The name change thingy has been going well. Here, for anyone at all interested, is recent progress – and I’m putting it up on both blogs – the personal one and the political one – on grounds that some of you might read only one.
(er…if you read both, you don’t have to read this piece twice…its exactly the same!).
Anyway. I started out with the proposition (which is hardening as I go) that organisations should not be demanding documentation before they will change peoples’ names. That’s marriage change as well as trans change. Or rather, they should only demand documents where there is either a statutory requirement, or a clear operational need that cannot be fulfilled by any other means.
So far, so straightforward. The rider to the above is that since the documentation requirement affects women and trans far more than male and cis…then it is a matter of indirect discrimination to demand documents.
At first I thought this was going to be a hard one to sell. In fact, it isn’t. Its just that it’s a bit like nailing down carpet: get one corner firmly attached…and the other corner starts to unravel. For most people, this idea is initially incredible. After all, having been brought up on the idea that you have to “prove” your identity, we have got into the habit of not questioning what “proof” entails…and just blindly accept that we NEED documents.
But we don’t. Whilst at the outset I was told I would need a deed poll for all manner of organisations, I haven’t yet needed one. Yet I have changed my name with Tax (Income and VAT), utilities, NHS, electoral registration, council tax, BT, library…the list goes on and on…without that dratted deed poll.
I’ve even now got a bank account in my name (as opposed to my ex-name).
Along the way, I think I’ve made a bit of a difference. I started a court action against nPower (poor dears: I have since been asking them other techy questions. Not because I have it in for them, but because they keep doing strange things at the intersection of law and IT). We settled amicably: they don’t concede having discriminated in any respect. I don’t accept they haven’t. But we are to meet in the new year and I will then present my case to them.
I took issue with the fact that whilst the Inland Revenue allowed name change on a phone call…Customs and Excise didn’t. I objected, argued my case and… a couple of weeks back got a call from their policy team. They are changing policy across all of the tax systems (including National Insurance) to take account of my point of view. They believe I have a case – and besides, they agree they don’t need documentation: there are other ways to do the security thing.
After that, it was something of an anti-climax when Tesco rang me to say similar. I had a minor conflab with one of their operators who expressed in incredulous Scottish (that is, the accent was Scottish, the attitude incredulous) their difficulty with the idea that I wanted my name changed to Jane on my clubcard. They rang back a little later. Nope: I had a point. Guidelines and training to be amended.
Last but by no means least, and I shall wait until this is done before I call it a win: the Equalities bods – the EHRC – are looking to review their own wording in respect of name change following communication from myself.
So is this all just a push-over? Nope. I expect the same myths will keep resurfacing. Odd people at Tescos or other utilities will not be aware of the law or the new guidelines. The EHRC haven’t agreed to anything. Yet. And not even thinking of budging are the hold-outs on my list: the banks and building socs, the DVLA and the passport office.
But that’s a much smaller list than I thought originally. If anyone has probs changing names, drop me a line and I’ll give you some tips. Meanwhile, in sharp contravention of what the Gender Recognition Panel claims: the vast majority of instiutions in the UK WILL allow you to change name without documentary “proof” (aka deed poll or statutory declaration)…and if things carry on at this rate, then in a couple of years time, when I get to hand my own application in to them…they’ll be the last body to do so.
Ironic. Sort of.