Being a Trans-Friendly School
Supporting the Process of Gender Transition in School – A Practical Guide
The point at which a child indicates to others that they want to transition and begin living in their preferred gender should not be viewed by others as a problem to be solved. The content of this guide has been used to support a number of primary schools to help children transition in a positive way. The message is that, whilst the process of transition does not need to be complicated, it should be carefully thought through. Schools are often on new territory and will want to get it right. The 2010 Equality Act identifies gender reassignment as a protected characteristic. This should help schools to be clear about their responsibilities to support trans children’s right to live in their preferred gender. Having open discussions with parents/carers and young people is also crucial.
Checklist for a Positive Transition:
Things to have considered in the lead up to transition:
- Toilets – Children should be able to choose which one they use when they transition if toilets are gendered. (Unless disabled, trans children should not be directed to use a disabled toilet although can be given the option to do so.) It is usual for children who have transitioned to use the toilet of the gender they assign themselves to and the law protects this right.
- Changing for PE – Again, children who have transitioned should be able to choose where they change if changing is split on gender. (Younger children usually change together anyway so this often doesn’t cause an issue.)
- Confidentiality – All staff need to understand that information on a child being trans is classed as medical information. Schools may find that others feel they are able to initiate discussions, offer their opinion or ask probing questions about a child transitioning. Schools should talk generally about the 2010 equality act and that gender identity is a protected characteristic but not talk about specific children.
Things to have considered closer to the transition day:
- Broadening Equality - Whole school assembly to broaden children’s understanding of equality (check if the child transitioning wants to be in for this.) Ben Tull, headteacher at Arbury Primary School has written an assembly that has been shared with a number of schools and can be used if schools find it useful. (Copy on the school’s website)
- Legal Names on Computerised Records - Parents/carers should be advised to consider changing their child’s name by deed poll and provide the paperwork to the school office to change the legal name. Without this legal change, the original name will keep coming up on registers and may need to be used in some statutory tests. (ie KS2 SATs)
- Recorded Gender on Computerised Records - The school office should change the child’s gender on SIMS following a parental/carer request. No legal document is needed according to the latest census guidance from the DfE. If left unchanged, the original gender will keep pulling through on reports. Cambridgeshire LA has recently advised all schools to follow the DfE guidance.
On the day of Transition:
- Class teacher talks to the class explaining the change of name and gender. The transitioning child should be asked if they want to be in or not for this.
- Pupils/adults respect child’s chosen gender identity, name and pronoun. Trans children will understand the difference between a genuine mistake and something deliberate in relation to names and pronouns.
Supporting a child through their transition will often prompt schools to look at the world in a different way, one in which gender becomes less binary. A school which challenges gender stereotypes and limits the ways in which children are treated differently based on gender, will be a better place for all children. Schools may wish to ask themselves:
- Do labels on pegs have boy/girl colours?
- Do children line up or sit in class by gender?
- Do school photos have boy and girl ways of sitting?
- Are any sports clubs separated on gender? How about sports days?
- Do third party online learning resources ask for gender information? Why? How is it used?
- Are children encouraged to use dressing up and role play areas in a non-gender specific way?
- Do books read in class promote equality, celebrate diversity and challenge stereotypes?
Ben Tull - Headteacher / Kathy Whiting – Senior Leader
School leaders may wish to use an assembly designed to broaden children’s understanding of equality.
Cambridgeshire strongly advises schools to follow the DfE guidance as outlined in the School Census Guide 2016-17 – Section 5.2.9 (Page 61) in relation to recording gender in line with the wishes of the pupil and / or parent.