Campaigners have called for ‘immediate action’ after a new report highlighted the negative and worsening experiences of trans young people in Scotland.

Recommendations from the report by LGBT Youth Scotland include calls for Police Scotland to apologise for ‘historic homophobia, biphobia and transphobia’, support for those facing long waiting lists for treatment, and ensuring ‘equality of access’ to LGBTQ+ safe spaces across the country.

The charity’s Chief Executive said that trans young people are facing an “unacceptable” situation “where they feel unsafe in public spaces, misunderstood by healthcare providers, and not taken seriously by law enforcement".

The new report is the final publication in a series called Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People. Following the release of the original report in 2022, the organisation also produced follow-up reports focused on education, healthcare and rural life. During this process, researchers found that ‘the experiences of trans respondents were significantly different from their 'cis counterparts’, prompting them to ‘dive deeper’ into the data.

The latest release focuses on three key areas: accessing public spaces, accessing services, and transphobia. It found that levels of happiness amongst trans young people have plummeted since 2012, when 59% reported that they were happy compared with just 28% a decade later. A similar rate of decline was seen across the broader LGBTQ+ community.

Nearly 20% of respondents said that they had left education as a result of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, and just 12% said that they would feel safe reporting a hate crime to the police.

The report also contains a wide range of comments from young people describing their experiences.

Alongside the call for an apology from Police Scotland, the report also recommends that the organisation accepts that it is, at present, ‘institutionally transphobic.’

Other recommendations include a review of sexual health services, mandatory LGBTQ+ awareness training for all healthcare professionals, action to address the impact of ‘culture wars’ on young people, and the adoption of ‘visible signs of allyship’ from public transport providers. The Scottish Government is also urged to push to the UK on some reserved matters, such as the introduction of non-binary gender options on driving licences and passports.

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Dr Mhairi Crawford, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland said: “Unfortunately the findings of this report don’t come as a surprise to a lot of us deeply involved with LGBTQ+ young people.

“This report makes a clear and compelling case for immediate action to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of trans young people in Scotland.

“The recommendations outlined must be adopted by policymakers, public institutions, and civil society to ensure trans inclusion is meaningfully addressed across all communities.

“Initiatives such as the LGBT Charter should be leveraged to drive real change and create truly welcoming spaces. Crucially, dedicated funding is needed to establish safe spaces where trans youth can access support across the country.

“We urge the Scottish Government and other public bodies to take this report seriously. We have long needed protection and support for trans young people in Scotland and calls for this have fallen on deaf ears, we need a change now to ensure we are creating a better future for our young people.”

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said: “Police Scotland is responsible for policing a diverse community and one of our great strengths is that our officers and staff are drawn from different backgrounds and experiences. What unites us is our shared and non-negotiable set of values - integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights.

“Anyone who reports a crime to us should expect to be listened to and treated in line with our values. We value the relationship we have with all diverse groups and the support they can provide in shaping our policing response.

“We have always taken hate crime seriously and are committed to investigating complaints, and we will continue to do so. Hate crime is utterly deplorable, can cause deep psychological harm, and victims are often already vulnerable.

“There are a number of different ways in which you can report a crime to Police, through 101, or 999 in an emergency, through our ContactUs page on the website, or via a third-party reporting centre.”

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Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees Emma Roddick MSP said:

“Trans people continue to suffer poorer outcomes relative to the wider population, and this needs to change.

“We recognise that more action is needed to support trans and non-binary young people. This is why we are providing funding of over £1.1 million to organisations working to promote LGBTQI+ equality in Scotland in 2024-25.

“We are also developing proposals for introducing a Bill on ending conversion practices for both sexual orientation and gender identity, have developed a Non-Binary Equality Action Plan to improve equality and wellbeing for non-binary people, and published a new Hate Crime Strategy for Scotland.”