Help or Harm? Trans people’s experiences of health services and the impact on their mental health
James is the Scottish Transgender Alliance Coordinator. Since 2007 his national post has been funded by the Scottish Government to provide the Scottish public and voluntary sectors with training and policy development guidance on transgender equality and human rights. He has worked collaboratively with a wide range of academics, voluntary sector organisations and public bodies in Scotland, the UK and Europe to evidence transgender experiences of gender inequalities.
The most recent and outstanding work by James is his contribution to the Trans Mental Health Study 2012, which he co-authored with Jay McNeil, Louis Bailey, Sonja Ellis and Maeve Regan. This research represents the largest survey of its kind in Europe, providing ground-breaking data on trans people’s mental health needs and experiences, explored in the context of daily life, social/support mechanisms and when accessing healthcare and mental health services. Central to the study was an exploration of how the process of transitioning (social and/or medical) impacts mental health and wellbeing. The research was unique in its exploration of both the positive and negative impact that being trans has on mental health and wellbeing.
The research takes a humanistic approach equally valuing all diverse gender identities and gender expressions, however it is also a rigorous investigation of the factors which influence trans mental health and wellbeing. This perspective enabled them to access a very large number of participants, many of whom had previously been too suspicious of researchers, in particular when talking about mental health, for fear of how they may be misinterpreted. The approach, and history, reassured participants that their voices would be genuinely represented in the way that they intended. As such, where possible the study has directly used their words.