The Guardian on the rights of trans children

“If the human rights of gay and lesbian children in our schools are routinely ignored, then the rights of transgendered children are not even recognised as existing”

I posted the following reply. Looking back on it, I probably should of said something about the plight of those children with non-binary identities, but (amazingly) the original article actually managed to refer to that.

Thank-you Phil Beadle for drawing attention to this issue.

I am a young trans person, and one of the lucky ones: I got good grades in school and recently graduated from university. My exams results were seriously beginning to slip by the time I did my AS levels due to trans anxiety. I only managed to rescue my A levels by changing to another sixth form, where I was less likely to be judged for being weird and wasn’t forced to conform to a male dress code.

The experiences of teenagers in Trans Youth Network (www.transyouth.org) demonstrates that others are having a far, far worse time than I ever did. Anxiety, depression, self-harm and anger are rife amongst young trans people. Their problems are ignored, dismissed or misunderstood.

The government avoids addressing these issues by pretending that only those trans people in the (frustratingly slow and inefficient) medical system “count”. The 2007 consultation document for the Single Equality Bill justifies the statement “that it is unnecessary to include school pupils and education in schools in any extension to protection on grounds of gender reassignment” on the grounds that “it will be very rare for a child to be planning to undergo or undergoing the process of gender reassignment as defined in the Sex Discrimination Act.” This is not particularly surprising given that it can be difficult for school children to find a free and confidential counselling service, and the NHS does not offer proper treatment for those who wish to transition until they are over the age of 18.

Moroever, the problem is not just one of bullying or of access to services, but is also one of compulsory gendering. Young trans men feel afraid to confront schools over uniform policies when they are forced to wear skirts, and young trans women at all-boys schools experience alienation and loneliness. This is a far more difficult issue to deal with, since putting little girls and little boys in dresses and trousers when we send them to primary school is such an ingrained part of our culture. I wonder if the government is so afraid to confront the discrimination that young trans people face on a daily basis because doing so will open a Pandora’s box whereby the sexism, homophobia and transphobia innate in our schooling system becomes horribly apparent.

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