Support Services provided by The Gender Centre

Support offered to families and parents with transgender children from the Gender Centre .

Finding out your child is transgender is often an experience that leaves you as a parent wondering “where do I go to find out how to support my child”. The Gender Centre has a case work support program that works with families. This involves access to our counsellor's for the family as well as a case worker. The model that we offer is flexible. Sometimes families identify that they need individual support and in this instance a case worker is allocated to parents and a separate case worker is available to support your child. At other times families identify they prefer to work collaboratively and want to see only one case worker together. Either option is available and is one which is discussed in the initial meeting you.

On your first visit you would meet with a senior case worker  to discuss how the Centre can support you. Information and a list of services that would also be helpful to you will also be provided. At this time case workers will be allocated to your family based on how you identify you would like to receive support and the senior worker will make sure that you are aware of who your worker(S) are and their rostered days in the office.

Counselling is available also in the same way as the case work. Parents may access a counsellor and the child may access the centres second counsellor. However this model is only applicable if your child is over 16 years of age. If your child is under 16 counselling can only be provided at the centre with parental or care givers consent . Links to other individual counsellors and specialists for young people under the age of 16 can be provided at the original intake case work meeting.

Helpful Information

Transgender people are arguably the least understood and most maligned of all minority groups. A fixed concept of gender is perhaps the most basic assumption in our culture and contradictions to that assumption are often extremely confronting. Sigmund Freud, observed in his writings in "Femininity":

When you meet a human being, the first distinction you make is male or female - and you are accustomed to make the distinction with unhesitating certainty."

Perhaps everyone will have at some time asked the question, "is that a boy or a girl", when they have been unable to make the distinction. Even when there is no direct interaction with the individual concerned there is often an irrational need to know the answer. Certainly it is the common first question asked of parents of a newborn baby.

Culturally then, there is enormous pressure for all individuals to adopt the expected gender behaviours associated with being male or female. What then are the implications for individuals whose sense of gender is contrary to their physical maleness or femaleness? Sadly there are many.

Before addressing these it might be useful to give some background on transgender-identity. A transgender person, according to the definition adopted by the N.S.W. Anti-Discrimination Board, is:

"anyone who lives, has lived, or wants to live as a member of the opposite gender (sex) to their birth sex."

According to medical models, in children, it is someone who:

  • repeatedly states a desire to be, or insistence that s / he is, the other sex;
  • preference for the clothing of the other sex;
  • strong and persistent preferences for cross-sex roles in make believe play;
  • intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of being the other sex;
  • strong preference for playmates of the other sex.

Both definitions carry limitations.

The transgender community itself allows for a far more multi coloured umbrella definition that is inclusive of anyone who transgresses gender norms. However the "feminine" boy or the "masculine" girl are not providing guaranteed clues of transgenderism. A transgender child cannot always be readily identified by their behaviour. Indeed, it could well be the most masculine behaving, least likely boy on the block, is actually transgender. Because transgender children carry the same gender conditioning as others, their true feelings, and their own fear of them, will often be hidden under outwardly appropriate birth gender behaviour.

Transgender Children Understanding the Basics

One of the most important and difficult tasks that parents face is how to best support their children while also setting the kind of boundaries and structure that help them grow up to become responsible and successful adults.

Gender identity and expression are central to the way we see ourselves and engage in the world around us. This is certainly true of transgender and gender- expansive children and teens, for whom fammily support is absolutly critical.

Studies show  that familial rejection can:
  • lead transgender youth to engage in behaviors that put their health at risk,
  • trigger depression and other mental health problems,
  • and – in the worst of cases – result in homelessness or suicide.
Moreover, familial support can act as a buffer against bullying and bias outside the home. “It also protects against depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and behaviors,” issues for which transgender youth are at disproportionate risk.

In other words, for some transgender youth, family support can be the difference between life and death.

Simple way to start supporting your transgender child

  • Always use the child’s preferred gender pronouns and preferred names.
  • Be your child’s advocate – call out transphobia when you see it and ask that others respect your child’s identity.
  • Educate yourself about the concerns facing transgender youth and adults.
  • Encourage your child to stand up for themselves when it is safe to do so.
  • Assure your child that they have your unconditional love and support.

Source material for the above http://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender-children-and-youth-understanding-the-basics

If you live in regional NSW support is still available to you. Call the Gender Centre to discuss your needs and support options.

Is discrimination towards transgender people against the law?

Yes. It is generally against the law to discriminate against or harass people because:
  • They are transgender, gender diverse or gender questioning
  • You think they are transgender
  • They have a relative or associate who is (or you think is ) transgender
In the same way as with other types of unlawful discrimination, (race discrimination, sex discrimination, and so on), transgender discrimination and harassment are only against the law in relation to employment, service delivery, government education, registered club membership and the provision of any type of rental or holiday accommodation.It is also against the law to publicly vilify people for being transgender. For more information about transgender vilification please visit the N.S.W. Anti-Discrimination Board website. External Link

What does this law mean for employers and service providers?

It means that you must treat all transgender people fairly. It does not matter whether they have or haven't had "sex-change" or other surgery. It does not matter whether they are or aren't taking hormones. It does not matter why they are transgender. It does not matter what gender they were at birth, or what gender they prefer to be. It does not matter whether they already live as their preferred gender, or whether they are in the process of "changing over" to their preferred gender ("transitioning"). If they fit the definition of transgender given above you must treat them fairly.The general rule is that you should treat transgender people  in the same way as you would treat anyone else. In most cases, this means that you should treat transgender people  in the way they wish to be treated. In other words, if they want you to treat them as the opposite gender to their birth gender that is what you should do.There is more information about the exact legal rights of transgender people - including who is counted legally as being their preferred gender and who isn't, in the N.S.W. Anti-Discrimination Board fact sheet.
 
The rest of these guidelines answer the most common questions employers and service providers ask us about transgender discrimination. If your question isn't answered either here or in the "transgender discrimination" fact sheet please contact the Anti-Discrimination Board. External Link for advice. You don't have to give us your or your organisation's name when you contact us.

Must I treat someone who is transgender as the gender (sex) of their choice?

If your employee or customer or client is transgender or decides to "change over" into their preferred gender while working for or doing business with you, it is best to ask them how they wish to be treated and then abide by their wishes. For example, a transgender person may still wish to be addressed as their original gender, or they may wish to be known as their preferred gender. They may wish to set an official date from which they will always be known as their preferred gender. It depends on the individual.
 
It's important to check with the particular person first and not make assumptions. If they are in the process of "transitioning" ("changing over" to their preferred gender), it is important to ask them how they wish to handle this with their colleagues or your staff. Some may wish to talk with their colleagues / your staff themselves, or they may want you to do this for them. Some may want to have a period of leave before coming back as their preferred gender. You can get more information on how best to handle transitioning from the Gender Centre or the N.S.W. Anti-Discrimination Board.
 
If you have a dress code, it must apply to men and women fairly. In general, someone who is transgender should be allowed to wear the clothing or uniform of their preferred gender.

How do I stop other staff from harassing transgender staff?

Prevention is better than cure! It is management's legal responsibility to make sure, to the best of their ability, that no one - including transgender people  - are harassed when working for them. If other members of staff refuse to work with, be supervised by, or share toilets with transgender or gender diverse people, or if they harass transgender people, call them names, or refuse to use their preferred name or gender, this would be harassment, and against the law.
 
This means that you need to set a standard for what is acceptable and professional work behaviour and what isn't. You should implement grievance procedures to deal with all types of harassment, including transgender harassment. Staff must be advised that harassment is not only unacceptable in your workplace, but also against the law and that disciplinary action will be taken against them if the harassment continues.
For more information on how to prevent and deal with harassment ask the Anti-Discrimination Board for their harassment in the workplace guidelines.

Do I have to employ a transgender or gender diverse person ?

In general, all job advertisements, jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships must be open to anyone who is transgender, in the same way, that they are open to anyone else.
 
Transgender people must be assessed on their merits against the specific criteria for the particular job in the same way as all other applicants.
 
You must not dismiss someone for being transgender, or for deciding to "change over" to their preferred gender while working for you - unless the job is legally only open to people of their birth gender, and then you can only dismiss someone once they have a birth certificate or recognition certificate in their new gender. In all other cases, transgender people can only be dismissed for the same reasons that anyone else can be dismissed - for example, for ongoing poor work performance, serious misconduct, medical reasons that mean they're no longer fit enough to do the job, or redundancy.

Workplace Policy

Most organisations will have in place a policy to ensure that equity is maintained in the workplace. Such policies might ideally include an equal and fair opportunity for all prospective and existing employees in terms of; employment, promotion, transfer, training and conditions of service: regardless of race, colour, religion, gender, transgender status, nationality, age, family responsibility/parenthood, pregnancy, political affiliation, criminal record, marital status, lifestyle or sexual preference, physical or intellectual disability/impairment and H.I.V. status.
 
The application of such policy should aim to recognise and encourage employees solely on the basis of their abilities, aptitudes, performance, qualifications and skills.

Transgender People in Transition

Where an employee of your organisation advises you of their intention to transition, the following guidelines will assist in providing a safe and supportive environment for the individual concerned and all other staff members. (Note: the employee may or may not have canvassed their decision with some staff members before approaching management.)
 
Once advised management should discuss the situation in full with the employee to become aware of their issues and concerns. It is then advisable to seek expert advice and information. The Gender Centre can assist with questions relating to gender issues and the Anti-Discrimination Board of N.S.W. can provide legal advice. (Training Workshops can be arranged through both organisations).
 
Discussions with the employee should not be seen as an opportunity to attempt to dissuade them from their decision. Whilst management may find the disclosure surprising and unexpected it is important to be aware that the employee will probably have spent a number of years arriving at their decision.
 
Once management is fully conversant with the situation they should organise with the employee appropriate time frames leading up to the transition. These should be adequate to allow the implementation of a staff awareness program to prepare all staff members for the transition.
 
It is often useful to set the date of transition for the employee at the point of return from a period of leave. This helps to reduce any levels of confrontation that staff may experience on first meeting the "new" person.
 
Management should notify all staff members, (and relevant union organisations through delegates or the joint consultative committee) in writing of the employee's intended transition. This document should be prepared sensitively, reflecting the Workplace Policy and clearly indicating management's support. The best way to achieve this is to approach the issue matter-of-factly with a clear emphasis on management policy to treat all employees with respect and dignity.
 
The document should also include advice on how to appropriately treat and address the individual concerned. These should include:
  • The new name under which the employee will be known;
  • Use of appropriate gender references. (She, her etc if transitioning to female; him, he etc. if transitioning to male. Emphasis should be placed on the unacceptability of offensive references such as "it".);
  • Access to appropriate facilities (Toilets / Change rooms of chosen gender);
  • To be generally treated in the same way as all other members of staff belonging to his / her chosen gender (In no way should they be subject to harassment, snide remarks or jokes.);
  • Open lines of communication between management and staff, including the transitioning individual, should be maintained. Staff should be encouraged to discuss with management any issues of concern that may arise. If there are concerns it is easier to resolve them if they are addressed promptly; and
  • Where management succeeds in addressing all aspects of transition matter-of/factly and with a minimum of fuss, impact on the organisation's operations should prove negligible.

Aims

  • That the process has minimal impact on all concerned and on workplace efficiency;
  • That the transitioning employee is treated with respect and dignity;
  • That any staff concerns are addressed;
  • That the workplace remains free of harassment or unfair treatment; and
  • That staff will quickly adjust to employing correct name and gender references.

Post Transition Phase

It is advisable to conduct a review of the process within three months of the original transition date, to ensure that aims have been met. If not, further training or reminder memos may assist in rectifying any continuing issues.
 
It is also worth noting that people transitioning will always be pre-operative (i.e. they will not have had surgical intervention though they will probably be undergoing hormone treatment). The option to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery remains the decision of each individual and does not affect their status.
 
However, if the employee elects to have surgery and this becomes known to others, it can possibly raise some emotive issues for other staff members. This may be the case even if the original transition phase was comfortably handled. Management should be aware of the possibility of this outcome eventuating and be prepared for further consultation or training if this occurs.
 
For more information and to organise training tailored to your workplace contact The Gender Centre on 9569-2366.

Where can I get more information or training?

For more information and to organise training tailored to your workplace contact The Gender Centre on 02-9569-2366

 

Services we offer our youth

Crisis and Transitional accommodation, for youth over the age of 18.......Brokerage,......Family Support,......School Support,......Case Management,.....Counselling & Spychological support service's and Speech Pathology

Counselling for youth

Youth over the age of 16 attend counselling at the Gender Centre without the consent of a parent or care giver,all sessions are strictly confidential. Youth and children under the age of 16 often attend counselling sessions together with their parents........ or individually with their parents consent counselling can be a safe space in which to address and explore issues of gender

Automatic confidentiality:

This means that unless someone's going to be seriously harmed of killed, a doctor or other health professional has to keep what you say private, even from your parents/guardian.
The age that you have automatic confidentiality rights is:

Fourteen  (14) and over in the NT
Sixteen (16) and over in NSW and SA
Eighteen (18) and over in all other states
for further information reagarding confidentiality go to the Reach out .com site      http://au.reachout.com/all-about-age-and-confidentiality

Community Case Management

The Gender Centre offers community case management to individuals who aren't residing in our housing programs. Community case management applies to anyone who identifies as transgender, gender diverse, and gender questioning. This service is available to both families and individuals. Community case management is a process of assessment, early
intervention, support, mediation and advocacy to meet the individual's holistic needs. Our primary objective is to support individuals to sustain an independent lifestyle within the community

Housing options Crisis & Transitional

The Gender Centre is a specialist homelessness service (SHS) which provides thirteen supported crisis beds and eccepts clients from the age of 18 up  under special cercumstances the centre can accommodate clients under the age of 18 with permission from The Department of Family and Community services. The Gender Centre also provides 21 single supported transitional units for clients over the age of 18

Brokerage

Our brokerage program provides support for
  • Establishing or moving tenancy
  • Housing related debts
  • Bonds
  • Employment and education costs
  • Medical and dental expenses

Monthly support groups for Gender Diverse youth

We provide a safe place for trans and gender questioning teenagers to explore their identity and  build strong social relationships with likeminded people of a similar age.The group gives participants the opportunity to be themselves, and to talk with other young people who are facing similar challenges or questions. Guest speakers are also invited into the group to share their experience or knowledge of particular topics.

Each month the group explores a particular theme, and we try to cover everything that’s relevant to trans* and gender-questioning youth. We explore topics like  transition, family and support, bullying and discrimination. There are also sessions where the group is able to decide the topic or activity for that session.

Through the group we aim to encourage the participants to know that they are not alone,to feel that they are safe, and to know they have the right to move about the streets of their city without being harmed or judged.We hope to develop a sense of strength and resilience within the young people who come to the group.Participants are able to access extra support outside the group if they need it. This can be anything from a safe space to debrief before or after the group, to free counselling, to case management (e.g. help finding housing), or any of the other services offered by the Gender Centre. If we are unable to provide assistance within the centre, we will refer the young person to another appropriate service

What is  gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is the diagnosis typically given to a person whose assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which recently replaced Gender Identity Disorder – “is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.” To be clear, transgender identity is not a mental illness that can be cured with treatment. Rather, transgender people often experience a persistent and authentic disconnect between the sex assigned to them at birth and their internal sense of who they are. This disconnect is referred to by medical professionals as “gender dysphoria” because it can cause undue pain and distress in the lives of transgender people

For more information and support contact one of the case workers at the centre on 9569-2366

The Gender Centre Supporting Youth at School

There is a number of youth identifying as transgender and transitioning at school. The Gender Centre has had a significant expansion of services delivered to schools.

Our engagement with schools involves supporting the school in providing best practice for the student during transition and right through the course of their schooling. This involves inclusive meetings with a variety of stakeholders including principles, welfare teachers, counsellors, parents, year advisers and where  necessary external welfare department consultant. It is essential that planning is thorough to allow for best practice to occur. This involves setting time frames with the provision for flexibility, physical alterations and adjustments made at the school for the dignity and safety of the young person, amendments to formal processes to reflect the students name and gender, and ensuring a strong and sensitive support network is in place.

Assisting the transition of a young person at school requires professional development, training, creating awareness, and affecting cultural change. There are a number of components in our delivery model in holistic support of the young person and the school.

Principals and Teachers – Support, Training and Workshops, and Teaching Resources

At a school level we may facilitate a meeting with the Principal and a few other key leaders, for instance the Head Teacher Welfare, the counsellor or the Deputy Principal, to determine the professional development and training that is required for the staff if needed. The workshop is usually held during staff professional development time and delivered as a workshop. Our workshop provides an understanding of transgender, the stages of physical, social and legal transition and best practice for whole school inclusivity, and how to enact best practice support for the young person in transition. We also emphasise the importance of ensuring the school culture continues to embrace diversity, promoting respect, tolerance and inclusivity in a sensitive way that does not cause harm to the young person by focusing attention on ‘transgender’ and having unwarranted attention drawn to the young person. This is a fine and delicate balance that requires specialized support. These workshops have proven effective in providing information to staff and developing their knowledge. Staff benefit from the ability to ask questions from professionals to ensure they feel more confident in assisting the young person who is transitioning at school.

 

Early Intervention: Providing Support to Young People and their Families

Transitioning at school can be exciting and scary at the same time, for both the young person and their parents. Our support extends to the parents and families of the young person. The parents need to be involved in the transition at school. Often parents themselves need support in how to approach the school and how to make changes at home to make sure the family environment remains stable. With our assistance  early intervention  that achieves positive outcomes is possible for the whole family, the parents, the transgender youth and any siblings. Our early intervention practices have proven successful with families staying together and supporting their transgender youth  on their journey. We are a holistic wrap around service and provide casework support to the youth  and parent as a unit,  This journey  is a complex process and we support the family with referrals to gender identity specialists including, psychologists, psychiatrist, endocrinologists if they are requested .

Transgender students in schools - Legal rights and responsibilities

The Department of Education and Communities is committed to providing safe and supportive learning environments that respect and value diversity and are free from violence, discrimination, harassment and vilification. Research shows that a supportive environment  in schools can have a lasting impact on both the educational and lifelong outcomes for students.

Most people express the gender that corresponds with their biological sex. There are some people whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated with an assigned sex at birth. This is known as being transgender. This can occur at any age.

All students, including those who identify as transgender have a right to be treated equitably and with dignity.

What legal rights or protections exist for a student who has identified as transgender?

A student who has identified as transgender enjoys the same legal rights or protections afforded to all students under the duty of care, education and work health and safety laws.
Firstly, under N.S.W. Anti-Discrimination legislation, and the NSW Department of Education and Communities transgender people have a right to equality in education it is prohibited from unlawfully discriminating against a student on the grounds of being transgender

  1. by refusing or failing to accept the person’s application for admission as a student, or
  2. in the terms on which it is prepared to admit the person as a student.
  3. The Department is also prohibited from unlawfully discriminating against a student on transgender grounds:
  4. by denying the student access, or limiting the student’s access, to any benefit provided by the educational authority, or
  5. by expelling the student or subjecting the student to any other detriment.

It does not follow that an application for enrolment from a transgender student can never be declined or that a transgender student can never be expelled. Rather, the law requires the student is not subjected to unlawful discrimination when such decisions are made.

The responsibility for ensuring this occurs rests with the institution and its staff. It is incumbent on staff to ensure that such students are not subject to harassment from other students or from anyone else in the school community. This means that teachers must take an active role in eliminating behaviours that threaten the equitable treatment of the transgender student.

Secondly, afford the transgender student the same level of respect and courtesy as you would afford anyone else.  If you are confronted by their  sense of identity it is  a reflection of your own gender expectations. Keep uppermost in your thoughts that every human being is deserving of respect. Be prepared to defend the dignity of the student, listen to their views and be open to expanding your own understanding. Our capacity to learn from those who are different in the world is greater than from those who apparently share our commonality. Be a role model to  increasingly educate yourself.

Finally, if the student is fully transitioned and attending school as a member of their identified  gender, then facilitate their access to activities specifically designated for that gender, respect their identity by referring to them by chosen name and appropriate gender references.  For the most part the transgender student simply wants to be acknowledged and treated in the same way as any other member of their  identified gender.

Whole School and Student Body Cultural Inclusion, Workshops, and Leadership

It is equally as important to ensure that the school environment and culture, and student population have the skills to sustain a supportive culture and to bridge knowledge gaps to support understanding. At the whole school level, it is important to ensure that the school culture continues to embrace school values of respect, dignity, fairness, equality, tolerance and diversity of all diversities including transgender.

We at the Gender Centre recognize that each school is unique and as such work with each principale to determine the best ways in which to educate and inform .

Support for Youth in School under FACS Guardianship is availabe

In some instances we need to be intensively involved in supporting the  young transgender person if they are under the guardianship of FACS. In these instances, youth have a lower level of support to access to specialist services. We work closely with the school and support staff to make sure that the young person’s needs at school are met at every point of contact. We work with the school to ensure that practices are in place to maintain school attendance, as for some young transgender people, school can be daunting during transition.

Group Support Services

To provide additional support to transgender youth who are at school, and their parents, we facilitate respective groups. These groups enable students and parents respectively to interact with each other and gain social support from people that share their experience and to access information and support from the caseworker facilitating the group. The feedback from both the young persons’ group and the parents group is that the groups provide another avenue for support, are positive and socially empowering.

For further support contact the Gender Centre on...... 9569-2366
For information regarding Youth and Parents support groups go to our events page