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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.

Following the introduction of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, it is now possible for a person who is married or in a civil partnership to get gender recognition without having to divorce first. A person in a marriage can get gender recognition while remaining in that marriage (in Scotland, unlike England and Wales, it is not necessary for the person to get their spouse’s written consent to their gender recognition, although doing so simplifies the procedures).

A person in a civil partnership needs to convert that civil partnership to a marriage before they can get gender recognition. However, if both civil partners apply for gender recognition at the same time, they do not need to convert to marriage.

There are a variety of options and procedures for all of this – see pages 22 to 27 of our Marriage and Civil Partnership in Scotland Guide.