Giant leaps forward on name change

Well, that went well. Very well. All in all, it suggests that I may finally have a good chance to get something done about the scandal that is name change procedures in the UK.

As regular readers may have noticed, I don’t like the way banks, building societies and other financial institutions handle name change. That applies to ALL name change – but is especially relevant where you are talking name changes for women and the trans community.

So far, I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall. But slowly, slowly, the message seems to be getting thru. The tally of organisations prepared to listen is growing longer. And from today, it certainly feels as though I have enough allies grappling with this issue on the business side of the fence that something can finally be done.

Why so? Well, I’ve been raising the issue of name change whenever, wherever it has felt reasonable to do so. Mostly on the back of complaints, either on my behalf or on behalf of others. Most times, the people I deal with are sympathetic – but the Byzantine nature of most large finance corps means that change, especially when it surfs in on the back of woolly concerns about stuff like diversity, is never easy to push.

Time to change name change

The case for change is simple. For starters, organisations imposing unnecessary conditions on people wishing to change their name are almost certainly breaking the law. Its simple indirect discrimination, courtesy of the Equality Act 2010.

More, they are pissing customers off – which is bad for customer relations. And, the killer: all this froth about name change is mostly ineffective as far as security is concerned.

Now that’s a biggy. Because it means that despite best and very time-consuming efforts, all that various Finance Corps may be doing is racking up extra costs on the security front while leaving themselves very exposed, both legally and actually to ID theft. Actually, because the measures they’ve come up with don’t work, and legally, because if those measures fail despite the dire warnings of jeremiah’s such as my good self, they are very open to being sued for negligence.

Progress report

So. Here’s where we’re now at. Over the past twelve months, I’ve spoken to and established broadly civilised relations with the Big Two credit referencing agencies (Equifax & Experian), a couple of large banks. Some building socs. A major insurance company. A retailer. And a few more beside. To the point that I am beginning to lose count. Just yesterday, one megacorp sent me – out of the blue! – an offer of £150 which I think, effectively, was an ask that I go away.

Huh?

I never requested dosh! And I’ll happily trade that offer for the chance to sit down and present my case to their IT and diversity bods.

Meanwhile, back to today. I had a lovely meeting with the diversity lady from yet another of the UK’s finance corps. Wonderful. I didn’t much need to explain. She totally got where I was coming from. had already got it on her own time.

She saw how this name change issue was a major problem for women as well as the trans community. Very quickly we were on to the nitty gritty: how would it be possible to square the various demands for customer respect and privacy against concerns over security and data protection. And was the Gender Recognition Act useful – or just an unguided missile landing smack bang in the middle of an already messy situation?

The outcome? We’re continuing to talk. I’m writing up a paper on this topic shortly for the Institute of Direct Marketing, which should help. And, if we can manage to build on current enthusiasm, then in September or thereabouts, I will put together a conference designed to bring together both those affected by current practice and those trying to do it better: diversity types, security types, data protection types. If you have an interst in this, attending, organising, participating, let me know. No guarantees, but….

After that, we’ll see. But at long last, it feels like the ice is breaking. The snow is melting. The White Witch (OK: I’m a Narnia fan!) is in full retreat.

And, as before, I am more than happy to open the process up to anyone who wants to get involved.

Jane xx

51 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Tanya-Jayne said,

    What’s your problem with the whole name change thing?

    I’m trans and have changed my name all relevant companies and organisations and have not had any issues? Am I missing something?

    • 2

      janefae said,

      Yep. First, you are lucky: not everyone has such a problem free change.

      Second, i am not looking just from a trans perspective, but from the female perspective as well. Fromn that angle, the exiosting procedures are of dubious legality, since they probably constitute indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

      Beyond that, they are frequently disrespectful and…well they don’t achieve the end result they are meant to in terms of enhanced customer security.

      What i am finding is that more and more companies are recognising that the current approach is not working all that well…and my hope is that at some point we will have a sensible solution in place that does not involve the creation of a minor industry (the deed poll one) making money needlessly out of the plight of trans men and women.

      jane xx

      • 3

        Tanya-Jayne said,

        You still haven’t really answered my question, just stated your case differently.

        What specifically is wrong with the current name change procedure? Or to put it another way –

        What is it about the current name change procedure which makes it wrong?

        How are they ‘frequently disrespectful?’

        What would be your solution?….because it’s all very well saying this and this and that is wrong but you have to have some idea of how you can do it better otherwise you’re not really helping are you?

        The above probably sounds like I’m being antagonistic but I’m not I’m just interested in your take on it.

      • 4

        janefae said,

        Specifically wrong? Well, the trio I put before. Current procedures don’t enhance security. Period. So ill turn that round and ask how they do.

        Respect- or lack of – comes with treating customers as commodity and an issue. Or, for example, putting someone through hassle to change title from miss to ms.

        There’s more.

        Discrimination, because the current methods disproportionately affect women and trans folk.

        Last up, solutions. Er, yes. That’s the point of all this and in discussion with various bodies I’ve done a lot of developing same. Though maybe some of that is too techy for here.

        Jane x

  2. 5

    Well, I just worked down a list of maybe 30 places that needed to know. Passport? OK, they needed most proof. Everyone else was either OK over the phone, emailing a PDF Deed Poll copy or posting one. Today an investment co. returned my letter and DP photocopy explaining they needed the real McCoy or a certified copy. (Yes, with my account details, to my address as per the details on my DP and my letter.) Like I could be someone else same surname at this address, photoshopping a document, just to change my name? And I need a DP to do this anyway? Only PayPal exceeded this, requiring photo ID (they are the one place guaranteed never to see my face)! In the end (after going to India and back on the phone) I was allowed to prove who I used to be with an OLD driving licence photocopy (no, I didn’t Photoshop it but I could). DP plus a utility bill might have been an option, except I pointed out all utilities accepted the same change with just a photocopy of the same DP! I did point out that this was to enable them to address me legally at the numbered account from which money goes out to them from my bank account…

  3. 6

    Sophie said,

    Santander accepted my new name and gender with a qualm. The DWP is the slowcoach, I may have to give them a pester.

  4. 7

    Sam said,

    I struggle with what the problem really is. Every name change I have encountered has been straight forward. Mine was free (except for paper and ink) and universally accepted. Marriage and CP certificates have worked well.

    I also work on the other side, and there is a legal aspect that you have ignored: money laundering. There is a duty on many of us to ensure that the person we are dealing with is who they claim. When there is a sudden name change, then there is nothing very often to prove the change except for Deed Polls, Statutory Declarations, Wedding/CP certificates. They track the change and meet the requirements placed upon us.

    But there is a serious issue and that is related to Electoral Registers. That is what really needs changing. The name change can lead to a loss of credit history as the new name has no history unless the person declares the change.

    • 8

      janefae said,

      Oh, dear. Where to begin. The fact that you have had no probs is not the overwhelming experience. Many folks, including very many cis women have issues with the multiplicity of systems in place.

      And besides I suspect what u mean is, abiding by current demands for deed poll or whatever, u have no probs. Whereas I would argue that those requirements are themselves discriminatory.

      Money laundering? No. Very much front of mind. Tohe prob there is that the docs u cite are proof ofi nothing and carry no legal weight. Large financial unstitutions are substituting audit trail, which is really just back covering, for real security.

      As for electoral register, tis the credit ref agencies that do history…and most do it fairly well.

      Jane x

      • 9

        Sam said,

        Where to begin would be to start talking about what your real issues and real motives are about. You clearly see problems where others do not. You offer no solutions just claim problems. Three name changes and a reversal caused me no issues whatsoever with a total of about 90 different institutions. And yet one transsexual and there is a problem?

        Perhaps it is that you have written something of a trite summary, but you have expressed no knowledge of the legal position of names and their change in this country. You clearly deny the real legal status of documents. This piece is either badly researched or exceptionally poor journalism.

        So questions:
        1) What is the real issue?
        2) What is ityou want changed?
        3) What is it you would prefer? A court procedure as exists in many parts of Europe? Or a procedure that contains no checks at all?

        You cite this as disproportionately affecting women, but how? Men or women have to change their names using the same procedures.

        Lack of knowledge as to how handle documents is the real problem it would appear you are suffering from as opposed to the procedure. Why does a centuries old way of doing things need to be changed? Strange how many problems exist for certain people, when others find the exact opposite.

        What you need to do is write honestly about what the real problems are and propose solutions. Perhaps then you can persuade some of us that there is a problem and you will gain support. Until then, it appears yet another “high horse” issue and I suggest you get down and do some real journalism.

      • 10

        janefae said,

        That, Sam, is seriously rude and uncalled for and I won’t, in future, be responding to posts of this nature. If you want to go back into some of the history of this, try:

        https://janefae.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/names-white-paper-available-here/

        If i have little knowledge of the legal position of names, then i wonder who has. That particular summary has survived picking thru by three lawyers, including one with expertise in this field, been presented to two Ministries and favourably commented by the chair of a Cabinet Office team looking at name change. So I think i have some creds in the area.

        Yes: the original post is summary, because this is blog and the post was focussed on a success: which was a fairly senior individual at a very large UK institution agreeing pretty much down the line that my appraisal of the situation is correct.

        You got short answers because, again, this is blog and i have other stuff to do beyond write essays in response to every small query raised, espesh when some if not all of those answers are already out there within the blog.

        I think i am well aware of the legal status of names…which is not much: and I meant what i said, that the range of docs requested carry little or no legal weight – and for the most part address a different issue to that which financial institutions are requesting them for.

        Legal weight? Well, i presume you have looked at a marriage cert recently and seen the bit where it states that it is NOT to be used for identity purposes? Or a divorce cert and seen how little auditable information that carries. I will break out my comment further. These docs, with the possible exceptiion of a stat dec, have no legal “force”. They compel nothing and are not, as far as most lawyers are concerned, justiciable.

        The only exception is where they have been produced for fraudulent purposes, but that applies to name change anyway.

        Stat dec, or deliberate flouting of a stat dec MIGHT be some sort of technical offence as regards swearing an oath…MIGHT just shade into perjury. But no evidence it has ever been treated as such.

        Second, the docs in question are pretty useless for evidentiary purposes. They are part of an incomplete audit trail and where an organisation relies mostly or solely on this Fantastic Four, it is not living up to its security obligations.

        The fact that the way this procedure works is massively unbalanced, numerically, towards women means there may well be indirect discrimination here. If you are interested, i think you can research that concept yourself. Again, i have argued the toss on this with some quite expert lawyers: one major corp thinks – or asserts – its not discriminatory, giving reasons much as you do. Two, recently, have acknowledged that it is. Without a precedent case its hard to be sure.

        The solution is partly simple, partly complex and technical, which is why i haven’t gone into detail here. The simple bit, as per the approach taken by the Inland Revenue, who probably care a bit about money laundering and its like, is to allow that if an individual has proven their identity in its old form to a standard sufficient for them to transact things on their behalf, that is good enough for them to use as the basis for applying name change. That was existing IR system: it wasn’t HMRC’s system…but i argued that one with their system development bods and they have now agreed to change their system to align with the IR’s.

        So presumably my approach to security is not quite so daft. Or if it is, its an approach shared by some very smart system developers indeed.

        The fundamental principle underlying security should be respect for customers, which as i said is quite absent in the way they deal with women.

        Going beyond this, you end up with a lot of quite abstruse systems stuff, which i am not going to go into here but will get na airing in my paper for the Institute of Direct Marketing.

        Last up, two things. I love that you claim this as a centuries’ old way of doing things. Er, no. Its actually about ten years old, co-inciding with a rise in fear of terror, concern over id theft and money laundering – and finding expression in government tinkering with Bank and Fraud Acts.

        Talk to people who did this stuff in the late 90’s or earlier and most of the issues simply aren’t there. Deed poll as a “necessary document” has gone from almost nowhere to being the product of a multi-million pound industry in just that decade.

        And agenda: i love that you think either you know what i am thinking or have a right to demand explanations of my inner thoughts. But here goes a little: Name change pulls together areas that i have worked in much of my life, invoking the law, data protection, respect for individuals and cock-eyed business process. I don’t think the current approach does what it says on the tin, security-wise…and therefore, while i am applying pressure publically, behind the scenes i am mostly being nice to companies and working WITH them.

        Jane x

        P.S. Why on earth would the French approach be relevant here? I am talking about identity and security and if you do get the underlying issues, you’d realise that the French system is neither here nor there in respect of the problems identified.

      • 11

        Tanya-Jayne Park said,

        Jane,

        You would probably get a better reception from readers if you bothered to spell check (WordPress has an inbuilt spell checker you know?), not shorten words into something a kin to text speak, capitalise letters where necessary, correct punctuation errors etc etc.

        These mistakes would be looked over by many if the content was worthwhile but as you tell us constantly that you’re a journalist these flaws in your writing just come across as slip-shod as the content of your writing/argument.

        Oh and feedback on your blog layout…..make the column wider…if I wanted to read a newspaper article I would turn to my copy of The Independent which has many examples of decent journalism and isn’t accompanied by a horrible lime green border!

        Rant Over

        T
        Tanya

      • 12

        janefae said,

        This isn’t, mostly, a newspaper. So while i take some of your comments as helpful…there are some things i do that will remain as is. Not a poke in the eye to you…but just how i feel.

        I think you got two poor comments last night because i did them late, on my mobile, and without doubt, the predictive text thingummy swung into action. On the whole i try not to do that – use the mobile, that is – because however hard i try to read thru, something always seems to sneak in.

        As for capitalisation, you can view it as irritating habit or amusing quirk, but i don’t tend to capitalise personal pronouns. But i know i am inconsistent on that…because the result depends muchly on whether i type on word and transfer over (and my version of word tends to amend everything to american spellings and “correct” my grammar). Or if i do it in wordpress itself and that doesn’t tend to correct.

        Gonna drop you a line offline, anyway.

        jane xx

      • 13

        Sam said,

        It was not meant to be, and in my eyes, does not read as offensive, but if you have read it that way then I apologise for that.

        What it is meant to do is to challenge the motive and reasoning behind what you are attempting to do. I do not believe you have the issues correct from what you have written, and I believe that there is a serious risk of this ending up creating a worse situation than currently exists.

        You mention solutions, but do not share them. You need to be very careful that you are not creating a problem that merely requires a little education to solve.

        You may see this comment as offensive, but it is not meant to be, but many minds greater than yours or mine have already wrestled with this problem and decided that this is a wholly adequate system.

        BTW, I never referred to the French as I have no knowledge of their systems and have no wish to do so and the legal basis of a Deed IS centuries old!

      • 14

        janefae said,

        Well, we’ll see. Change will come, because the current solution is inadequate…and i’d rather be part of that solution than outside it.

        YOu say the current system works well: that sort of ignores the issues that many, many women have with it…not to mention the fact that it doesn’t deliver what most companies are trying to make it deliver: security. Add in recent legislative changes…and that takes you a step deeper into the mire.

        Two small points: sure, the deed poll is conceptually many centuries old. But its pivotal role in officialising name change is very much more recent. Note the word “pivotal” there.

        And that puts you in something of a bind, because the centuries old way of changing name was simply to change name, with no requirement for legal documentation empowering same. So if we go for the centuries old route, we throw out most of the recent accretions put in by – mostly – finance companies.

        But if you agree there is a need for some form of security culture…then you need to ask whether what we now have in place does the trick. My own view: absolutely not.

        And second, re-reading your post, i appear to have read “Europe” as “France”. An interesting elision, that – and an intersting place to look at, since they have a very different system in principle around names…but the same issues when it comes to security and ID.

        jane x

  5. 15

    Rebecca Ashling said,

    I too, had very few problems with getting my name changed. This was back in 2003 so I’m guessing that bureaucratic procedures have devolved since then.

    • 16

      janefae said,

      There’s actually two issues here, and its worth disentangling them. First off, there is the change and actions associated with that change. Problems do surface on that front, for a wide variety of reasons, but, if you go down the road that Banks, Building Socs, etc. ask you to go down and aren’t over-sensitive to how you are treated, then most of the time, you won’t have difficulties.

      A bit like divorce: the vast majority of divorces (around 98% from last figures i saw) do not end up in litigated court appearances. But for the 2% that do, the conduct of cases can be bitter in the extreme.

      So can quite believe you yourself had no probs using the system as was since a) no probs is the majority outcome and b) you did so before a lot of the froth associated with terror and money laundering came in.

      That said, an individual having no problems in making use of a system is not on its own proof of anything: the vast majority of issues that cross into public concern are actually minority issues. Instances where the problem level has risen from an “acceptable” 0.1% to an “unacceptable” 0.3%, or whatever.

      Where you draw the line, what you consider the boundaries to be: that’s always going to be a judgment call and i’d agree that programmes like Watchdog and yes, even journalists like myself, might call “problem”, in the wider sense, when others might not.

      Still, raise the issue not within the trans community, which seems to be quite split on it, but amongst cis females. I think if you don’t quickly pick up stories of individuals frustrated, irritated or worse by what happened to them, then you have an unusual friend set.

      A wider issue, and the one which i am also focussed on is whether the name change process itself is “problematic” in a wider sense. I think it is because it both fails to meet its claimed security purposes and represents a subtle but still unacceptable form of indirect (gender) discrimination.

      Some peope might not mind that, either. I do.

      jane xx

      The second issue, though

  6. 17

    just another tranny said,

    I bit of a fabricated froth, I fear. Just another tempest a teapot, courtesy of our newly minted oh SO important, self-appointed trannypot.

  7. 19

    Sam said,

    The real problem Jane is that, even having read your paper, I am still at a loss as to exactly what the problem is, or the solution you are aiming at. Inevitably a procedure must exist for changing names and this will disproportionately hit people who change their name, and where minority groups do this in large numbers, then that group will be disproportionately affected. Even if we say that a person just needs to write a letter saying “my new name is …”, then this still acts in a discriminatory manner.

    The paper is different to what you wrote here and the comments you have made (I assume it has been the issue with summarising).

    Since I am used to reading legal documentation and reports, I guess I am just struggling with the way this is put together as opposed to the actual content, but it does appear that it is less of the process, but more of the attitude that is the real issue. Why do some organisations accept minimal evidence and others demand extreme levels of proof (presumably some banks would like it signed in blood lol)? That is perhaps the real issue: the lack of education and understanding.

    Over my life, I have used five different names and only once had a document not accepted and that was because they wouldn’t accept a photocopy. The level of respect I have received has been enormous and I have changed how a bank and an NHS organisation have handled sensitive name change data without having to seek changes to the law – merely to their systems.

    Please be careful as there is already a backlash arising against women such as yourself.

    • 20

      janefae said,

      That (the solution) is because such things travel and evolve. The paper – i’m a methodical girl at heart – was put together to explore the legal aspects of this process. That’s step one.

      Since then, i’ve been gathering evidence of problems around name change and the evidence seems to underscore that it has become much more problematic over the last decade. Problems are of two types. Individual issues in changing name, which are as long as a piece of string (and come in all shapes and sizes too) and the overall approach which i would call problematic.

      You are correct to suggest that some of the first category can be solved by better training, etc. But not all.

      The underlying “problem” – both cause of many issues and systemic – is the way that organisations approach name change, which is overly bureaucratic and, i would suggest, demands an unnecessary and irrelevant level of paperwork which doesn’t match the issue being addressed – namely, proving identity in the first place.
      Yes: there is always going to be disproportionate burden on women and minorities – until we amend our ways, marriage wise – but that additional burden shouldn’t be excessive, as i would argue it is now.
      The solution(s) lie partly in the law, but far more in process…and the fact that the sorts of people i am talking to include the ecurity director at Equifax suggest i am headed in the right direction.

      Yes: its about balancing rights and security. And right now, i don’t think the balance is there.

      jane xx

    • 21

      janefae said,

      Oh. The other point – this being ongoing as opposed to a fixed point – is that the next paper for the IDM will go into more detail about the nature of the problem, as opposed to the law…and the meeting after that, involving IT bods and diversity bods from large organisations will look at solutions. So i have a principled approach to a solution, but not a detailed one. Yet.

      jane x

  8. 22

    Shirley Anne said,

    I am thinking the consensus of opinion here is that there isn’t a problem in the first place./ When I transitioned ten years ago I thought it was a pain in the proverbial going through the process of informing those I dealt with about my change of name/status but it was something I had to do and I found no problems with the system whatsoever. Had I to report an address change I am assuming the same procedure would be equally a pain in the proverbial but necessary and not really a problem. I think there are far more needy problems that could be addressed instead of pursuing this avenue. I accept that some people may experience problems but I would wager the majority do not.

    Shirley Anne x

    • 23

      eclectic chicken said,

      “the consensus of opinion here is that there isn’t a problem in the first place”… gee whizz…. you’d better get in touch with all the organisations who have realised there is a problem (once having had it pointed out to them) and tell them they are mistaken…. best tell the VAT dept. who changed their national policy once it was pointed out to them there was a better way to deal with their customers….. best tell the Home Office….

      This isn’t about transgender discrimination its far wider…. just becuase a few trans women are happy rolling over and showing their bellies with a deed poll doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

      I for one am both proud of jane (though knowing her serious background in crm – not surprised) and slightly embarrassed thats its taken someone crossing the gender fence to flag something up that should have been addressed long before this.

    • 24

      janefae said,

      consensus? u mean a troll and three or four commenters? Excedpt every time i post on this topic i get another two or three raising the issue off line as a prob for them…and check out my comment elsewhere. The vast majority of peeps won’t have “problems”. The issue is what level of problem, is unacceptable. Moreover, the system itself is problematic, in that it is founded on discriminatory and sexist assumptions whicvh do little to asssist security.

      The other thing that is emerging increasingly is: this campaign is NOT just about trans folk. In fact, apart from a few hurt feelings, the probs for many in the trans community are trivial compared to the constant hassle that cis women complain of. And this campaign is as much or more focussed on the experiences of cis women.

      Possibly because many trans men and women see this as a one-off process and haven’t sussed that, if you emerge as a woman, it is likely to be an issue all of your life. And two further points: i’m intrigued by why trans folk see this as “asll about them”, when actually it affects a community many thousand times the size of the trans community; and why, if trans folk are ok, they aren’t particularly bothered about how this issue affects women in general.

      jane x

  9. 25

    just another tranny said,

    Reduced to calling me names, you arrogant snob. The obvious truth is that with the exception of your long suffering synchophant, the overwhelming majority of the commenters find that no problem exists with the existing system except fo those ‘special’ people who simply must find problems with which to victimize themselves.

    • 26

      eclectic chicken said,

      aaah the old quid pro quo name call….
      as to the rest of your response it just confirms the need for my original post of “thick troll, fuck off”… or if you want it said more politely you don’t understand the issue so go away and play somewhere else.

      …and synchophant [sic]….just a lucky coincidence i guess.

  10. 27

    Tanya-Jayne Park said,

    With this ‘discussion’ in my mind last night, I went off to a social gathering of perhaps 15-20 (educated) people mixed in genders, sexuality, age and partnership status and I carried out a straw poll on this issue and not one person saw any ‘problem’ with the current situation nor could see any reason for there to be an issue.

    Obviously a straw poll of less than 2 dozen people isn’t very scientific but this prompts me to ask you how you’re sure there really is an issue that needs solving….can you link to any studies or polls or even any other media source supporting your hypotheses?

    Tanya

    • 28

      eclectic chicken said,

      becuase its a very specific problem that fits janes professional expertise skill set… which is why she can see it…. why the professional bodies she points it out too often go… ‘shit – how did we not see that’?
      The fact that you or twenty people or 99% of the population can’t see it doesn’t mean its not a problem.

      Once fixed it’ll make life easier… more pleasant for everyone and that includes those who’d like to maintain the status quo soley becuase they don’t accept the limits of their own knowledge.

      • 29

        Tanya-Jayne Park said,

        Well I wish her ‘professional expertise skill set’ (whatever that means!) would combine with her ‘journalism’ skills to explain the problem in a way that makes us ‘simpletons’ see it as a problem…surely the point of writing the blog post is to bring this problem to our attention however despite asking many times over the last 2 days I and it seems many others still aren’t clear what is the problem beyond the fact that Jane doesn’t like it.

        God I don’t like people who don’t capitalise their I’s or who use text speak but I don’t go and try to change the world.

        Further more she hasn’t backed up any of her assertions with any references to studies, surveys, professional opinions etc why should we believe this is a problem if Jane can’t give us any evidence of it.

  11. 30

    Shirley Anne said,

    Tell me about the organisations that have realised that there is a problem and tell me what the problem actually is. I see nothing specific here. The consensus I refer to is of course limited to those who have responded but I’ll wager it will be similar for the population at large. Personally I think a mountain is being made out of a molehill here.

    Shirley Anne

    • 31

      eclectic chicken said,

      see my response above.
      if we ran the world at the level of what the man on the clapham omnibus understood there wouldn’t be a clapham omnibus… the detail of internal combustion being beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of people i talk to.

      I hate it when people limit change by their own levels of ignorance.

      Jane put out a call for name change stories a year or so ago…. many many of the (even more) many responses she received by email and face to face were from cis women. (myself included)… the trans community don’t seem to want to ‘get’ this I think for two reasons one is as Jane said in a blog today – its a change most of them make just the once and secondly its a process they will kowtow to and jump through whatever hoops are shown to them as they are desperate for the validation of being seen as the people they really are.

      I know who I am…. my bank has known who i am for nearly 30years … they allowed me to add my husbands name to my own (i went double barrelled) when i got married by sending them a simple letter of request.
      I sure as hell wasn’t going to supply them with my divorce certificate to drop his name again when we divorced… a level of documentary evidence they don’t require when i take money out or move it around.

      I gave in eventually and let them have sight of my decree absolute but only when I got them to admit it was meaningless as it didn’t actually have the name I’d like to be known by now on it.

      farcical.

      • 32

        Tanya-Jayne Park said,

        But after all a name change is just a bit of bureaucracy that has to be gone through, like filing tax returns…but much less onerous.

        I would wager you’ve spent more time arguing about this issue than you’d ever have used if you went and changed your name a dozen times.

        I also don’t agree that this is discriminatory to women, ok so they have to do this because society has developed in such a way which means women takes the mans name when getting married but making them provide proof of this wish to change name isn’t discriminatory. Perhaps this societal conscript is discriminatory but not the process of changing name.

        Please don’t imply that all us nay sayers are ignorant just because we disagree with you or Jane….I’m happy to change my opinion if I’m convinced it’s really worth making an issue of but that’s Jane’s job and she’s so far failed, this is why I’m continuing to ask for evidence etc.

      • 33

        janefae said,

        Sometimes, its my fault (the failure to explain): sometimes it is, quite simply, that people either can’t hear; or they hear and what they hear doesn’t fit their concepts of what a “problem” is.

        Name changer is a piece of bureaucracy you need to go thru. Correct. So: why can you not simply write to a company with whom you are a customer and change your name? Why all the palaver with marriage certs and the like?

        Ah. Security. Except that is the heart of the issue: the requirements put in place do nothing to enhance genuine security. Nothing. Except maybe require a potential fraudster to go out and rustle up a false deed poll to go with their already fraudulent id. And the onus, i would suggest, is on those who claim that the current systems contribute to security to explain how they do that.

        What current processes actually do is provide a form of audit trail – though in the case of divorce its a pretty poor one. That allows a bank to look backward, after accounts have been pilfered and id frauded, to gain insight into what went wrong. It doesn’t prevent.

        At base, institutions need to focus on putting in place better more useable security measures – of the sort adopted by NatWest and Barclays, rather than keep on pushing water uphill.

        So…there’s the BIG problem: the systemic issue at the heart of “name change”. If you still don’t get it, please explain how you don’t. But bottom line: the problem is institutions putting in place processes that don’t do what they say on the tin.

        A closely allied issue is that those processes are for most people just constant low level hassle: but the people subjected to that hassle are way disproportionately women, which makes it an issue of indirect discrimination. Defensible if companies can show genuine requirement for the process as is (not the stated aim of said process): indefensible in law if they can’t.

        As for little problems…let me see:

        – companies demanding deed polls to amend Ms to Mrs
        – companies demanding deed polls if more than 6 months post marriage or divorce
        – refusing to honour or pay cheques in a former name, even though both names are on file
        – totally differing requirements around sifferent companies as to whether they will accept copies or originals of marriage and divorce certificates
        – demands that individuals get “proof” of new name independently certified
        – individuals with a history of abuse being humiliated by financial org’s insisting on adding their previous name to forms

        and more…

        Trans folk tend to hit these probs once and, if they just play nice and get the deed poll thing, then mostly things work for them. Still, for trans men and women i have tales of them being outed in their former gender by careless companies: stories also of their transition being mucked about because organisations won’t acknowledge change of gender or name – for no especially good reason.

        Layered on top of the above, is bureaucratic incompetence. Way back, when i name changed at BT, the first person i called flatly refused: said it was not possible and their policy was not to. Took about two more calls to discover that their policy was 100% the reverse of that and of course they did. Why? Why should anyone have to make multiple calls to carry out what should be a basic right.

        Last up, the time and effort i put in. I know! What a bummer. Like, you mostly get the result you want. Black and living in 60’s america? Or female and living in Israel today?

        You can go on buses. Its just that in some areas, you might be asked to sit at the back. But where’s the harm in that? I mean, on the same analogy as the name change thing, you get there.

        Sorry. No. In the end, its not about the hassle. Its about respect. Of course i could go for it. Of course, when some twonk at Charing Cross insisted on calling out my old name in reception, i could have made my life easier by saying nothing. But that’s not me. I hope it never will be.

        jane xx

      • 34

        Tanya-Jayne Park said,

        Thank you…finally the detail I’ve asked for….but not backed up with any references to other studies etc just your take on things. But it’s a start.

        I will respond at length over the weekend but work is requiring my attention…which frankly is not on on a Friday afternoon!

        However 2 things –

        Firstly please change the width of your wordpress blog, that and the border colour gives me a headache when reading large blocks of text.

        Secondly please don’t try to equate your little crusade with that of race in 60’s America or being female in Israel today those are major discriminatory situations with dramatic effects for the whole world your issue is a flea bite comparatively however much you dress it up. If it was such a great issue why are you unable (or choose to refuse my many requests) to point me to anything else publicly available out there to substantiate your hypothesis?

      • 35

        eclectic chicken said,

        most people don’t have a problem with reading the text on janes blog… so therefore there isn’t a problem.
        maybe if you find it difficult you could cut and paste to an easier format for yourself…. or maybe someone out there in the disability movement is talking to the likes of wordpress to explain about how some formats/typefaces/sizes are more user friendsly than others….
        I guess if someone was…and it got changed you’d appreciate the way it made your life easier.

      • 36

        janefae said,

        Grief that’s pompous. Tanya: this is my blog where i post about what i am doing and things that take my interest.

        I am campaigning on this issue – and it would be nice if people gave some support. But beyond that, i am neither requiring support from you, nor requiring that you read the blog.

        On here, if something is produced as publication or paper, that’s researched to a high standard: and if something goes into the “news feed” category, then that also is done as journalism. Beyond that, please just take it or leave it.

        I know about this issue very well from organisational contacts i have and from discussions with, inter alias, Diversity and Security bods at those organisations. There isn’t much formally published about it. Which is why some of what i write gets taken seriously – by government. Believe that or not.

        This isn’t, for me, some sort of petty intellectual game. Your last few pars were simply about point scoring: and very rude in the way you phrase stuff, too. Sorry: i’m not playing, beyond adding that your own attempt to draw arbitray lines around what does or does not constitute discrimination is itself quite telling.

        I wasn’t making direct comparison around the issue. I was comparing attitudes…yours to that of some activists back then.

        As for the rest, from capitalisation through to blog width. Sheesh! I can understand why you might ask the latter (and i am in the process of revamping, as already mentioned).

        But you sure know how to make a sensible idea sound seriously rude.

        I’m really not intersted in turning polite discussion and chitchat into intellectual aikido. Hang around a post or two more and i may explain THAT a bit better.

        Oh. And last last. I am SO re-assured you are going to give it thought and compose an intellectual response. As far as i am concerned, if one woman tells me that this issue entangles with a history of abuse and financial institutions left her humiliated and traumatised by the way it affected her, that is a problem.

        And if you don’t get that, don’t bother.

        jane

      • 37

        Tanya-Jayne Park said,

        Touché🙂

        Copy and paste is a good idea, will do that. Thank you.

        Certainly not worth comparing to racial/gender hate crimes…

      • 38

        Tanya-Jayne Park said,

        I’m still perplexed as to why you can’t just include in your blog a link or two to something else out there other than your ramblings about this whole issue.

        Your refusal to do so just makes me wonder why?

        As for being pompous I think you started that in your initial post….I’ve not resulted in name calling or being rude I’ve just been asking some difficult questions the fact that you’d rather get angry and defensive than respond with answers (other than in part your last but one comment) to them just makes me think less of you which is a shame because I admire your writing.

        The blog width etc was a (probably poor) attempt at lightening the mood Sorry

  12. 39

    Paula said,

    10 years (the limit of financial records legal something.. I used to run a business and by law we were required to keep all financial papers for 10 years for some reason) seems to have made a difference in my case. In the last14 months my old name hasn’t cropped up once whereas before it would turn up on something or other at least a couple of times a year, usually from the marketing branch of some company or other.

    As far as I’m aware the legal status of a name in the UK is still basically what you want to be called, I am yet to see any legal requirement to get any legally sworn document to that effect (except a very few certain exceptions, particularly CX who we hammered over it 6 years ago). A simple letter or visit in person to a tax office, your doctor or whatever with proof of your old name and informing them of your new name is enough, or was in 2001. If I’m out of date there please feel free to correct me, but thats how it was 11 years ago, and I haven’t seen anything in law to make me think there is any difference now🙂

    Just because a lot of people never experience any problem at all changing their names that doesn’t mean everybody has an easy ride. I know many people who have had some real difficulties, including one person who changed their name which was accepted without question by HMRC and the DWP, but not by their bank, making it impossible for them to recieve their state pension payments for over 4 months while they applied for an unneeded passport, which they got using the same documents the bank were refusing to accept as “suitable evidence”

    You could say the situation borders on a Monty Python Argument sketch sometimes, but the reality is for the people who do get a problem it can be very awkward, time consuming and in some cases a real and present hazard to their health and welfare. Imagine for a moment what could have happend in the above example if the elderly person concerned did not have the money to pay their rent or utility bills or even to afford to apply for and then wait for their passport. The DWP will pretty much blanket refuse to make an open cashable giro payment to somebody they know has a bank account, and this was one avenue we did explore at the time. They did offer to make me a counter payment last year when they messed up my payments. Some jobsworth decided to transfer me to ESA at exactly the same time as as HMRC were dealing with my GRC full legal status change, and locking down my records. This resulted in me not getting paid either and was a total mystery to them why it said I should have been paid, but no money had been transferred. Luckily I’m a pleasant soul to deal with on the telephone, and back in the day a very very long time ago I was trained up as an employment service claimant advisor, so we sorted it out in the course of 3 days. It’s quite nice when you get the feeling that everybody learned something about how the system really works in a situation like that.

    • 40

      I can easily see that the Monty Pythonesque arises unnecessarily, as I said above, some organisations require both a deed poll and another document that was most likely achieved using the same deed poll. Some will take a photocopy, some require an original or certified copy, and you don’t know until documents or letters are returned as “not good enough”. Or those requiring non-essential documents like passports and driving licences. At one level I can see that the system is too easy (could I fake access to someone else’s affairs, or maliciously deny them access? Well, maybe I could.) But ironically I am being asked for documents to change a name that were not required to authenticate who I was for an original account. I could have been just anybody at the time pretending to be someone else. In database terms (including this blog), these future contingencies are always catered for by allocating a random number in sequence, to which is secondarily attached name(s) and descriptors. That way you have a single but syntactically meaningless reference for all time, and in one place. Need a change of name? One place to go, one simple documentary requirement for authenticity, problem solved and everything traceable for everyone. Is that an argument for a national person identifier in place of a birth certificate? Maybe I am reluctantly admitting it is.

      • 41

        janefae said,

        Ah. You’ve spotted it. Yes. The optimal solution for security purposes would be a national personal identifier…most probably a number…with name regarded simply as the current “label of convenience” against that number.

        Government knows this. As do Equifax and Experian. But you will not hear the phrase “unique national identifier” or anything remotely similar escape the lips of civl servants unless/until opinion polls demonstrate a clear and unequivocal swing in favour of ID cards and database.

        That’s why the IR can change name so easily: and why, if banks thought about it and created true customer-based systems (as opposed to account-based ones), they could also be as “easy” in this respect. Joint initiatives in respect of Insurance fraud could well be the model for future progress.

        I think it fair to say that, with this insight, you have spotted the security hole at the heart of current discussion of “solutions”. Join the club.

        Along with various other quite significant players: not just the minority categories, such as women and trans folk. But those, from finance, who see two major issues as falling out of this. First, that current approaches are NOT very secure. Second – from the marketing angle – that current approaches are absolutely appalling in terms of crm (customer relationship management).

        jane xx

      • 42

        Tanya-Jayne said,

        Jane,

        So from your last comment it would seem that your favored ‘solution’ to this perceived problem is a national ID number.

        Funny it’s taken you this long through the last two days of comments back and forth for you to mention this, maybe that’s because it’s a massive erosion of civil liberties.

        There isn’t any security need right now that would need that despite what the Daily Mail and other odious people of that ilk would want you to believe.

        To suggest this as a solution to ‘your’ problem is like suggesting using a bazooka to crack a nut!

        You really have lost any credibility you had left as far as I’m concerned, not that I expect you to care.

      • 43

        Or, alternatively, there is already a unique number on my birth certificate … Could this not be used? It isn’t eroding my civil liberties as far as I know.

      • 44

        Sam said,

        Thank you Jane for finally putting a little out about what it is you are seeking.

        Remember that the only thing those of us who are handling such changes actually require at present is some evidence that a person has changed their name. You are right that it does not have to take the form of Deed or other such documentation.

        What I was asking for is also about your solution and it seems that you favour the unique identifier. As I wrote a series of objections to the National ID Card scheme that resulted in an urgent press release from the Home Office, you probably note that I see more problems in that solution. I suspected this was your solution, and although you have not explicitly said that, the tone of what you have written has implied that.

        There are massive problems at the moment, but like so many transsexual people, you are seeking to solve the problem with legislation when it is education that is needed. The solution you have is, in my and many other people’s opinions, far more onerous than what we currently have.

        But there are some very simple solutions – your experience with BT demonstrates that. My experience with the NHS and the resultant destruction of part of medical records is an absolute demonstration of why these ‘unique identifiers’ are an extremely damaging thing that will condemn people to being transsexual rather than male or female. Or perhaps that is actually one aim? It also condemns people who need to change their identity for personal protection to a life in which they CANNOT escape their prior history. I lived under a different name after domestic abuse that nearly killed me. Maintaining a link would have enabled my abuser to find me – so where is the protection in a unique identifier? Think carefully.

      • 45

        janefae said,

        er,no,Sam and Tanya. I don’tfavour a national identity scheme – which is at the heart of the problem.

        And i think that as far as i am concerned, the discussion is at an end.

        Yes. I get, from my response to Andie, why you would think i was arguing for a particular solution. But i wasn’t.

        Rather, i was pointing out an aspect of the problem – which is that ABSENT some core identoity such as a unique identifier, it becomes very difficult to pin down identity in the first place – and therefore very difficult to come up with any form of solution.

        The reason for closing down on this is that whatever game the two of you are playing – and yes, it feels like game – i don’t get any sense that you are interested in exchanging views or sharing ideas. rather,tis about point scoring and pretty rude stuff at that.

        “Like so many transsexual people” i am supposedcly trying to solve the problem with legislation… Really?

        That’s not what i’vesaid and if anything is quite the opposite of what i think on the matter. I also very much resent the idea that this is a trans thing, or that there is any validity to sweeping generalisations about how trans folk are supposed to think.

        If anything it ain’t (a trans thing). Neither in terms of those most exercised by the issues,nor in terms of where i am coming from.

        And no:i don’tmuch care what the two of you think about my position,because you’ve madelittle effort to understand it and done a lot of sniping along the way. HYou missed the fundamental point to the OP, which is that professional people in large organisations and government departments are beginning to get the issues involved…and that looking at solutions is ongoing and collaborative.

        I don’t have “a” solution, because that is not how a process of this sort works – though there are principles i’d like to see incorporated in any final solution.

        One f’rinstance is the removal of gender markers from records except where specifically mandated by law or for legal purposes. That will happen. The shift in that direction has already begun…but mostly i am just trying to hurry it up.

        Jane x

  13. 46

    And now it seems Ofcom also requires proof of identity (to keep paying solar PV into the same bank account!!), and does not regard a deed poll as sufficient. Maybe a utility bill – no I got that changed with the deed poll (a photocopy actually). Electoral roll? – no, the same.. Or a passport? Well, the same actually – the only difference being an additional letter from my GP re gender, which is none of Ofcom’s business! How do I prove that I am me, at the same address with the same account numbers, on the same phone no. (they called) using the same bank account …?

  14. 47

    eclectic chicken said,

    we all have a national identifying number already…. you get it around your 16th birthday i think… its called a national insurance number.

    • 48

      So how can I prove to Ofcom or anyone that I really am me, not an identity thief? What document have I got that no-one else would possibly want to have or to fake? Ah! Maybe I should get a criminal record!

  15. 49

    just another tranny said,

    Silly Wabbit. How dare you ask a simple question! Wot! You feel entitled to straight answer Don’t hold your breath.

    This is trannyland, where men get pregnant and women have penises.

  16. 51

    Sam said,

    I think, Jane, that you misunderstand motives. This is a poor medium for real discussion. I watch this from a different place to you, but I have very strong reasons for wanting a far better system than currently exists. I think the problem is far bigger than any of your writing so far suggests.

    I wish you well in your endeavours.


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