Andrea has been promoted. Apparently.

At least, that’s what it says on the package, arriving for her this morning. For it is addressed to Rear Admiral Andrea etc.

Huh? I knew she liked sailors, but when did this happen?

A few days ago, apparently, as she decided Ms was no longer good enough and she upgraded her Amazon title to one with nautical rank.

Interesting. As far as i am aware, so long as no fraudulent intent is there, she is perfectly entitled to.

However, it does raise a sub-question to issues around name change. Which is the precise status of title.

If there is little law i can find on “legal name”, there is next to nothing i have managed to find about title. At the back of my mind lurks a suspicion that impersonating some titles MIGHT constitute an offence per se…so please let us know if you DO know about such law.

Otherwise, though, the main thing i have encountered is large corporates (again!) that get at least slightly stroppy about some people using some titles. Mostly, its “Ms” that causes probs: some banks seem to demand that you can only use it if you were previously or are married…

Huh? I thought “Ms” was a title created by women for women – so don’t see what right banks have over it.

I’d also be interested to see what systems make of the growing trend amongst intersex and gender queer folk to title themselves “Mx” – pronounced “Mix”. Some systems won’t recognise that: but if its what you DO call yourself, what right have they to refuse?

OK. That’s all. Any KNOWLEDGE about the law on titles would be nice…and any rationale for why the banks have this issue with “Ms”.



21 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    AJS said,

    I hope “Mx” becomes more common. I for one do not want the postal service knowing, just from reading the address on a letter, what is between my legs. It’s nobody else’s business unless they are having sex with me (and even then, only if they’re fussy πŸ™‚ )

    I am perfectly comfortable with just my name, sans honorific (hell, I’m happy enough with just my initials), but not everyone seems to want to accept even that.

  2. 2

    Becca said,

    I changed my title with HSBC to Ms without any problem, challenge or question at all. It had been Miss as I had held an account with them since early childhood.

  3. 5

    sophia said,

    There’s always the notion of changing your first name to one resembling a title. Considered it since I would love to reclaim the old term from which miss, mrs and ms spring and just simply be mistress.

  4. 6

    Lucy Melford said,

    It seems perfectly legal for a man to style himself ‘Lord’ if a showman, property developer or beggar, or ‘Professor’ if a Punch and Judy man. And if a woman wants to pass herself off as a Princess, that too seems OK in certain company.

    On a less elevated level, I have always been irritated by ‘Ms’ and insist on ‘Miss’, but if you really want to address me as ‘Your Majesty’ who am I to cavil?

    I think ‘Rear Admiral’ has the right ring, although frankly ‘First Sea Lord’ would have been grander.

    Lucy, Queen of Sheba and all lands south of Thebes.

  5. 7

    Stace said,

    I seem to recall recently reading that you can be prosecuted for mis-using titles that you have no right to – and a list of people who have. But then again, that goes with the fraud statement…

    I did find it interesting though that you can legally change your title at the same time as you change you name if using Deed Poll – something I plan on doing this weekend.


    • 8

      janefae said,

      all power to you and your deed polling, but…but. but. but, you really don’t need it. And you really don’t need to spend money on doing it. 😦

      All my best,


      • 9

        Stace said,

        After reading this blog for a while I know – which doesn’t make it any easier 😦

        But… I have to convince the authorities in two countries, in itself not too bad, but it does mean that I have to get all of the paperwork in the UK sorted inside of one week (I don’t really want to spend more time that that in the UK in January). Changing the passport in such a short space of time is going to be interesting enough as it is (how do you travel between the UK and France without a passport should they take mine without getting the new one ready on time?) so I am hoping that their same day service is available to someone switching their first names and (hopefully) gender marker.

        Then there is trying to get HSBC to accept it – which I have found out in the last couple of years is not as easy as you would think for logical things – like add my wife to my UK bank account; sounds easy but they wanted 50K for the privilege. And unfortunately that is neither a joke or exaggeration.

        If I can oil the wheels in either land with the Deed Poll then it will be money well spent just from the lack of hassle.

        But I agree with you…


      • 10

        janefae said,

        i know stace…which is why i am not telling you off. We each of us walk our own road to transition and what is right for one may not be for another…and anyone trying to make you follow THEIR route as obviously better is themselves a bit of a twerp. πŸ™‚

        I wish you well…always do.


  6. 11

    Shirley Anne said,

    Why not do away with titles altogether?

    Shirley Anne xxx

  7. 12

    julianagain said,

    Stace – I will happily do stat decs for free (I’m a solicitor). They’re just as good as a deed poll. Julian x

    • 13

      janefae said,

      Wow! Dunno whether to applaud your public spirit…or deplore your support for a bad system. πŸ™‚

      But nah: you’re a star…and thanks for offering that.

      Would be nice to discuss sometime, cause it did occur to me that there is at least one business out there making money out of peoples’ transitions…and was wondering to myself whether a trans organisation ought not to do this stuff. Sure…i’m against dp’s and sd’s…but i’d rather not see other trans folk pem=nalised.


      • 14

        janefae said,

        oh…meant to add…if you two wish to get together…happy to swap e-mails with your mutual permish.


      • 15

        julianagain said,

        Well, thirty quid for a stat dec is a drop in the ocean*, but it’s still thirty quid unnecessarily spent! Do pass on my email if you would like. Or find me on twitter @londonfeminist.

        *I heard somewhere that the total cost was 60k!! (*ducks and hides*)

      • 16

        Stace said,

        Julian, I would love to take you up on your offer – unfortunately I’m based just outside of Amsterdam!

        Thanks again,

  8. 17

    julianagain said,

    (If you’re in London, that is.)

  9. 19

    Liz Church said,

    Honorific titles (Ms, Mr, etc…) have no binding legal status so the banks have no defence if you challenge them under the Data Protection Act. I’ve put one of these through the ICO and they agree. As for titles that confer a qualification or rank, then one must be entitled to them or there may be a conflict with the law. Certainly fraud is one of these. What of misrepresentation? There’s a misrepresentation act, but I’m not familiar with its scope.

  10. 20

    Josie said,

    I’ve heard of various people having various problems with changing titles, especially to Ms, but mine was considerably simpler than I expected. I added a paragraph to my deed poll (and added ‘and title’ to the heading) and that was that – I asked everyone to change both my name and my title at the same time, and on the whole they did. (In a few cases they only changed the name at first, but fixed the title too after a bit of prodding.)

    The only real issue I had was with an NHS organisation who claimed they were perfectly happy to change my name but that their “system” wouldn’t let them enter ‘Ms’ as a title for someone whose records were listed as male. When I objected they effectively said that there wasn’t anything that could be done about it and that I wasn’t the first to have this problem but would just have to put up with it. In the end they appear to have decided it would be simpler (i.e. I’d leave them alone) if they changed the gender marker…

    • 21

      janefae said,

      They are, of course, both right and wrong. And this is the problem that so many bods face. The first answer…the answer given by the jobsworth contemplating one particular system will be couched in terms of what they know of THAT system as well as the limitations thereof.

      And i do know that in respect of the system that resides within the GP’s (most of the time) you can’t do what you wanted to do.

      OTOH, the NHS are more than happy to entertain a change of name and, if you so wish, a change of gender. You need to write to your pct telling them this and they will re-issue your NHS record in a new number…but it can be done by means of a polite letter. NO deed poll, no grc…and should sort very simply.

      I know i did this early on and posted off the letter thinking i was going to get a load of hassle back. But nope. Easy peasy…and the only issue is that to begin with they wanted me to drop in and get a) smear tests (unnecessary) and b) breast scans (necessary in time, but not yet).


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