Transgender people can be any age. It is common for transgender people to be gender variant from a very young age and transgender children and teenagers can experience just as intense gender dysphoria as transgender adults.
Historically, the needs of transgender young people have often been overlooked. It is often much harder for a transgender child to get other people to listen to and accept their views about their personal gender identity, than it is for a transgender adult. Young people often find that adults will simply try to impose upon them what the adults think is “for the best” rather than taking account of how the young person wishes to be treated.
Currently young people aged under 18 who have transitioned to live in a different gender are unable to legally change the gender listed on their birth certificate. This causes significant difficulties for adolescent trans people as it prevents them having the same privacy and recognition of their gender as older trans people and non-trans adolescents. Transgender Europe has produced a poster highlighting this issue as part of their Access All Areas – Gender Recognition Opens Doors campaign. The Scottish Transgender Alliance is pushing for the Scottish Government to urgently address this inequality.
A major issue for transgender youth is that their dependence on their family for money, housing and transport can restrict their ability to access transgender support groups or gender identity clinics if their parents do not support their transgender identity. Also, transgender young people often struggle to get doctors, teachers, parents and social workers to take their gender dysphoria seriously as adults may simply ignore a young person’s gender dysphoria in the hope that they will “grow out of it”.
Where a young person has an intersex condition, they can face a major struggle simply to be told the truth about their intersex condition and about any medical treatments, such as surgery, carried out on them while they were very young. Just as for young people with other medical conditions, young intersex people should be given clear and balanced information and supported to make their own medical decisions about surgery and hormonal treatment where ever they have the capacity to understand the consequences.
Other family issues can include the needs of families where a parent is transgender and also the issues for transgender people wishing to adopt a child or use fertility services.
Research, Support and Resources
A study done with 433 trans young people aged 16-24 in Ontario, Canada in 2012 showed how important the support of parents is for trans young people. Some of the findings included:
- 100% of trans young people with ‘very supportive’ parents were in adequate accommodation, versus only 45% of those whose parents were ‘somewhat to not at all supportive’
- 70% of trans young people with ‘very supportive’ parents reported very good or excellent mental health, versus only 15% of those whose parents were ‘somewhat to not at all supportive’
- 72% of trans young people with ‘very supportive’ parents reported being satisfied with life, versus only 13% of those whose parents were ‘somewhat to not at all supportive’
You can read the full report by clicking here
You can find out where to get support for both trans young people and carers, family and friends of young trans people on our support page
LGBT Youth has a list of great resources for trans young people around coming out, sexual health, and explaining gender identity. Click here to go to the LGBT Youth website and download these resources.