Support Trans Children
During Jeffery Boakye’s lecture on teacher identity he asked a critical question: “Why are you a teacher?”. For me, the answer was obvious. I am Transgender, and trans children need help.
I believe that the UK is at the peak of a current ongoing ‘Culture War’ against trans people and as a result the government has set new guidelines for schools on how to handle trans youth.
The main message is that schools may be forced to reveal to parents that their child is trans, including reporting potential triggers such as “Going by a new name” or “A boy wearing a skirt”. Personally these guidelines feel not supportive of my trans students. Family rejection is a serious issue, many trans youth are homeless as a result of coming out and many more face abuse at home.
However as teachers we are used to working with students in need. Support can be as simple as using a chosen name or using non-gendered language in lessons for every student. You never know who may be trans, and these guidelines certainly aren’t going to make students feel safe coming out to teachers.
If you notice that a student may be trans then my advice would be to discuss this with their form tutor or a teacher they trust, and be ready to listen to the student. These conversations are a huge source of anxiety so let them know you are supportive of them and do not rush them into making any immediate changes. Afterward report this conversation to the designated safeguarding lead so the student can access wider school support should they desire.
Under these new guidelines it is likely the school will be pressured to inform the parent. The best way to do this is to talk with the student about setting up a meeting in school so that the parent has a reliable source of information and the student has a supportive adult in the room.
At the end of the day there is the golden rule. Safeguarding trumps everything. If you feel that a child would be in danger if they came out, you have a duty of care to keep them safe. It’s hard to say how many more students will be put in danger under these guidelines but as teachers we can always be there to help
written by Lydz Lawrence