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12th November 2021

Care Providers Need to Know how to Support Trans People

Abi Spence on the importance of tailoring support for everyone and this means not forgetting trans people as we approach Trans Awareness Week this month.

Trans Awareness Week runs from 13 - 19 November, promotes the visibility of the trans community and shines a light on the issues trans people face.

On 20 November, a Trans Day of Remembrance is held to remember trans people who have lost their lives through anti-transgender violence.

What does trans/transgender mean?

If you are not familiar with the term ‘Trans or Transgender’, the charity Stonewall says trans is: ‘An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.’

The sad facts

Trans people face prejudice in all parts of their lives. Stonewall’s 2018 research found 2 in 5 trans people experienced a hate crime committed against them, 2 in 5 trans young people had attempted suicide and 1 in 8 trans people had been physically attacked by colleagues or customers at work. In 2020, Galop, the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity, found 4 in 5 trans people had experienced a hate crime in the previous 12 months.

Stonewall believes ‘Everyone has the right to be themselves without fear. It will take time to secure better recognition for trans people, but by increasing understanding in our communities, informing and inspiring politicians and raising the visibility of trans people's stories, we can achieve vital gains and pave the way for trans equality.’

What does this mean for the people you support?

I have asked prospective Registered Managers what equality and diversity means and how this applies to their service? Often there is an awkward silence. Sometimes I was told that there wasn’t much diversity and so little needs to be done, and rarely do individuals talk to me about LGBT+ issues.

Invisible identity

Lack of knowledge of this issue in care may be because many older people have not been able to safely express their identity due to the prejudice they may have faced, and social care staff do not necessarily have the knowledge and training to support conversations.

Little information

Dr Paul Willis writing for The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) says that there is little information for those aged 55 plus and ‘little is known about the health and social care needs of trans people within this age group with lack of research on how social care is experienced by older adults identifying as trans.’

A 2-year study by Swansea University (The Trans Ageing and Care (TrAC) Project) looked to better understand the health and social care needs of trans adults aged 50 and over.

What the study found

Amongst the findings, after conducting interviews with trans people, concerns were expressed about discriminatory treatment from social care staff if they had to receive personal care. This included whether they would experience transphobic responses from other service users and residents, and what the impact would be if their mental capacity declined and they became heavily reliant on others for assistance with intimate practices such as dressing and bathing.

Resources to support understanding and action

Arising from the study, 4 short films co-produced with trans filmmakers Fox and Owl, highlighted older trans people’s stories in Wales which can be viewed here (click the link at the top of the page to view the digital stories).

The research also produced new practice guidelines for professionals, including social workers, which can be viewed here (click on the resources tab). Although not directly for social care workers, I found the resource extremely helpful from both an individual perspective and as a service provider in identifying needs and supporting the trans community.

Personal journey

What we must remember as we take the time to learn about trans issues over the coming week and support each individual within services, is that every person’s experience is different.

Making sure care and support is tailored to the individual by talking to them directly will give you the best insight into supporting their journey.

For more information:

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/truth-about-trans

https://www.basw.co.uk/resources/psw-magazine/psw-online/%E2%80%98improving-services-older-trans-people-social-justice-issue-social

Trans Day of Remembrance and Trans Awareness Week

https://www.glaad.org/tdor

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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