Trans in school(16 Posts)
I am a teacher in secondary and we now have our first trans pupil returning as their new gender after the holidays. He (was she) has been off for nearly a year with severe mental health issues (hospitalised etc) and is now feeling great, apparently better, but is now He. A new name has been chosen (we will call him Mike) and Mike is returning as a boy.
Now, I have done a lot of reading around this, mostly following the many insightful posts on here regarding MTF trans. I am in agreement with a huge number of those on the Feminist boards.
Not sure really what I am asking. I suppose there are a number of issues. Has anyone else dealt with this as a teacher? Mike is also close friends with DD (same school as me). Both are 17.
Bathrooms seem to be decided - immediately male, even though we have urinals and boys might be uncomfortable.
Mike has to be Mike for a year and will then get hormones and surgery. I find this makes me very uncomfortable.
I run a residential school trip - to battlefields - and Mike is going and we have been told he is to be on the boys' floor / bathrooms etc.
I know that Mike was always very masculine in terms of dress anyway so I don't actually see why adults are following this to such a horrible conclusion. But, I am keeping that to myself.
I have changed loads of details, BTW, to keep me safe and protect Mike. The gender is MTF though, crucially. Thoughts? Experiences?
BTW, Mike is an extremely clever, high achieving pupil but possibly ASD (certainly very socially awkward) which makes me also feel uncomfortable.
I think all will be well. Mike is nearly an adult. As are those that will associate with him daily. And, "lucky" for him he is FTM which society
and mumsnet seems to have a lot less hand wringing about. Give him the choice if you can re: who he's room sharing with and he can (and presumably, being pre-op will have to) use a stall in the toilets anyway. Shower time will be private and if he can choose his room mates he, and they (as they should be able to say no if they want to) can sort out amongst themselves who changes where and when - be that in the bathroom or bedroom.
In your shoes I'd be finding out my legal position and whether putting Mike on the male floor is the recommended thing to do. I'd want it in writing from someone prepared to take the blame if something goes wrong if it is. If Mike is on the male floor does that mean that they will be supervised by a male teacher? What position does that put the male teacher in? I also think that the students are in an awkward position. What about sanpro issues? Presumably Mike still menstruates. Will there be accommodation in the male ablution areas for this? And I think that having Mike walk past urinals is an invasion of boys' privacy - and that of male teachers too.
Put bluntly, Mike might feel like a male but they still have a vagina and breasts. In bodily terms Mike has female anatomy. Either young people are segregated by sex (body) or they are not. If they are there is a reason for this to do with issues like safeguarding, privacy and the possibility of sexual assault of some form - having someone declare they are the other sex does not make it so and it does not abrogate these issues.
Thanks Spartacus. My problem is that I agree wholeheartedly, personally. But professionally......I have to do as I am told.
Bathrooms will be male but there are urinals at school (not my responsibility, thankfully) but not when we go away. There will be designated boys / girls bathrooms but no urinals - all separate, lockable toilets / showers with only sinks shared. Male staff might end up using a different male bathroom.
Very uncomfortable with the whole thing personally. Mike is also now "gay" but I have a gay son who laughed at the idea that he might be attracted to Mike as DS is "100% gay" in his own words.
Easier ftM, I agree as no issues with being bigger / stronger / more threatening. But, is it fair on those born male to have a previously female person in their space?
I am so uncomfortable with the way it is being handled. Yes, PP suggested that age makes it easier. But, in a way, it makes it harder as older pupils are more likely to be attracted to each other.
But professionally......I have to do as I am told
Yeah... I face similar in my workplace. It's awful because I'm an unconscious eye-roller.
I guess what I mean is that where there is even a hint of a potential safeguarding issue (i.e.) Mike sharing with boys with penises or under the supervision of a male teacher at night then I'd be getting those instructions in writing.
I probably didn't make it clear, but my post was about practical and legal issues, not ideological ones.
There is just so much that can go wrong ...
It's not for you OP to worry about all of these issues on your own - the whole school staff needs guidance and support. Stonewall offer excellent resources and training on best practice and you may well have a Champion school nearby who can give practical advice.
The most important thing is that Mike is now happy with who they are and is now able to participate fully in school and get his education back on track.
There's an interesting article here about the effects of being a political poster child on transgender teens.
As for Stonewall, what used to be a great organization has lost a lot of credibility, particularly with lesbians, but even it looks good against the CPS, ffs, who have issued educational guidance that suggests young lesbians should give blow jobs to transgirls. here's the PDF, plus some commentary here.
You may find more useful info on the resource thread in FWR. I can entirely see why you're concerned. So much uncharted water. How does anyone know the boys may react? Many adult transmen use ladies loos because they don't feel safe in the gents, and I can imagine boys objecting to females in their loos. Let's hope Mike settles back in happily, but the potential for trouble would worry me too, quite apart from the damage medical transition does to a girl's body.
I have been in this exact position OP. Student was F throughout KS3 & 4 then returned as M for Yr 12. Key things were:
New name was easy to use but pronouns were tricker - force of habit. Student (let's call him Steve) was good about it though and gave us a bit of leeway. He was very open to being open about it, without overhearing and fully understood that we were all dealing with something new, not just him.
His friends were 100% on board - this helped enormously. I am proud to say that I work in a very tolerant school where there are student both male & female who are open about sexuality and no one is judgemental or nasty. Obviously gender is a different issue but I think it helped Steve knowing that the student body, as a rule, is pretty open and accepting.
The SENCO did assemblies for the whole school. Steve was not paraded in front of everyone but everyone knew who he was. SENCO explained the situation, made it clear that it was ok to have questions but not ok to be unpleasant to Steve.
The fact that he is yr 12 did make a difference, but then we do also have a MtF student in yr 8.
He uses the disabled loo and changes for PE in there too. No idea about periods but then - I don't tend to ask about it! Disabled loo sorts it anyway.
I don't think that, as individuals, we need to worry about anything other than treating them the same as any other student. The school needs to know what the policies are and feed that back to staff. Your own views really can't have an impact. I also teach two children who don't believe in evolution. I think that's mad but don't let it impact on how I teach them.
I am a drama teacher. Steve does drama. We performed a play called Pronoun by Evan Placey which looks at the issue of trans teens and how their transition can impact on others round them. We all agreed it was an excellent play. Get hold of a copy and read it. If nothing else, it'll show you that what you're thinking is normal.
That play sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye open for it.
I have taught several trans students. All FTM. One joined the school on transition. Others transitioned while at the school. I have found it surprisingly easy to look at the individual child, whatever my own opinion on gender. Our students (two different schools) were very accepting. One student's relationship with his family broke down though, which was devastating for him.
Pronoun is a fantastic play!
We had a gay student playing the straight male boyfriend. He was fantastic.
Anyway, we've had a couple of FTM students. Just treat them with respect and be polite. It's not difficult.
Speak to your pastoral lead about school trip and indeed the student where appropriate.
It's a difficult time, be supportive, be kind.
This guidance is great... www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/13620644/schools-transgender_guidance_booklet-2015.pdf tells you all about legislation along with the practicalities.
It almost sounds too good to be true, mike having servious mental health issues and off school for a year but is returning cured. He'll need a lot of support to settle into school again as will his peer group. Mike needs to be prepared for comments that will be made and to have a protective bubble around himself to bounce them off.
It's great you're being supportive to him. Good luck, hope it goes well.
All trans studnets ive taught have been FtM (always interests me as most of the angst from the trans lobby that gets the feminist boarss wound up is the invasion of female space).
Ive generally heard of fewer issues going FtM than the other way round if I'm honest.
It seems to be MtF who kick off the most about demanding womens spaces much more than FtM. Also tend to find that most FtM trans Ive met want to go through surgery etc to be more like a 'man. Some of tjr MtF mentioned on feminism threads want to remain biologically male but have everything women have.
I would assume that whoever is leading the trip has vetted rooming very carefully and parents are aware. If toilets are anything like hostels we've used its a unisex bathroom/shower room with a lock. Should Mike need to use a sanitary bin there'd be one there.
Id not put too much thought on sexuality. Mike may feel gay (be prepared for lots on here of mike is a straight woman) and thats for Mike to decide as far as I can tell.
I think you know what is expected of you in a professional sense and I think you need to stick very closely to that, regardless of your personal thought on the child's decisions.
Maisypops it's the Op who is leading the trip. I'm pretty sure she would not be allowed to tell the parents of the boys that a trans boy was sleeping in the room.
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