Since this came up in regards to emigrating outside the UK and gender recognition I thought I’d write a small post about how gender works in the UK and is recorded. As the UK isn’t quite as organised as countries such as Germany it is possible and common for gender to be different depending on circumstances. This is probably best seperated into 2 sections. As always this is just a basic summary and it’s probably best to consult a lawyer.
Under UK law Legal Gender is defined as what’s on your Birth certificate. However for most practical purposes this is not actually legally significant as documentation such as driving licences and passports can be changed based on self ID.
The most important area where legal gender is important is getting married in the UK (as marriage vows in England/Wales may have to be recited in regards to legal gender), pension before the pension age was adjusted and if a person ended up in prison.
Eqality act and sex discrimination
Under the equality act it is illegal to descriminate due to trans status (perception or intent to transition) or sex. This would probably have the effect of covering a trans person in a sex discrimination case the same as a CIS person and there is also no need to disclose trans status in most cases (pretty much only for background checks when working with vulnerable people or working in a rape crisis centre). This is one area I’m not particuly well read up on so probably best to talk to a lawyer or trans organisation.
Apart from birth certificates all other documentation does not show legal gender but instead shows either the gender person identifies as or whatever they like (in the case of Ms/Mr/Mx as these have no legal standing).
In the case of ID documents such as passports/driving licences all that is required to change gender is a letter from a doctor or psychiatrist. It is also possibly to change your gender under the NHS using this method.
In the UK anyone can change name using either a deed poll (signed by witness’) or statutary declaration (signed by solicitor/judge). Both of these documents can be created using templates which are available free online.
Due to the equlity act and other provisions it is also easy to change documents such as exam certificates which are not normally changable by CIS people. For example changing your degree certificate is as simple as sending a certified copy of your statuatary declaration or deed poll and stating that you have undergone gender transition.
Access to single sex areas such as toilets is currently not controlled by law and is via convention. This means that you can use the one that match’s your gender identity. This is also backed up by case law around the Eqaulity act.