Two of our curators, teacher Annette Pryce and psychotherapist Karen Pollock discuss the publication of advice for schools by the anti-trans lobby group Transgender Trend
Karen: As someone with specialist training in working with the impacts of conversion therapy, internalised shame and the impact of rejection due to sexual orientation/ gender identity, the activities of Transgender Trend are sadly unsurprising. The organisation is a carbon copy of “ex-gay” campaigns, which were predicated on the idea of hating the sin and loving the sinner.
Love is an important word here. People tend to assume that when a parent abuses their child by taking them to conversion therapy that the word love is never mentioned, however it is very often the primary lever – “I am doing this because I love you” “If you loved me you would change” Familiar phrases to anyone of any age who has encountered intimate abuse.
It is vital to understand that the damage caused by refusing to accept someone’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation is real, and when it comes to children is a form of child abuse. Hiding the abuse behind a veil of love does not excuse or mitigate it.
The organisation is a carbon copy of “ex-gay” campaigns, which were predicated on the idea of hating the sin and loving the sinner.
One of the techniques of the ex gay movement was to claim scientific support for their activities, and to promote well financed publications to the unwary public. In producing its advice for schools Transgender Trend have done exactly the same. We know, because the research has been conducted, that gender variant children do best when their identity is affirmed. Indeed, this is a basic of good parenting, where the two rules are; You do not own your children, and you listen to them. Allowing a child to socially transition, as in change names, pronouns and clothing, is known to have good outcomes. In this document Transgender Trend ignore the research and instead, just like the ex gay movement, present their fears, prejudice and bigotry as reasonable. I can only wonder at anyone who thinks sacrificing children because they are not behaving in a way they approve of, is reasonable.
Annette: I hear that voice in my head laughing hysterically when , again, someone who doesn’t work in education even tries to imagine what that is like, and to offer guidance on how to support young people. This happened this week when the website owners of Transgender Trend tried to release guidance on supporting young transgender people in schools.
They start with:
The number of children who identify as transgender has risen exponentially over
the last few years and this has left schools unprepared for the complex issues
which may arise in an area in which most teachers will have had no previous
Let’s get this straight, the rise is in the number of ‘out’ transgender children. The levels of awareness and visibility have given young people more confidence to be themselves. This rambling hysteria from this group in their open sentence suggests that there is an out of control momentum. And teachers do know how to support young people, they just need some proper tools, and this guidance certainly isn’t that.
This could be a long blog as Transgender Trend go off on a tangent about not focussing on the needs of the vulnerable student in front of them, as though, we as educators aren’t meant to be student focussed.
Advice given by transgender organisations is focused upon the transgender individual and may not look at the holistic duty of the school community as a whole.
All new transgender schools guidelines are written by transgender organisations
and LGBT groups which present a one-sided view of how schools should support
A one sided view? You mean the side where we support the young person?The entire notion that this guidance portrays is that somehow schools will rush into moving the young person to a decision, when those who ACTUALLY work in education right now know that not to be the case.
I’d also like to know which depths they went to find case studies of teachers that are so far from reality they need a fiction writer to edit them.
“Under the new guidelines these young people are entitled to access to the showers,
dormitories and toilets of students of the opposite sex without any medical or
psychiatric assessment according to their own definition as transgender. I am not
allowed to talk to parents about any concerns or behaviours relating to trans issues
because it could be potentially ‘outing’ and I am not allowed to discuss this with the
children themselves because we are supposed to affirm their chosen gender. Policy
and emerging legislation supports this.”
So let’s break this down for a second, this pastoral leader thinks that trans young people would ‘want’ to put themselves in that situation in PE? The mention of ‘dormitories’ betrays the sector this pastoral leader works in. And why don’t they just change the toilets? Why would they talk to the parents unless there was agreement with the student, and there was a safeguarding issue? What do they think a teenager who is socially transitioning is going to do? The hysteria in this guidance knows no bounds. Policy and emerging legislation? You mean the current one that is highly restrictive to young people?
A later chapter refers to a statement by The ‘Lesbian Rights alliance’… ok I’m a lesbian, and this organisation does not speak for me.
“In our view schools should not be supporting the concept of gender identity or encouraging or supporting children to feel or believe they have a gender identity which is different from their biological sex.
Oh look there it is…… non teachers saying what they think schools should do, she should be the education secretary…. Not! This is absolute rubbish, of course gender identity is a concept that is real, and schools support children with their own identities, rather than those the school want to impose on them
They go onto say in the same inane drivel of a paragraph:
“The concept of gender identity encourages children to believe that masculine and feminine gender stereotypes are innate, rather than socially constructed, despite the fact that neuro-science has demonstrated categorically that children are Not born with ‘pink’ (feminine) or ‘blue’ (masculine) brains”
This assumes that cisgender gay men and women aren’t sometimes either feminine or masculine, as their gender identity is in sync with their physical sex, and they will either feel masculine or feminine regardless of that, depending on their own experience, their own personality, their self esteem, their own choices. It really is a little bit more complicated than the LRA are making out. And their comments here betray their lack of experience, instead the pivot to ‘neuro-science’. Yes there are organisations (probably just one), that describes ‘pink’ and ‘blue brains’, but that’s only because some people need it dumbed down that that level. But any organisation around today knows it is way more complicated than that.
It gets worse, they then go on to state absolute untruths:
“Only a few years ago young girls were allowed to be ‘tomboys’ – have short hair,
wear trousers, and undertake games and activities which traditionally have been
considered the domain of boys, without being told that they had to change their
They still do.
“Many of these young girls defined as lesbians when they reached adolescence.
This is no longer allowed”
Utter rubbish. If people were banning lesbians from schools, we would know about it. Gender identity and sexuality are different things, and it is an outdated sterotype of lesbianism which is being promoted here.
“Transgender training given to schools is telling teachers that these girls are experiencing ‘gender confusion’ and should be assisted or supported to self‑identify as boys.”
Also rubbish. It’d be a miracle if this kind of training was so widely available that all teachers in the UK could access it, it would NEVER be framed like this.
“Adolescent young lesbians in schools who do not want to conform to feminine
stereotypes (sometimes also labelled as ‘butch’) are being bullied, stigmatised,
isolated and pressurised to socially transition, since being a trans boy is now
regarded as a more positive and fashionable identity.”
I am running out of words for rubbish! Trans pupils face bullying and exclusion, it is not fashionable.
“They may be encouraged by the school and their peers to wear breast binders, which can cause breathing difficulties and other ill effects. They may also be encouraged to seek medical transition, without consulting their parents.”
Someone doesn’t understand safeguarding do they? And most schools wouldn’t know what a ‘breast binder’ was. This would never happen. Why they’ve chosen to include this utter tripe is beyond me and my 18 years experience as an educator. .
The rest isn’t even worth commenting on as it’s just more of the same, and their links are no longer valid, I wonder if they even existed? The Telegraph is hardly a reliable source of unbiased information, oh and a book written in a biased way, I wonder if people realise that school guidance should be more accurate than this ?
Karen: Glossy brochures and slick websites are stock tools of anti LGBTQ campaigners. As we covered before, with the Core Issues Trust. They hope that those unfamiliar with the issues will be distracted by the slickness, something in this era of fake news which is all too common. There are so many plain falsehoods presented by Transgender Trend that we genuinely do not have space to debunk them all, but one more must be addressed. Detransition. As I covered here, it is simply not the case that the majority of gender diverse children detransition. As I wrote previously;
The 80% figure is not true of course. It was heavily promoted by Kenneth Zucker, a discredited believer in conversion therapy, who performed studies on the sexual attractiveness of 6 year olds (among other things). His clinic told parents to punish children who did not stick to conservative gender norms, for example punishing someone who was assumed to be male at birth for playing with dolls. He believed his job was to prevent children from transitioning. Previously he took a similar stance to LGB youth, believing they would be happier if they were straight.
We live in dangerous times, hard won rights are being taken away, and across the world LGBTQ+ people are under attack. Anti LGBTQ+ groups want to make schools the battleground and see vulnerable children as merely collateral damage in their war on equal rights. It is up to all of us to ensure this does not happen.
Follow Annette on Twitter (@LGBTExec)
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By JCWilmore – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9667582