First off, I am pleased to find that others agree that there is an issue here – and to have identified other aspects to this process that lead to women having to spend time and energy that the other half of the population mostly doesn’t have to.
Thanks, Jo, for highlighting the cost of recorded delivery.
There is the fairly standard response of “this can’t be prejudice if the same rule gets applied to everyone”. No. Just not the case – else any establishment wishing to discriminate against women would apply a rule restricting applications to those of more than six foot in height. Its called “indirect discrimination” – applying a rule that affects specific groups differently – and is well-established in UK and international law.
But wouldn’t this breach security? Er, not really: the arguments around that are a bit technical, but if name is tied back to an underlying reference number (as I think suggested by the Swedish poster), there would be no issue. Besides, as my own research bears out, the security value of the documentation requested by organisation is approximately zero.
There is no central process for executing deed polls – and no legal penalties for falsifying them. The marriage certificate states clearly that it is “not to be used for identification purposes”.
IN other words: if the documentation requested actually did help out in security terms, organisations might have a point: it doesn’t.
The piece was not intended to get into issues of whether women get forced to change their name, though it is clear that that happens and absolutely wrong that it should.
Is the current set-up caused by the preponderance of men in the IT industry. Dunno. Personally, I think some, but not all of the problem does derive from the fact that men are far less likely to worry about changing name.
One poster asked about “cis”. There is a simple and a complex explanation.
The simple is that it is just a word used by the trans community to denote the opposite of trans (it’s the exact opposite latin prefix, so makes sense to be used in that context). However, it does come with political baggage that not all people like. It does, occasionally, get used in a slightly derogatory way (which I totally disagree with).
More subtly, its used in the term “cis privilege”, which is a political argument about how the world is constructed in a wholly normative way, with trans seen as a departure from the norm. “Cis” is therefore inserted into debate in the same way that “straight” gets inserted: to underline that cis and trans are two equally valid ways of being, as opposed to there being a dominant one and a less ordinary one.
I’m aware of controversies over that view – and I’m not going to derail this particular debate by getting into them here.
Last point: neither I nor anyone else is asking that you can “just” phone a call centre and change name. I’m simply suggesting that where you have satisfied organizational security sufficiently to do other stuff (like transfer £10,000 between accounts, or change address) that should be sufficient security for a name change. That’s all.
Thanks for your comment. I’ve read extracts from this and it’s on my to read list!
Kitty Sadler, author of the article, replies
Thanks so much for your comment. I completely agree: we can’t deny that there are some biological differences but the wide array of ‘gender characteristics’ these apparently spell just do not have to exist – in a modern world, where brawn isn’t the single pre-condition for success, we should be socially and culturally androgynous. Cordelia Fine makes a great stand against gender stereoptying in childhood (my personal bugbear) in this article: