Trans and non-binary people (ie. people who belong to a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth) have always existed – from Roman Emperors to Black Rights activists, and even Joan of Arc! You can watch really interesting talks on trans history here and wider queer history here

How do you know if you’re trans or non-binary? 

Trans and non-binary people experience what is known as gender dysphoria – it’s the feeling that the body they have doesn’t match who they are. It can take a while to figure out identity, and it’s important to take time to explore it. It’s also ok to come out several times if you’re not sure! 

What does the process of transitioning involve? 

The first step is talking to your GP (there are charities you can go to if you’re too scared to go). They will refer you to a gender clinic, where you can start your medical transition. This is unfortunately a long process, with even longer waiting times. I would recommend getting involved with a charity to get the support you need along the way! 

Transitioning legally can be a bit faster. You can change your name by deed poll for free, which will let you get a new drivers licence, national insurance number, bank details – anything other than your passport and birth certificate essentially! To change those, you will need a letter from a gender psychiatrist or a gender panel, which can be very costly. 

How do you get your friends to call you by a different name/use different pronouns? 

I would recommend changing your social media profiles and including your pronouns in your bio and your electronic signatures. If you can’t pick a name, make a shortlist, and then get a few of your close friends to call you by a different name each week – then keep the one that feels most natural! 

How can I be a good trans ally? 

Include your pronouns in your bio. It’s not much, but it helps normalise asking people for their pronouns in general! Try to use “them” pronouns as much as possible when you don’t know a person and in everyday conversations. And the obvious, sign petitions and donate to LGBT charities if you can! Don’t be afraid to ask others what their pronouns are. If you accidentally slip up in conversation, just correct yourself and move on – don't make a big deal out of it! 

What are inappropriate questions to ask a trans or non-binary person? 

Any question that you wouldn’t normally ask a cisgender person (a person whose gender matches the one they were assigned at birth)! Things about their private/sex life, their medical transition, their dead (former) name, how their families reacted to them coming out etc. 

Useful links 

HW LGBT+ Society 

LGBT Youth Scotland 



Advice Hub 

Student Wellbeing Services 

Student Counselling Services 

Edinburgh Nightline 


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