Changing my name is something I’ve been toying with ever since I chosen my name – because surprisingly, Casey, alongside my middle names, are not the name I was given at birth. The names I were given to me at birth were, in fact, Sidonie Martha Caitlin Browne – but just because I have just given you this very information, it is not an excuse to use them, despite the fact that my deadname still gives me a bit of dysphoria. But the overall reason as to why I wanted to write this post is because I wanted write about how one may wish to legally change their name as a part of their transition – specifically, this is referred to as part as one’s social transition. I also wanted to make this post because I want my blog to be a hopefully helpful resources to other LGBTQ+ folks. But please bear in mind that I live in the UK, so I don’t know how changing your name works in other parts of the world – so this resource will be the most useful those who want to change their name in the UK. Additionally, I wanted to write this because I am actually considering legally changing my name, despite the cost of changing it – because changing one’s name is expensive, be it after a divorce, marriage or civil partnership (but I’ going to be focusing on the social transition aspect of changing one’s name).
But what’s in a name? For many, choosing and changing your legal names is the first crucial step in their transition. This is because many trans people hate their birth name because it can be a source of dysphoria (but if you don’t experience dysphoria due to your birth name, that’s fine). I don’t hate my birth name exactly, but despite my indifference towards it, seeing it written on formal documents (such as my passport or bank statements) does give me a negative feeling – and sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly dysphoric, it can cause me to internally deadname myself. But before I made the leap and chose a completely different name all together, I would shorten my name to ‘Sid.’ But I consider my old name a placeholder for Casey, which I refer now as my ‘real name’, because that’s what it is – it’s a gift that I no log need, a piece of clothing that no longer fits – and just like an unneeded gift or piece of clothing, I am not obligated to keep them, and I can new ones if I so wish.
Additionally, the name I use now, will certainly be the name I decide to change it to – the name ‘Casey’ means, according to thinkbabynames.com, “alert, watchful”, and is apparently of Irish and Gaelic origin. Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, my real name uses a similar definition, ‘vigilant or watchful’ – but it can also be used as a nickname, as it can be used as a shorthand name for the name Cassandra. But since I don’t want to use the name Cassandra, I’ll be sticking to the name Casey – and the most common nickname I have been given so far is ‘Case,’ which is an obvious shorthand nickname for Casey. Anyway, I think I will be glad that I decided to change my name, and that I will not regret it – moreover, and I know this will sound cheesy, but I feel as though Casey is who I was supposed to be.
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty bit of legally changing your name in the UK – though I will mention that you can change your name yourself in the UK if you are if you’re 16 or over. In the UK, you have to do a ‘dead poll‘ – which is basically a simply a document that contains the following three declarations:
• I am abandoning my previous name.
• I will use my new name at all times.
• I require all persons to address me by my new name only.
After you have read the declaration and understood it, you must sign it using both your new name and your old name.Your new name must include a last name and a forename to be pronounceable, and you must also agree to other common sense restrictions, as specified by the Home Office. You must also have two witnesses, who aren’t related to you, must also sign the dead poll, and they must give their names, address, and occupation.
However, you can also prepare it yourself using the phrases shown in Ministry of Justice form LoC020, but you can also pay a solicitor or specialist agency to help you if you so wish. But one downside to this is that the bigger agencies charge £35 – but luckily the UK Deed Poll Office and the Legal Deed Poll Service charge less than £15, plus you can get a free template from Free UK Deed Poll, and is accepted by the following banks: DVLA, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, the Co-operative Bank, First Direct, HSBC, CallCredit and Nationwide. So if you choose to go for the DIY option, make the declaration, then I would recommend printing off onto high quality paper – I would also recommend printing off a few copies. Then present this crucial information to any relevant authorities and financial institutions.