I'm here for me - Suffolk Gender Identity Hub

Imagine gender as a colour paint chart with hundreds of different colours and shades - your gender can fit anywhere on this paint chart.

You might identify with many different colours. Wherever you feel you fit, and whatever you decide, it's okay.

If you identify as transgender this page is for you, but there is more information on the other Suffolk Gender Identity Hub pages that you may find interesting and useful. This page gives ADULT service user information.  Information for children and young people can be found via The Source.

Page last reviewed in July 2020. Next Review: December 2020

Gender identity is the way we all identify ourselves, typically as a boy/man or as a girl/woman. This ‘binary’ model assumes that a person’s sense of identity will match their physical appearance as either a male or female, but this is not always the case. Some experience a gender identity different from their sex appearance, and some may see themselves as ‘gender neutral’ or ‘non-gender’. GIRES provide some useful information on the types of labels people are using. You can also find further information on different aspects of gender and how we can make sense of it at Gender Spectrum.

Transgender is a term used to describe anyone who identifies with a gender which is different to the one they were given at birth, and to the usual gender norms of their society. Because the way we experience gender is different from person to person, transgender is used all inclusively to describe both those who permanently change their gender role (with and without surgery), and those who may have a more fluid and changing experience of gender. Gender terminology is varied and constantly changing as understanding and perceptions of gender variance grows. GIRES provide more information on terminology. It may also be useful to visit the Transvision site which shares the stories of people from the LGBT community in Scotland. You can also view their Transvisions Video

Sharing your gender identity is called coming out. This isn’t necessarily a one-off event - trans people may have to come out many times during their lives. Sharing is a very individual process and people may face different challenges. The Stonewall website talks through this process in detail, and provides some helpful information which can help you to understand what you may be experiencing.

National organisations

  • The Beaumont Society is a national organisation run by people from the transgender community. One of their aims is to offer support and resources to improve the health, wellbeing and emotional confidence of others in the community.

  • The Gender Trust provide advice on all types of gender issues including transgender.

  • Gendered Intelligence works with young adults up to the age of 21.

The type of support you are looking for may vary depending on whether you are a trans man or trans woman and the stage you are at in exploring and transitioning.  

Talking to a professional

If you are questioning your gender identity, or are thinking about transitioning into a new gender role, you may need to speak to different professionals along the way to help you on this journey.  You may want to talk to your GP about the medical side of your care. If you have concerns about sharing of information, you may wish to speak to your GP and fill out the 'Who can see my health record form'. 

Although awareness of trans and non-binary health issues has increased, some GPs may not have much experience. NHS Choices has useful links and resources to help you have this conversation. The NHS have produced Guidance for GPs, other clinicians and health professionals on the care of gender variant people your GP may find useful.

You may also have other questions which relate to your work, marriage, your legal rights, and how to be recognised formally as a gender which is different to the one you were given at birth. The press for change website is a good place to start, as it has information about the laws which protect you, and the steps you would need to take to gain a gender recognition certificate. We would also encourage you to look at the Suffolk Gender Identity Hub Professionals and Managers web page to understand what professionals should be doing to support you.

  • Samaritans provide a free 24-hour telephone service which operates 365 days a year
  • The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT)  provide local mental health NHS crisis support
  • MindOut support LGBTQ people struggling with social isolation, suicidal distress, financial hardship, discrimination and prejudice, hate crime and exclusion.
  • Hate crime can be reported via the Suffolk Police or True Vision.
  • Mindline Trans+ - is a volunteer helpline operating across England and Wales staffed by individuals identifying as trans
  • If you are experiencing abuse in a relationship Galop,  an anti-violence and abuse charity, offers support to members of the LGBT community.

Health support to transition

Nationally, there are several gender identity clinics (GIC) where people can go for transitioning support. In Suffolk, the GIC service is provided by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. This specialist service is commissioned by NHS England, You can visit the Gender Dysphoria Clinical Programme  to find out about the clinical reference group and the latest on consultations and guidance.

To get a referral into a GIC, you will need to go through your GP or a health professional. To access the adult clinic, you will need to be at least 17 years and 6 months old (no mental health assessment is needed). If you are younger than this, you will need to be referred to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS).

The GIC offer information about the referral process, services and support available.

The General Medical Council provides advice to doctors (GP and hospital) on treating patients who identify as transgender including the different stages of treatment, how they should prescribe medication, and what they are expected to do to support you. Having a look at this information may help you to understand what you can expect.

Supported by GIRES and Press for Change, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has also produced guidelines on how health professionals can work together to improve the outcomes of their patients. Understanding these guidelines could also be useful.

In September 2018 the NHS published the outcome of the 2017 consultation for national gender dysphoria services (2018).

Mental health

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust provide local NHS mental health support for people who live in Suffolk. 

If you feel somebody is experiencing poor metal health or wellbeing, The Suffolk Wellbeing Service (for those living in East and West Suffolk) and the Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing Service (for those living in Waveney) offer a range of free support services.

The services offered include:

  • Stress control and wellbeing workshops
  • Telephone support
  • Short term therapy
  • One to one counselling

There is also more tailored support available from organisations such as Mind mental health charity who host a helpline called MindLine Trans+

Metro Charity is a London based organisation that offers mental health advocacy for the LGBT community. 

NHS screening programmes

The NHS population screening information for transgender and non-binary people website provides an overview of the national screening programmes and indicates which are available, where an automatic invite will be issued and where requests can be made. 

The four screening programmes are, breast screening, cervical screening, abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (AAA) and bowel cancer screening.

The National Screening Guidance was last updated May 2019.

Sexual health

Sexual health is an important part of healthy relationships. Making sure you look after your sexual health can protect you from disease, help to avoid unplanned pregnancies, and can help you have healthy and happy relationships free of prejudice and discrimination.

In Suffolk, there are specific services which can help you to maintain good sexual health. Information on these can be found on our sexual health page.

Below is also some useful information which can help to you to understand some of the specific aspects of sexual health for people who identify as transgender:

  • Evolve Trans - Service for adults who are at any point of their transitioning journey, from summer 2019 being provided by Suffolk Mind
  • Outreach Youth working with children and young adults up to the age of 19 (trans family support offered)
  • Phoenix Rising CiC who work to help people through education
  • Suffolk Night Owls offers an evening telephone service for people with complex needs (currently Thurs – Sun 8pm-2am)
  • Suffolk Pride is an event held each year celebrating the LGBTQ community
  • The Kite Trust supports young people living in Cambridgeshire however has some resources and podcasts available on their website

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust  provide local NHS mental health support. The Health Outreach Service can provide targeted support through their marginalised adults offer for trans individuals who are also one of the priority groups the service works with. An information leaflet and referral form can be accessed through these links.

What does the law say?

What organisations are saying about transgender health needs:

Several organisations have produced reports or policies on how the health needs of people who are transgender are being experienced or responded to: