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Gender recognition

Changing the gender on a UK driving licence or UK passport does not change the person’s legal gender.  A person’s legal gender is tied to their UK birth certificate.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 created a process to enable transsexual people to get their UK birth certificates and legal gender changed.  The transsexual person can apply to the Government’s Gender Recognition Panel for a Gender Recognition Certificate.  If they are successful in their application, the law will recognise them as having all the rights and responsibilities appropriate to a person of their acquired gender.

To apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate under the Standard Application Process the person needs to demonstrate that:

  • They are at least 18 years old;
  • They have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender and that they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender for the rest of their life;
  • They have, or have had, gender dysphoria.  They are required to provide two medical reports (one from their GP and one from their Gender Specialist) confirming the diagnosis and detailing any transition-related medical treatment (such as psychological counselling, hormones and/or surgical procedures) that they have received.  It is not necessary for the person to have undergone any surgery but if they haven’t then one of the reports should indicate whether they are waiting for any surgery or give any reason for the person deciding not to have any surgery.

To apply for UK Gender Recognition under the Overseas Application Process the person needs to demonstrate that they are at least 18 years old and that they are already legally recognised as their acquired gender in a country or territory that is on the Gender Recognition Panel’s approved list.

Full information about the application procedures, detailed guidance on the legal effects of Gender Recognition, and application forms are available from the Gender Recognition Panel website.

It is currently the case that in order to receive a full Gender Recognition Certificate, a transsexual person must be unmarried and not in a civil partnership.  This is because, under the laws of the UK, a marriage is only valid if it is contracted by two people of the opposite sex in law.  A civil partnership may only be formed between people of the same sex in law.  If a person applies for Gender Recognition while married or in a civil partnership then they will only be able to get an interim certificate. That one party has received an interim gender recognition certificate can be used by either party in the marriage or civil partnership as the grounds for requesting a court to issue a divorce or dissolution. However the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, proceeding through the Westminster parliament, will enable transsexual people in Scotland, England and Wales to obtain gender recognition while married or in a civil partnership. For more information on this visit the Equal Marriage website.