Writer and sexual rights activist, Jane Fae, was today celebrating what she described as a “small but significant victory” for women, for the transgendered – and for anyone else who would like to change their name but finds themselves all too quickly enmeshed in bureaucratic red tape.
This was her reaction to news that two government departments have now backed down and agreed that their use of the term “legal name” is wrong and misleading.
Jane explained: “I am putting together a research paper on name changes in the UK. The problem is that in law, there is no such thing as “legal name”: your name is the name you are known by.
Last week, I discovered that the section on the direct.gov website dealing with name change for passport purposes refers to “legal name”. I raised this with officials at the Home Office, and this morning received an admission that “there is no such thing as a “legal name” in any IPS policy or guidance, it appears to be an error on Directgov and should state “the name you use for official purposes”. We apologise for this error and will amend this immediately.”
Jane went on: “The fact that even major government departments are starting to acknowledge that they have got the law wrong is good news.
“However, when it comes to changing your name, the present situation is still deeply discriminatory and highly sexist. Banks, Utilities and quite a few local government institutions will swear that they can’t do so without all manner of official documentation for a range of reasons, from “personal security” to “preventing money laundering”.
“In fact the truth is far more mundane and far more unacceptable. What it boils down to is lazy bureaucrats, quoting non-existent laws – and too many computer systems written and designed by blokes.
“I am not going to leave this one alone.”