Sexual health is about looking after yourself and others. This means enjoying the sexual activity you want, safely, without causing you or anyone else any suffering, either physical or mental. It is not just about using contraception or avoiding infections.

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NHS Ayrshire and Arran offers individual support and information for all people who access our service. This is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We support people to have positive relationships, which involves negotiating positive sexual experiences. We recognise that for some people ‘coming out’ may feel difficult. We provide a safe and confidential service, that does not judge or presume, and hope that you will feel comfortable bringing to us any concern you may have.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran Sexual health department has achieved silver LGBT Charter award.


Gay is a word that people use to describe people who are sexually or romantically attracted to people of the same sex. Gay can apply to men or women.

Lesbian is a word that is specifically used to describe women who are sexually and romantically attracted to other women.

Bisexual is a word used to describe people who are sexually and romantically attracted to people of either sex. Bisexual applies to both men and women.

Heterosexual is a word used to describe people who are sexually and romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex.

How you label yourself is very important, and you are comfortable in your own sexuality. There are no rules or laws stating that you have to be one thing or the other. What counts is that you have the relationships that make you happy; this could be with a man, women or both. You decide and don’t let others push you into anything that you are not comfortable with. For more information on relationships for Gay and Bisexual Men LGBTYouth have developed the booklet ‘Good Sex Is…’ Sexual Health and Relationships Information for young gay and bisexual men.


Gender is about who you are and the way you behave and identify with other people. This can also be influenced by other people’s expectations of you. For example people expect you to behave differently if you are a man or woman, boy or a girl. Many people identify as the gender usually associated with their biological sex. However for some their sex and their gender identity do not match.

Sex refers to our biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs Sex of which they are born does not always fit their identity

Sexual orientation is defined by who you are sexually and romantically attracted to, so that could mean lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual.


Society often expects people to be heterosexual despite the fact that statistically around 1 in 10 people are gay, lesbian or bisexual. That means there  may be half a million gay, lesbian and bisexual people living in Scotland.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran recognises, supports and offers a positive experience as LGB people may pick up  strong messages of disapproval  from a very young age. This means that for most LGB people there can be a long period  between realising that they are LGB to actually telling someone about it.

Many people who do come out often report a great sense of relief and a feeling of how great it is to be honest about who they are.

People who have come out usually find it much easier to meet partners and enter into relationships. They might start to use the gay scene, which is usually made up of pubs and clubs as a place to meet other gay people. There are also support groups available to help people come to terms with who they are.

If you do not identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, the important thing is to remember not to assume that everyone you know is heterosexual and think about how you might support someone who is LGB.


Gender identity is a person’s sense of being a man or a woman, or somewhere in between the two.

Transgender is an umbrella term used to express the diversity of gender identity and to describe all people who do not conform to common ideas of gender roles or society’s view of being male or female. It includes a variety of gender identities and expressions such as transsexual, cross-dresser, androgyne, polygender (LGBT Youth Scotland). The sexual health needs of transgender people is as importanct as gender identity, transgender people can also be lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual, just like everyone else, and deserve informed and appropriate sexual health services.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran is committed to creating an environment free from harassment, bullying, stigma or victimisation which is instrumental in ensuring that transgender people (service users and staff) are not harassed, bullied or subject to unlawful discrimination.

We recognise that we have a number of legal duties under the Equality Act 2010, and during the lifetime of our Equality Outcomes 2013-17, we ensure that relevant policies and service developments are reviewed and updated to ensure that the rights of transgender staff and service users are upheld.

If you are transgender and accessing a sexual health service, staff will treat you as you would expect with dignity and confidentiality.  If you are transsexual you should be acknowledged in your true gender and any referrals made should be appropriate. It is important that you get the service you want and that your needs are met. There are a number of Sexual Health services in Ayrshire that you can access. Alternatively there is a specialist Gender Identity Clinic at the Sandyford Initiative in Glasgow with a consultant gender specialist, a nurse and a counsellor. There is also a Transgender Support Group at the Sandyford Initiative twice a month. This and other specialist services are listed below.

NHS leaflet on trans

The Scottish Transgender Alliance

The Scottish Transgender Alliance works to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland.

The Gender Clinic
The Sandyford Initiative, 6 Sandyford Place, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7NB
Tel: 0141 211 8137

Crosslynx is the Glasgow and West of Scotland’s support group for Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgendered people, based in Glasgow city centre.

Gender Trust
The Gender Trust, the only Registered Charity in the United Kingdom which specifically helps adults who are Transsexual, Gender Dysphoric or Trangenderist i.e. those who seek to adjust their lives to live as women or men, or to come to terms with their situation despite their genetic background.

We are a voluntary organisation whose aim is to provide support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK.


Coming out is about accepting who you are and feeling comfortable and confident about telling people that are close to you that you are lesbian, gay or bisexual.

There are no rules about when you should do this; some people come out when they are in their teens others after they have drawn their pension. You decide when the time is right for you. Everybody should be able to enjoy the kind of relationship that makes them happy.

A guide to coming out can be accessed on

Your sexual identity is unique to you. It depends on your personality, your likes and dislikes. It’s not just about saying you are lesbian, gay or bisexual, understanding your own sexual identity is more than that. It involves finding out what you are looking for in a partner, deciding what kind of people you are compatible with, working out what you want from a relationship and who you want to be with.

Being honest and open about who you find attractive is important if you want to feel good about your self. This is the first step towards coming out. This can be a difficult and very confusing time so it is important that you have the right support. There are a number of organisations and groups that you can contact for advice and support; these are included in the contact list.

Remember, your sexual orientation  is only part of your personality. The most important thing is that you are happy healthy and able to be your self.


Local Services

Ayrshire LGBTQ
A group which is run by and for the LGBTQ community of Ayrshire. The group also extends a warm welcome to friends and family of the community. For further information contact Robin on, email
Tel: 07867786609

South Ayrshire YP support group in Ayr :-  Support for young people 13-25yrs in South Ayrshire who are LGBT or others who support them. For further information check out ; email:; or Text 07785274147

North Ayrshire North Ayrshire Council are now running the Open Ayrshire Group for LGBTI+ individuals. If you are interested in the group contact Donna Anderson by emailing: or by calling:  01294475900

Irvine – Monday evening 7-9pm  for 12-18 year olds

Kilbirnie – Monday evening 5-7pm for 12-18 year olds

Kilwinning – Tuesday evening 6.45-8.45pm for 12-18 year olds

The group for 18-25 year olds meets on a regulary basis at various locations throughout North Ayrshire

 (Feel free to bring a friend or family member for support)

National Services

LGBT Youth

LGBT Helpline Scotland
Information and emotional support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters across Scotland. Open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 12pm to 9pm.
Tel: 0300 123 2523