Tuesday, 27 March 2012

I can't shake off my old identity!

I'm back from holiday, and there's a lot of photo work to be done today before I can upload my shots to Flickr, and of course show some on the blog. I'll be featuring a short series of posts over the next few days about what I did, and who I met.

Meanwhile, the post-GRC fallout.

My Gender Recognition Certificate arrived on my doorstep at noon today. I'd had its posting deferred till yesterday so that I'd be back home to receive it. It was in a stiff A4 envelope from the Tribunals Service addressed to 'Miss Lucy Melford', and it was sent by Special Delivery, so that I had to sign for it. It was a bright, warm, sunny day - how very appropriate! And how very propitious for the future!

Yesterday, when I got home from Lyme Regis, there were two envelopes from HMRC waiting for me. One was about my National Insurance Contributions, and the other was about my Income Tax. Both said that my records had been noted to recognise the existence of my Gender Recognition Certificate, and that access to those records would now be narrowly restricted to specialist personnel only. In the case of Income Tax, this actually involved a change of tax office. So I've been filed away among those taxpayers whose affairs must be kept strictly immune from inquisitive eyes! That would include the Prime Minister, top VIPs, and the country's small army of professional spies and secret agents. I'm naturally honoured.

There was also an envelope from the Home Office (Identity and Passport Service) about providing me with a new Birth Certificate. Yes, I will be getting one as soon as I've checked the draft document, and filled in another form. But it's not quite as expected.

Apparently new regulations came into force from July 2011, and these affect how a new record is set up in the Gender Recognition Register - which must be the central register of those who have successfully obtained a GRC. So that when the government wants to round us all up, and intern us on the Isle of Man, that's where it'll look first! I am jesting, of course.

Anyway, contrary to the impression I had received, there is - for people of my age, at least - no choice whatever about how the new Birth Certificate will look. As my birth was originally registered before 1 April 1969, I must have a Birth Certificate that conforms as closely as possible to the 'landscape' layout of the original 1952 document. So, apart from being printed on A4 size paper rather than the very elongated shape of the original, the new document will be exactly the same. Except for two essential changes: instead of 'J--- S---' for my name (those were my old forenames) and 'Boy' for the sex, there will now be 'Lucy' for my name and 'Girl' for my sex.

This new Birth Certificate therefore shows that my Mum and Dad registered a baby girl called Lucy, born on 6 July 1952. Exactly as if twins had been born on that day, a son called J--- S---, and a daughter called Lucy. Except that the son's certificate will not now be available to the general public. Only the daughter's. I'm very inclined - without being too fanciful or untruthful - to play on this pleasant idea of a son and a daughter being born at the same time. It's a philosophical truth, anyway. And besides, I feel that in all ways I'm the sister that J--- never had.

This is all really nice, and just as it should be. But unfortunately there's a snag. The new Birth Certificate makes no mention of 'Melford'. In 1952 (and indeed up till 1969) no surname was shown on these documents. It was assumed that the boy or girl would naturally take the surname of the father. The new Birth Certificate is a faithful facsimile, and so you will infer that my surname at birth was 'D---', and not Melford.

Supposing that I ever need to produce my new Birth Certificate? How do you link 'Lucy D---' on that document with 'Lucy Melford'?

Yes, you need to retain linking documents. In my case, the original Birth Certificate showing the old surname, and my Deed Poll showing both the old and new surnames. Although I was going to keep my old Birth certificate as an historic family document, I never thought it would be essential to retain it, to demonstrate that J--- S--- D---- and Lucy Melford are one and the same! As I might have to if remarrying (I've been married before, and it's JSD - not LD or LM - on the decree absolute), or if ever seeking residence in another country. Oh dear, I can't shake off the old identity!

One obvious way around this linking problem is to change my name yet again, to 'Lucy D---', which would then match the new Birth Certificate.

But that would also involve notifying all and sundry, and paying for a fresh passport and driving licence. And besides, I've grown rather fond of 'Melford'. It was a surname I selected for myself; it sounds nicer than D---; and it has served me really well through the whole transitioning process and out the other side. No, I can't do it, not unless a very strong reason emerges. I love my adopted name, and don't want to lose it.


  1. I can't locate my GRC but it is somewhere in the house! To be frank I'm not that bothered, I doubt I'll ever need it. My birth cert., that is my new one was supplied in portrate style at my request and it was to replace 'one that I'd lost'. In fact I think I destroyed the original. I cannot see any need to keep things like that. Having kept my surname I didn't have problems with any authority. I am not sure there is a special Tax office for the likes of us but having said that my tax office was changed some years ago. This might have something to do with being self-employed and being on a 'short form' for my tax returns because I earn less than the threshold for submitting a full return, in fact way below it...LOL. Do you really suppose that MI5 or MI6 would be denied access if it was thought you were a threat to the safety of the country Lucy? I'd have second thoughts about that. I do know that access is restricted but to what extent I am not sure. Incidentally your new BCert will come from the office up the road 400 yards from where I live. That's where mine came from and it was delivered by hand! Having a different name on your certificates forces you to retain all linking documentation I suppose.
    I hope your holiday went well and I look forward to your photos when you upload them.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. This was an avoidable problem. If anybody is listening, the key to changing surname is to use two stat decs at the start of transition: the first changes forenames and the second (in that order) changes surname. Then when you get your new birth certificate, you just keep the second stat dec to go with it.

    Your birth certificate has to show your surname at birth under GRA. There is no leeway under the Act to do otherwise. Some people want to and it was suggested to the GRO that they ask the GEO to include provision (by way of an amendment to GRA) within the Transgender Action Plan. I don't know whether GRO failed to suggest that to GEO, or whether GEO ignored the suggestion but it didn't appear in the TAP. So far as I know though, nobody is lobbying hard for the change.

    The good news is that it isn't a big issue. There is nothing to stop you now executing a stat dec to abandon use of the D- surname and undertake to use Melford only. The wording needs to be careful because it is not a traditional change of name declaration. Once you have executed that, you can use it witth your new birth certificate and your old forenames are hidden again.

  3. Thank you, Anonymous. Your way out of my surname mismatch seems good, and I'll pursue it.

    I entirely agree that my name-change could have been managed better. But having reached a decision during October 2009 to make 'Lucy Melford' official, I thought only of a single swiftly-executed Deed Poll, not a cunning sequence of Statutory Declarations!



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