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Two young trans people share their views on proposed changes to NHS healthcare services for trans and gender-diverse young people in England

We continue our series of blogs from our communities on the impact of the proposed guidelines with two young trans people, Jamie and Elijah, who have shared their views on the specification. 

The consultation on the proposed guidelines runs until 4 December 2022, and we have produced guidance on the consultation to help you respond. 

Jamie: “Social transition – it’s a lifesaver”

Social transition saved me as a teenager.

To some, it may seem unbelievable how such simple acts can have such a profound effect on someone’s life. For me, cutting my hair short started the long journey of being able to look myself in the mirror once more.

The new proposals argue for clinicians not to encourage social transition until a diagnosis of gender dysphoria has been made, citing Dr Hilary Cass’ statement that social transition is “not a neutral act” and fears over its long-term psychological impact.

To me, this is a huge step back in trans advocacy and self-determination. A clinical diagnosis to be permitted to cut your own hair short may seem preposterous. And that’s because it is! 

All individuals, trans or cis, go through a journey of self-discovery through their lives. Finding what it means to be authentically you is something inherent to the human experience, and it’s only once this authenticity is placed into a transgender context that it’s seen as something to be wary over, something to be medicalised. 

When I changed my name to a nickname, this was in a cis context, and thus was permissible, even encouraged. When I changed my name to what it is today, I was told to “think about my future”, and consider whether this was a “permanent” change that I really wanted. Silly considering how easy changing your name is here! 

The new proposals will undoubtedly cause harm to trans youth. Dr Cass was right, social transition isn’t neutral. It’s a lifesaver. 

Elijah: “a worrying outlook for what is to come for gender-diverse young people”

Holistic support is undoubtedly key for the well-being of young trans people and to make them feel supported there is a need for honesty and openness in communication from both sides. 

While young people using unregulated sources of medication is a concern, an approach that attempts to persecute the young person and their support system does nothing to reduce harm. 

The proposed guidelines state that safeguarding protocols will be initiated if a young person seeks medication outside the NHS which will make it difficult for young people to build trust with workers involved in their care.

The attitude towards social transition within the report is also concerning, painting it to be a process that requires medical approval rather than a gradual process of presenting in a way that makes you feel most comfortable. Young people know themselves better than a clinician who they only see once every few months.

I think it is ironic that while some claim that “allowing” children to be trans is depriving them of their childhood, in reality, the restrictions placed on trans young people create an environment where they are filled with fear, unable to simply enjoy their youth. 

Community support has been crucial in being able to manage the complex and overwhelmingly negative feelings I felt in relation to this consultation and has reaffirmed the importance of specific services for trans young people such as Mermaids. 

Although the specification seems to provide a worrying outlook for what is to come for gender-diverse young people in the UK, there is still hope and solidarity within the community, and we will push even harder for progress. 

Read more about the proposed changes in our explainer blog, and find guidance to help you respond here.