What We Do
The overall GIRES aim is to improve substantially the circumstances in which gender nonconforming people live. GIRES upholds the right of all those who do not fit the typical boy/girl, man/woman tick boxes, including people who intend to change gender role completely and others whose gender identity is non-binary, to live proudly in a society that celebrates diversity. GIRES contributes to de-psychopathologising gender nonconformity and has (a) ensured that the UK's Good Practice Guidelines for the assessment and treatment of adults with gender dysphoria adopt the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) description of this condition as "not negative or pathological" and (b) supported the World Health Organisation's move to take account of current scientific research and transfer the condition out of the mental and behavioural disorders section of the International Classification of Diseases.
The charity combines the expertise of a largely voluntary team of trans and non trans people, many of whom have direct experience of the issues with which it is involved. They undertake the wide range of work described below and ensure that the charity is robustly governed. GIRES is supported by 366 individual and 63 Corporate Members, making annual subscriptions, one-off donations and payments for services.
Individual Help: Although GIRES works with a number of major organisations, it never loses touch with the needs of the individual gender nonconforming people and their families, whether members or not, who seek its help every day. Each gender nonconforming individual faces the challenges of being themselves within families, education, the workplace and social settings, where they may experience discrimination and even violence. In the UK, around 650,000 people, 1% of the population, are estimated to experience some degree of gender nonconformity. Most of them are as yet invisible. However, information via the internet, stronger laws, more support groups, increasingly responsible media reporting and improving healthcare are contributing to rapid growth in the number of gender nonconforming people confident in being visible, especially among the young. The growth rates of those seeking medical care are 20% p.a. among adults(who currently account for the majority cases) and 50% p.a. among young people. This growth looks set to continue. About 26,000 individuals have so far sought medical care, in general practice or specialist centres, but a further 100,00 may do so in the near future. GIRES and the other support groups receive a stream of requests for help from individuals with a wide range of needs, for instance: a child not being allowed to use the appropriate toilet in school; a wife who has just learned that her spouse intends to change gender role; an employee intending to undergo transition at work; a patient being denied proper gender reassignment treatment. GIRES maintains a directory of local and national support groups that has been accessed 1.8 million times since its launch in 2010: www.TranzWiki.net
Growth in number seeking medical help – Now 20% p.a.
Improving Medical Care: Not all gender nonconforming individuals need medical interventions. To benefit those that do, globally, GIRES has funded the translation of the recently improved WPATH standards of care into other languages, including Chinese and Russian. In the UK, GIRES has sought the adoption of those standards by serving on the intercollegiate committee that has published the Good Practice Guidelines and the two NHS England (NHSE) Clinical Reference Groups that are developing the specifications for gender identity services, respectively for adults and young people. However, even as standards are improving, capacity within the NHSE specialist gender services for adults has not, overall, kept pace with the continuing growth in numbers. Waiting lists are often more than a year and worsening. Financial pressures on NHSE are likely to restrict funding for additional capacity. In order to augment capacity and provide the required equity of access to services for gender nonconforming individuals who need treatment, NHSE may consider upskilling GPs so that the less specialist elements of care can be offered locally and more promptly in tandem with the specialist clinics. This would improve the mental health of the individuals who would otherwise be waiting for care and address the risks associated with their obtaining unsupervised hormone medication via the internet. Gender treatments are not part of standard medical training in the UK. GIRES is therefore working with health professionals to develop e-learning resources for GPs, school nurses, health visitors, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, teachers and other providers of health and social care. Through its membership of the National LGB&T Partnership, GIRES is leading a project to develop a series of factsheets that will inform gender conforming people about practical ways to improve their own health and wellbeing.
Empowering Gender Nonconforming Young People: In collaboration with Mermaids, GIRES has been campaigning since 2000 for the NHS to make puberty suspending medication available to gender nonconforming young people in accordance with the international guidelines. Some families have been taking their young people to the USA and Germany for treatment. The NHS adopted this approach partially in 2011 and then fully in 2014. The next goal is to achieve a more benign approach regarding cross-sex hormones and care for young people who have obtained medication via the internet A group of great young people have formed a National Trans Youth Network, of which GIRES and twenty-three other organisations that support them are members. The Network will hold its free inaugural conference in Manchester on Nov 8th 2014 funded by GIRES, Awards for All, and the National LGB&T Partnership. The 170 available places were rapidly sold out. The conference includes a range of sessions to inform and empower young people, including a question and answer session with a panel of professionals working in the trans healthcare field.
Support for Corporate Members: The 63 GIRES Corporate Members operate in: local and central government, housing, education, police, fire and ambulance services, law, healthcare provision and regulation, the trades union sector, sport, financial services, publishing, aviation, aerospace, nuclear power, food processing, and information technology. GIRES offers each Corporate Member the flexible tailor made package of services that it needs. They pay varying amounts, depending on the services specified. Corporate Members are not required to make a long term commitment. The services and level of payment are reviewed and adjusted each year. These services include: arranging focus groups with gender nonconforming people; participation in diversity consultation groups; help in recruiting gender nonconforming people; development of transgender policies, standards, guidance, equality schemes and equality analyses; document review; assessment of data gathering processes; internal training sessions delivered by a GIRES team that always includes gender nonconforming people; preparation of web-based e-learning resources on transgender issues; development of a trans healthcare scheme for employees; responding properly to a complaint from a gender nonconforming person; and supporting a gender nonconforming individual at work.
Support for Educators: Information, advice and training are provided not only by GIRES but also by the Allsorts Youth Project, Gendered Intelligence, Mermaids and Schools Out. The GIRES toolkit, funded by the Home Office, has been a valuable resource for schools to use in combating transphobic bullying and GIRES will now update it. However, the Department for Education (DfE) has made little effort to alert schools to the increasing likelihood that they will need to support a gender nonconforming person and inform them about the wide range of resources available. Nonetheless, some educators have sought GIRES help to train staff and develop lawful policies to support gender nonconforming people pre-emptively as part of their equality and diversity programmes. This is preferable to seeking GIRES help, as some do, only when they suddenly need to support a student or teacher who announces the intention to change gender role. Usually, the educators that GIRES helps wish to avoid publicity for their work on transgender issues for fear of attracting press attention, especially when this involves a pupil or teacher. However, Imperial College London has decided to feature prominently on its website the commitments it has made to support gender nonconforming staff and students. The College invited GIRES to deliver its annual diversity lecture.
Advice to policy makers: GIRES aims to ensure that legislation and practice meet the needs of gender nonconforming people, focusing particularly on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Equality Act (2010), Gender Recognition Act (2004), Human Rights Act (1998), Data Protection Act (!998) and Freedom of Information Act (2000). It brings these people to the table in policy discussions. GIRES has been deeply involved with the new marriage legislation, which still does not fully meet the needs of gender nonconforming people and GIRES will continue to press for this and other legislation to be improved. The major benefits of GIRES' belonging the National LGB&T Partnership include working in unity with its other members and sharing the burden of responding to the many government consultation papers on proposed policy changes. However, the level of transgender policy work across government has declined because the politicians and civil servants now believe that recent legislation has greatly improved the entitlements of gender nonconforming people and a wish to postpone new initiatives until after next year's general election. Most of the policy work that GIRES now undertakes is for individual organisations that wish to bring themselves in line with new legislation, especially the Equality Act 2010.
Other Activities: During the past year, GIRES has (a) continued to collaborate with the many other stakeholder groups in the transgender field; (b) provided 43 training sessions for a wide range of organisations, including its Corporate Members, (c) made presentations at major conferences, including those arranged by: the Law Commission, the Society for Occupational Health; Cambridgeshire Race, Equality and Diversity Service; Barclays Bank; Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust; World Professional Association for Transgender Health; NHS Confederation; Trans* Health Matters; Thomson Reuters; the Manchester Sparkle event; East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service/Asian Fire Service Association; the Rainbow Project – Londonderry; and the Barbara Ross Association (d) responded to a daily stream of requests not only from gender nonconforming people and their families but also from employers, service providers and the media, (e) produced literature for gender nonconforming people, their families and professionals, and distributed it widely, including via local libraries (f) operated a website for gender nonconforming people, their families and professionals; and (g) provided a free e-learning resource, which includes the House of Commons Library among its users:
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