What effects does it have?

What is it?

Changing your name, title, or gender on your NHS records.

How long does it last?

This is a permanent change but can be done more than once.

More information

Warning

Changing gender marker may affect whether you are invited to important medical screening tests that you still need. Read the whole of this page to ensure you still receive the correct tests.

You can change your name, title, or gender with the NHS at any time you like by telling your GP surgery. If your GP surgery is not happy to do this, you may wish to show your GP the General Medical Council guidance on this issue.

The NHS has multiple different systems that store details about patients. Most of these will be automatically updated when you tell your GP surgery.

Each system is different and able to hold different information about titles (or lack of title) and about the gender of the patient. In most NHS systems there are gender options for not only male and female, but often also a “not specified” marker which may be useful if you do not wish to have male or female recorded.

Usually, when you change your gender marker, you are also assigned a new NHS number.

Screening tests

During your life the NHS will invite you to a number of screening tests for common conditions. As the prevalence of these conditions is different for men and women, some tests only invite people who have “female” on their NHS record, and some tests only invite people who have “male” on their NHS record. This can mean people who have changed their gender marker can invited to the wrong tests for the body parts they have.

  • breast screening tests (also known as mammograms) check for breast cancer. If you are over 50 and have ever had breast tissue, even if you have had a mastectomy 1,2 or it is the result of oestrogen therapy 2, you are at risk of breast cancer and this test is a good idea. The NHS have a page that tells you whether breast cancer screening is normally offered to you. People who have “female” on their NHS record are periodically invited to this test when they are aged 50-70. If your gender marker is not “female”, you will need to ask your GP to arrange for an appointment rather than being invited to it automatically.

  • cervical screening tests (also known as smear tests or pap tests) check for cervical cancer. They are optional - the NHS have a page that tells you whether cervical screening is recommended for you or not. People who have “female” on their NHS record are periodically invited to this test. If you change your gender marker so it is not “female” but still have a cervix, you will need to ask your GP to arrange screening appointments rather than being invited to them automatically. There is more information about this on the NHS website.

  • AAA tests check for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. People who have “male” on their NHS record are invited to a screening during the year they turn 65. If you change your gender marker so it is not “male”, you will need to ask your GP to arrange a screening if you want one, rather than being invited to one automatically. You can read more about AAA screening on the NHS website.

  • prostate screening tests check for prostate cancer. They are not part of any national screening programme in the UK (more information). No gender related surgeries remove the prostate, so anyone born with a prostate is still able to get prostate cancer 2, though the risk may be smaller for people who have undergone hormone therapies. If you are over 50 you can ask for a prostate screening test for free on the NHS, but be aware that blood tests from prostate health may be less accurate in people who have had hormone therapy 3.

You can find more detailed information about screening tests on the NHS Wales website and the NHS Brighton and Hove website.

References

  1. 1 Davies, Dai M and Stephenson, AJ (2007) “Breasts,” in Barrett, J. (ed.), Transsexual and other disorders of gender identity: A practical guide to management, Radcliffe Publishing, pp. 227–228.
  2. 2 Murjan, Sarah and T’Sjoen, Guy (2017) “Access to Clinical Services and the Role of Primary Care,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 189–200.
  3. 3 Feldman, Jamie L and Goldberg, Joshua (2006) Transgender primary medical care: Suggested guidelines for clinicians in British Columbia, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Errors and omissions

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Page last updated: September 2017