Yesterday, I attended my first BAGIS (British Association of Gender Specialists) Conference in Leeds. I was unsure what to expect and a little nervous given that I knew no one else who would be there. It turned out to be a great event and I can’t wait for the next one! Topics discussed covered such a great range and included talks such as: ‘Working with young people with gender variance’ (Polly Carmichael, Sally Phillott and Laura Charlton of GIDS Tavistock) , ‘Hormonal treatment, protocol for early intervention and 15+ young people’ (Gary Butler and Sabah Alvi, UCLH) , ‘Surgical perspective, vaginoplasty..'(James Bellringer). It really was a great selection of talks and all were well delivered. I didn’t want to miss a second.

There were so many learning points from the event including an update from Leeds GIC. They note that 73pc of children under 11 have made social transition before coming to the service and there is a general decrease in the age of transitioning. There has also been an unprecedented 100 increase in referrals (Leeds 2015-2016): factors that may explain this include: increased visibility in media, more information available online, increased awareness of physical treatment, more support groups around gender, improved legislation and social protection.

It was also really good to hear a lot of mention of non-binary identities and I was pleasantly surprised by this discussion. I greatly enjoyed Christina Richards, Non Binary-Genderqueer talk and also hearing how GIC’s are supporting non binary people seeking support. I also enjoyed the latest postgraduate research talks including a look at the quality of life for trans youth in Europe, how to improve access to sports for people who are trans and a look at the needs of the partners of those transitioning. This latter talk also mentioned the issues with finding support via trans aware therapists and the need for improvement here. This is certainly something I’ve heard from many clients who identify as trans and/or non-binary and have previously found their gender pathologised or inappropriately the focus of therapy.

I would have liked to hear more about the issue of waiting times for the GIC’s, and the distress that often results from this, would be good to hear what is/can be done to address this. Yet it was good to hear the lack of information after referral to a GIC’s being acknowledged. Indeed, given that I was one of the few professionals there not linked to a GIC it was good to feed forward client voice of how it feels to access GIC support. It’s clearly very important that communication is improved and the voices of those accessing the service are heard. I know some trans support organisations such as Gires and Gendered Intelligence are really pushing this and it was great to hear them mentioned a lot at the conference and hear of this partnership work.

Having met Sally Phillott from Tavistock at the conference I am greatly looking forward to meeting the team in the near future and gathering information so I can support my clients further.


Image Credit
By Charles Forerunner Licensed under Creative Commons 0.