Latham & Watkins & Their Pro Bono Trans Gender Mermaid Project
Latham & Watkins recently provided information about their ‘affinity groups’ involved in pro bono projects, including the firm’s involvement in the first-ever online legal clinic to assist trans, nonbinary and gender diverse young people change their name in the United Kingdom
Details of the clinic are provided in the firm’s content, produced below –
MERMAIDS: CHANGING NAMES, TRANSFORMING LIVES
For Alex Woolhouse, the Pro Bono and Legal Strategy Coordinator at Mermaids, changing her name was a collaborative, family-first process: “While I’ve always gone by Alex, it was still an emotional and exciting day for me when I changed my name. I did end up changing my first name to Alexandra, but when it came to my middle name, I wanted to choose something that validated who I was but also paid respect to my family’s traditions. My middle name was my dad’s name — the eldest gets their father’s name in my family, so I went for a feminine version: Nell. Not only is it interesting and different, it’s another version of my sister’s name, Ellen, so it’s also in tribute to her.”
Many individuals seeking to change their name do so with a mix of celebratory enthusiasm and bureaucratic dread. Some people even face formidable legal challenges.
After seeing an increase in demand for information and resources on transgender issues, including questions from individuals about how to change their names, Ms. Woolhouse and Mermaids turned to Latham for assistance. Mermaids, an LGBTQ+ charity based in the United Kingdom, has been supporting transgender, nonbinary, and gender-diverse young people and their families since 1995. Together, Mermaids and Latham launched the first online legal name change clinic in the UK, with a focus on using deed polls for name changes.
Hosted over Zoom, our lawyers answered questions about the process, helped young people access the right forms, and offered guidance to ensure that new legal names would be updated on passports and with banks, schools, and medical services. The first clinic in April 2021 was so successful that clinics are now held quarterly, with approximately 30 individuals advised so far across three clinics.