit history in the years before you transition can be very helpful. In my experience, your bank will happily issue a second credit card for a fictional female partner at the same address - in this instance use a prefix and forename (e.g. "Miss Allison Smith") and submit an en-femme photo, making it a useful form of emergency ID. Also, open a joint bank account (e.g. Allan Smith and Allison Smith) or change an existing account in to both names. If possible change a utility bill over in to your new fictional partners name - this bill will become a very handy proof of residence immediately after transition.
A final but useful option is to open a bank account for a daughter, e.g. "Miss Jane Smith", who's nearly 18. No evidence is required to open the account, and it will generally roll-over to a standard account, which can be very useful.
Birth Certificate The bad news: Unfortunately in the UK and Ireland it is still not possible under the "Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953" for a transsexual woman to get her birth certificate legally changed to indicated a sex of "Girl" (if born before 1969) or "Female", rather than "Boy" or "Male". Although some of the lesser effects caused by this have been mitigated by officialdom over the years, you should be aware that marriage between a transsexual woman and a man remains unlawful (it would be in law void by reason of the parties not being respectively male and female), adoption and fostering of children by a transsexual woman is effectively prohibited, and rape of a transsexual woman by a man is not chargeable as such.
[Note - this situation has now changed in the UK and a new birth certificate can be issued even without surgery. But I'm unfamiliar with the new processes.]
Passport Your passport is possibly the most important document to get changed when you transition, and perhaps surprisingly it's actually one of the easiest to do. An altered passport is extremely useful when getting other documents or records changed, updated or issued, and is often accepted as an alternative to the unchangeable Birth Certificate. [Warning: Since 2001 the Passport Office has apparently preferred confirmation that the change of sex is physically permanent, i.e. it may now be hard to get your passport changed until after SRS. However they do have discretion and surgery is not absolutely essential - good medical letters and a personal visit may make all the difference. Please contact me if you have a recent personal experience.]
For a revised passport, obtain the correct UK Passport Application Form, usually C1, which is available from Post Offices. I believe that an on-line version is also now available. Send the completed form along with a covering letter, a copy of your Statutory Declaration or Deed Poll, your Doctors/Medical letter, your current passport (or your Birth Certificate if you don't have an existing passport), and two passport sized colour photographs in the envelope provided to the appropriate Passport office, which for me was in Peterborough. The application can also be submitted through participating Post Offices for a small charge.
The new passport should arrive about two weeks later, it should have both your changed name and photo, and the "Sex/Sexe" field marked as "F". It may also have a machine readable passport (MRP) field which again should contain an "F" after what appears to be the date of birth reversed. The Passport Office will return all the original documents you sent to them.
Driving Licence Link: http://www.dvla.gov.uk/coa.htm
If you change your name and hold a current UK driving licence you must inform the DVLA without delay or you are committing an offence.
Obtain the Form D1 from a Post Office. If you have a paper licence send the completed form with a covering letter, a copy of your Statutory Declaration, a photocopy of your Doctors/Medical letter, your current UK driving licence, an original identity document (Passport or Birth Certificate), and a certified passport sized colour photograph to "DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BY". If it's a Photocard it should be post to SA99 1AB. If you have a valid UK digital passport you can just fill in Section 6 Part A on the D1 form without sending your birth certificate or passport.
Note that you cannot use the Post Office Checking Service in this instance. The covering letter should quote your current driver number at the top and state that you wish your legal name on the licence to be amended to that of your new legal name and that the gender indicator code be altered to show female.
Within a couple of weeks you should receive back your new photocard driving licence, and the original identity document. On your new licence, check that the gender code has been changed -your date of birth and gender are shown in the middle, 6 digit, part of your driver number, e.g. if born on 8th September 1969 the old number as man would be 609089 [First/last digits = year; Second & third = month; Fourth & fifth = day]. As a woman, the 2nd digit has a 5 added, thus the new number should be 659089.
Because of its photo, the new driving licence is actually a very useful form of ID.
National Insurance Card In the UK the Department of Social Security will not change your unique permanent National Insurance (NI) Number and I'm unsure if this includes some hidden format "male" or "female" sex code in the same way that temporary NI numbers and the Driving Licence do, but if it does then it is not clearly evident or well known. However, the DSS will change the name related to the NI number.
Send an original of your Statutory Declaration and a photocopy of your Doctors letter, together with a letter from yourself quoting your NI number to the central DSS office.
The following is what I wrote to them, (include a reference to your previous name and N.I. Number):
"I am writing to request a change to my NI card, to reflect my gender change as a male-to-female transsexual. I have enclosed an original copy of my statutory declaration, and an open letter from my GP confirming my treatment for gender dysphoria, along with my NI card. I understand that the card name can be changed but that the number will remain the same. Also, that I may be regarded as female for some purposes, and male for others such as pensions under the current legislation. Please could you arrange to change my name as below."
Post to: Department of Social Security, Special Section D Room 105H, Contributions Agency Central Operations, Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1YX.
They will reply with a standard form letter stating that your liability to pay NI contributions, and your entitlement to benefits, will not alter. This means, for example, that your retirement age will not alter. Later, in a few weeks, you should receive a new plastic NI card with the new name, but there will be nothing on the card indicating any alteration. The NI Number will remain the same, and the central office will still keep a record of your previous name as well as the new one, which may be viewed on the DCI computer by any authorised employee of the DSS. All employees of the DSS are bound to keep information confidential unless required by the police or the courts. The DSS central index will also be flagged to show that you are to be treated as female for some purposes and male for others (e.g. pensions).
Income Tax A warning - do not try to sort out your tax details until you have informed your employer of your transition!
Send a letter addressed to the HM Inspector of Taxes at the Tax Office which deals with your affairs, mark the envelope 'Private & Confidential'. In the covering letter quote your N.I. number and tax reference, include an original of the Statutory Declaration, a photocopy of your Doctors letter a photocopy of your medical card (couldn't quite understand this one!), and a recent payslip.
The following is what I wrote to them:
National Insurance Number: [my NI number] Current Name: [new name] Former Name: [old name] Tax District and Reference: [from payslip or P60]
Subject: Change of Personal Details
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to request a change to my tax records, to reflect my gender change as a male-to-female transsexual. I have enclosed an original copy of my statutory declaration, and an open letter from my GP confirming my treatment for gender dysphoria, a copy of my NHS medical card, a copy of my latest P60 and the most recent payslip from my employers. Please could you arrange to change my name as above, and gender to "Female" where allowable.
If in doubt, post to: HM Inspector of Taxes, East 1, Cheviot House, Washington, Tyne & Wear, NE37 1HE.
Medical Card Write to your local Family Practitioner Committee or Family Health Services Authority (check your current Medical Card), requesting a medical card in your new name, and enclosing copies of the Statutory Declaration and Doctors letter. The new card will have a new number except that the last 3 figures (the ID suffix) will remain the same and supposedly the new number will also have a special prefix of an A or a Z to indicate that some sort of alteration has taken place, although this suffix is not on my card.
Bank Accounts Most banks and building societies will ask for some proof by way of a Statutory Declaration or Deed Poll before changing the name of your account for security against fraud. Take along an original and most banks should be able to take a copy and give you the original back and then ask how you would like your name to appear on your account.
During the course of my life I have accumulated many certificates in various fields - education, professional qualifications, interests ... . A few of these I judged of sufficient importance to try to change. In general the approach was to write to the relevant body requesting the certificate to be reissued in my new name, and copies of the Statutory Declaration and Doctors letter. A prior phone call to identify any fees or forms that had to be completed was best.
School Certificates (UK) For a small fee Education Boards and Authorities will re-issue or provide certified statements of examination awards which incorporate the change of name. They will require the original certificates, a photocopy of the Doctors letter, a photocopy of your Birth Certificate and a copy of the Statutory Declaration. It is best to first write an enquiring letter to the relevant Examination Board or Authority, e.g.:
I wonder if you could help. Between the years of 19XX-XX I obtained [certificates] from the [name of board] for [type of examinations] that I undertook at [school name]. Three months ago I began living full time as a woman, as part of a process of gender reassignment. I have changed all other documents that previously referred to me with the exception of my birth certificate, which I am currently prevented by law (though under government review) from doing. So I would like to know if:
- Can replacement certificates can be issued in my new name (as most exam boards in England do)?
- If there is a charge for replacement certificates?
- Who do I send my original certificates to?
- What additional information would you require, e.g. statutory declaration of name change, letter from GP, birth certificate?
Baptismal Certificate To my eternal thanks, the Church of England is co-operative in regards of replacing a "lost" baptismal certificate. Your choice on what precisely you tell them!
University Certificates It is normally a universities Registry Office which sends out degree certificates, and they should be the first point of contact for an initial enquiry. In my case the letter and several follow-up phone calls had no quick result, and as I needed my certificate urgently for a new job I ended up visiting the university's Examinations Office personally (a 5 hour train journey!). Within 20 minutes of arriving an efficient but very embarrassed girl had checked their records, printed off my new certificate, and got it signed!
Adele says of her experience concerning a degree obtained at a College of Higher Education, which was authorized by the now defunct Council for National Academic Achievements (CNAA):-
I was led to believe that the Open University has taken over some of the CNAA role and in December 2000 [sent the following letter]:
Student Services (Registry) Awards and Ceremonies Centre The Open University PO Box 123 Milton Keynes MK7 6DQ
Ref: CNAA Degree Certificate.
I am writing to request a change to my degree certificate, to reflect gender change as a male-to-female transsexual woman. During the period 1987-90 I studied at my local College [college name], for a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in Modern History. Under reforms of the Higher Education system in the UK all colleges were given University status and the Council for National Academic Awards was abolished in the early 1990&'s.
In 1998 I began psychiatric evaluation and hormone therapy for transsexualism. Once I began living full time as a woman in 1999 I sought to change all official records relating to me. This was quite difficult as the University that was created from the reorganisation said they could do nothing. A year later, following my recovery from Sex Reassignment Surgery this summer I am trying again, assured by friends on the internet that this is really possible.
I have enclosed an original copy of my statutory declaration, degree certificate, and letter indicating degree classifications and confirmation letter from my surgeon. Please could you arrange to change my name. I understand there may be a charge for replacement certificate and that this will mean a delay until it is received.
I received the following reply after less than three weeks from:
The Open University Validation Services 344-354 Gray's Inn Road London WC1X 8BP
Thank you for your letter of 5 December which has been forwarded to us by the Open University's central Registry. I confirm that gender reassignment is the one case where we are prepared to issue award verification documentation in a revised name. I regret that we are unable to provide you with a replacement certificate as such. However, I enclose an Open University document which has the appearance of a degree certificate and certifies that you are indeed the holder of a CNAA BA Honours Degree in Modern History.
I hope that this will serve your purposes. I return your original CNAA degree certificate herewith and suggest that you retain this as it is not now replaceable and is the link to the original records. I also return herewith the original documents which you enclosed with your letter. Should any employer or institution of higher education ask if they can approach us direct for verification of your award, please let us know straightaway and refer to this letter.
These are just typical examples. There will obviously be variations depending on who you deal with.
The following organisations do not usually require any official documentation before changing one's name on their files. Merely completing the name and address change in the appropriate place on the payment slip (if there is one) and / or sending your covering letter often suffices Obviously you do not need to inform them of anything unless you are their customer!
- Gas Board
- Electricity company
- British Telecom
- Water company (if billed by, or rates paid directly to, them)
- Clubs and Societies
- Subscriptions (book clubs, catalogues, support group, etc.)
- Insurance Companies
- Credit card companies
- Electoral Registrar (usually at Town Hall) - they must, by law, be informed.
- Local Authority
- Trade Union
I moved to Ireland only four months after transitioning in the UK. Thankfully most of my just-changed UK documents remained applicable there, including my driving licence. The one important exception was that I had to obtain a Personal Public Service (PPS) Number, the equivalent of the UK's NI Number. The PPS card includes the holders "sex" on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card, and also possibly hidden in the PPS number itself.
I had not previously been issued with a PPS number and had no problem obtaining one as a "female" based upon my UK passport (which had already been changed), and my employment offer which used my female name. If I had already had a PPS number, then I believe that like like the UK NI Number it could not h