About the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Biology, through genetic and hormonal interactions, determines the structure of the brain as male or female and is a major factor in the development of gender identity from the moment of conception, through the fetal stage and postnatally. Infrequently, gender identity develops within the brain in a manner that is incongruent with the male or female characteristics of rest of the body. It is reasonable to accept that some people may be more affected than others by this process. Consequently, not all will feel an equal degree of discomfort with the discordance between their innate gender identities and the genders that, based on their genital appearance, were assigned to them at birth.
The term transgender includes this broad range of people who all experience atypical gender identity development but the way they express their gender roles may vary widely. Some need to express an alternative gender role only occasionally. A relatively small number of others experience transsexualism, which is the overwhelming need to transition to live permanently in the role that conforms to their innate gender identities. The frequency with which these people occur in the British population is discussed in a separate section of the website. Although terminology is not always used consistently by transgendered people, GIRES uses the term “trans” to describe those who are undergoing or have undergone transition. An individual transitioning from the male to the female role would thus be a trans woman, and one transitioning from female to male role would be a trans man. After transition, many of these individuals prefer to be and, therefore, should be, regarded simply as men and women. A glossary of terms is provided here.
Transsexualism is just one of a range of atypical developments of male or female characteristics (affecting about 1 in 80 in the general population) that result from unusual chromosomal/genetic and/or hormonal factors. These factors have the potential to lead to inconsistencies in the differentiation of the genitalia, gonads and brain. These developments may be described as intersex conditions. Among those with some of these conditions there is a raised incidence of gender dysphoria, albeit involving a small minority of individuals. Sexual orientation, that is the preference for male or female partners in sexual acts, is a different matter. Trans people may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual just like the rest of the population. However, there is some evidence that sexual orientation is associated with the way that the brain develops.
So, there are common biological factors to be considered in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI ) fields. Moreover, some people belong to more than one of these categories.
There are also common social factors. All LGBTI people experience discrimination, based on society's ignorance and fear of them.
The focus GIRES is on people who experience atypical gender identity development, especially trans people, whether or not they are also affected by L,G,B or I issues. This reflects the special interest of the trans people in the charity's membership. GIRES is concerned that society often treats this particular group harshly. This includes shortcomings in the provision of medical services.
GIRES was founded in 1997. Its membership does not include only trans people. There is an equal number of non trans people, who are family members or, for other reasons, wish to support GIRES' work. All those who serve on GIRES' Executive Committee are trans people or family members.
Although GIRES has a narrowly defined focus, it recognises how much common ground there is between the various groups that serve LGBTI people, and seeks to collaborate with all the others working in this broad field.
GIRES fulfils a special role, which differs from that of other groups in its field. It is not a support group, although it does provide help to individual trans people and the members of their families. It is not a political campaigning organisation, although it does provide educational literature to politicians. It does not arrange frequent social events, although its annual meeting is an enjoyable affair, attended by the representatives of other groups. GIRES' primary mission is to improve the circumstances in which trans people live, by changing the way that society treats them. Accordingly, its aim is to generate supportive attitudes among all those who can make those improvements happen, including politicians, other policy makers, clinicians, the providers of commercial and government services including the police, teachers, employers, and journalists, as well as other family members.
GIRES' approach is based on research both into the origins of atypical gender identity development and transsexualism and, also, into the way that society reacts to the people experiencing these conditions. It develops good practice guidelines, education programmes and literature, all specially tailored for each of the groups that it aims to influence. More details about the work of the society can be found here.
As a registered charity, GIRES is bound by charity law and managed prudently. It welcomes the supervision of its activities by the Charity Commission and the credibility it thereby gains among the institutions with which it deals. Charitable status is also financially advantageous. It makes GIRES eligible for grants from other charitable bodies and able to reclaim tax from the Inland Revenue on much of the income it receives from its members.
In his formal letter to the trustees, the charity's Independent Examiner, Donald Yule, says “GIRES is a small charity with big aspirations, making an impact comparable with charities whose income is ten times greater. This is a remarkable achievement and one which the Report and Accounts should reflect.”
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