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Process for changing name and gender in Primary Care

Process for changing name and gender in Primary Care

The purpose of this document is to clarify and bring together existing legislation and guidance for primary care providers in order to be able to change the name and gender of transgender individuals who request it.

Considerable legislation [1] already provides explicit protection and rights for trans people in the areas of employment, access to facilities and services (including health) and for their legal recognition as either men or women in their acquired gender.

“Gender transition is not embarked upon lightly. There is substantial evidence that many trans people encounter extreme violence and discrimination if their background becomes known within their community[2].”

When trans men and women are taking steps to live permanently in their preferred gender role, they need to ensure that all of their documentation reflects their new name and gender. This includes their passport, driving licence, credit cards and, of course, their health records.

In the UK, anyone can call themselves by any name and any gender that they chose as long as they are not doing so in order to commit fraud. They do not need to use a legal mechanism (deed poll) to change their name nor are they required to have a gender recognition certificate or be undergoing medical treatment[3] to change their gender on documents[4]. There is a simple process for changing official records, which is accepted by many government departments including the Department of Health[5].

1.    The patient needs to inform their GP, PCT or other commissioning organisation that they have decided to change gender and that in future they would like to be known by their new name and gender[6]. They can write a “statutory declaration”, or they may have a deed poll document, or they may simply make the request. This request should be in writing and signed by the patient.

2.    Where the patient contacts their GP, then the GP will write to the Registration Office at the PCT/Commissioning organisation. The GP may write a letter of support confirming the gender role change and that this change is intended to be permanent, but this is not a requirement.

3.    The Registration Office then writes to the Personal Demographics’ Service National Back Office.  The National Back Office will create a new identity with a new NHS number and requests the records held by the patient’s GP.  These records are then transferred to the new identity and forwarded to the GP.

4.    On receipt, the GP surgery changes any remaining patient information including the gender marker, pronouns and names.

Trans patients have a legal right to change their name and gender on their NHS records and may be able to bring a civil claim against any GP or practice which refused to accede to their request.


This advice has been adapted from advice developed by NHS Coventry, May 2010. The NIGB would like to thank the author, Helen Bunter, Head of Equality and Human Rights, NHS Coventry for her permission for us to use her document as the basis for our advice.