Here is a selection of online resources for trans and gender-variant people, their families and friends. I've limited my selection to trans-specific websites rather than those serving the wider LGBT or queer communities – I hope you find them worthwhile. As trans men are often under-represented in the media, online communities and elsewhere, I have included a separate section for FtM (female-to-male) links to complement the wider trans resources, some of which are geared more towards trans women. Please feel free to add anything else that may be useful, including your own sites, in the comments section below.
Culture and community
Forum 'supporting the TG community'.
A London bar space for trans, queer, LGBT people and their friends, with an emphasis on queer/trans performance.
Deep Stealth Productions
Founded by Calpernia Addams and Andrea James, Deep Stealth strives for positive media representation of trans people.
Creative workshops, arts programmes, conferences and youth group sessions.
'A unique digital magazine which brings you the very best of trans and genderqueer news, advice and entertainment'.
The 'national transgender celebration' which takes place in Manchester every year.
Trans Media Watch
Aims to combat prejudiced or sensationalist media reporting of trans issues, and offer advice to people or organisations.
Former London-based organisation devoted to transgender performance art, with an interesting archive.
Online forum for the trans community.
A comprehensive website for the female-to-male community, offering information about healthcare, law, events and family support.
A British-based site acting as a friendship/support group for FtM transgender and transsexual people.
FTM Resource Guide
For trans men and friends, with tips on hormones, grooming, clothing, surgery and more.
UK-based FtM lifestyle forum.
US magazine 'dedicated to the sexuality and culture of FtM trans guys'.
'The internet's magazine for transgender men'.
History and politics
The Empire Strikes Back
Trans woman Sandy Stone's spirited rebuttal of Janice Raymond's book The Transsexual Empire (1979). This essay is one of the key texts of the 90s trans rights movement.
For people beyond gender binaries.
Gender Variance Who's Who
'Essays on trans, intersex, cis and other persons and topics from a trans perspective'. Includes plenty of further reading, with a list of international trans resources.
Committed to human rights for intersex people.
Just Plain Sense – The Trans Tapes
Interviews by Christine Burns with a variety of trans people.
Press For Change
Political lobbying and educational organisation campaigning for equality and human rights for British trans people through legislation and social change. The original website is archived here.
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
US-based organisation seeking to raise the voices of marginalised trans people.
London discussion group.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Observed every 20 November to commemorate victims of transphobic violence.
Women Born Transsexual
'For people who recognise transsexualism as an innate condition rather than a gender identity disorder'.
Medical services and healthcare
Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic online support groupuk.groups.yahoo.com
A discussion group for those who have used the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross.
Service for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people with mental health concerns.
National archives – Gender Identity
Department of Health documents relating to gender identity.
The NHS page on gender dysphoria, covering terminology, symptoms and treatment.
Magazine covering health and fitness issues.
The London Gender Clinic, the UK's largest private service.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
Professional organisation devoted to 'the understanding and treatment of gender identity disorders'. Originally named after pioneering physician Harry Benjamin, WPATH produces the ethical guidelines and standards of care for professionals working with patients with gender identity issues.
Support groups and information
The Beaumont Society
National self-help body run by and for those who cross-dress or are transsexual, and for their partners.
Brighton-based support group 'open to anyone wishing to explore issues around gender identity'.
Support group for families and friends of transsexual people in the UK.
Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Information for trans people, their families and medical professionals.
Organisation which supports adults whose lives are affected by gender identity issues, as well as families and employers of transsexual or transgender people.
Family and individual support for teenagers and children with gender identity issues.
Scottish Transgender Alliance
Support for trans people, equality organisations, policymakers and employers in Scotland.
A comprehensive collection of online transgender resources, allowing people to add links/information themselves.
Trans Resource & Empowerment Centre
Based in Manchester, with monthly meetings, talks and workshops.
Comprehensive website including medical information, a guide to venues and opinion about transgender representation in the media for both MtFs and FtMs.
Transsexual Road Map
An excellent free guide to process of transitioning, and the social issues around it.
Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there's a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It's sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence or transgenderism.
Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the genitals. Gender identity is the gender that a person "identifies" with or feels themselves to be.
While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, this isn't the case for everyone. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may not feel they're definitively either male or female.
This mismatch between sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings that are called gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It's not a mental illness.
Some people with gender dysphoria have a strong and persistent desire to live according to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex. These people are sometimes called transsexual or trans people. Some trans people have treatment to make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity.
Signs of gender dysphoria
The first signs of gender dysphoria can appear at a very young age. For example, a child may refuse to wear typical boys' or girls' clothes, or dislike taking part in typical boys' or girls' games and activities.
In most cases, this type of behaviour is just part of growing up and will pass in time, but for those with gender dysphoria it continues through childhood and into adulthood.
Adults with gender dysphoria can feel trapped inside a body that doesn't match their gender identity.
They may feel so unhappy about conforming to societal expectations that they live according to their anatomical sex, rather than the gender they feel themselves to be.
They may also have a strong desire to change or get rid of physical signs of their biological sex, such as facial hair or breasts.
Read more about the symptoms of gender dysphoria.
See your GP if you think you or your child may have gender dysphoria.
If necessary, they can refer you to a specialist Gender Identity Clinic (GIC). Staff at these clinics can carry out a personalised assessment and provide any support you need.
A diagnosis of gender dysphoria can usually be made after an in-depth assessment carried out by two or more specialists.
This may require several sessions, carried out a few months apart, and may involve discussions with people you are close to, such as members of your family or your partner.
The assessment will determine whether you have gender dysphoria and what your needs are, which could include:
- whether there's a clear mismatch between your biological sex and gender identity
- whether you have a strong desire to change your physical characteristics as a result of any mismatch
- how you're coping with any difficulties of a possible mismatch
- how your feelings and behaviours have developed over time
- what support you have, such as friends and family
The assessment may also involve a more general assessment of your physical and psychological health.
Treatment for gender dysphoria
If the results of an assessment suggest that you or your child have gender dysphoria, staff at the GIC will work with you to come up with an individual treatment plan. This will include any psychological support you may need.
Treatment for gender dysphoria aims to help reduce or remove the distressing feelings of a mismatch between biological sex and gender identity.
This can mean different things for different people. For some people, it can mean dressing and living as their preferred gender.
For others, it can mean taking hormones or also having surgery to change their physical appearance.
Many trans people have treatment to change their body permanently, so they're more consistent with their gender identity, and the vast majority are satisfied with the eventual results.
Read more about treating gender dysphoria.
What causes gender dysphoria?
Gender development is complex and there are many possible variations that cause a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity, making the exact cause of gender dysphoria unclear.
Occasionally, the hormones that trigger the development of biological sex may not work properly on the brain, reproductive organs and genitals, causing differences between them. This may be caused by:
- additional hormones in the mother’s system – possibly as a result of taking medication
- the foetus’ insensitivity to the hormones, known as androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) – when this happens, gender dysphoria may be caused by hormones not working properly in the womb
Gender dysphoria may also be the result of other rare conditions, such as:
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) – where a high level of male hormones are produced in a female foetus. This causes the genitals to become more male in appearance and, in some cases, the baby may be thought to be biologically male when she is born.
- intersex conditions – which cause babies to be born with the genitalia of both sexes (or ambiguous genitalia). Parents are recommended to wait until the child can choose their own gender identity before any surgery is carried out.
Read more about disorders of sex development.
How common is gender dysphoria?
It's not known exactly how many people experience gender dysphoria, because many people with the condition never seek help.
A survey of 10,000 people undertaken in 2012 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 1% of the population surveyed was gender variant, to some extent.
While gender dysphoria appears to be rare, the number of people being diagnosed with the condition is increasing, due to growing public awareness.
However, many people with gender dysphoria still face prejudice and misunderstanding.
Gender dysphoria is a complex condition that can be difficult to understand. Therefore, it helps to distinguish between the meanings of different gender-related terms:
- gender dysphoria – discomfort or distress caused by a mismatch between a person’s gender identity and their biological sex assigned at birth
- transsexualism – the desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to have treatment to make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity
- transvestism – where a person occasionally wears clothes typically associated with the opposite gender (cross-dressing) for a variety of reasons
- genderqueer – an umbrella term used to describe gender identities other than man and woman – for example, those who are both man and woman, or neither man nor woman, or moving between genders
Gender dysphoria isn't the same as transvestism or cross-dressing and isn't related to sexual orientation. People with the condition may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual, and this may change with treatment.
Page last reviewed: 12/04/2016
Next review due: 01/04/2019