Schools - Help prevent transphobic bullying

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  • In the title slide there is the word Transphobic,. I am sure you all know that PHOBIA means fear, hatred, aversion. But what does TRANS mean? The word Transsexual should not be used on it’s own. It has acquired too many stigmas, trans people find it offensive.
    Trans and Transgender are more acceptable. Which brings us to the term Transsexuality.
  • We are thinking of trans children, they can be aware they are transgendered from the age of 4 upwards, but the average age for having gender reassignment surgery is 42. So it can be a long, lonely and painful process.
  • Who are these people, commonly known as transpeople?
  • Because psychiatrists play a major role to ensure that there are no underlying psychiatric issues or problems we must accept ……
    SUGGESTION for presenter: refer to these notes, and if resources allow, copy them notes into a handout for participants to take away, along with copies of the presentation itself
    At around the seventh week the genetic switch is triggered, in no particular order the following occur:-
    The chromosomal configuration takes place (XX = female, XY = male); Gonadal differentiation (ovaries or testicles);
    Differentiation of internal and external genitalia.
    But…possibly before or after this has happened there is the differentiation of the brain into male or female – could it be that an abnormal amount of cross-sex hormones is released at this stage?
    (Speaker from The Free Hospital, Amsterdam. GENDYS’94)
  • How do I recognise a child who is transsexual? The quick answer is with great difficulty!
    Mermaids has produced a list of 28 possible signs that may or may not indicate that a child has gender identity disorder, just a few are shown here. (The rest are available as a handout.) The need is for anyone close to the child to be sensitive to their behaviour, if any of the observations are persistent have a chat with someone at Mermaids and take their advice.
  • Unfortunately it does – a research project published by Press for Change showed that --- slide
    This is a publication well worth reading as it has extensive case studies and factual information.
  • There are many sources of statistics, but the ones I show here are probably the most reliable. As an aside nearly 2,000 adults were referred to the main GIC at Charing Cross in the last 12 months. Our own GIC, The Laurels at Exeter has had 108 referrals in the same period. It is expected that there will be a steady increase in the number of children coming forward.
  • When a child shows signs of any identity confusion. But remember the observations from the last slide. Many children with gender issues can go on to be heterosexual, or gay and be happy with their birth gender.
    A child in the process of transitioning – most likely the process started in Primary School.
    This is what happened when a school (allegedly) wasn’t prepared, resulting in the child being bullied by parents and pupils, the child and her parents being unnecessarily stressed.
  • 5. You are not alone. There is a wealth of information and support available including PHSE Advisers
  • There is a handout available with lists of helpful organisations, and publications. The three key ones are shown on this slide.


  • 1. Help Prevent Transphobic Bullying Kay Nicholson 1
  • 2. Aim:  To provide you with information ...  which will give you understanding and confidence,  enable you to support Transgender people, and  help you to address and prevent Transphobic bullying 2
  • 3. ‘Everyone is an insider, there are no outsiders – whatever their beliefs, whatever their colour, gender or sexuality.’ Archbishop Desmond Tutu February 2004 3
  • 4. A ‘Trans’ spectrum  Trans is an abbreviation and umbrella term for a spectrum of people whose gender identity is different from their birth sex - Transgender.  It is also an abbreviation for Transsexual p erson. (e.g. and only where necessary, transman/boy or transwoman/girl.) 4
  • 5. Trans People…  Appear in every culture – not just a ‘Western Thing’.  Have existed through recorded history.  Cross all economic and class boundaries.  Are both men and women.  Are not ‘sick’ or ‘defective’ or ‘mentally ill – ‘Gender Dysphoria’ is a medical condition.  Are simply part of natural variation.  Want no more than to be themselves, in peace.  Need the assistance of medicine to reach that goal. Source:- Christine Burns MBE Past Vice President Press for Change. 5
  • 6. What is Transsexuality? A persistent discomfort with the sex assigned to the person at birth; a deep sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex  A strong and ongoing desire to live and be accepted as the sex with which they identify.  A wish to have hormonal treatment, and possibly, surgery to make one’s body match one’s psychological sex 6
  • 7. What it is not ... This is not a mental illness but increasingly understood to have its origins before birth. Research suggests that a small part of the baby’s brain progresses along a different pathway from the sex of the rest of its body. (Source GIRES 2011) 7
  • 8. Recognising gender dysphoria There are various clues that may point to gender dysphoria. ‘Mermaids’ provides information and support for families, teenagers and children with gender identity issues. 8
  • 9. Evidence of transphobic bullying  Half of those born male who identify as female experience bullying  Two thirds of those born female who identify as male experience bullying.  Physical abuse and even unwanted sexual behaviours occur in a majority of reported cases.  Around a quarter of survey participants had been bullied by teachers.  Teachers who are trans had been bullied by staff and pupils. Source – Engendered Penalties. S.Whittle; S.Turner and M. Al-Alami. Press for Change 9
  • 10. Children usually know how they fit within the gender spectrum by about age 4 or 5. Source – GIRES.  A quarter of transgender children have attempted suicide, and a further 25 per cent have considered suicide. Source – Transkids. 10
  • 11. Why should schools take action?  A school with 1,000 pupils will have 6 who experience transgenderism during their lives.  Others are likely to have a transgender parent or relative.  Before puberty 60 out of 1,000 pupils are likely to experience same sex orientation that may be difficult to distinguish from gender dysphoria.  In a staff of 170 there may be one transgender person. 11
  • 12. When might transphobic bullying occur?  When a child shows signs of any identity confusion.  A child in the process of transitioning. Schoolboy, 12, turns into a girl A BOY aged 12 turned up at school as a GIRL — after changing sex during summer hols This was the Sept 2009 story 12
  • 13. How can you prevent Transphobic bullying? Be prepared - have information about transsexuality available, including specialist organisations. Raise awareness - amongst staff and pupils. Be observant - watch for any signs. Prevent and protect: ensure that  your anti-bullying policy incorporates all forms of bullying  pupils and staff understand that transphobic bullying is included in the policy. Remember you are not alone. 13
  • 14. Publications  Home Office/Gires – ‘Transphobic Bullying – Could you deal with it in your school?’ (2008) Available on  Department for Children, Schools and Families – ‘Guidance for schools on preventing and responding to sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying’. (2009) Available from DCSF Publications, Nottingham. (Ref.01136-2009DOM-EN)  Engendered Penalties. S.Whittle; S.Turner and M. Al-Alami. Press for Change 14
  • 15. Information and Support Mermaids – The main support group for gender variant children and teenagers, and their families.  BM Mermaids London.  0208 1234819 – Information line Monday to Saturday 3pm to 7pm only.  GIRES – Gender Identity, Research and Education Society. Our primary mission is to improve the circumstances in which trans people live, by changing the way that society treats them. 01375 801554   Transkids – Primarily for teachers in primary schools, but useful to secondary schools too.  15
  • 16. Acknowledgements We are grateful to the following who have kindly allowed us to use their materials and supported us in this project. Gires Mermaids Transkids Christine Burns MBE Equality South West South West Transgender Equality Network Press for Change 16
  • 17. 17