Trans is an umbrella term that describes when someone’s gender identity or gender expression is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
When you were born, people might have assumed you were female and would grow up to be a woman, but you may feel as though you are not a woman and may want to identify your gender in a different way. The umbrella part of the term trans covers a wide range of identities including trans men, trans women and non-binary folk. There are many ways to be trans and many words to describe this experience.
It can be easy to confuse sex and gender. Sex is assigned at birth as male or female related to genitalia, chromosomes and hormones. Gender identity is how you feel inside. How you chose to express your gender is your own personal choice.
Transitioning is a process through which trans people change their gender expression to match their gender identity.
Transitioning is a totally unique process for everyone and can range from minor changes (such as names and pronouns) to more long-term changes (such as surgery and hormones).
There is no one way to live your life as a trans young person. Start with trying out some of the smaller changes and see how it feels for you. As you decide which, if any, steps to take, it can help to talk about these feelings with others.
This may involve changing your appearance, such as how you dress, your hair or your make-up. It can also involve the use of bathrooms and changing rooms that suit your gender identity.
Part of coming out can be asking people to call you by a different name or to use a different pronoun. Some trans people refer to the name they were given at birth as their “birthname” or “deadname”. Pronouns are words you use to talk about someone when you don’t use their name, for example he/him/his, her/she/hers or they/them/theirs.
When you first come out, people may struggle with your pronouns and name and make genuine mistakes. Let them know why changing your name and pronoun is important to you and reflects who you truly are.
Some steps that may be taken to legally transition to better reflect your gender identity include legally changing your name and applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
Remember, you can decide to change your name or pronouns at any time and try it out to see what feels right for you. There is no legal procedure for changing your name with friends and family.
Legally Changing your Name
A deed poll must be executed to legally change a name from a birthname to a new name. A deed poll is a signed declaration by a person. The person who signs it is held to whatever the statement contains from that point on. For example, a deed poll for a change of name means you are then legally only known by your new name and declaring that you are abandoning your old name.
If you are between 14 and 17 years, you need the consent for both of your parents/guardians to execute a deed poll. To find out how to execute a deed poll visit citizensinformation.ie or get in touch and we can offer you support.
Applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate
The Gender Recognition Act 2015 allows individuals over the age of 18 to be legally recognised as their gender identity by applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Where a certificate is issued, a person’s gender becomes their gender on legal documents going forward. With a Gender Recognition Certificate, a person can apply to change their gender marker on documents including a passport and birth certificate. The application form is available from www.welfare.ie
For 16 and 17-year-olds, it is possible to apply for legal gender recognition, however the process is more complicated. Parental/ guardian consent is required, alongside a certificate from two medical practitioners. A person must then apply to the Circuit Family Court with this consent and an application form. More information is available from www.teni.ie
Some people chose to medically transition as part of their transition, many people do not chose this step. Making the decision to medically transition can be scary and most people have no idea where to start.
Medical transitioning can include the use of hormone blockers, hormone replacement therapy or surgery. If you are considering medically transitioning, as a first step talk to an adult you trust like your parents/ guardians, a teacher or a youth worker.
If you are under 17, you will need adult support, preferably from a parent, guardian or caregiver. You can also talk to your school’s guidance counsellor or pastoral care team. Your local LGBTQ+ service will be able to support you and help your family and school if needed. The next step is to visit your GP and ask for a referral. Trans young people under 18 may get access to hormone blockers to pause puberty, but they cannot access surgery.
Currently, there is no gender identity service for trans young people under 17 in Ireland but you can still receive support for you and your family while you wait to receive care. It can be very challenging to wait for medical transition and support related to your gender identity. Services such as Belong To and other LGBTQ+ youth groups are here to support you and your family during this time.
While you are waiting there are other ways you and your loved ones can affirm your gender, such as calling you the correct names and pronouns, and supporting you changing your clothing and the facilities you use. You are not alone in this time and many organisations including Belong To are working to make sure you and your family can access this service in the future.
If you are over 17, ask your GP to refer you to St. Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown, Dublin. This is the designated ‘National Gender Services’ and they provide a service to those over 17. You will be placed on a waiting list for a Team Assessment from the National Gender Services. Please note the waiting list are very long.
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