Earl’s daughter could self-identify as a man to inherit title

The fifth Earl of Balfour has suggested that after his death, one of his daughters could declare herself to be male in order to receive his title and inherit the family home.

The Earl has four daughters and no sons. According to the law of primogeniture, his title would pass on to his younger brother.

The Government announced earlier this year that the Gender Recognition Act would be reviewed, saying medical checks should be removed to allow for ‘self-declaration’ of gender.

Daughter to ‘son’

In a letter to The Times, the Earl suggested that his daughter could claim his title “as a son” by declaring “that there has always been a man screaming to get out of her female body”.

“What is there to stop someone from changing gender and taking a title? I think it would be interesting question for constitutional lawyers”, he told The Telegraph in a subsequent interview.

The Earl added that he knows another member of the nobility who has one daughter and no sons.

“I think with this Gender Recognition Act, he’d say to his daughter: ‘when I die, you just take the title darling. You see if anyone will fight you over it.’”

Government review

Balfour’s wife, Lady Tessa, added that people said others had suggested her daughter ‘change sex’.

“So many people have said to my daughter Willa ‘if you change sex, you could inherit the title.’ Of course it’s not going to happen, but it is a realistic thing to say.”

An eldest daughter who legally changes her sex cannot take the place of a male heir under the current Gender Recognition Act.

But the law has never been tested and could be changed under the Government’s review.


In July, Equalities Minister Justine Greening announced the Government’s plans to make it more straightforward to ‘change sex’.

Both Prime Minister Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken out in favour of such plans – with the Labour leader saying he wanted people to be able to ‘self-identify’ their sex.

But women’s groups, therapists, doctors, academics, campaigners and transgender activists have challenged politicians over the idea.

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