National Trans Youth Network

A Network of 21 organisations make up the National Trans Youth Network:

These being:

  1. Gender Identity Research and Education Society
  2. LGBT Youth North West
  3. Gendered Intelligence
  4. Mermaids
  5. NUS
  6. Lancashire LGBT
  7. Time to Change
  8. Transforum
  9. Afternoon T.E.A
  10. Allsorts Youth Project
  11. Ur Potential
  12. Rotherham LGB&T Youth Group
  13. Trinity Youth Association
  14. DISC
  15. Viva LGBT group
  16. Sheena Amos Youth Trust
  17. Inspira
  18. LGBT Youth Scotland
  19. Cara Friend
  20. LGBT Consortium
  21. In-Trust
  22. Albert Kennedy Trust

On 8th November 2014, the Network held their first national Conference in Manchester at the All Saints Campus of Manchester Metropolitan University.

“What Trans Young People need Today”, a film containing a series of interviews, highlighting ‘What Trans Young People need Today’ can be seen below:

National Trans Youth Network Conference report

8 November 2014

Saturday 8th November saw the largest conference of 118 young trans* people and young volunteers and 30 adult volunteers and facilitators, from around the UK. It had been the culmination of a years’ worth of work by the National Trans* Youth Network and funding from many different sources. The NTYN would like to thank Gender Identity Research and Education Society, Awards for All, LGB&T Partnership, National Trans Police Association, National Union of Teachers and a donation by Joe Swift for providing the financial support for the conference. Thanks to the National LGB&T Partnership’s grant, 81 young trans* people were granted travel bursaries.

The day was facilitated by Emma Cusdin who did a fantastic job throughout the day. Although the day started early for many of the young people, traveling to Manchester, everyone arrived in high spirits. Attendees were greeted by one of the young volunteers, signed in for the conference and signed up for the workshops running during the day. The six ‘thinking’ workshops run twice in the morning consisted of: What are my rights at school, Rights and empowerment in health care, What are my legal rights, Doing trans activism in your community, Assertiveness and confidence building and Campaigning and gaining support of the masses.

The six ‘creative’ workshops in the afternoon consisted of: A drama workshop, creative writing session, zine/comic making, design a logo (for the NTYN), a music session and a film making session. The remainder of the afternoon contained a powerful and emotive play by Queer of the Unknown and a panel discussion with members of the healthcare profession and researchers working with the trans* community.

The panel discussion was the last part of the conference day. The panel represented different areas of the NHS; Bernadette Wren, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Gender Identity Development Service London, Professor Gary Butler, Consultant in Paediatric and Adolescent Endocrinology in the University College London Hospital, Dr John Dean, Lead Clinician at the Exeter Gender Identity Clinic, Maggie Morgan-Cooke, NHS England and Dr Simona Giordano, Reader in Bioethics at the centre for Social Ethics and Policy School of Law University of Manchester.

The panel were asked a range of questions from the audience, they ranged from access to hormone blockers to what to expect at an adult gender identity clinic and the transition from the Tavistock to an Adult Gender Identity Clinic (full list of written questions at the end). The young people who attended the conference were empowered to give their personal stories and experiences of their own transitions.

Many of these experiences were in direct contrast to what the clinicians were stating and how the processes should work. During this discussion it became a reflective and learning experience for all, peers learning from each other and clinicians realising that young people need to be listened to. This part of the conference could have carried on much longer; the panel members did answer many more questions after the close of the conference.

Evaluation of the day

The overall experience had by young people who attended the conference was very good averaging 8.82 out of 10. Comments from the day: Very welcoming and inclusive to all, amazingly handled and set out, really enjoyed useful information good mix of relaxed arty activities and informative workshops. It is important to highlight some young people thought some of the workshops were too similar, so that we can review this for next year.

Young people liked the venue, giving it a score average of 8.75 out of 10. Many of the young people commented on the number of stairs even though there was a lift. Young people found the venue to be easy to find their way around and reasonably private with good accessibility, although some thought that it was too far north, this needs to be taken into consideration for next year.

The catering, provided by Sidney Street Vegetarian and Vegan café was scored an average of 8.21 out of 10. The highlight of the catering seems to have been the cake; bakery is incredible! And more cake please, also a thank you for providing gluten free and vegan food; the food was tasty and well presented. Some young people noticed the lack of meat; they may not have been aware that the catering was provided locally by a vegetarian and vegan café.

The young people also stated what their highlight of the day had been. Many of the young people said that the panel discussion was their highlight of the day and they felt it was open and honest. Meeting other trans* people and feeling accepted as themselves and being genuinely being welcomed as a non-binary person. The young people have also felt positive about the workshops and having professional and peers to talk and share experiences with. Also having an inclusive relaxed environment with non-gendered toilets.

As with all conferences it is important to know that attendees will take something away with them. Here is a selection of comments from young people who attended: Smiley face, That being trans* is okay, We can make changes happen, Be proud of who I am, We can achieve, I am not alone, Different trans* young people have different experiences, Diversity is key and You never have to be alone – there is plenty of support networks for trans* people.

What young people would like to see in the future: a growing network for young trans* people; it is important that we listen to what they would like in the future. The young people would like more conferences and opportunities to meet up with other trans* young people. They have highlighted the lack of support for 20-35 year olds and the need for a specific healthcare campaign. The need for communication is crucial to the success of the Network, young people would like time to fundraise to attend future events. Many young people felt the day was over too quickly so have suggested the need for the conference to be over two days.

Full list of questions to the Panel

  • Why are hormone blockers not prescribed more widely in the UK?
  • What should I do when a random person on the street shouts abuse at me?
  • How do I start a conversation about gender and transition with my doctor?
  • What can I expect from the process through transitioning?
  • How do you communicate with your patients? (email, phone, post) and is that sufficient for people who may be more unsettled (may not have a fixed abode)?
  • Where are the efforts to address wider issues for our communities especially in mental health, eating disorders and sexual health?
  • What is the role of psychiatry in gender identity issues?
  • Could Dr Giodano tell us if there is any current research on correlation between transgenderism and autism and whether there are any early indication of the findings?
  • Do all transmen need a hysterectomy?
  • Why is getting laser hair removal (for phalloplasty) only funded before surgery and not after? Is there any way of getting funding for this?
  • Do you have a ‘short version’ of explaining your gender identity to people who don’t know what trans* is when you don’t have time to explain fully?
  • What would you consider to be a realistic timescale for transition, and how can this be realised bearing in mind GP ignorance causing delays and waiting lists at clinics?
  • Given recent restructuring of surgery facilities in the UK, from the point of obtaining a second referral for MTF SRS with the NHS, how long is the waiting time for surgery?
  • What can be done to make the transition from the child service to the adult service smoother? i.e what is the need to go through being assessed all over again?