People transition at all stages of life. Some people know from a very early age that their gender identity doesn’t fit with the gender that they were assigned at birth, others might come to this realisation much later in life, and it may take time to make the decision to act on these feelings. Some might only ever acknowledge their feels to themselves. It is up to you to decide if, when and how you want to transition, and this process will be different for everyone.
It is important that you give yourself the time and space to explore how you are feeling and how you want to express your gender identity. This might include doing research into different trans identities, reading blogs or watching videos, joining an LGBT community group or looking up different ways of supporting your transition. It’s ok to take your time over this and don’t rush to making any decisions before you feel ready.
Telling other people
If you do decide you are ready to tell someone how you are feeling, think about who you want to speak to first and make sure you have plenty of time to talk somewhere where neutral and safe. Be prepared that they might have lots of questions, so you might want to do some research first and think about how you might answer different questions. If they don't react in the way you hoped try not to be too disheartened and give them a chance to get used to the idea - they may well come round eventually.
You may also find it helpful to speak to your GP or a specialist Gender Identity Clinic to discuss what options are available to you to support your transition. This may, for example, include hormone therapy, vocal training, counselling or cosmetic procedures such as hair removal therapies.
It is extremely dangerous to self-medicate as this can lead to you receiving incorrect dosages and even dangerous, mis-sold drugs, so do make sure you speak to a doctor to get a prescription. LGBT Health and Wellbeing also offers one-to-one support and guidance for trans people of all identities to get information about gender and transition.
Changing your name and gender on documentation
You might decide that you want to change your name to one that better matches your gender identity, and that your gender identity is reflected on documents such as your passport.
In Scotland you can change your name at any time, provided you do not intend to deceive or commit fraud. To change your name on documents such as bank cards, however, you will often need to provide evidence. If you are over the age of 16 you can register your name change with the National Records of Scotland for a fee of £40.
To change your birth certificate to reflect your gender identity (either male or female only) you need to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). To apply for a GRC under the Standard Application Process an individual needs to prove that:
- They are at least 18 years old
- They have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender and that they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender for the rest of their life
- They have, or have had, gender dysphoria. They are required to provide two medical reports (one from their GP and one from their Gender Specialist) confirming the diagnosis and detailing any transition-related medical treatment (such as psychological counselling, hormones and/or surgical procedures) that they have received.
- It is not necessary for the person to have undergone any surgery but if they haven’t then one of the reports should indicate whether they are waiting for any surgery or give any reason for the person deciding not to have any surgery
You can, however, change your passport and other documentation (bank cards, ID, etc.) without having a GRC. To change your passport you would need a letter from your doctor or medical consultant confirming that your change of gender is likely to be permanent, and evidence of your change of name (for example registration of your name change with the National Records of Scotland).
Your rights as a trans person
As a trans person living in Scotland you are protected from discrimination in employment, in accessing services and from companies and businesses. The Equality Act 2010 placed discrimination on the basis of gender reassignment on an equal footing as other characteristics such as race, disability or sexual orientation. That means if you think you have been treated worse by a colleague, your employer, or by an organisation simply because you are trans, you are protected and can take action against that organisation.
There is some debate about what exactly is meant by “gender reassignment” and whether this applies to all trans people – including, for example, non-binary people. Until a case goes through the courts on this issue, it is difficult to say for sure exactly how the law will be interpreted, but the Equality Act is clear that “gender reassignment” includes anyone who has taken any steps towards transition, and does not require someone to have a Gender Recognition Certificate or to have had any medical intervention.
It is also worth remembering that law protects you not just if you have taken any steps to transition, but also if you are perceived to have done so. So in most cases, trans people can feel confident that they are protected from discrimination. For more information on discrimination, click here.
Hate Crime legislation in Scotland also ensures that if trans people are targeted as the victim of a crime because of their trans identity, the perpetrator can be given a tougher sentence. For more information about hate crime legislation in Scotland click here.
Gender clinics in Scotland
Glasgow: Sandyford Gender Identity Clinic
The main gender identity clinic in Scotland is based at the Sandyford in Glasgow and accepts referrals from across Scotland. It is also possible to self-refer to the Sandyford clinic. Visit the Sandyford website or telephone 0141 211 8130.
Edinburgh: Chalmers Centre
The NHS Lothian gender clinic for patients who have, or think they may have, gender dysphoria is provided at the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre in Edinburgh. The service is for patients in Lothian and patients can refer themselves or be referred by a GP or other health care professional. The gender clinic staff can be contacted via the Chalmers Centre by calling 0131 536 1513 and asking for the secretary of the gender clinic.
Aberdeen: Royal Cornhill Hospital
NHS Grampian accepts referrals from GPs of patients residing in Grampian, Orkney and Shetland. All GP referrals should be made to Dr John Callender, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen AB25 7ZH. People cannot self-refer to this service.
London: Transhealth (private clinic)
The London Gender Clinic is the largest private transgender clinic. As a sex change clinic transgender help is available in the form of diagnosing gender dysphoria, providing hormonal prescriptions and referrals for transsexual surgery, gender counselling and hair removal treatment
The Gender Identity Clinic in Hammersmith (sometimes known as the Charing Cross GIC) is the largest and oldest gender identity clinic in the world and has been in operation since the 1960s. They take referrals from across the UK and provide tailored services guided by qualified professionals.