'Coming out' as trans
Telling friends, family and colleagues about your gender identity for the first time can be a scary process, and many trans people will be worried about how friends and loved ones will react.
Before telling other people, trans people will have to 'come out' to themselves, by acknowledging their gender identity, and taking time to explore how they feel and how they want to express their gender going forward. Most trans people will have 'come out' to themselves some time before they tell anyone, and often they will have done a lot of research, reflecting on who they are and how they feel. If someone tells you that they are, or think they might be trans, it is, therefore, important that you are supportive and don't question or undermine how they feel. Don't make assumptions about how they want to be referred to, and allow them the space and time to make decisions when they are ready.
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 feelings 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 feel you must rush to make any decisions before you are 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 neutral and safe. Be prepared that they might have lots of 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. 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.
Gendered Intelligence has a wide range of information and resources for trans people on health and transitioning.
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.
You don’t have to follow a legal process to start using a new name in Wales, but you can change your name using a legal document called a deed poll in order to have your name recognised on all official documents like your passport. You must be over 18 to apply for a deed poll, and it will cost £36 to have your name change registered on the public record. If you are under 18, you will need the permission of everyone who has parental responsibility for you in order to change your name, which can be registered on a deed poll for minors.
To change your birth certificate to reflect your gender identity (the options are currently 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 gender identity is likely to be permanent, and evidence of your change of name (for example your deed poll).
Your rights as a trans person
As a trans person living in Wales, you are protected from discrimination in employment and in accessing services from businesses and public bodies. 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.
Hate Crime legislation in Wales and England also ensures that if trans people are targeted as the victim of a crime because of their actual or perceived trans identity, the perpetrator can be given a tougher sentence.
Gender identity clinics
There are currently no gender identity clinics in Wales, but NHS Wales can refer trans people to clinics in England to access the care they need.
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 Gender Identity Development 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 assigned gender. It is staffed by a multi-disciplinary group with contributions from child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychotherapy and paediatrics. The service takes referrals from across the UK.
Transhealth - The London Gender Clinic (private clinic)
The London Gender Clinic is a private clinic. Support is available in the form of diagnosing gender dysphoria, providing hormonal prescriptions and referrals for surgery, counselling and hair removal treatment.