As difficult as this is to believe, it’s approaching almost a year since I first changed my name to Dax. It is only recently, however, that I have managed to actually convince all the businesses and official bodies that I am associated with to call me Dax. Why? Due to interference from my fiercest enemy; bureaucracy. To help others with this process (as well as, if I’m being honest, to vent a bit), I’m going to record the process below.
The first step in the name change process is, of course, to choose a new name. This isn’t as simple as it sounds, and like many people who choose to change their name, I resorted to influential pop culture. As any nerd worth their salt will have guessed, Dax comes from Star Trek, Deep Space 9 to be precise. Dax is the name of the non-binary symbiote that bonds with multiple Trill of different genders over the course of its lifespan, and I doubt I am the only non-binary person to borrow their name from one of these little aliens. It helps that Dax is already a name, most commonly used in America, and therefore not “made up” (although ultimately, all names are made up).
Once a new name has been settled upon, while it isn’t essential to document this anywhere under UK law, I would recommend doing a deed poll. For some reason, most people seem to expect you to have done a deed poll if you want your name to be changed, and without this document I met with almost insurmountable resistance. There are multiple types of deed poll that cost various amounts, one even going so far as to announce your name change in a national newspaper for all to see, but for the purposes of pretty much everything except your birth certificate, this free, standard deed poll is more than sufficient.
After completing the form, I printed out five deed polls, as almost every institution will want to see the original document with no guarantee that it will be returned. I also saved the file as a PDF, meaning I can produce more in the future if need be. Unfortunately, the deed poll alone is still not enough for most places to change your name on their records.
The next step is to obtain photo ID with the new name on it, the cheapest and simplest form of which in the UK is the provisional drivers license. Unfortunately, it is neither cheap nor simple to obtain this license. First, you have to apply for the application form. This can be done online but still costs £30, and despite not being legal to drive with the provisional license, questions about being medically cleared to drive must be answered.
Then, if you wish to change your photo and signature from previous photo IDs, you must wait for a paper form to be sent to you. Obtaining the new photo cost me the better part of £10, and then came the difficult task of finding someone who could verify that the new photo was of me. The list of people who can sign for this purpose was incredibly elitist, requiring you to have known but not be related to a medic, lawyer, or teacher for a significant amount of time, who must also have photo ID of their own. Fortunately, the nature of my job puts me into contact with doctors, and so I was able to have my photo signed for relatively easily.
Once everything was signed for, I then had to compile the myriad of original documents required of me to obtain a licence, including my deed poll. Once everything was put together, posting it all cost almost £30, primarily because I wanted it tracked as important documents have a nasty habit of disappearing in the post. I was informed I would have my license 3 weeks later.
3 months later, during which time I had been unable to track the progress of my application nor prove my identity since all my documents were somewhere in limbo, my license arrived.
Now armed with a deed poll and photo ID came the daunting task of changing my name everywhere. While I had managed to change my name on social media, on my degree certificate (after several weeks of arguing, being asked to destroy my only proof of qualification before the new one arrived, and being charged £30 for the privilege), and with my employer, the bulk of work lay ahead of me. I booked a week off work so that I could focus on the task at hand, put together a pack containing all my ID documents, and made a list of all the places that still held my old name.
When my time off arrived, I visited every business in person I could, and called or emailed the rest. The phone calls weren’t cheap, and neither was the printing and posting of documents to various official bodies, but fortunately it didn’t take the whole week and I even managed to have some time off. While I’m still waiting to hear back from some places, and expecting bank cards to come back so I can change my name with a handful of online retailers, it would appear that I am now mostly done. I am anticipating that someone, somewhere, will refuse to change my name for the audacious crime of not selling my soul to them, but it would appear that after a long, long time the gruelling process of changing my name is at an end.
If, for whatever reason, you are looking to change your name I would recommend setting aside about £100 and at least a couple of days once your photo ID is returned, if you can. Gendered Intelligence have also produced some useful advice for trans people changing their name, which can be found here.
I hope it goes well. Good luck!