There is an enormous amount of information by and about the trans community online. Here is a selection of links to useful resources and websites.
Firstly, and this is especially useful if you are a journalist, please have a read through the following links for guidelines on reporting and editing stories involving transgender people.
- Simple tips for writing and editing trans news stories: Helpful, simple and friendly tips designed to encourage better and more accurate writing and editing of news stories involving trans individuals.
- A Transgender Primer – An Introduction
- Style Guide from Trans Media Watch
- Understanding non-binary people – A guide for the media from Trans Media Watch
- In October 2016, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) released new guidelines and good practice for journalists writing about trans matters.
- GLAAD Media Reference Guide – Transgender Issues This up-to-date guide is a useful resource for getting to grips with trans-related terminology and for advice on terms to use and avoid when covering trans stories.
- Transgender Europe: Guide for Journalists (2015) TGEU have produced an extensive and useful practical guide on how to cover stories about trans people and experiences, in a respectful and fair manner. It includes lists of correct terminology, key themes to include when reporting on trans matters and links to interesting further reading.
- The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) shared its guidelines on LGBT+ reporting in 2014. It recommends that journalists should take care using the terms ‘sex change’, ‘pre-operative’ and ‘post-operative’, suggesting the use of ‘transition’ instead. One should not assume “that a trans person has undergone or intends to undergo” gender reassignment surgery. Finally, it states that it is inappropriate to “emphasise surgery when reporting on transgender people, as to do so underplays the breadth of their real-life stories.”
- When reporting stories involving transgender people we advise avoiding use of the term “sex change”, either to describe a transgender person or the process of gender transition. Here is a 1-pager explaining why it is problematic, with some recommendations.
“Transgender” (or “trans”) is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender identity (the gender with which they associate themselves) and/or gender expression (how they outwardly show their gender) differs from what is typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using a wide variety of other terms. Many trans people are prescribed hormones and/or undergo surgery as a way of expressing their gender identity. However, not all trans people take such steps and trans identity does not depend on undergoing any form of medical treatment. Here is a further guide to today’s gender terms, as written by the Safe Zone Project in the Guardian. They also suggest a more detailed list of definitions, should an alternative be needed.
Research Studies and Resources
Data published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has been used to indicate that about 1% of the UK population, or 650,000 people, are likely to identify with a different gender to some extent. This figure is based on the above data and a 2011 study from the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, (GIRES). It is estimated that a far smaller proportion are likely to seek medical treatment – although the number of those looking for medical intervention is increasing by 20% per year.
GIRES estimates that 12,500 adults had sought treatment by 2010, but there has since been a rise in referrals to NHS gender identity clinics averaging 11% a year. Kate Lyons, a journalist from The Guardian wrote in July 2016 that “figures…reveal increases in the number of referrals to all of the UK’s 14 gender identity clinics (GICs) in recent years, with a number of clinics experiencing increases of several hundred percent.”
Though there are limited studies and surveys conducted with trans people from across the UK, listed below are a few documents that may be helpful in understanding trans experiences in general.
1. The Equality Human Rights Commission’s Trans Research Review – A review of evidence on inequalities conducted for the Commission by the Trans Research Review (Mitchell and Howarth 2009) and published by the Commission in October 2009. The Trans Review highlights the inequalities and high levels of discrimination trans people face including: attitudes towards trans people; housing; education; crime; economic status and employment; health and social care; media, leisure and sport; family life and relationships; community and citizenship. Here is the review itself (downloadable word document) and a page on trans rights in the UK (currently under review in June 2015).
2. Trans Mental Health Study 2012 – During 2012, the Scottish Transgender Alliance, in partnership with TransBareAll, the Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre, Traverse Research and Sheffield Hallam University, conducted research into trans mental health and wellbeing. The final data set consisted of 889 trans people across the UK.
3. Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse – This research lifts the lid on transgender people’s experience of domestic abuse in Scotland. The limited research available suggests that prevalence rates of domestic abuse may be higher for transgender people than any other section of the population.
4. A recent Non-Binary Gender Factsheet presented to the Minstry of Justice (from Dr Meg John Barker, CN Lester and Beyond the Binary) tells us that the proportion of the UK population who define as non-binary when given a choice between male, female and another option is 0.4%, which is 1 in 250 people. YouGov found that 19% of people disagreed with the statement ‘you are either a woman or a man’ and a further 7% were not sure.
5. Inclusivity: Supporting BAME trans people. A guide for LGBTQ and trans community groups, societies, charities and organisations, produced by Sabah Choudrey, in collaboration with GIRES and Gendered Intelligence Mentoring Support for BAME Trans Youth.
6. Supporting trans survivors of sexual violence – Research study conducted by the Survivors’ Network, Rape Crisis Centre for Sussex on the experiences of trans and non-binary survivors of sexual violence.
7. What’s it like to be a trans employee? – For International Transgender Day of Visibility 2016, totaljobs surveyed trans workers from different industries across the UK. The survey aims to build a picture of the HR provisions available for trans employees, the attitudes they encounter in the workplace, and their thoughts and feelings about current employment legislation.
8. Maryam Al-Alami, Lewis Turner and Stephen Whittle: Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People’s Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination (2007) – A research project commissioned by the Equalities Review and undertaken at Manchester Metropolitan University, this is a sociological study into the discrimination faced by trans people. Its qualitative research drawn from Electronic Materials Databases (EMDs) of Press for Change and the FTM Network, 1998-2005, and further qualitative and additional quantitative research from an online survey with 873 respondents who identify as trans. It covers various areas of life – the workplace, education, youth, the family, social and leisure facilities – and makes several recommendations for better practice from social and legislative bodies.
42% of trans people not living permanently in their preferred gender role were prevented from doing so because they feared it might threaten their employment status.
21% of respondents’ GPs either did not want to help them in their transition path, or in 6% of cases refused to help.
17% of respondents were refused treatment by medical professionals who disapproved of gender reassignment, while 29% of respondents felt that being trans adversely affected the way they were treated by medical professionals.
47% of trans people do not use public social or leisure facilities for fear of discriminatory treatment
64% of young trans men and 44% of young trans women experience harassment or bullying at school.
9. Trans Health Factsheets – A collection of factsheets published between 2015 and 2016, relating to trans people’s health. They were prepared by members of the National LGB&T Partnership in collaboration with cliniQ, Mermaids and TransForum Manchester, with support from Public Health England.
10. What is Gender? – Created by young people for young people, ‘What is Gender?’ is a short video resource, combining animation and documentary interviews to explore how diverse gender can be. It was created by Off The Record (Bristol) and Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) as part of the Government Equalities Office funded Inspiring Equality in Education programme.
11. A Guide for Young Trans People in the UK – This booklet was developed by young trans people who had noticed the lack of resources for trans and gender-questioning young people. Funded by the Department of Health, it covers many topics, including the definition of being trans, coming out, support in the community and with transitioning, and being positive about gender identity.
12. Young People “Fixing” Transgender Issues: A Generation in Transition – A resource created by young trans people looking into five main areas of their lives: school, healthcare, home, media and work. It includes 15 recommendations for policy makers, professionals and health practitioners in the gender identity field.
13. Care for gender non-conforming young people: FREE e-learning resource – The Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SABP) and the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) have jointly developed an e-learning resource on the care of gender non-conforming young people. The resource focuses on caring for gender variant people and includes videos produced by Lucky Tooth Films and On Road.
14. Sex and Equality 2016: State of the Nation – The Fawcett Society, who campaign against harmful gender norms and stereotypes, undertook a study in January 2016 about gender expression. It found that almost half (44%) of the UK population now believe that gender is not binary but can be expressed as a range of identities.
15. Inequality among lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender groups in the UK: a review of evidence – This report calls for research to establish the size and prevalence of the transgender population and a study of their economic situation. Throughout the report, gaps in research about trans people and their experiences are highlighted (in particular, see page 118).
16. How do you tell if trans children are really trans? – There’s a lot of speculation in the media that young children are being coerced into medical treatments to “change their sex”. Here’s some useful studies from around the world with evidence opposing this myth.
17. Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children – An American guide for anyone who knows a trans or gender-expansive child or plans to write about children who transition. It reviews what medical and education experts know about trans children, explores myths about gender transition in childhood, and offers suggestions for adults supporting a transgender child.
18. How Transgender People Experience the Media – Trans Media Watch’s 2010 study asked 256 people what their thoughts were about the British media’s representation of trans people and how they believed this had an impact on their day-to-day lives.
Trans people and mental health
There have been a number of studies looking into suicide rates of trans people in the last 5 years. The most commonly quoted one is The RaRE Resarch Report, developed by PACE in the UK. Published in 2015, it found that 48% of trans people aged 18-25 have attempted suicide. As the PACE study looked at lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people’s experiences, it means that the total number of trans people interviewed was modest: 120.
Despite the RaRe Research Report’s small sample size, its findings are reflected in a much larger study of trans people living in Scotland in 2012, through the Trans Mental Health Study. This Scottish Transgender Alliance research stated from a larger sample size of 889 trans people that 48% of all the trans people interviewed had attempted suicide at least once in their lives. 33% had attempted suicide more than once.
Finally, we find similar results in America – Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults, a study published in January 2014. 5885 trans people took part in this research, 1099 of whom were aged between 18-24. 45% of people in this age bracket attempted suicide.
Although these studies have their strengths and weakness, all three point to a very similar percentage: between 45-48% of trans people who attempt suicide. It’s also important to note that none of these studies interviewed under 18 year olds. The average suicide rate could be significantly different if this age bracket was included.