Secondary school can be an enjoyable time in life but can also come with challenges such as studying, dating, building friendships, experiencing bullying and finding yourself. As a trans young person you may be faced with additional issues if you begin to transition during secondary school, or experience discrimination or transphobia from your school or classmates. If you do experience challenges in school because of your identity, there are several different LGBTI+ groups that can help support you.
Advice for trans secondary students in Ireland
Speaking to classmates about being trans
As a trans person you do not need to justify yourself to other people or explain or share anything about yourself that you do not want to. However, if you begin to transition during school, you may choose to speak to your friends about it and share the news with those you trust so that they can help support you during this time. In speaking with your friends, remember that you do not need to answer all their questions, and that you can choose which parts of your life you want to share with them. Similarly, if your classmates or people in your school ask you questions about your identity you do not need to respond to them unless you want to. What you choose to share will depend on how comfortable you feel and whether you trust those you are speaking to. People’s reactions may vary at first, but over time you will see by their actions who you can rely on for support.
Speaking to TENI for support
TENI are the Trans Equality Network Ireland. They provide workshops and training that increase awareness, understanding and inclusion of trans issues in Ireland. They also offer a range of support services that aim to increase the well-being of trans people and their families. If you want to transition in school but are unsure of how to start, speaking to TENI might be a good option for you. They can offer advice and support to you, your family and your school as they have previous experience in this area. Find out more about TENI.
Speaking to your school about being trans
If you begin to transition during secondary school, it is a good idea to ask your parent or guardian to speak to your school about how they can support you during this time. This may be a request a school has not dealt with before, and if so it could be a good idea for your parent or guardian to direct them towards TENI, for advice on supporting a student as they transition. Making a list of requests that can help support your transition in school can be a good place to start when highlighting your needs as a student. If your parent or guardian are not supportive of your transition or do not want to speak with your school, you can also go for support and advice to your school’s guidance counsellor. Get the school to help you draw up a transition plan. This will help yourself and the school understand when changes will happen such as name and pronoun change, toilet and changing facilities and uniforms.
Taking care of your mental health in school
Transitioning and being trans in secondary school may bring challenges to your life and it is important that you try to take care of your health and wellbeing during this time. Setting aside time each day to focus on your self care can be a great way to protect your physical and mental health. Read our article on taking care of your wellbeing as a young trans person.
It can also be extremely difficult if you experience transphobia, discrimination or bullying while at secondary school. It is important to remember that you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, be that from your classmates or from your teachers and school staff. If you experience transphobia in school you do not have to put up with it and there are supports available to help. Find out more about dealing with transphobia and who can help.
Join a peer support group
Being able to connect with others going through the same thing as you can make a huge difference. Both TENI and BeLonGTo offer peer support groups where you can meet other trans or non-binary young people in a safe space and share your experiences. This can also be a great way to make friends outside of those you have at school.
Supports for young trans people Ireland
Transformers is a peer support group for post primary age gender diverse young people. They are currently meeting online via Zoom in regions throughout the country: Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Kerry and Cavan/Monaghan. Contact [email protected] for further information.
Online LGBTI+ Youth Group for New Members
BeLonGTo’s online LGBTI+ youth group for new members is starting on Monday, January 11th 2021. This group is a safe space to meet people, chat, have fun, and learn a little about gender and sexuality. This online group is open to any LGBTI+ young person between 14-23 years.
Crisis Counselling with Pieta
Working with Pieta, BeLonGTo are providing a free crisis counselling service for LGBTI+ youth who are self-harming or thinking of suicide. Their therapist, Nash, is friendly and welcoming, and will listen to you in a safe, non-judgmental space and work through whatever is worrying you.
Talk to their Youth Workers over Text, Phone or Email
Reach out and talk to BeLonGTo’s friendly, expert Youth Workers Shane, Kate and Sean in confidence about whatever is on your mind. They are happy to listen, provide you with information and referrals if needed.
Youth Groups Nationwide
BeLonGTo’s youth groups are safe spaces for LGBTI+ young people to meet, share experiences, and chat. Their groups are now being delivered virtually. Find your nearest LGBTI+ youth group here.
- LGBT Helpline is available on 1890 929 539
- There is also a Family Support Line on 01 907 3707
- You can email [email protected] for support or information as face to face services are currently closed
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 0861800280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.