Twitter erupted in a storm today and yesterday with the release of Transgender Trend’s free resource pack ‘supporting gender non-conforming and trans-identified students in schools’. Transactivists- mostly late-transitioning men & parents who have chosen to transition their own children- seem determined that as few people as possible should read the guidelines, with calls being put out to shred the document, bin it, ban it.
Firstly I should say that reading this blog post is no substitute for reading the guidelines yourself. You can download them here, and if you find them to be practical, compassionate and all-inclusive, I would urge you to share them with your child’s school.
For those who are expecting something sensational, you will be disappointed. The document is somewhat tome-like, 48 pages long, and the first half of the document contains the following observations:
“We have developed this.. so all children feel supported and safe….
We provide research‑based evidence and alternative strategies….
Schools are places of learning and adults working in them have a duty of care towards all students.
Transgender children.. have the same rights as all children to learn while feeling safe and to be free from bullying, harassment and discrimination….
Schools should use scientifically and biologically accurate language….
All training (should) allow for critical issues to be openly discussed.. and not silenced by claims that asking challenging questions is transphobic….
Schools should be cautious of giving a transgender child rights that are not afforded to other children….
The wishes of a biologically male teenager to access female changing rooms and toilets must not outweigh the rights of adolescent girls to dignity, privacy and safety.. when navigating their way through the complexities of puberty and periods…
Where sport is sex‑segregated, it is essential to examine issues relating to sex differences in size and weight….
Staff should be role models in demonstrating calm and accepting behaviour towards an individual transgender child and in promptly stopping and reporting any bullying or harassment.
It is not the role of the school to provide (validation), just it is not the role of the school to be disapproving and unkind.
If schools can widen the space in which young people feel comfortable in their non-conformity, and all gender expressions are accepted then it may become clear that transition is not the only answer for all.
It is important to remember that at the heart of any policy and decision-making is a vulnerable child. Acceptance, understanding and prevention of bullying should be the guiding principles as with any other child who is vulnerable or ‘different.’
Do encourage children to be considerate and thoughtful towards a child who identifies as transgender and try to remember to use their preferred name if this has been agreed with parents.
The school has a responsibility to balance the rights of all students and facilitate a culture of respect.
It is ultimately unhelpful for a child to be taught that his / her emerging sense of self is dependent on consistent validation from others.”
You get the gist. If you’re looking for a sensationalist hotbed of hate, you’re certainly not going to find it within the pages of the TGT guidelines. Page 5 of the document explains why the authors feel it is needed, and touches on some facts and figures that should raise very real concerns among anyone who has the welfare of young people at heart.
” Around 50% of children referred to the Tavistock have underlying mental health issues… there has been nearly a 1000% increase in referrals to the Tavistock child and adolescent gender clinic over the past six years… nearly 70% of child referrals were girls… Patients at gender clinics are more than six times as likely to be on the autistic spectrum as the general population… 93% of young women who regret transition say they didn’t receive adequate counselling”
You might expect the trans community to want wide discussion of these issues. Interestingly, I haven’t seen any Tweets that directly address these concerns. To be honest, I am left wondering how many of the critics have actually waded through all 48 pages. I got through several cups of coffee and half a packet of Oreos.
Page 13/14 – Broadening gendered expectations and relaxing rules – is one of the most inspiring things I have read in a long time. If you read nothing else, check out page 14. If schools could follow the guidelines listed there, we would go a long way to ironing out sexism and gendered expectations in a generation. How wonderful would that be?
Other sections of the document deal with personal experiences, existing guidance, legal guidance and a glossary of terms, which seems to be partly what has angered any activists who have genuinely read that far, although it is hard to see why. The definitions of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ here are pretty much the same as those in Biology & Sociology textbooks throughout Britain.
So, for those that have borne with me so far, let’s have a look at some of the incoming Tweets concerning the new TGT guidelines. You know that sensationalist hotbed of hatred we couldn’t find earlier? Hang on to your hat…
Yet perhaps the strangest of the Stonewall responses came in the form of Hannah Kibiridge’s hastily-written ‘Creating a Trans Inclusive School Environment – Response to Transgender Trends (sic’). Hannah’s inability to get the name of the guideline creators right does not fill one with confidence, but you should, of course, read her post yourselves, because it is by reading information and discussing what we read that we educate ourselves, not by binning, shredding or otherwise destroying things that challenge us!
I read Hannah’s post THREE times but still couldn’t make any sense of the dramatic but non-specific accusations she makes, especially the ominous and slightly menacing suggestion that following the guidelines might result in breaking the law- which is, of course, nonsense. This is my personal synopsis; of course, your interpretation may be different.
School is crap, transkids are bullied and nearly half try to kill themselves. Parents are mostly crap and unsupportive. Transgender Trend is ‘dangerous’ ‘masquerading as professional’ ‘deeply damaging’ and ‘factually incorrect’. TGT is trying to spread ‘damaging myths, panic and confusion’. If schools do what TGT suggests they are also crap and may be breaking the law. HOWEVER, it doesn’t have to be ‘difficult or scary’ to fix all this! Just do what Stonewall says!
As Twitter user @NoToMisogyny, observed “Stonewall seems to be geared towards suppressing anything other than total affirmation.”
Mimmymum (parent of a transitioned child) calls TGT an ‘anti-transgender cult’ & the guidelines ‘harmful & misinformed’ & is retweeted by Jess (a middle-aged trans-IDd man) who suggests TGT is ‘anti-LGBT’ & advises contacting a Reading LGBT group for advice… which in turn muses ominously ‘we’ll sort it out’ if the TGT document turns up in local schools.
Further spectacular accusations fly as more trans-identified men turn to Twitter, comparing the document to Mein Kampf and accusing TGT of ‘a deliberate attempt to harm trans children’.
Trans-identified teacher ‘C’ begs ‘beware’ and ‘don’t touch it with a barge pole’ while Integrative Therapy accuses TGT of ‘adult harassment’ and recommends Gendered Intelligence, the organisation with this wonderfully phallocentric piece of advice for young people: ‘A woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blowjobs. A man is still a man even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally.’
Roy, a teacher & NUT member, says he doesn’t think it’s vile; it’s actually ‘a breath of fresh air’, which provokes Mimmymum (yes, her again) to call him ‘A raving transphobe who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near LGBT kids’
Shon Fay and Owl had opinions too – of course. Owl called the guidelines ‘deplorable’ and accused TGT of ‘disguising their hatred’, while Shon called TGT an ‘anti-trans crusade front’ who encouraged ‘institutional transphobia’. Neither explained why.
Mimmymum popped up again to tell teachers that following advice in the pack would contravene the Equalities Act & break the law (it wouldn’t) and by the time I reached the tweet from @lampsofgold I honestly couldn’t tell anymore what was hyperbole and what was parody.
I urge you again, if you haven’t read the guidelines, read them. Look for the hatred, the exclusion, the harm, the conversion therapy, the misinformation, the evil. Then, when you can’t find it, ask yourself what possible reason certain people could have for not wanting this guidance to reach schools. You might want to have a look at what they’re saying about the pack on mumsnet.
You might also want to ask yourself just who it is that has an agenda here, and what that agenda might be.
The pack is currently being downloaded at a rate of 50 copies every hour. Not everyone is so horrified by it. Some think it’s been a long time coming, although in the light of the aggressive fury being directed at the creators, it’s easy to see why. Daring to question Transtopia, even as gently and compassionately as this, can be dangerous and you need nerves of steel. I’ll leave the last word with some other twitter peeps.
I suggest a pot of strong coffee and a packet of Oreos.