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Names

How do I choose a new name?

Choosing a name might be a quick and easy decision or it may take a long time to decide. Take as much time as you need.

Here are some ideas that may help you in choosing a new name:

  • Make a shortlist

    If you are struggling to think of a name, try compiling a list of names that you like. This could include the names of favourite characters, celebrities, influential figures in your life, or just names you find interesting, attractive, or unique. You might want to add to this list by looking at baby name websites or if you come across a name that you like while out and about in the world.

  • Talk to other people

    You may want friends or family to have input on your new name. You could organise a group conversation with the people you want to be involved in helping you choose a new name so that you can listen to and discuss all suggestions. However, you get to have the final word on deciding your name!

  • Try some names out

    If you are considering one or several names but are not sure how they would feel being used for you in practice, you can try using them when ordering at an establishment that calls your name out to give you your order, or asking people you trust around you to try out using that name for you.

  • Use more than one name

    You may wish to use several different names. You might use one name on official documents (like payslips, bank accounts, and medical records) while using another name in informal contexts (like when talking with friends). Sometimes organisations will allow you to both have an official name, and a “preferred” name. Some people also use just their middle name or their initials in some contexts, while using their first name in other contexts.

  • Embrace changing your mind

    If you decide to use a different name after using one chosen name for a long time, that’s okay! You make the rules about what you want to be called. If you have already changed your name legally once, you can do it again and go through the steps of using your new name as listed below. There is no limit on how many times you can change your name in the UK.

There is no such thing as a bad name! Your name does not have to depend on your age, your appearance, or your gender. Where you got inspiration for your name from, and how popular your name is, does not affect the quality of your name. The one exception to this is names which are commonly associated with an ethnicity or culture which you are not part of. There is a short guide to avoiding cultural appropriation when choosing a name on the Handsome Femme website.

What should I be aware of?

During everyday life, you will periodically need to prove your identity, for example if you are renting or buying property or opening a bank account. You will normally be expected to show multiple pieces of identification with the same name. To make this easier, you may want to use a single consistent version of your full name you use for official purposes.

To be eligible for surgery on your genitals or to obtain a GRC, you may need to prove that you have been living for some time in your chosen gender identity. To ensure that you have evidence of this, you may want to change your name to one that matches your gender identity as early as possible, and to use it in education or employment contexts.

Can I change my family name?

In the UK, forenames typically have gendered associations, while family names can be used by people of any gender. However, when changing their name, some people choose to change their family name (sometimes informally called their ‘surname’) as well.

You might do this because you wish to make a clean break between an old identity and a new identity, to indicate a separation between yourself and other people with the old name, or just because you want to change it.

Lists of names

These useful lists might inspire you.

Changing your name

You can read about how to change your name on our ID documents page.

Errors and omissions

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