Oonagh

Mother of a young trans daughter. Ethnicity: White British.

At the time of the interview, Oonagh’s daughter socially transitioned a a year and a half ago. Previous to her social transition, her daughter was identifying as gender non-conforming. Oonagh was not phased when her daughter was identifying this way because she always thought of her as being a little bit differen. As her daughter got older Oonagh considered that she may be experiencing gender dysphoria, but at the time she did not have the knowledge or words to describe her daughter as trans.

During her daughter’s early childhood, she would play with stereotypically feminine toys like dolls and dresses, rather than stereotypically masculine toys. It was as her daughter started to grow up that Oonagh considered that her daughter may be experiencing gender dysphoria, but at the time she did not have the knowledge or words to describe her daughter as trans. Her daughter’s social transition started when she was about eight and a half. She says it started with little things such as her daughter coming home and getting changed into girl’s clothing, and she was quite happy to let it happen When her daughter became insistent that she could go to school in the girls; uniform Oonagh became worried, not because she had any issue with her daughter presenting as a girl, but because she was scared how other people would react. She did not want her daughter to face prejudice or be exposed to the negative media stories about trans children. Eventually, Oonagh obliged and bought her daughter a pair of girls; school shoes, which she wore with her normal boys; uniform.

At this point, it was clear that her daughter wanted to continue to move forward with her social transition, so Oonagh decided to speak to the head teacher who she described as being accepting. Before this, Oonagh had told another teacher at a parents; evening who responded, without flinching, that if her daughter wanted to come to school in the girls; school uniform it would be fine. This made Oonagh’s daughter very happy that her teachers were accepting and that she could move on with her social transition at school. The very next day, after the head teacher appointment, Oonagh’s daughter went to school in the girls; school uniform and, in her view, her daughter became happier and more confident. Reflecting on this, Oonagh says, I’m so pleased that she;d made us aware of it as soon as she did, to be able to get into the system so that hopefully she can have the best outcome for the future

When asked how she felt about the school’s response, Oonagh says she was pleased and relieved as she was worried that there would be a challenge. She felt confident that together herself and the school could do the best to make her daughter’s social transition as easy as possible. Oonagh says that little bit of bullying that happened were straight away dealt with by her teachers and her daughter has not been bullied since. Oonagh was particularly happy with the response since the school had had no experience before with trans children. She says they immediately wrote a policy based on advice from charities. Oonagh was particularly happy when a parent complained to the head teacher that her daughter was frightened about sharing toilets with Oonagh’s daughter. The head teacher responded by saying that this parent’s daughter could use a different toilet thereby putting Oonagh’s daughter and her needs first and also complying with the existing equality laws.

While Oonagh thinks that her daughter’s transition so far has been quite smooth, she is concerned about the lack of knowledge GPs have about trans children. From her point of view, GPs are more knowledgeable about trans adults. In one experience with a GP he openly admitted he had not supported a child with gender dysphoria before and that he would need to take her daughter’s case to a panel to approve funding and referral, which Oonagh knew was not necessary to do. Oonagh does want to say that the GP was kind and wanted to help, but that he just did not know how to support her daughter. With the support of a charity, Mermaids, she was able to get a letter of support for a referral to a gender identity service.

Oonagh explains that they waited for about a year for a telephone consultation with GIDS. In this appointment, the consultant explained what would happen next. A few months later, Oonagh and her daughter went to the service and saw a different health professional who had a good reputation so she felt confident that they would have a good experience. In this consultation, the health professional asked about her daughter’s background and how long she had been experiencing gender dysphoria. The consultant assured Oonagh and her daughter that they had come to the service at the right time as she had not started puberty yet. Oonagh was concerned that the service would not consider her daughter trans as she was not experiencing distress or strong body dysphoria.

Oonagh feels that trans children need to be defended. She says the services are not protecting trans children despite being set up to protect them.

Oonagh says that all families should be signposted to trans positive support groups.

Oonagh thought it was important to have diversity training on gender diversity for all health professionals.

Oonagh spoke about the importance of local support groups as well as about allowing the young person to lead the process.

Oonagh talked about the role of support groups.

Oonagh talked about a range of online sources of information that she found useful.

Oonagh hoped that increased visibility of trans children and trans people would lead to the society becoming better educated and more accepting of gender diversity.

Oonagh talks about knowing the term transgender’, but was confused about the LGBTQ umbrella term and how she tried to educate herself about the use of pronouns.

The head teacher at Oonagh’s child’s school was very proactive and worked together with her to put a policy in place.

Oonagh talked about there being some push back from other parents and governors at the school about the use of toilets and how the head teacher has dealt with it.

Oonagh talked about her daughter wanting to wear a girl’s school uniform and about the school’s supportive response.

Oonagh was surprised at how supportive her daughter’s school was. She felt relief and it made her confident about how her daughter’s transition would be received at school.

Oonagh talked about how as a parent you think about the long-term impact of hormone treatment and about discussing fertility with her daughter

Whilst on the waiting list to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), Oonagh worries that GIDS gives a lot of weight to body dysphoria as a requirement to be trans.

Oonagh talks about her daughter’s understanding of hormone blockers and her daughter not wanting to develop the male things.

Oonagh worried that her daughter could be susceptible to a deterioration in mental health’ when puberty started.

Oonagh talks about the relationship between her daughters.

Oonagh says she would prefer to stay in the NHS, and that keeping it slow’ was the better option, leading to a more professional’ assessment, but is also keeping her eye on private options for her daughter.

The GP’s lack of familiarity with the referral process was a concern for Oonagh.

Oonagh spoke about her GP’s lack of knowledge of the existing process of referral to the Gender Identity Development Service.