Giving young trans people a decent start in life

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2015 National LGBT Conference
23 July 2015

Conference notes the widespread lack of awareness about young trans people and the issues they face, including within schools. This is made worse by the impact of austerity cuts to specialist and mainstream youth services, to community and support groups and to health services. Conference believes that giving young trans people the information, support and, if appropriate, treatment they need when they are young has a major impact on their life chances.

In education, most schools are woefully unprepared for trans students and so work done around this issue is usually reactive and therefore often rushed. Conference notes that around half of all people who work in schools are in non-teaching roles, inside and outside the classroom, either UNISON members or potential UNISON members. Indeed schools are currently one of UNISON’s biggest areas of member recruitment. Conference affirms that making education a positive experience for young trans people is a task for the whole school community and one in which UNISON can play an important part.

Conference welcomes steps to establish cross education union work on raising awareness in schools under the auspices of the Trades Union Congress and the Post School Forum on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality, of which UNISON was a founder member.

Conference notes that as well as negotiating lack of awareness at school, young trans people face issues in seeking gender related health services. These include the same issues as face older trans people including lack of consistency from General Practitioners, ever extending waiting times for services, lack of transparency and lack of clear information. Young people identifying as trans pre-16 face additional issues with access to treatment, including to puberty delaying treatment.

Conference further notes the high levels of housing problems and homelessness among young trans people and the devastating impact that the Tories’ removal of housing benefit from 19-21 year olds will have on them.

Conference commends the work done by a number of groups working to support young trans people, including Scottish Transgender Alliance, Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids.

Conference calls on the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) committee, working with the trans caucus, to:

1. Work with UNISON education services and other education unions to call for greater training for schools around trans issues and to lobby for trans issues to be included in Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) inspection criteria;

2. Raise awareness of advice and support groups available to young trans people and their families;

3. Include services for young trans people in campaigns for improved access to National Health Service gender services;

4. Encourage branch and regional LGBT groups to take up these issues.