Ruth recently said 'In recent weeks and months, we've seen endless headlines about trans people. Headlines that make ludicrous statements about how more people than ever are 'turning trans'. You cannot make someone trans any more than you can make them a butch catholic lesbian with dyslexia). Being trans is an innate part of who someone is and what they know to be true about themselves. This is exactly the same thing as me knowing I'm not trans, and frankly it's exactly the same for sexual orientation. People used to ask me how I knew I was a lesbian. My answer: how do you know you're straight?
So, why the headlines? Why the constant hateful features about trans people?
The first reason is that now, more than any other time in history, we have permission to talk openly about who we are. In fact, it's encouraged. We talk constantly - and positively - about our feelings, mental health, worries. We have made it OK for people to question what they're feeling. This is an amazing thing.
When a young person can go to their parents and say 'this is how I'm feeling' about anything - whether it's what happened in the playground that day, or what they saw on Bake Off that night - we are creating a culture where people are not scared to talk to each other. When the question is related to their gender, we have the opportunity to let them explore that in a safe way. We should not be afraid of the question; we should feel lucky they have the space to ask.
I have never asked these questions about my gender identity - and I imagine that many people reading this haven't either. That makes me immensely fortunate and means that I've never had to experience the same level of deep unease and discomfort as many people I know. But for those who have, knowing there is somewhere - a gender identity service perhaps - where they can go to talk and be listened to, is a relief.
Gender identity services do not turn people trans. They do not measure their successes or failures based on the number of people who end up being trans. Their role is not to convince people one way or the other. The role of these services is to provide time and space for this exploring to happen. If people leave these services feeling much more certain of who they are - whatever that is - this is a success.
As a Diversity and Inclusion consultant, trans issues seem to be one area where there is the most curiosity and lack of knowledge, awareness and sometimes understanding. I am glad that more people are talking about trans issues and hope this will result in a more positive experience for trans people. There is still so much discrimination and hate crime towards the trans community due to a range of issues including confusion between sexual orientation and gender identity, lack of knowledge and understanding that someone may not feel that they identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and down right ignorance..