UK Government proposals will out trans people

The headline is alarming, but sadly it is true. In a response to an initiative to prevent registered sex offenders hiding their new identities, the Home Office stated “.. we intend to also amend our existing Home Office guidance so that only enrolled deed polls (through the Royal Courts of Justice) are accepted as a proof of name change.”1 It is desirable that the government should look to improve its procedures to help protect society from sex offenders and there are many ways it can do this. However, this specific proposal has unintended consequences for trans people and also victims of domestic violence.

Enrolling a deed poll is an arcane process that results in the address, previous name and new name of the applicant being published in The Gazette (the official public record)2. This means that if a transgender person wishes to change their name on their passport or driving licence or other government issued documentation, they will need to put their gender status and address in the public record.

Transgender people will thus have a Hobson’s choice: they either keep their driving licence and passport in their old name and out themselves whenever they use it or they out themselves permanently.

This change in policy is certain to increase discrimination against trans people and, given the disclosure of their addresses, possibly violence. This change will also harm cisgender people, such as victims of domestic violence who are seeking to change their name to protect themselves. It also breaches the right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.

At the moment this shocking proposal is at an early stage and we have seen that if a sufficiently loud fuss is made the government will listen. Write to your MP! Write newspaper articles! Post about this on social media! Don’t let the government remove people’s rights by stealth.


6 responses to “UK Government proposals will out trans people

  1. This is indeed very concerning, and would appear to bring us closer to the US system of having to go before a court to make a name change. While I can see the attraction in preventing known dangerous offenders from getting documentation in a new name we can only hope that the judicial working group will see the potential injustice of this proposal.

  2. Coolhumanrights

    The petition you linked here was the original petition FOR these measures. I accidentally signed it without realising it wasn’t to repeal these meassure. (which is very dumb of me to be sure)

    • The intent of the petition is fine – that the names of sex offenders on the Sex Offender Registry are updated if they change their name on other government issued documents such as driving licences. The petition itself has problems though. But the biggest issue is the government response.

  3. Janice Shand

    How can the Government think this is ok? To put people who are transgender in a position where they could experience discrimination and possibly violence is not acceptable and the Government need to find another way. How many women. children and men who experience domestic abuse will this impact on. Often the physical scars heal but the emotional scars remain. Both groups should be protected from any kind of abuse and should not have to live their lives in fear. They should have their human rights protected legally to help maintain their safety and to allow them to live their lives without having to continually look over their shoulder and be on their guard. No one should have to live with constant fear of reprisals from people who discriminate or who think abuse is acceptable.

  4. Carla Brennan

    Write to your MP. However, and perhaps more important write to Victoria Atkins, Safeguarding Miniister.
    She’s a good person and I genuinely believe that she is not aware of the cosequences for trans people!

    • Sophi K

      The answer to this whole problem would be to abolish Deed Poles althogether which are rather dated! Just use a Statutory Declaration which is sworn before a solicitor

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