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Gender Identity: Introduction

“Most young people grow up thinking of themselves as either a boy or a girl, and they don’t question which they are (their gender). But for some people, gender is more complicated.” (NHS) 

Gender identity is our innermost understanding of our self as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Gender is a spectrum and people vary as to where they identify on that spectrum.  Most people develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex (their body), however for some people, who may identify as transgender, this does not match.

As many as 1 in 1000 people may question their gender identity in some way, either temporarily or permanently, and GIRES estimates that about 20,000 British people are receiving medical support for Gender Dysphoria. 
It is important to understand that gender identity is completely separate to sexual orientation, although these terms are commonly grouped (e.g. in the term LGBT – lesbian gay bisexual and transgender).

The Scout Association is committed to diversity and inclusion, and is open to all people regardless of their gender identity.

Gender identity: Supporting young people

Gender identity: Supporting adult volunteers

What is transgender?
Trans or transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who feels that they are a male may be trapped in a female body.

For some people the mismatch between sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings that are called Gender Dysphoria.

The person may live or be considering living in their true gender; going through what is known as transition, to being known by a different name, wearing different clothes and/or concealing parts of their body. The person may or may not decide to have gender reassignment, to permanently alter their body to match their true gender.

A person may call themselves transgender or ‘trans’ for short. However, they may simply live as their acquired gender and not want others to know they are transgender.

A person may choose to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), as a legal recognition of their acquired gender.

What causes it?
The most recent scientific research suggests that it is strongly associated with the development of the brain in the womb.

What is gender reassignment?
Gender reassignment is when a person permanently alters their body to match their true gender. This is usually a complex process that takes place over a long period of time, varying between individuals, and is agreed by medical professionals. They may be prescribed hormones and/or undergo surgery.
It is important to remember that gender dysphoria is a medical condition, rather than a lifestyle choice.

What is the law?
Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, whether or not the person is undergoing medical treatment. This means that as with ‘disability’, organisations have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that trans Members can access Scouting, including anticipating the needs of any future members.

Other gender identity differences
A person may feel they do not belong to either gender (defining themselves as Gender Queer), or feel that neither term describes them accurately (‘gender-neutral’ or ‘Agender’), or even that they are female on some days and male on others, ‘gender fluidity’,

How can I support Members who are transgender?

Follow the links below for practical guidance...

Gender identity: Supporting young people
Gender identity: Supporting adult volunteers

Guidance created in partnership with the charities The Gender Trust and Mermaids.

Further information

Gender Trust: Charity supporting trans people and all those affected by gender identity issues, and awareness raising. 
Website: http://gendertrust.org.uk
Email: info@gendertrust.org.uk
Telephone: 01527 894 838

NHS ‘Live Well’ webpages
: Information and personal stories around health and wellbeing for Transgender people.
Website: http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/Transhealth/Page/Transhealthhome.aspx

GIRES: Gender Identity Research and Education Society
Website: http://www.gires.org.uk/
Includes free e-learning http://www.gires.org.uk/elearning/new/player.html


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