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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

St Marys Cambridge - gender training for parents

35 replies

BrokenMorning · 03/02/2023 16:03

James Esses recently published an article about gender training for parents []

A transcript of the workshop for parents that took place on 26th Jan 2023 will be added below. I imagine similar information will be given to other schools.

…Turn my camera on, so erm I’ll erm just be a disembodied voice.
So we’re really, really grateful to (name)
this evening from Schools Inclusion Alliance for taking the time erm to take us through some of the issues surrounding Inclusivity and gender identity, erm and allow all of us to gain an understanding erm of what ‘it’ is a real issue for young people erm, we want it to be an open session so please do ask any questions and obviously after the event, if you do have any questions please do get in touch with me at school. So, erm I’ll hand over to [name] and erm it’s going to be a really informative and useful session for us all. Thank you very much.

SIA Facilitator
0.57 - Thanks a lot that’s a really great introduction and as [name] said erm
I really want this to be a erm, opportunity for you to ask questions to erm, come up with anything you want to know. We’ve provided you with a Slido and I erm on various numbers of the slido I have put the comments in, so it’s great to see people already using it. This is an entirely safe space, so if you do want to ask a question don’t worry about language, don’t worry about ‘Am I saying the right thing’, as long as we’re not being offensive erm then I absolutely am happy to have erm the conversation, we have a question and answer box if you want to put questions in there, if you’d prefer to do that, to do the Slido, and at the end of the session if people want to come off mute and ask questions then we can do that as well.

1.47 - But let’s start off by think about what is it that we’re actually talking about, because this can feel like a very difficult subject erm at the moment erm , particularly at the moment, particularly in terms of the media, but also in terms of the age that your young people are at, and the questions that they may have and the things that they may be thinking about, so I don’t know where you are on the level of understanding or journey so I’m going to do a very brief piece of what it is that we’re talking about before we get into the piece around erm, gender identity, what does that mean? What’s going on at the moment?
Erm, why does this feel like a very difficult conversation, erm and particularly polarised and, and what, what can schools do and what do we need to think about as parents as well?

2.35 - So, one of the issues is we are talking about that for many, many years, we have kind of rolled into one. We’re talking about biology, our sex, our hormones, our genetalia, our sex chromosomes and we’re also talking about our feelings – who we are, who we’re attracted to, those things that are perhaps less tangible, erm, and both are really, really important, but often we’ve confused the two in our language over time. Are we talking about biological sex are we talking about gender? Do we believe that there is a difference between the two – some people do, some people don’t. And then the last piece of course, is one that often goes unnoticed but is very important – expression – how do we present to others that give us social clues that we erm are one or other of the biology or gender, because of course we don’t walk around asking people for evidence of their gender or biology, erm we take social clues and make assumptions.

3.40 – All three of those things will be playing a part in young peoples sense of who they are and where they fit in the world and what they want people to know about as well. Now, of course this becomes quite complicated and this is a very simplified diagram and some people believe that these things, don’t, aren’t erm real, other people think these things are very real. There is , I’m not, giving you a right, or rig, wrong answer, I’m telling you the, the context of the conversation. So in relation to biology erm, our biological sex, erm, there are two binaries – erm male and female. Think about when a baby is born – you pick it up, you look at one part of its beautiful body, that isn’t, er, um, isn’t it’s face, and you say ‘it's a girl’ or ‘it’s a boy’ and of course, increasingly in the media, only around the last ten years or so, we’ve heard talk about intersex as well. Now intersex isn’t slap bang in between male or female, it is where there is a difference between external genetalia and internal organs, or systems as well! If you are a sports fan as well you will know Caster Semanya and she is a runner and she had a sex test and while she is biologically female from the outside her internal organs, and erm, er, her internal hormone levels are what you traditionally find in a male body. So, that’s the intersex category, it’s a biological, medical situation.

5.13 - And then of course we have our gender identity, how we feel, how we identify ourselves rem, – for some people that’s a man, for some people that’s a woman. We know that for some people that is somewhere between the two, for all different kinds of reasons. Erm, Again, if you believe in binary, then you would not believe that non- binary was possible, because you’re one or the other, and, but, we know that some people …. I’m going to talk about numbers in a second, Identify as non-binary – don’t fit into either of those categories, erm, mainly often because of, erm, our societal views of what those categories are, so biology and gender identity for the vast majority of people are exactly the same thing. Erm, It’s something we never have to think about and therefore it can be really hard to er, erm, imagine how that might feel, erm, but for some people in the transgender community they don’t believe those things are the same they may be different, on a binary, so a person who is born male erm feels female, or feels a woman again the difference in language or the other way round. And then, of course, our expression can also be that, either in that binary sense – I’m gonna give you that expression from our social stereotypes, that I am er, you going to look at me and think I’m male, or vice a versa, erm, you’re er going to look at me and think I’m female based on our social stereotype of what we see, or I’m going to express myself in dress and behave in such a way that is deliberately androgynous, again, not always slap bang in the middle of the two, but somewhere between the two.

And whilst we’re predominantly talking about gender identity, I think it is important to talk about sexual orientation because some people believe there is a connection between the two and on there all the same thing … and there absolutely is a correlation between them, and, but in the main, who we are and who we’re attracted to are quite separate things and when we’re thinking about sexual orientation, em, we have people who are erm, attracted to the opposite gender or biology to them, which would be straight people who are attracted to the same erm, gender or biology to them, or people who just say I am just attracted to people and I, ah, I’m not going to set a boundary on who that is.

7.47 - And from that became LGB and then LGBT, and then LGBTQI, and then LGBTQIA and a whole myriad of letters that for many of us can feel like it’s never ending and it’s really complicated and how on earth do I talk to my young person about this huge number of things that seems to change all the time and get ever longer and ever more complicated. It can feel like a minefield, and it is, because some of these letters mean different things to different people. Some of the letters may feel very offensive to other people, whereas for some people they are very empowering. Queer is a good example of that, erm, most people, kind of my generation, showing my age, find the term ‘queer’ really quite offensive because it was used a erm, an insult, whereas many particularly young people now, are increasingly using the word queer to say ‘I’m not going to fit into one of your boxes’ or ‘I’m just not going’, erm, ‘going to’, erm ‘I’m different, I’m me’.

The ‘Q’ can also include questioning, particularly for young people, it, it, kind of came out of universities, where they didn’t want people to say ‘this is who I am’, we didn’t want to force young people to put a label on themselves and so the questioning was designed to kind of say ‘well maybe you don’t know who you are, but you’re still welcome in our community anyway’. So you don’t need to worry about what all these letters mean, erm, because they change all the time and they evolve and they’re ever ending and they mean different things to different people. All you need to know as a parent is ‘haven’t you, if your child is talking about those things, say I haven’t heard that term, what does that term mean to you? Or can you tell me about that, or I erm, I understood it to be something different, and just have it as a conversation, rather than like feeling like you need to understand it. Some of these will come and go, I don’t doubt over time, as humans we are a complete enigma, in that we hate labels, but we also really love labels, particularly young people so they will fluctuate they will come and go, you don’t need to get too worried about what they all mean.

10.01 - But let’s get to Gender Identity, the transgender community is what you often hear talked about, erm and when we talk about that we tend to be talking about two very specific different groups which actually have very different needs, very different experiences and are very different in terms of how we night think about them, erm in our communities and particularly in what our young people may be thinking, feeling or erm, exploring.

As you can see in the corner I’ve put the Slido list there, for those of you who don’t know Slido you don’t need to erm, erm, join it, it’s not an account or anything, it’s erm, just something you can put in and you can put a question anonymously or you can put your name if you like. Erm, I can see that somebody has raised their hand, let me just, ooh, let me just, ooh, was that by accident? Oop, there we go – NAME you should now be able to speak

– silence – voice – ‘do carry on [name]’.
SIA facilitator - Oh ok, no worries (laugh)

11.13 - So, transgender community, transgender means that the gender that your biological sex and your gender identity is erm, different, and that is two separate groups. We talk about binary transgender, think about those lines that we had the binary male - female nothing in the middle, erm, so binary transgender peoplecommunities are people whose biological sex at birth was male and identify as female or the other way round, but it’s a binary journey from one to the other, may involve surgery, may involve all sorts of things, but it’s a transition from one to another. And the other group of people increasingly for young people that we’re going to talk about in a second is non- binary, that group who says ‘you know what, I don’t want to sign up to either of those binaries’. And again for a whole lot of different reasons, whether it’s pushing against our increasingly gendered society, whether it’s just not feeling like those things don’t fit for them, for a whole number of reasons, whether it’s wanting to be cool and trendy, who knows, a whole range of reasons that the non-binary group are quite different.

So, in terms of how we support people, how we treat people, how we think about people, it's really important to think about the two separate groups, because if you are in the binary group, that’s where you would most likely go to gender reassignment because you want to live in the opposite gender. If you’re in the non-binary group, erm, medication, all them things, erm, become less, much, much less important and it’s much more about how people interact with you and how people see you, so it’s important to think about those two while we put them under one banner because this is a very small group as you will see from the census data in a second, erm, we can think about them in quite different ways, particularly in terms of how we support our young people to explore and erm, and come to a sense of who they are in a safe and appropriate way.

13.21 - Now, this conversation is deeply polarised at the moment and what of course you’re only ever hearing on social media and in the media are the two extreme views of either side, because the view in the middle doesn’t make for good, erm, sound bites I’m guessing, but I thought it was important to think about what those two views are and why they might be in conflict so you can understand what it is you are reading and understand the views that people are coming with. I’m not giving a view of whi.. whether one is right or the other, who knows, time will tell, everyone has their right to their own view. Er, it’s how we, erm, treat other people and how we manifest that view that becomes important.

14.07 - So the group that will be called gender critical groups, they are people who believe that men and women are different and that those differences are biological and that biological sex is immutable, it doesn’t change, whatever you do, you will still be whatever your biological sex at birth was. Erm, and therefore because it’s immutable and it’s binary and that non-binary identities erm can’t really exist and erm therefore identities such as pansexual and asexual from a sexual orientation point of view also erm don’t make sense. They believe that women have the right to organise themselves on the basis of biological sex only, this is the conversation that is very much in the news at the moment and that transwomen, while they shouldn’t be discriminated against they don’t fall into the category of women because it’s about biological sex and therefore should not be erm in places like women only spaces. They also believe that that group should become a very separate group and that erm, this should be a very medical conversation because you’re talking about, because you don’t believe non-binary exists, you’re talking about a binary transition, which is more than likely not medical. There is also a lot of discussion that young people are being enticed – social contagion – young people are being encouraged to think of themselves as erm, transgender, partic (jump in recording) young people who might be previously considered as erm, lesbians for example in the female space, erm who don’t fit those gender stereotypes, and perhaps are being pulled into having medical treatment or seeking to identify as transgender when that isn’t their true identity.

16.02 - On the other side is the trans inclusive group, you will often hear these called ‘gender ideologists’, now this group believes that gender is societal, is as much, as um, biological sex is very important, gender is a societal construct and the difference is between men and women, erm, are created as much by society as they are by biology, they believe that gender identity is a spectrum and therefore also is sexual orientation and there is space for that group in the middle particularly non-binary identification. They believe that self-identification is absolutely important erm, with protections in place, but that erm, trans people erm, er, assume their gender identity and therefore are welcome is single sex places, and that they believe that the process for young people to receive support is to slow and difficult to access and that talking to young people about gender identity is a key to helping young people to explore who they are.

17.16 As I said, who knows, who will end up to be right or wrong, erm, but these are the two extreme views, erm, both heavily perpetuated in the media erm, and everyone has the right to have whatever their view is but we should always be respectful to each other in the way that we present that view and the way that we talk about other people as well.

But less about what the groups disagree, we can often think about that, lets think about what people have in common, because actually there is amongst the media furore a lot of agreement from both of these groups about what is going on and what needs to happen. So everybody agrees there is an increase in young people thinking and talking about gender identity and seeking support. The reason for that may be a disagreement but everyone agrees that that is happening, that that is factual. Everyone also agrees that young people should only have age appropriate information and so that they have information in a place that is erm, that is safe to do so. People believe that young people’s sense of identity is super complex erm, and there is not always a straightforward reason about why young people are saying they are feeling whatever it is they are feeling and that that may change, there may be co-morbidity – which means a connection of things – so for example we know with girls there is a co-morbidity with autism and there is a co-morbidity with some mental health issues, erm and that these feelings might change and that that is not a bad thing at all.

Everybody believes that professional help should always be sought. Erm and that no-one should do anything medical until they are 100 percent sure and have the professional support and that nobody should be forced into any position, one way or the other. And actually everybody agrees that a young person questioning their gender identity, erm, is worrying and scary for everybody concerned. So whilst the media would have people pitted against each other and would have you believe that there is no middle ground whatsoever, erm, the, then, there is absolutely erm people would feel like erm there are common ground. And I think it’s really important to focus in on the common ground.

19.49 - I can see a question that’s com in, that says ‘This is not a fair representation of gender critical beliefs, they don’t believe trans people are a danger to women, trans identifying women are erm aren’t a risk to women, it’s men being allowed into accessing women’s spaces that is the problem’. Ok. Well it’s were, I sorry if I, if you feel like I’ve misrepresented that view, erm, of course not everybody believes the same thing and within those groups there is always spectrums, urm, but that, that concept of gendered spaces is very much the source of the conflict between the two groups.

20.27 – So what do we know about numbers? Because again the media would have us believe this is all over, everything is happening, what do we actually know about numbers? So, thankfully the census just came out recently, erm and you can see from the stats of the census that it’s all on line for you to look at, that actually whilst gender identity was a um, voluntary question, um, 94 percent of the people who completed the census um, answered it, even if they told us they didn’t want to say. And of those only 0,, only 0.5% of people, which is 262,000, said they would fit into the transgender community erm and 6 percent didn’t answer and this decreased with age, so the younger somebody is the more likely they were to fit into that category and erm, but it was only at 1 percent urm in 16-25 year old and it went right down to 0.25 percent erm, in the erm, wider population and that young people who identify as non-binary are twice as likely to be female um than male. So we can see the pattern that it’s actually 1,er, 0.5 percent of the population, a very small group erm, but in the 16-25 which is obviously, er, 24 sorrym which is the youngest group we have in the census, erm it’s about 1 percent. That 1 percent figure has been around the trans community for a long time, um, I remember some research in 2015 that talked about 1 percent of the population, erm, being in the transgender community. So, we have a sense of a small group, erm but, erm, but real people, real experiences.

22.11 - What do we know about sexual orientation while we’re there? Again it was a voluntary question, but we know lots of people answered it and around about 3.2 percent of people, erm, which is about 1.5 million people, said they would fit into the LGB community, of course you could fit into either, remember sexual orientation and gender is not necessarily in any way shape connected, and erm but over half of those that identified as LGB were in that younger 16-34 age group, so we know that the younger people are, the more that they’re likely to identify with this group. It doesn’t mean that it’s a young person thing, it’s most likely. Most researchers will tell us it’s more available to talk about, erm, it’s easier to talk about, there’s more information, of course, things like section 28 in schools, where this is was something that wasn’t talked about in any way shape or form in many young people’s childhood and, so, erm, we can see that, that is a kind of trend and we also know that erm more females are likely to identify than erm males. So what we know, what this means for us as parents, is this is something that young people are talking and thinking about in, um, a much bigger way than perhaps we did, and I would argue it’s part of identity formation in the same way that lots of other things are as well.

So this is a generic model of identity formation, we can think about it in relation to this, we can think about it in relation to lots of other aspects of our young people’s identity, um, we tend to start off in life with a parent shaped view of who we are, erm what we’re told, erm, kind of, erm, what we grow up believing, what we are kind of bought into and then over time we start to see ourselves multi fitting, so people try on lots of different personalities lots of different things to see where they fit, to see what’s comfortable, to see where they are, to fit in with friends, to follow social trends, all sorts of reasons. But this is where you’ll often see young people have kind of lots of different types of personalities and erm, and lots of different behaviours with their friends versus at home, erm, particularly when you add a cultural heritage lens to this, young people navigating different cultures erm this is where you see people with erm, … it can be very hard to understand where that young person is and then gradually as young people get older, and this is all happening in school years, um, they start to generally be more erm, be more um, selective in their exploration to the point where you start to identify who you are and who you’re not, for some people that is a much longer process than for others, for some people it is something they never have to think about.

But I think seeing gender identity and sexual orientation as part of that bigger erm, identity formation and exploring who I am, based on the information that we have, of course remembering that many of us, for many years never had that information erm, so therefore it wasn’t something that we thought about, doesn’t mean in wasn’t there, in fact, there are transgender people throughout history erm, but it wasn’t something that many people have to think about unless it was an issue, we can think of is as a normal piece (maybe pace) and it happens in school years, which is why it feels very kind of condensed into the age at perhaps what your young people are at the moment.

25.41 - People say ‘well is it a fad, is it a phase?’ when your young person is exploring their gender identity, erm and the answer is for some it absolutely will be, erm, for some it maybe, for some it definitely is not. There is no one size that fits all! There will be lots of things going on for lots of different children, erm, our role is to provide that young person with a safe space to talk to get information safely and not from sources that we wouldn’t want them to. To get that support and give them the time to understand their feeling with no pressure or no judgement in any way, in any direction, so that they can work out what that is for them. We know from research, erm, that about, erm, about 12 percent of populations who explore their gender identity in a er, in an er, articulated way, erm go on to not be any different to their biological sex, erm, and we know that even those young people who go to gender identity clinics , where you would only go if there was a significant enough of a challenge or issue erm, only about 23 percent of those go on to erm, to continue that conversation. So for some people, it’s something that is very instant, they absolutely know this is who they are, for other people it’s something they are just exploring and it will come and go and for other people there may be something in the middle.

27.20 - When people are looking for young people who might be from the transgender community in a more solid way and therefore need that more professional support, um, they look for persistence, insistence and consistence, it isn’t something that comes and goes, it isn’t something they talk about an then don’t’ talk about, it’s an issue and then it’s not, it’s something that causes people significant distress. We used to talk about Gender Dysphoria a medical condition, most people now accept that is an outdated erm, approach erm, and people now talk about gender incongruence, so a real significant discomfort um, with their sense of their gender identity and their biological sex, erm and that’s when, erm, professional support becomes very, very important.

28.07 - Some people also say, ‘well maybe they’re just gay’, maybe they’re this, maybe there this, and again for some people that’s absolutely the case, some people it may not be. I wanted to share
a story of um, this person called Mona. Mona actually works in erm, racing cars erm, has a very significantly erm, influential job, erm, but Mona shared their story erm, around their experience around and I thought it might help you to hear somebodies personal story.

28.39 - Mona recording : One of the things that happens to me very often when I meet a new person is that they automatically jump to conclusions, one is that they put me down as female and start referring to me as she and the other one is that they look at me and they identify me as a lesbian and none of those labels I identify with at the moment, but I did at some point in the past, erm, my mum used to tell me that, as a child, you know, whenever she tried to put me in a dress I would throw massive tantrums and erm, you know playing with my friends as a little girl, little person you know, I would automatically fill in the gap of the boy role, I was never able to be the princess, I would be the knight in shining armour, the protector, the provider, erm, and it, ya know, it was fine, I was erm, told that I was a tomboy and that saw me through all the way to the end of primary where all of a sudden it stopped being cool to be referred as a tomboy, at the same time I kind of realised that erm, I was attracted to the kind of people who were assigned the same sex at birth as I was and the only label available to me back in the late 80’s in Poland was er, you know a lesbian, so that was the name I used to describe myself with for a long, long time, but at the same time the attitude towards anything that wasn’t straight normative was so negative, the portrayal in the media, you know the banter you heard in the school corridors, you know was, it was so disgusting, um that after coming out as a teenager I actually went back in the closet for my last year of uni. I ended up being married to a guy, having a child, you know, doing all the normal, aahhh, the normal process so to speak. My marriage actually happened round a similar time when I came to UK. I was finally given access to language that allowed me to explore gender, erm, more freely and more consciously erm, back when I was in Poland, even as a young grownup, ergh, even, because of the binarity of Polish language erm, there wasn’t really much to go by, you could be a boy or a girl but there was nothing in between and English language is much more diverse in terms of the terminology being used to describe people, erm, their identity, so erm, I was suddenly given this language to describe myself, to explore myself, to explore all the unspoken issues I had around gender, it took me roughly 10 years since then to kind of comes to terms with the terminology and to kind of get over the stigma that is associated with being non-binary or trans, and to use the terms in a way that I feel comfortable with.

31.52 – SIA facilitator
– Ok. So hopefully that’s just given you that person’s perspective, erm and I can see some ques, un some comments that have come in to the chat. Erm, Sex is not assigned at birth it is recorded. I, I, I think we don’t giv..have the right to tell other people how to use their language. Urm this is Mona’s story Mona has chose the language that they want to use and I , er, I don’t, I er, we can all have our personal view, I, I, think it’s important that we allow people to use their language in the way that they want. And also um, do I find the use of the word daughters erm offensive? Why am I saying young people? Erm, I’m saying young people because this is a session about gender identity and I don’t know the young people in this group and I don’t know the parents in this group and therefore some parents may have people who do not see themselves as daughters and do not want to use that terminology, and again I don’t believe that me using a word that says young people takes away anything from young women, it erm just provides a level of respect for those people who erm don’t see themselves as that group and unless I know the group, erm then my personal view is that it is always better to be inclusive.

33.14 - So people have also talked about what does the school do, how does the school talk about this and this can be very difficult because this is a very polarised subject and erm, it’s also very important that young people get understanding, get the support that they need, understand that this is something that they can talk about, rather than struggle with in silence or worse still, get information from sources like the internet where we would not want them to, but equally that we are doing that in an appropriate way that doesn’t pull them one way or the other. So what schools do, is and er, particularly your school, erm, we, it’s based on love, kindness and compassion for all. Again inclusion is not a pie and life is not a see saw, we don’t have to push one group down to bring the other group up. We can have equality and equity on the basis of gender and on the basis of sex, they are not mutually exclusive and our starting pint is always how do we give respect and compassion to everyone, rather than have to pick a side. Erm, an age appropriate model, so using the world tested spiral approach particularly in terms of PSHE, direct feeding constant conversations but in an age appropriate way, erm as the students rise through the school.

Erm Definitely not participating in the polarised view, it’s not a school’s place to say this is right or this is wrong, erm but meeting students where they are. And I think if we look at Everyone Is Invited, and the lessons we learned from that, it is very much that students are where they are and they need a space to be able to ask the questions and deal with the things that they are dealing with, whatever the reason that is, and erm, it’s just meeting them there with love and compassion, erm, political impartiality as per the teaching standards that have been around for a long time erm, and factual versus kind of sharing things but recognising for example in this space, recognising that people identify in different ways, that is factual. Erm, whether the reasons for that and what we do with that is open to interpretation, so recognition of very different view points, but again being clear that it’s not for us to shape that view, and erm, delivering PSHE, of course in line with national guidance and erm, in line with the local Diocese guidance, erm, which is around a culture of accompaniment people on their journey. Again I’m sure you get that from the school if you need it, but really focussing on biological sex and gender are both very important and both need to be treated with erm, respect erm, and really importantly having an open dialogue with the parents concerned, with professionals as appropriate, so there isn’t one size fits all, there not we will always do this, or we will never do this, because life is messy. Our young people are messy, most of you know that, and erm, we want to take a very child, erm specific approach to erm, what is best for that young person.

36.24 - We can also draw particularly being a faith school, erm, some guidance from erm, faith organisations. I’ve mentioned the Diocese guidance erm, which is very clear, erm, but also this for example is from the Evangelical Alliance they wrote a report called Transform that erm, very much reinforces what the school is doing around understanding where people are, meeting them on their journey, treating them with compassion, and love and kindness and making sure that they have got well being and that they are able to survive on this difficult journey wherever it leads up erm, without a judgement.

37.10 - So how do we do that, who do we as parents, have that conversation that feels really difficult, really challenging. We may have very strong personal views that may or may not be aligned to our young peoples experience and views. It can feel like a minefield, how do we do that? And I think there’s a very simple model to that, we want every young person to feel safe, to feel visible and to feel valued and to lean on us to get the support and the
guidance that they need, but they can’t do that if they don’t come to us. So here are some simple things we can do as parents.

The first is really listening. Listening to what our young people are saying and taking time to have really open, safe dialogue without judgement erm, making sure they are having conversations and they are telling us what they are thinking .

Making sure we are having conversations about society, based on what they want to talk about, erm, so we’re signposting that these things are difficult and they are complicated, but it’s okay to have the conversation and knowing that whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, they will always be loved and respected, for us. .. Knowing wherever the child is now erm, that we erm, that may change, and we always need to give young people a space to come back, You have young people in your lives, I have had young people in my life. Erm, Most of you know that the quickest way to get a young person to back themselves into a corner and not come out, is tell them they can’t or they shouldn’t, or I don’t want them to, so enabling always that space wherever they are to change their mind and come back with dignity and without losing their pride and without losing face is really important, because the last thing we want to do is to push young people into a position where they say something and then they have got to stick with it because it’s become a conflict and we want it, we don’t want it to move and they’ve said something now and can’t undo it, so we always want to know wherever a child is now, might not be where they are and Richard Bransons daughter is a great example of that, if you google Richard Bransons daughter, erm, she went through a phase where she wanted to have a boy’s name and she wanted to be erm, called he and now that isn’t the case as well. So always making sure we can go back. That doesn’t mean I’m saying that’s the right thing to do , it just means I’m saying that was her experience.

And recognising that this is super complex and super challenging and that it’s always going to take time to understand what is going on and this can be a really uncomfortable conversation, but it’s really important that we talk about it if our young person is raising it, if our young person erm, is, erm, discussing it with us, or erm, if we feel like they are struggling, because this is what we want to avoid and this is really important to talk about Detransitioning, erm,
people whose experiences is that they do go into transition, particularly medical transition which is a long and drawn out process, but people do go through it, and particularly what we do know in terms of erm, the situation, erm around professional support in gender identity clinics is that there is a very long waiting list and young people, being young people, telling each other the things that they need to say, in order to kind of go up the list, and that is the last thing that we want to happen, so this is a story of a young person who detransitioned.

40.48 - Sinead Watson recording

  • Hiya my name is Sinead and I want to talk to you about Detrans Awareness day and about why it’s so important. So Detrans Awareness day falls on March 12th and it is a day dedicated to and spreading awareness about detransition and about elevating the voices of those that go through it. So Detransition is the cessation of the medical gender transition, so that’s those of us who suffered from gender dysphoria, who went to a gender clinic, who were evaluated, diagnosed and then offered medical transition as treatment, only to, for one reason or another decide to cease that treatment and thus detransition, and there are you know a variety of reasons as to why someone would choose to detransition, erm, some people choose to detransition due to health conditions due to the risks that come with cross sex hormones and surgeries, some people detransition due to a lack of care and support from friends and family, partners, co-workers and things like that and other people detransition due to experiencing transition regret, realising that tra oop sitiion was a mistake and therefore detransitioning. Unfortunately, I belong to the latter group, I experienced transition regret.

    I had injected Testosterone for four and a half years, I underwent a double mastectomy. Only to very gradually realise over time that I had made a massive mistake and wanted to detransition and the latter group the people who experience transition regret are subject to an utterly undeserved stigma. We’re very often bullied, and insulted and silenced whenever we try to share our experiences online.

    42.45 – SIA facilitator–
    So you can see there, that that’s a really painful experience for that person, and no one ever wants a young person to go through that, and the answer for that is to actually really provide that safe space to talk, get that professional support, understand what’s going on, taking that time, erm, so that people are only doing things when they are 100 percent sure.

    43.10 - So someone asked in the anonymous questions earlier around the Cass review, wha, how, what have we learnt around the Cass Review. And for those of you who don’t know the Cass Review was an independent review to look at the gender identity provision in the National Health Service, erm, and to draw some recommendations. Now the review is not finished, there is only an interim report out at the moment, but I think, here are some of the key findings of the Interim Report erm, and I think when you look at what the school are doing erm, then it’s very much aligned to that, so the find, the findings were, this is everyone’s business this isn’t just medical professions, this isn’t just parents, this isn’t just school, this isn’t just anyone, erm like most issues with our young people and their wellbeing and their safeguarding and their maturity into adulthood, this is something we all have to do together and we all have to work together to do. There is a lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of how erm, people get to a gender identity clinic, gender dysphoria, what it does and doesn’t look like, the clinic, what is the appropriate clinical response, erm and therefore it is important that those decisions are made very much in a child erm centric way, not necessarily, that what the child wants all the time, it means specific to that child and very much taking the time to have all of the picture, erm, before those decisions are made, but ensuring that that young person has the right support and is therefore able to erm, thrive and be healthy and
    happy during that process.

    Erm but there is an increase in the number of young people requiring support, of course, erm, that is interesting in itself, because these services haven’t been round that long so the increase is not necessarily a huge surprise but there definitely is an increase and as people become aware of things you will expect to see that, and that the reason people come to the Gender Identity Clinic their cases there experience is very, very complex and very, very different and therefore the one centre, that was the Tavistock unit in London, was the only place that you could get gender identity support and that was not a sustainable position for many reasons, erm, one of which being that the waiting lists were very, very long and the average waiting list at the moment is about erm, 3 to 5 years. Erm, and of course that when there’s one place doing such things you don’t share that best practice and it can become quite insular. So moving away from you would have heard about the Tavistock being closed and moving to more regional centres that enables people to both see different views, get different best practice, develop that best practice and but also have more access erm, at a local level.

    Erm, but young people should absolutely get care erm, and services the same way that any child with distress of any kind should have, but that care should also take account of other things, so it isn’t that one condition trumps the others, it’s very important that we take a view around all the things that are going on for that young person and then again the school takes that view that it isn’t just one thing, it’s taking account of everything that’s going on for that young person and making sure all of those needs are being met at both and understanding the links between them, and that the current situation with what we call clinical overshadowing, what I just talked about then, if one thing happens then we forget about the rest and keep organisations working in silos, really long waiting lists, that geographical lottery of if you get support based on where you are and therefore young people resorting to online and unprescribed support, is a huge issue and is causing harm and distress to many young people and therefore needs to be fixed.

    47.16 - So when I think about what schools are doing and St Mary’s is no exception, erm, adopting that holistic, with parents, with professionals, understanding the whole picture of the child, providing that child the space to listen and erm really a timely, but longevity response that takes account of all the things that that child needs to think about, a no judgement space where the young person can just explore and get to wherever they get to, or they don’t get anywhere at all, is really, really important and in line with erm the Cass Interim Review.

    47.51 - So this can feel really complicated, but I think we can take it back to some simple messages that can make it feel easier to navigate, the first thing is, whatever our personal beliefs are, whatever we believe is going on, whatever we do or don’t want to happen, erm, we should always treat people with kindness and respect, an inclusive environment is one where we can hold tension , where we can have different views, where we can disagree respectfully and where we can make sure that our views and how we and how and when we use our views doesn’t harm other people, even if we completely disagree we can always treat people with compassion, kindness and respect and that’s increasingly important for young people irrespective of the gender identity conversation we know that young people are finding it increasingly hard to disagree respectfully because of social media where you just block someone, or you just argue with people and some of those social media tools are designed for people to argue with each other or you just, or ya know, we can’t move forward until one of us is right, one of us is wrong and we cast stones, we tell each other what we’re all doing wrong and don’t look at our own behaviour and so therefore this is an increasingly important skill that our young people can learn about anything, let alone this subject.

    We know that this is really complicated and who know where the answers will come in the future, who know what well look back in ten years’ time and think about what we, where we are today, erm, but being honest, being working all together and providing that young person the support so that whatever the reason they’re exploring their gender identity, whether it’s valid, whether it’s not, whether it’s about gender identity, whether it’s about fitting in, whether it’s about a thousand other things, that doesn’t matter. We give that young person the safe space without judgement to understand and explore their own feelings, so that they can thrive in their school years, erm whilst they’re also exploring who they are, and this doesn’t become another area where they’re going to add pressure on to themselves in the really important task of doing well at school and learning and setting up their future, and that more generally those differences between us are something to celebrate and not something erm, to really be a source of destruction or unkindness.

    50.17 - So what do we do, again I’m going to take it back to you, as parents, what do we do in terms of talking about difference, how do we have these conversations if we’re not sure and we’re a bit worried? And this applies to any kind of difference, erm, but, and we’re talking specifically about gender identity. We can make sure we help young people understand the meaning of the media and all the things we’re seeing the algorithms in social media and all of those things to help them understand the nuance and help them navigate, erm, that information in a safe and nuanced way. We can intentionally look for moments to bring the conversation up, it can feel like a difficult conversation, but if we’re bringing those conversations up we’re telling young people this is a safe thing to talk about and they can talk to us about it, We can point out similarities, it’s really important in the gender identity space particularly with young girls and that we show them the range of what being a woman looks like erm and so that we know that those young people who are exploring their gender identity isn’t confused with fitting into a gender stereotype, so really showing the breath of being a woman and what that looks like, erm as well as part of their wider lives as well. We can make sure we’ve got diverse things in our TV and media and books but always in an age appropriate way, it’s absolutely ok to be nervous but we should still have the conversation, because it’s much better than not having the conversation and it’s important that we match the message to the audience in an age appropriate way.

    Now somebody has asked who, who decides what is age appropriate, erm, the school decide what age appropriate from an educational point of view and they are experts at that and do it in very many aspects and of course have that conversation with parents as well and, and, if you have any concerns about that than that should be a conversation you’re having with erm, the school as well and recognising that simple message we all have differing views and that’s absolutely ok, in fact it’s important but we should always manifest those views in a way that is erm, respectful and in line with our ethos as a school, and it’s also important to not over do it, not always talk about this, not always talk about this and for young people particularly this can be something that they can get very fixated with and so it’s important that we can help them move away from it as well and see that there is much more erm, to life as well and this will erm, settle, or pass, or be something that they will explore for a long time, but it’s not something that should consume them, or be their entire identity.

    53.04 - I hope that’s been helpful, erm I don’t think I can unmute everyone, erm, (name), I think as you’re unmuted already I can unmute you, but do feel free again to put questions in the slido, to put questions in the question and answer, (name), I’ll unmute you whilst people are doing that.

    – Thank you very much, I hope you can hear me, we’re shortly to conclude our session, if you have questions, do please put them to er, um, [name] and we will take them forward. Several of you have engaged in the conversation so far and that’s been very helpful to hear your views, it is incredibly important that we have these conversations in school. [Name] has been incredibly nuanced, er in her views, er, how she’s articulated them and fully erm, with respect, and erm and she erm, she is an expert in this area, she helps guide us, we are all feeling out way through what are relatively unchartered waters. What [name] has been at pains to, erm, er, discuss is that what we want to do is to support you erm, as parents.

    The Catholic Church talks about parents being the first educators of the child, but we do need to support your daughters as well and we want to do this with love and respect, we go back to our core value as a school, as a christian school in the catholic tradition, we talk about our (Maryward?) values, one of which is celebrating diversity, another of which is supporting each other throughout this school. We happen, to be looking at both of those as our core characteristics this year.

    PSHEE, Personal , Social Health and Economic Education is a statutory part of the national curriculum and talking about issues around sex, relationships, gender is part of that debate. Some parents find that very uncomfortable, don’t wish that this is part of it, but it is a legal and statutory obligation is a school to erm, provide a nuanced, careful, thought out programme and I hope that you trust that we will be doing this well. The reason we have put on this conversation tonight is to open up that dialogue, to share with you expert advice about how er, we as a school are approaching the PSHEE lesson, the sort of things we need to discuss with your daughters and how you can help us a parents to take that conversation forward in your own homes, erm, in a nuanced way which is appropriate to you as parents of your children. So, I would like to conclude by thanking [name] very, very much indeed for giving up her valuable time to come and talk with us. Erm, thank you [name] for your ongoing support, erm in this nuanced conversation and helping us to love our children, love our daughters and support them and uphold them, erm, in everything we do, in this area, but in all others as well. So thank you very much indeed and we’re now going to conclude the session, erm, just before er eight o’clock. Thank you.
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BrokenMorning · 03/02/2023 16:10

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KatMcBundleFace · 03/02/2023 17:08

I'll never get over how quickly we've moved to the position where believing in biological sex is an "extreme position"


HereForTheFreeLunch · 03/02/2023 17:14

Yes, and it seems to be all the media's fault. Just skim read - so I may be totally wrong but I thought there was a lot of explaining away anything and everything as being the media's fault.


BrokenMorning · 03/02/2023 17:58

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postcardpuffin · 03/02/2023 19:17

And that’s the last remaining single sex school for girls in the area. The whole thing is idiocy!


2fallsfromSSA · 03/02/2023 19:48

Cambs has always had problems because of the kite trust. see our thread


NitroNine · 03/02/2023 20:05

Genuinely a bit shocked to see what’s become of Perse Girls: it always dwarfed St Mary’s! (Presumably they save on Prefect Badges these days with the separate Sixth Form: no more solid silver pelicans.)

Bit baffled by recommending something by the Evangelical Alliance to, er, a Catholic school. Ignoring the absolute clarity of the Church’s position of this by waffling a lot doesn’t really help any. “I chose a Catholic school & they are following Catholic teachings!” outrage cuts zero ice when you chose to pay for said privilege 🙄

Do hope they’re not having any truck with pronouns of the day etc. Supporting pupils & arranging counselling (NOT with someone who mindlessly affirms) yes; but we know that social transition is not a neutral step.

(Thanks for sharing transcript @BrokenMorning)


SinnerBoy · 03/02/2023 20:13

^There are two binaries, male and female."

No, consult a dictionary and come back when your knowledge of English is up to scratch, you half-wit.


BrokenMorning · 04/02/2023 00:28

Thanks for the link SSA.

I know parents in other schools not on your list who are concerned about what their kids are being informed. Plus the kids are noticing and commenting on the preferential treatment of kids identifying as LGBT. It's never going to end well when one groupmisnset above another.

The Kite Trust is all over the county like a rash, sucking up cash and kids.

I only typed up the recording of the training.and im not religious so I don't really get the Evangelocal Alliance link. I'll pass on the thanks.

I've listened to the recording 5 or 6 times innorder to type up the talk and I'm astounded that the facilitator is considered an expert, given her lack of clarity. It astounds me that so many so-called educated people say they believe and are prepared to go along with transgenderism.

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Boomboom22 · 04/02/2023 00:36

Tbf that is way more balanced than I've seen before. Acknowledgement of gc, who knows which is right. Detrans is a terrible experience. Shouldn't push and always have a way back. Recognition of the cass review and pshe changing guidance. Far better than no debate. Massive progress actually, we should be happy.


BrokenMorning · 04/02/2023 08:58

Even though the reality is go with the pretense that the girl can change sex?
What other area would an adult be told to go along with their child's belief and not push back?

The Cass Report highlighted that social affirmation isn't a neutral act, but helps solidify the belief the child is in the 'wrong body', given this why choose affirmation as an option for school children?

If adults affirm the child's belief with no push back I'd argue that pushes a child into a hard corner, as they then not only have to admit they were wrong, but the adults around them were wrong and on top of that can you change their name on the register back or use sex based pronouns. This isn't equality, tolerance, love or compassion its benigh neglect.

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SaltyStock · 04/02/2023 09:06

I find the idea of affirmation alone very troubling. Some of these young women who struggle with identity are undoubtedly struggling with their sexuality. As parents the last thing I want to affirm is homophobia. "Basically you aren't a gay girl you are a heterosexual boy".


Xenia · 04/02/2023 09:11

Thank God parents at home tend to be more sensible. I don't mind schools giving talks to parents like this but they should then do one the week after with a totally opposing view. You need to hear both side. i still feel sorry for that poor teacher at Eton who gave the boys a different view on one topic but was shut down.

"In November 2020, English teacher Will Knowland was dismissed by the Eton Head Master, Simon Henderson, over a video talk entitled 'The Patriarchy Paradox', which questioned "current radical feminist orthodoxy" and “why woke just don’t work”. The video was originally meant to be an official school lecture by Knowland but when staff asked him not to make it he turned it into a video. On the basis of legal advice he was dismissed from the school for gross misconduct after he refused six times a request by the headmaster to remove it.[30][31] Some current and old Etonians have petitioned for his reinstatement on the grounds of free speech; others published an open letter calling the video “intellectually feeble, misogynistic and vitriolic”.[32] Luke Martin, the head of the Perspectives course, resigned from that role after Knowland's dismissal, taking issue with what he described as "so-called progressive ideology" and "indoctrination" being promoted at the school."

We just need children exposed to all kinds of views (never mind their parents) rather than told there is one right away to think.


Boiledbeetle · 04/02/2023 09:51

I've listened to the recording 5 or 6 times in order to type up the talk and I'm astounded that the facilitator is considered an expert, given her lack of clarity. It astounds me that so many so-called educated people say they believe and are prepared to go along with transgenderism.

@BrokenMorning Shit, it was bad enough reading it once! So thank you for doing that.

When it's written down you can see how little substance erm there erm is erm I'm not erm sure erm where erm this thought erm is going!

For your efforts, as your brain must still be numb!



BrokenMorning · 04/02/2023 10:14

Agree Xenia, kids do need to be exposed to all kinds of views, and taught how to think critically but this doesn't appear to be happening.

As Helen Joyce's article highlighted even if parents ask then the school invariably fudges and will resort to 'it's the law', 'education policy', we're following rules/guidance'. They know that the majority of parents don't have the knowledge, time or confidence to push back. They're then free to say, well nobody complains, without critically evaluating their policies or what they are saying.

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BrokenMorning · 04/02/2023 10:33

Thanks Boiledbeetle - the main thanks has to go to the parent who has challenged the school previously and had the foresight to recognise the training was probably going to be bad and made the recording.

The more I listen to it the more I become aware of the facilitators inflections, she has a questioning lilt at the end of some sentences then rushes other parts and increases the erms, where she appears less confident in the info she's giving, and is probably hoping she doesnt get challenged.

But you're correct there is no real substance to the information given to parents, or a clear rationale as to why the school have chosen the affirmation route given the small numbers and the fact 'we don't know' why girls are more susceptible to wanting to change their bodies. When AGP males manage just fine without changing theirs!

What also surprised me is how few parents attended the meeting. I would have expected parental engagement to be higher in a private school. Or perhaps it the lack of engagement in all schools that allows activist staff to take hold and flourish.

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Xenia · 05/02/2023 10:47

It is a massive problem in schools across a wide range of areas. I am certainly not a climate change denier but anyone with a slightly different view even on that topic is regarded as some kind of weirdo heretic today in schools, as is the case if you even vote Tory (as I do) or in my case I chose not to have the covid vaccine (but am in favour of just about every other vaccination going). it is almost like a fanatical religion in schools and universities that there is one correct view as if it were one plus 2 equals 3. The Trans issue is just one example of this.

Yet the UK's strength has always been our tolerance of all kinds of different views and people from those who believe men can have 4 wives to those who think there is no God etc etc

What I have seen is that some children at school and university are able to resist the "programming" going on or when they leave university and enter a world of ordinary people as mine have done the scales are lifted and the conditioning starts to be removed - as if they have left a cult.


ScrollingLeaves · 05/02/2023 11:29

+Now somebody has asked who, who decides what is age appropriate, erm, the school decide what age appropriate from an educational point of view and they are experts at that and do it in very many aspects and of course have that conversation with parents as well and, and, if you have any concerns about that than that should be a conversation you’re having with erm, the school as well and recognising that simple message we all have differing views and that’s absolutely ok,*

”the school decide what age appropriate
from an educational point of view and they are experts at that ….”

I think they are only experts in “erm.


ScrollingLeaves · 05/02/2023 11:41

Boomboom22 · Yesterday 00:36
Tbf that is way more balanced than I've seen before. Acknowledgement of gc, who knows which is right. Detrans is a terrible experience. Shouldn't push and always have a way back. Recognition of the cass review and pshe changing guidance. Far better than no debate. Massive progress actually, we should be happy

You are right really and I’m glad you’ve made me think more about it.

But there are elements such as the part about “ sex assigned at birth” being simply a personal language choice of a person describing their own experience, I find unacceptable in a place where people go for education.

This response contributes to the whole system of Chinese whispers that is making discussion meaningless. She could have said she felt as though her sex had been arbitrarily assigned at birth, and felt it was wrong.

They mentioned the Cass report but did they give the real reason it was closed down? I may have missed it but think they did not. Did they mention the Cass report saying that affirmation is not neutral,?


ScrollingLeaves · 05/02/2023 11:56

Xenia· Yesterday 09:11
Re Eton sacking the teacher
i still feel sorry for that poor teacher at Eton who gave the boys a different view on one topic but was shut down

Imagine, no escape even at Eton, the bastion of ruling males and aristocratic heirs. I suppose it is no wonder they would like to extend their entitlements - including to their older sisters’ rights to inherit an estate and title even if she gets a GRC; while if they become a woman and get a GRC they can be a woman for all purposes.

Eton, whatever one might think, always gave people a brilliant education.5 But if they are now into gender ideology and no debate that is going to cancel actual thinking with non-speak.

I wonder if people are willing to spend £40,000 p.a. for this? I’d get tutors and a little private group if I were a parent with enough money.


Xenia · 05/02/2023 20:01

I have had 5 children in reasonably expensive private schools and the left wing, one right view bias sadly is pretty prevalent. I have no problem with schools stating facts but it is always better if they give different points of views on different issues.

I did some work today which in passing corrected an incorrect statement confusing sex/gender. I put what the law says in it. It wll be interesting to see if the young editor will let the facts stand or put the incorrect misrepresentation of those facts back.


BrokenMorning · 06/02/2023 14:15

@Xenia there is a significant problem in schools about having one view and that is the correct view, despite the evidence being shaky and very few things in life having only one definitive answer. telling dissenters to sit down and shut up, or calling people bigots shouldn't be the answer. That it is, should highlight that more questions need to be asked, not less. I don't think it will lead to a particularly robust society if different ideas can't be brought to the table, discussed, investigated and accepted or rejected.

Currently kids can resist the programming as it hasn't been widely pushed, but once it's run a complete cycle or two - nursery to university - and been further embedded into policies and language. I've spoken to parents who are getting bamboozled by what the schools say, as on the face of it, it appears as if what they are doing may be reasonable and parents have no idea what the Cass report is saying, or that the D of E are criticised for inaction. Or the Lottery, councils and schools fund groups like the Kite Trust, who go into schools manipulate their policies and collect up the kids who are vulnerable to the ideology. As gender progresses, is promoted in schools and that set of kids receive a higher social standing than those outside the TQI+, I think more and more people will stay quiet. That's why it's important to speak out, whether it's pushing back on a work policy, writing to MP's questioning school's, or leafletting the public.

As you said it's not just this issue, multiple issues are following a similar trajectory; of 'follow the science' while ignoring the data. Keep safe, via safe spaces, trigger warnings etc I read something recently where a study had been carried out highlighting that younger people are more likely to believe that people should try not to harm others with words, they're quite happy to have speech restricted in order to be safe. This was the opposite of older demographics where there was generally more acceptance for diversity of thought and opinion.

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BrokenMorning · 06/02/2023 14:34

@ScrollingLeaves the facilitator didn't really mention the Tavi by name they refer to 'professional support' in gender identity clinics, long waiting times and kids coaching each other.

In relation to Cass, off the top of my head I think this was the section where the facilitator sped up, almost like if she spoke fast enough, nobody would question her! She essentially said - they don't know what gender is, what it looks like, give children support, which happens to be affirmation and hopefully they won't want surgery!

Heather Brunskell-Evans wrote this article which suggests that the Cass report may not end up being as positive as we hope.

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Chillininfragglerock · 06/02/2023 14:40

In sum: erm

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