UK

Couple almost lost ‘dream home’ because Halifax bank didn’t recognise gender-neutral title

Vic Parsons February 9, 2022
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Halifax refused to recognise the non-binary person's Mx title

Stock photo of a house. (Envato)

A couple almost lost their dream house because Halifax bank refused to recognise the gender-neutral title Mx.

Ruth and G C Sabini-Roberts, who have four children, were devastated when they were told that Halifax bank wouldn’t recognise non-binary G’s Mx prefix and so their mortgage application had been refused.

Despite G’s driving license and bank account both showing their Mx title, on 20 January Halifax said it would only accept the titles Mrs or Miss for G on the mortgage application.

Ruth and G say they “pulled ourselves up from the poverty line over the past four years” and spent months finding their “dream five-bed home” – a £335,000 converted warehouse property in Shropshire – before being refused a mortgage by Halifax.

G explained to Metro that they thought “our mortgage had to be in the same name as the house purchase, the land registry, insurance etc”, which aren’t all in place yet but “will all need to be in Mx, because it’s my legal name”.

“I thought, ‘I can’t be their first trans/non-binary customer,'” G continued. “I was scared that this might mean we lose the house, which we’ve already invested so much in.”

G added: “There was a bizarre period for a day or two in the middle of the battle when we were contacted to ask if they would accept a mortgage deed in the name ‘The Mx G C Sabini-Roberts’.

“We found it hilarious and also bizarre, that they would consider an incorrect name with the title ‘The’ and not my actual legal name with the title ‘Mx’. Needless to say, we refused it.”

The title Mx was first suggested in the 1970s by feminist campaigners for those who didn’t want their gender revealed by their title.

It was added as a legal option in 2011 by the UK’s Deed Poll service and to the Oxford Dictionary in 2015, and is frequently used by non-binary people as an alternative to the gendered Miss, Mrs, Ms or Mr.

After lodging a formal complaint with Lloyds Banking Group, the parent company of Halifax, the Sabini-Roberts’s mortgage application was finally approved on 2 February.

For now, a manual override procedure has been put in place so that the Halifax system can accept Mx and cater to non-binary and trans customers. But G hopes that in future, the bank “will be updating all their systems so that this doesn’t have to happen to anyone else”.

“No one was unpleasant to us. We did not feel discriminated against,” they added. “We did not have to fight to get them to take attention.

“But we did have to stand our ground and refuse to accept anything other than my legal name.

“Halifax recognised they had a problem, but they didn’t know how to fix it. We were lucky that we were not in a big chain. If we were, we could have lost our house because of the delays this has caused.”

A Halifax spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that we have been able to help Mx Sabini-Roberts.

“All correspondence relating to Mx Sabini-Roberts’s mortgage will use preferred pronouns.”

 

More: gender neutral, non-binary

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