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Another trans related one, I'm afraid

(169 Posts)
Monison Wed 03-Feb-16 09:49:17

Hello - I am an occasional poster, long time lurker on FWR. I love this board and have found the wisdom and eloquence of a number of posters quite inspirational. So I am wondering if you can help me articulate my objections to the following:

DD (yr5) had an assembly yesterday led by an organisation working with LGBT young people. The content was essentially encouraging tolerance and inclusivity (great) and making the simple point that some people are gay/bi and THAT IS FINE (again, great). However the speaker then talked about how some people are trans/gender fluid/non binary etc and that it is perfectly ok for boys to become girls and girls to become boys. DD cheerfully told me that if anyone wants to become the other sex that is perfectly normal, and should be supported. When I told her I thought it might be easier if we extended our ideas of what being a boy and girl means so that 'being a boy' can include stereotypically 'feminine' things and vice versa without changing bodies or biology she looked aghast.

There are so many issues I want to raise with the school but I am concerned they - like DD - will immediately assume that I am anti-trans individuals (which I am not) rather than questioning the wider trans narrative. I am really concerned that by including the issue of trans within the LGB discourse, it is too easy to uncritically assume that the same notions of acceptance apply rather than looking more deeply into issues of socialisation and damaging gender stereotypes.

I am also concerned that the school is allowing organisations to express as fact (and without nuance or debate) the current trans orthodoxy to children - who are clearly not equipped to think critically around these issues themselves and will accept the clunky logic of well meaning but, in my view, damaging ideology.

Another concern is that DDs school currently has a child in yr 3 who 'identifies as a girl' and the advice from the local authority has been similarly unthinking (imo). The school have been told not to out 'her' and treat her as a girl to all intents and purposes. Clearly this will present more issues as puberty approaches, and when the children start going on residential trips (no policy on whether 'she' will share a dorm with the girls, or if the girls parents will be informed). But most of all they have not questioned AT ALL this child's right to self determine, despite the fact that 'she' does not have legal consent for anything else until she is 16. I can't help but find the school's approach collusive, bordering on abusive. It is likely, after all that this child will not transition in adult life and may well have questions about why the significant adults in 'her' life allowed a child to make such an enormous decision without any context or understanding.

So, really what I am asking is how do we begin to talk to schools and other organisations about gender critical approaches to trans issues without being immediately dismissed as transphobes?

ThatsNotMyRabbit Wed 03-Feb-16 10:13:36

I'm sick of hearing about bloody Trans this and Trans that.

I know it's awfully trendy and all that but honestly 🙄

ThatsNotMyRabbit Wed 03-Feb-16 10:14:27

....sorry Mon, that wasn't aimed at you!

Seriouslyffs Wed 03-Feb-16 10:22:00

So, really what I am asking is how do we begin to talk to schools and other organisations about gender critical approaches to trans issues without being immediately dismissed as transphobes?
I don't know. It's a minefield. So no advice but just posting to stand up and say yes, there is some very muddled and dangerous thinking becoming the orthodoxy.

briss Wed 03-Feb-16 10:24:34

I'd complain. I wouldn't give two hoots about it.

I've also told my dd (9) that its rubbish that there is such a thing as a girl in a boys body and vice versa. All girls can do all boy things and vice versa.

If she wants to believe otherwise when she's older that's her decision.

caitlinohara Wed 03-Feb-16 10:34:18

The assembly thing was no doubt well meaning and your daughter got the main idea and I think that's fine, and you gave her something to think about: also fine.

It's the other issue you mention that I'd be a bit hmm about. Y3 seems awfully young to be 'identifying as a girl'. We're talking about 7 year olds, aren't we? At that age mine were scarcely aware of the difference between boys and girls. Do you know the child involved?

LurcioAgain Wed 03-Feb-16 10:35:43

I don't know either. This is something I've been wondering about in connection with my DS.

Fortunately, I've been openly gender critical with him and he will now look at ads and say things like "why do they think all girls like pink?", "why don't they make some monster high dolls for boys, because there are boy characters in monster high", "some girls play football too" etc.

Here's my attempt at an age appropriate explanation:

I think I'll be taking the line that some people like stuff which is traditionally associated with the opposite sex and that's okay (which he already knows). That by the time they're grown up, some grownups just feel their body is wrong, and decide they'd rather live as the opposite sex, and that's also fine. That sometimes children feel like their body is wrong - and that for some of them, maybe they will still feel that way as adults, and for others, they'll just find they grow into adults who have interests simply based on what they're interested in, not what society tells them is the right set of interests for boys or girls. And for children if they want to dress like the opposite sex for a while that's fine (I spent about 2 years in a tomboy phase back in the 1970s) - it's just an extension of knowing that there's no rule that says pink is for girls and football is for boys. But that if someone wants to dress a different way as a child that doesn't mean they have to make any decisions about what it means - that can wait till they're grown up. But that the really important message is that we should be nice to people and respect what they choose to do, and (importantly) should be allowed to expect respect for what we choose to do in return.

Fortunately DS is already very savvy about the fact that different people believe different things (he's been asking about religion and why some people believe in god for years now, he asks questions about politics). He's also (like me) one of nature's bloody-minded non-conformists.

caitlinohara Wed 03-Feb-16 10:36:15

By the way I do dismiss the idea that you can 'become' a woman or a man: just to clear that up.

CatatonicSonic Wed 03-Feb-16 10:39:44

It makes me so sad when people say being transgendered is a trend. My partner is trans and has been through so much emotional turmoil over it and coming out. Nobody would go through that for shits and giggles sad

It seems like people have the same negative attitude towards trans people that gay people suffered years ago. I hope people learn to be more understanding and tolerant of something many people have no control over. sad

caitlinohara Wed 03-Feb-16 10:40:45

Lurcio Exactly. I don't see why anyone would encourage a 7 year old to 'identify' as anything. They're 7!! Did the parents see him playing with dolls and dressing up or whatever and decide that he was therefore 'identifying as a girl'? OP I think we need to know more.

WhoWants314 Wed 03-Feb-16 10:41:05

Jesus christ,

"some people are non binary" to a five year old Seriously!!

LurcioAgain Wed 03-Feb-16 10:43:42

So do I, Caitlin! That's why I'd talk in terms of people feeling their body was wrong, rather than being in the wrong body.

Incidentally, at no point in my tomboy phase did I think I was in the wrong body. It was "political tomboyism" - I wanted to get to play cricket and do woodwork with the boys instead of having to do rounders and needlework with the girls. That's why I'm so suspicious of the whole idea of transgender children. I'm sure it's not coincidental that having made great strides towards the idea that any person should be able to pursue anything - educational/hobbies/jobs - that interests them, we're in the middle of a massive backlash most clearly seen with the pinkification of toys (Faludi's book Backlash is incredibly pertinent still, I think) - and suddenly rather than saying "oh look, it's a boy who likes toy prams and dolls houses", they're saying "I have a daughter!!! Trapped in the wrong body!!!! (Oooh and look at me while I blog all over tumblr about it."

Fourormore Wed 03-Feb-16 10:45:35

My son was very, very confused by a similar assembly. In fact he's spent the last 12 months getting to grips with the fact that just because he doesn't feel like a stereotypical boy, that doesn't mean he's a girl. I can only conclude that the information given in the session wasn't clear enough.

I absolutely agree that transpeople should be accepted into society. We also need to be careful about the wider implications of how we do that. It isn't the same as accepting someone as gay/lesbian IMO.

LurcioAgain Wed 03-Feb-16 10:48:37

Catatonic, I have friends who are trans - and that's why I don't take the line that "it's a mental illness". There are people for whom there is genuinely going on. But it's not, I think, as simple as "being in the wrong body" (which would I think commit us to an underlying explanation in terms of lady brains etc) - I think it's more complex. And while I accept that some may realise early on in childhood, I think because there are also so many gender non-conforming (in the sense of flipping the bird to external socially imposed gender roles) children out there too, it is wrong of parents to automatically assume they have a transgender child rather than a gender non-conforming child. And I do think there is a massive trend at the moment to pressurise people into assuming that if their child is gender non-conforming then they must be trans.

Kidnapped Wed 03-Feb-16 10:56:06

I sympathise with you. I don't know the answer.

I think that in the last 30 years or so there has been so much unfettered consumerist marketing of blue, science, team sports, trains, cars, star wars, building things, mess, dinosaurs, noise = boy. And pink, princess, pretty, quiet, passive, dolls, hair and make-up, flowers, crafts = girl. Young children are bombarded with these messages in the media.

It is any wonder that some children feel that they don't fit with these narrow outward expressions of what it is to be a girl or a boy?

Vixxfacee Wed 03-Feb-16 10:57:57

There's an agenda and it's really worrying. The lines are being blurred so much and of adults are confused by it then what do you think is going on in children's heads?

Monison Wed 03-Feb-16 11:06:27

Yes, that's just it - it's as if being trans is suddenly the only explanation for the experience of gender non conformity - with no thought about the future consequences. The trans child at dd's school presumably doesn't realise 'her' identification moves 'her' from the most privileged social group to a disadvantaged one. Surely children should be encouraged to be who they are without having to change their pronoun/name/biological sex. Eg 'Here is Fred, he loves pink sparkly things. What a lovely boy.' But it seems that the gender norm of masculinity is so rigidly defined that it is easier for people to make the rather extreme leap to 'being trapped in a woman's body' rather than think maybe our gender roles might be imperfect.

FYI the 'trans' child has been such since reception and as far as I am aware no-one has challenged this status. I expressed my concerns to the Head a few months ago but was met with the usual excuses: following advice from local authority.

Catatonic - I sympathise with the emotional turmoil experienced by your partner. But I do not accept it is analogous to the prejudice suffered by homosexual people. I understand that people suffer from gender dysphoria but wonder whether the current 'solution' is effective and helpful to those who experience it OR to the wider population, especially women, who reject the stereotypes used to define 'gender identity'

caitlinohara Wed 03-Feb-16 11:09:41

Kidnapped I agree, but honestly I hardly know any kids who would willingly conform to these extremes. I have three boys who have always had a mixture of 'boy' and 'girl' toys. Most of the girls we know do too.

caitlinohara Wed 03-Feb-16 11:11:36

Monison SINCE RECEPTION? Speechless.

TheXxed Wed 03-Feb-16 11:14:33

CatatonicSonic as a black lesbian I am sick to my back teeth with people associating gender critical feminism with homophobia or racism.

It's not the same thing, not even kind of not even a little bit.

www.commondreams.org/views/2015/06/15/jenner-dolezal-one-trans-good-other-not-so-much

paranoiddroid Wed 03-Feb-16 11:19:23

God I'm sick of this shit as well. Sex is binary apart from people with actual intersex conditions. Children are biologically male or female. Its gender that's non binary and if we just keft kids alone to be themesleves intead of pushing all the pink/blue shit on them and then confusing them further with all this identifying as female stuff, trans, gender fluid etc options everyone would be a lot better off.

Monison Wed 03-Feb-16 11:23:33

Caitlin - I know, it's awful. And the worse thing is there is no permitted way to discuss it without being branded an illiberal bigot.

venusinscorpio Wed 03-Feb-16 11:30:21

I'm sorry Catatonic, there is no doubt in my mind that transgender has become a trendy cause and that some people are just jumping on the bandwagon, or confused with all the peer pressure they're under. It doesn't mean there aren't genuine cases, like your partner. It doesn't mean that I'm prejudiced and ignorant and homophobic and want trans people to suffer, and I'd rather like people like you to stop saying it does. How about you try a little bit of that understanding you're so keen to prescribe to others and try to get your head around what trans ideology means for women's rights and for young children, like the ones mentioned in the OP? It shouldn't be a one way street. We have genuine and legitimate concerns, and we're just getting told to shut up, no understanding or tolerance there.

LurcioAgain Wed 03-Feb-16 11:31:53

I've read that article before, Xxed - it's a great piece. Thanks for reminding me about it.

glenthebattleostrich Wed 03-Feb-16 11:34:40

Then I'm happy to be an illiberal bigot. Because this is one of the biggest threats to women and frankly if this was my dd's school I'd be going batshit that this is being pushed.

There is a clear agenda and I'm fed up with it. According to the government whitewash 1% of the population identify as trans. They should of course be able to live life without threats of violence or discrimination but that doesn't mean you get to take a crap over the rights of 50% of the population to avoid some hurt feelings.

We should be teaching our children acceptance of who they are not that if Martin likes dolls and glitter he must be mavis.

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