The development of a client-led transgender support group at the Sandyford Initiative in Glasgow

The development of a client-led transgender support group at the Sandyford

Initiative in Glasgow

C. MacKillop

The Sandyford Initiative, Glasgow, UK

Introduction: At the end of 2001, a client of the gender dysphoria

service at the Sandyford Initiative – Glasgow’s centre for reproductive,

sexual and emotional health – highlighted the need for a peer support group

for transgendered people. In conjunction with the Sandyford’s community access

worker they established an innovative model of peer support, which since its

inception in March 2002, has completely changed levels of community

participation for this user group.

Method: To enable transgendered people, along with their partners and

families to access peer support by developing a group process. This should

demonstrate reciprocity in that group members would have the space to discuss

personal issues, and the Sandyford Initiative would receive valuable feedback on

its services to recruit skilled volunteers to facilitate the group from a

position of experience and sensitivity.

Results: From an initially small membership, the group now meets

bi-monthly and approximately 20 people attend each meeting from a pool of around

50 people. The group have produced their own holistic client information leaflet

which is used both within and outwith Sandyford; they have successfully

challenged the referral route into transgender counseling; they have presented

at an international gender dysphoria symposium on the development of the group;

they work with the library and information staff to ensure that resources

purchased are appropriate. As the group has become more widely known and

recognized as a model of good practice, it is continually approached to be

involved in needs assessment work such as the participatory appraisal work

undertaken by the National NHS INCLUSION Project. The group is now involved in

supporting the development of a sister body in Edinburgh and the establishment

of a national advisory group which will ensure community representation in

developments such as any Scottish Managed Clinical Network on gender dysphoria.

Conclusion: The support group has developed into an accepted and

successful mechanism for ensuring transgendered people’s participation in the

ongoing development of services at the Sandyford Initiative. Moreover, the group

has facilitated invaluable peer support for this client group and has acted as a

safe and supportive springboard for people coming out as transgendered who can

then access appropriate services as and when they feel ready.

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