Realising you might be trans
Trans people come out at all stages of their life and in different ways. Some people will know at a very early age that the way they feel does not match what most people expect based on their sex at birth, and might talk to their parents, friends or teachers about how they feel. Others might not come out until much later in life. Some might only ever acknowledge their feelings to themselves. Remember, it’s up to you to decide when you are ready to tell someone how you feel, and who that person is.
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 youth 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 and make sure you have plenty of time to talk somewhere 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 support you.
What can you expect from your school or college
Your school has a duty to protect you from bullying and discrimination, and to support you to access the information you need to lead a happy, healthy life. If you decide that you want to transition at school speak to a trusted teacher or guidance teacher about how you are feeling. Think about what you would like to happen next and some of the practical considerations, such as who you want to be told and when (including other teachers and classmates).
Some of the things you might want to consider include:
- do you want the class register to be changed to a different name?
- which toilets/ changing rooms would you feel most comfortable using?
- do you want to change the uniform you wear?
- how do you want other classmates to be informed?
Schools should want to make sure you are involved in these decisions as much as possible, but there may be practical limitations to what they can offer. They might not, for example, have a gender neutral toilet in the school, so think about what they could do to make sure you feel safe and comfortable.
Your school may also want to involve your parents in any decisions made in relation to your transition at school, but unless they are concerned that you are at risk of harm, they do not have to contact your parents if you don't want them to. If you're under 16, it may be more difficult for school documentation to be changed without the agreement of your parents, but your school should still be able to support you in many other ways.
If you do get a negative reaction from other pupils or teachers, make sure you tell someone - perhaps a parent, a trusted teacher or your guidance teacher. Your school has a duty to protect you from bullying and discrimination, and should take this very seriously.
There are a number of steps your school can take to ensure they are providing a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT pupils, and Stonewall Scotland offers training and resources to support schools to do so. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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 you may want to ensure 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. You can register your name change with the National Records of Scotland for a fee of £40, but if you are under 16 you will need your parent's permission to do so.
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), but you currently need to be over 18 to do so. You can, however, change your passport and other documentation (bank cards, ID, etc.) without having a GRC, and can do so without your parent's consent from the age of 16.
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).
Where to get support
- LGBT Youth Scotland has a number of youth groups across Scotland, which offer support and practical guidance to LGBT Young People. There is a trans-only group which meets every second Monday in Glasgow. They have also produced this handy guide to coming out as trans
- Scottish Transgender Alliance
- LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing
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.
The service sees children and young people (up to the age of 18) and their families who are experiencing difficulties in the development of their gender identity. This includes children who are unhappy with their biological sex. It is staffed by a multi-disciplinary group with contributions from child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychotherapy and paediatrics.