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Gender variance

The Scottish Transgender Alliance views gender variance as simply one aspect of the wide range of human diversity which ensures that human societies are interesting, innovative and strong.  We believe that societies function best when all their members have their unique skills, personalities and perspectives valued and supported by each other.  We want Scottish society to recognise that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with gender variance and to value transgender people simply being themselves.

Our cultural assumptions and stereotypes about gender are based on averages not universals.  For example, the average height for a woman is shorter than the average height for a man but this does not mean there is anything wrong with being a taller than average woman or a shorter than average man.  When an individual man’s height is compared with an individual woman’s height, either one of them may turn out to be the taller person.  Just because on more occasions it will be the man who is taller than the woman does not mean there should be any panic on those occasions when the woman is taller than the man.  Our hope is that other gender variance will become viewed in a similar non-pathological manner.

A person who finds that current gender stereotypes and averages do not fit with their individual gender identity and gender expression is simply varying from the average.  They are not wrong or ill or disturbed.  Provided that they are personally happy with their life then no change is necessary in regard to their gender variance. Someone’s gender variance is not harmful to others; instead it can be helpful for society as it can provide greater originality and reveal otherwise unrecognised gender-based discrimination.

For this reason, the Scottish Transgender Alliance never uses the term Gender Identity Disorder. We are of the view that nobody should have such an innate part of themselves as their personal gender identity described as disordered simply because it differs from average expectations.  However, the Scottish Transgender Alliance does use the term Gender Dysphoria.

Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical issue for which gender reassignment treatment is available on the National Health Service in Scotland.  Gender dysphoria is when someone experiences significant and long-standing distress, unhappiness and/or discomfort about their physical body not fully matching their gender identity.  Transsexual people usually experience intense gender dysphoria which is significantly reduced or even eliminated by transitioning to live as their self-identified gender and by taking hormones and perhaps getting surgery to make their physical bodies match their gender identity and gender expression better.  Other types of transgender people may also experience various degrees of gender dysphoria, especially when unable socially to fully express their gender identity.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance considers it to be essential to recognise that experiencing gender dysphoria does not mean that there is anything wrong with a person’s gender identity.  It merely means that the person is experiencing a personally distressing disparity between their gender identity and the gender-related characteristics of their physical body.  Throughout medical history, attempts to alter someone’s inherent gender identity have proven futile and such attempts have often caused intense psychological suffering to people because a person’s gender identity is such a fundamental part of who they are.  The method of relieving gender dysphoria which has proven successful is to modify the gender-related characteristics of the person’s physical appearance so that their appearance better reflects their gender identity enabling them to more easily live as their self-identified gender.

Once a person has been able to modify their physical appearance through hormones and/or surgery and is able to live their life fully in accordance with their gender identity, they will usually no longer experience gender dysphoria.  Therefore, the aim of NHS treatment with hormones and possibly surgery is to reduce and ideally eliminate the patient’s gender dysphoria.

If someone has only mild or intermittent feelings of gender dysphoria then usually hormonal and surgical interventions will not be necessary.  Instead their mild gender dysphoria may be able to be relieved simply by presenting an appearance more reflective of their gender variance through their use of clothing, hairstyles and accessories and also spending some of their social time with friends who are supportive of gender diversity.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance recognises that being gender variant does not mean that someone will necessarily experience any gender dysphoria.  A person may have a gender identity or gender expression which others feel does not match with that person’s physical body. However, so long as that person themselves feels content with their physical body in relation to their gender identity and does not experience distress or discomfort about it, then they do not have gender dysphoria and should not be pressurised to undergo any hormonal or surgical treatment.

Areas where the Equality Act applies

The Equality Act 2010 brought together 116 individual pieces of legislation relating to discrimination across all facets of UK society.

Specific to transgender people, the act bans discrimination in many areas of our lives.  Several key areas addressed by the act are:

  • Goods, facilities and services
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Housing

Historically, transgender people have experienced serious discrimination in these areas.  This problem was highlighted in the 2007 report, Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People’s Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination.

This study predates the Equality Act 2010, and served as an important input in describing the level of discrimination needed to be addressed by the Act.

Goods, facilities and services

Discrimination in access to goods, facilities and services consists of actual instances as well as perceptions by the transgender person that discrimination is likely to occur.  47% of the respondents to the survey reported that they do not use certain public facilities rather than risk experiencing discrimination.  Only 5.4% of respondents reported actually being refused services outright, but it is clear that this number has been suppressed by the numbers of trans people who avoid these places altogether.

Similar statistics have been reported when it comes to changing facilities in shops or retail outlets.  Only one in ten respondents reported being refused access, yet one in four never attempts to use these facilities.


Overwhelmingly discrimination in employment was found to be the most prevalent area of discrimination in the report and our research consistently shows that trans people suffer from high levels of unemployment or underemployment.  Employment discrimination takes many forms, such as: failure to have gender identity related anti-harassment or anti-discrimination policies, failure to provide appropriate access to toilets during transition, not having a policy for staff undergoing gender reassignment and overall discrimination in terms of retention, promotion and recruitment.  Over half of the respondents to the Engendered Penalties study reported either being forced to resign or feeling compelled to leave due to working conditions post-transition.  Many reported that they were now doing lower paid work since their gender transition.  There were also reports of verbal abuse (23%) and physical abuse (6%).

Addressing discrimination in employment is critical for transgender people, not just in terms of their health and wellbeing but also because assessments required in order to progress a medical transition may take into account the ability of the trans person to  function in their acquired gender in the workplace.


Education is an area where discrimination manifests itself more as harassment and bullying than by denial of services.  Because of this, actual instances of discrimination are understated due to the fact that children learn to modify their behaviour to avoid becoming the targets of bullying.  One noticeable outcome of this is that while trans people as a group reported higher levels of education than the population as a whole, they showed a much higher incidence of earning those credentials as returning students.  This ties in to the fact that young trans people exhibit a much higher than average dropout rate. LGBT Youth Scotland’s Education Report highlighted an extremely worrying prevalence of transphobic harassment and bullying in education.


One other area in which trans people experience significant equality issues is in housing.  This can range from experiencing harassment in the local  neighbourhood to being denied rental of property. It might also include discrimination by a local authority or a housing association in the way they provide services to you. In some instances seemingly well-intentioned landlords may suggest that a trans person does not rent their property because they might experience abuse from their neighbours.

Gender reassignment

This aspect of health care is of such great concern to transsexual people, that it has been given its own section separate from the general health and social care good practice section on this website. Untreated gender dysphoria can severely damage people’s lives through resulting chronic severe depression and anxiety or even self-harm and suicide.  However, the provision of access to good patient-centred NHS Gender Identity Clinic services (such as gender dysphoria assessment, supportive counselling, hormones and surgery) can be life-enhancing and even fundamentally life-saving.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance and NHS Health Scotland worked in partnership to create the first NHS Scotland trans info poster which has been displayed in hundreds of diverse locations across Scotland. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the poster to display in your health service or voluntary sector organisation.

This section contains web pages giving information and guidance on the following subjects in relation to gender reassignment processes, equality and rights:

NHS Scotland trans info poster

NHS Scotland trans info poster

Time for Change Transgender Consultation Perth

The Equality Network and the Scottish Transgender Alliance are jointly conducting a major consultation on the future priorities for LGBT equality in Scotland. As part of this LGBT consultation, the Scottish Transgender Alliance will be holding special transgender equality consultation events during January and early February.

Have your say, we want to hear your views on:

  • what should be done to combat transgender discrimination?
  • what do you need from local and national services?
  • what is a priority and what could be done in future?
  • what can happen in your local area?

The Scottish Transgender Alliance and the Equality Network will use your responses to set our priorities for the years ahead and to influence the future work of public bodies.

This Perth event will take place as part of Peth Transgender Group

Refreshments will be available.  

To find out more about the Perth Transgender group, email:


For further information about this consultation event:

Contact: nathan@equality-network.org

Call:  0131 467 6039

All supporters of transgender equality are welcome: however you self-identify your gender. The only criteria for participation is that you support equality and human rights for all trans people (across the entire diverse gender spectrum from nonbinary genderqueer and crossdressing people to men and women with transsexual histories) and agree to be respectful of the self-defined gender identities and experiences of all participants. There will be zero tolerance of any statements seeking to deny equality and human rights to others. 

Skills Development Residential Weekend

TOPIC: How To Deliver Trans Awareness Sessions

Saturday 26th April and Sunday 27th April

Mercure Glasgow City Hotel

Providing basic trans awareness sessions to public bodies is a vital equality activity carried out by trans people. We are running a free two day residential training course for trans people interested in learning how to educate public bodies about transgender equality. This weekend course will increase your presentation skills and trans equality knowledge so you will be able to explain trans issues in a clear, friendly and interesting manner. Participants will also receive a free pack of useful trans equality training resources, including established STA workshop plans, a DVD trans awareness short film and a course attendance certificate.

All participation costs are covered, including all travel expenses within Scotland, accommodation (for the Friday and Saturday nights) and meals. We can book your travel for you so you don’t need to pay anything up front.

You do not need to have any previous experience of delivering trans awareness sessions. The course is designed to be suitable for those already delivering trans awareness sessions and those who are interested in starting to do so.

All types of trans people are welcome to participate, including non-binary people, cross-dressing people and transsexual people at any stage of gender reassignment.

You need to be aged 18 or over.

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Register online now at: https://trans-skills.eventbrite.co.uk

Research and Evidence

Research and Evidence Reports by Scottish Trans Alliance:

Gender Reassignment Protocol Audit Community Engagement Report, 2014

Scottish Trans Health Conference Report, 2012

UK Trans Mental Health Study, 2012

Gender Reassignment Protocol Development Community Engagement Report, 2011

Public bodies and the public sector duties relating to transsexual and transgender people: Report of findings and case studies, 2010

Out of sight, out of mind?: Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse, 2010


Research and Evidence Reports by other organisations (UK):

Engendered Penalties, 2007

Count me in too: Trans People

Action for Trans* Health: Non-binary survey

b0red of b1nary non binary gender recognition survey results

Measuring gender identity

Trans Living in Brighton & Hove

Supporting trans survivors of sexual violence

Socialising Transgender: Social Care and Transgender People in Scotland

TransForming Research Practice – Collaborative Foundations in Trans and Non-Binary Inclusive Research


Europe – multi-nation research:

Being Trans in the European Union, 2014

The State Decides Who I Am

Transgender EuroStudy

Human Rights and Gender Identity



Stop Transphobia and Discrimination Report

Trans Mental Health and Wellbeing



Paying an Unfair Price

National Transgender Discrimination Study

The Experience of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools



Parental Support and Trans Youth

Support Groups in Scotland

This list of support groups is current as of April 2017.  These groups are run by different individuals and are separate from the STA.  To obtain further information about a group, please contact the group directly. Any trans support group is welcome to provide us with their details for inclusion here.  If you would like to have your group added to this list, or if any information needs updating, please contact vic@equality-network.org.

Beyond Gender

 Tuesday evenings from 7–9pm

Group for transgender, non-binary & intersex people and their friends aged 13–25 in Edinburgh. Contact: beyondgender@lgbtyouth.org.uk or visit http://www.beyondgenderyouth.org/

Central Scotland Transgender Group

 2nd Saturday of each month

The Central Scotland Transgender Group can be contacted by emailing Sarah at sarah_m_whyte@yahoo.co.uk

Edinburgh Trans Women 

 1st Saturday of each month 7.30-9.30pm                                                                          LGBT Health and Wellbeing, 9 Howe Street, Edinburgh, EH6 3TE.

Support group aimed at transsexual women at any stage of transition, women who are transgender and live as women full-time or part-time or for those who are questioning their gender identity.

We look forward to meeting you and prefer you to email us the first time you want to visit. This helps with security and helps us get ready to welcome you. 

Group contact: info@edinburghtranswomen.org.uk

Grampian T folk 

Meet in Aberdeen first Sunday of the month at 2pm.

A support group for all under the trans umbrella.

Contact by email: mail@fourpillarsuk.org

Me & T Monthly 

  4th Sunday of each month 2-4pm                                                                                       LGBT Health and Wellbeing, 9 Howe Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6TE

This is a supportive space for people who have friends, family or partners who are transgender or exploring their gender, and provides an opportunity to meet other people who may have similar experiences, questions or concerns.
Group contact: me.and.t.scotland@gmail.com.  Also read more about the group here –meandtscotland.wordpress.com

Non-Binary Scotland

Non-Binary Scotland is a group which provides support and social opportunities for people who either self-identify as out with the gender binary of men and women or are questioning whether they might.

Whether you are genderqueer, androgyne, third-gender, non-gender, agender, gender-fluid, gender-non-conforming or have any other non-binary identity you are always welcome!  Non-Binary Scotland began in November 2013. We will be meeting every couple of months in Edinburgh at first and may move to monthly meetings and additional locations if there is sufficient interest.  Some, but not all, of our events and meetings are also open to significant others, partners, friends, family and allies of non-binary people.

You can contact Non-Binary Scotland by emailing: nonbinaryscotland@gmail.com

You can tweet them: @NonBinaryScot

You can become a member of their Facebook group at:http://www.facebook.com/groups/nonbinaryscotland/

Our Tribe

 Last Saturday of each month, start at 7pm – Please feel free to arrive from    6.30/45pm                                                                                                            Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.

Transgender and looking for a supportive place to explore or express your faith?  OUR TRIBE is the LGBT welcoming and affirming Christian ministry at Augustine United Church, Edinburgh. It is a joint ministry with worldwide denomination of Metropolitan Community Churches.  All are welcome – friends, family and allies.

If you would like further information contact Rev Maxwell Reay ourtribe.auc@gmail.com or call 07957 543359

Perth TG Group

1st Saturday of each month

There is a Facebook page for this Group. On Facebook just search: Perth TG Group. For further information regarding meetings in the Perth area, please email Katherine at:katherineburrows485@gmail.com

Sandyford Transwomen Support Group

1st Wednesday of each month from 6.00pm to 7.45pm and 3rd Saturday of each month from Noon to 2.00pm (Not within Sandyford)

A peer support group for transwomen who reside in Glasgow and the West of Scotland and beyond. Although we are affiliated to Sandyford and hold our Wednesday meetings there, we are a separate entity.

E-mail: sandyfordtranswomen@yahoo.co.uk

Additional group contact: Colin Mackillop – Community Access Coordinator by phone: 0141 211 8416 or by email contact: colin.mackillop@nhs.net

Shetland LGBT

Shetland LGBT is a social/support group for all LGBT+ people in Shetland. Social gatherings are usually held every 4 weeks or so in the Café/Bar in Mareel, and we can arrange to hold closed meetings for particular groups who prefer more privacy.

We have a growing transgender membership and are happy to arrange closed meetings if required.

All details of our events are published on our facebook page, Shetland LGBT.

Contact us on facebook, Shetland LGBT. (There is also a closed facebook page) or email ShetlandLGBT@gmail.com

Stirling LGBT Group

Out-here Group is new to Forth Valley and was set up to support adults from the LGBT community to come together.  It is a social & support group where the members can arrange their own social evenings as well as being able to meet and talk about day to day issues.  Currently the group is growing and is extremely welcoming to the LGBT community. With growing transgender members from rural areas, it’s proving to be extremely successful and open for the trans community to support each other and share advice on peoples transitions.  The group is facilitated by Terrence Higgins Trust (Scotland) staff and a trans volunteer and is promoted in the Forth Valley area.

For more information please contact Michael Harkin, Health Promotion Specialist – Forth Valley on 0141 332 3838 ormichael.harkin@tht.org.uk

Swans of Scotland

Self supporting help group for all Trans folk in the North of Scotland. Find out more and come along and have a chat, ask questions, be yourself.

Contact: www.spanglefish.com/swansofscotland

T Time Edinburgh

3rd Saturday of each month, 1-4pm, 9 Howe Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6TE

An informal monthly social gathering open to all transgender people, their friends, families and supporters. Come along for tea/coffee and a chat in a friendly, relaxed environment.

Contact jules@lgbthealth.org.uk for more information

T Time Glasgow

1st Saturday of each month, 1-4pm, 12 Queen’s Crescent, G4 9AS

An informal social gathering which welcomes trans and non-binary people and anyone questioning their gender identity. Come along for tea/coffee and a chat plus an optional event or activity in a friendly, relaxed environment. Contact katrina@lgbthealth.org.uk for more information.

TG Times 

 monthly at weekends                                                                                                      Dumfries

This is an adult social group that welcomes any person who is adult and identifies as Transgender, including those who are questioning their identity or are cross-dressing.  Please note that partners and supporters of Trans people are now welcome at the groups.

For more info contact D&G LGBT Centre on 01387 255 058.

For information on time and venue please contact the D&G LGBT Centre on: 01387 255 058 or email dandg@lgbtyouth.org.uk

Also to keep up to date on what’s happening at the D&G LGBT center checkout our websitewww.lgbtcentredg.co.uk or add us on Facebook: Dumfries LGBT Centre.

Trans Unite

A website which allows members of the transgender & non-binary communities to find a support group local to them (or even an online-only group):

Their website is located at: https://www.transunite.co.uk/

The site is run by volunteers and a not for profit organisation They are the most up to date resource for the UK and online based support groups; users can find a local group and even message them directly from their site using the “Contact Group” button. We don’t store any details and the site is secured by SSL.

TransForm Renfrewshire

Every two weeks on a Friday, 6pm onwards, Blend Cafè in Paisley (25b Causeyside Street)

A social and support group for Trans/Non-Binary people living in Renfrewshire. Find out more at their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/transformren

TransParent – Aberdeen

1st Wednesday of the month

A group for parents of trans people in the Aberdeen area

Contact mail@fourpillarsuk.org

TransparenTsees – group for parents of trans people  

 1st Thursday of the month, 6-8pm                                                                                2nd Floor at Sandyford, 2-6 Sandyford Place, Glasgow G3 7NB

The aim of the group, which has been set up by parents, is to provide a confidential, safe place for parents, carers and other family members of trans people to meet, discuss issues and ask questions of one another. You may just have found out that your child, whether young or grown-up, is trans, or you may still be grappling with the issues after many years of knowing – the group is for all parents, carers or other family members of trans people.

TransparenTsees also have groups in Edinburgh, and groups in Elgin.

Please contact: TransparenTsees@gmail.com for more details.

Trans Masculine Scotland

Trans Masculine Scotland is a support group run by and for the trans masculine community. We welcome all trans masculine (including non binary) folks aged 16+ who were assigned female at birth or socialised as female.

Our monthly meetings currently alternate between Edinburgh and Glasgow but we also participate in events and discussions throughout the country. Please get in touch with us at transmasculinescotland@gmail.com to hear more about our events or to sign up to our secret Facebook group.

Trans Youth D&G

A youth group for young people 12-26 who identify under the Transgender umbrella and their supportive friends meets monthly.

Contact julieann.karayilan@lgbtyouth.org.uk for more information

Trans Youth Glasgow over 18s group

Weekly on Monday evenings                                                                                      LGBT Youth Scotland in Glasgow.

TYG: Trans* Youth Glasgow is a group for young people aged 16 – 25 who identify as transgender or want to explore their gender identity.  The group aims to support and empower young people as they take part in workshops on transgender issues, sharing their own knowledge, skills and experience, learning from each other and making new friends.  For more info contact Martin Innes at martin.innes@lgbtyouth.org.uk

Trans Youth Glasgow under 18s group

Weekly on Tuesday evenings                                                                                      LGBT Youth Scotland in Glasgow.

TYG: Trans* Youth Glasgow is a group for young people aged 13 – 17 who identify as transgender or want to explore their gender identity.  The group aims to support and empower young people as they take part in workshops on transgender issues, sharing their own knowledge, skills and experience, learning from each other and making new friends.  For more info contact Mathew Wilkie at mathew.wilkie@lgbtyouth.org.uk