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 the gender they were assigned 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 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 and make sure you have plenty of time to talk somewhere where 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 support you.
What you can 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 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 or a trusted 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 Cymru 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 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), 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.
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 your deed poll).
Where to get support
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.
Mermaids offers support to trans young people and their families.