Caroline Dunn’s mini-guide to questions that arise for schools when supporting transgender students
Caroline Dunn, Deputy Head - Pupil Progress and Welfare at Cheadle Hulme School (CHS) has put together a mini-guide to questions that arise for schools when supporting transgender students
Pronouns and names - A name change or the decision to use a pronoun in keeping with gender identity can be hugely empowering. Always try to use the correct pronoun and name. Don't worry if you make a mistake when referring to someone; it happens and can be rectified by an apology and a commitment to try harder next time. Some young people wish to change their name legally; some may just want to choose a new name that they wish to be called by staff, friends and family. Change your school records and notify examination boards, if necessary.
Uniform - Our school believes that transgender or gender-questioning young people have the right to dress in ways that are consistent with their gender identity or gender expression. By supporting a young person to dress in the clothes they find comfortable, you are empowering them by bringing their outward appearance in line with their gender identity. Can you create a gender-neutral uniform policy?
Toilets and changing facilities - CHS also holds that trans children have a right to access toilets/changing rooms that reflect their gender identity. Ideally mixed or gender-neutral toilets will be available; however, a young person should not be required to use such facilities. Talk to them about where they would like to get changed for PE and games and make the necessary arrangements.
Supporting the family - The decision to transition can be much harder for the family of the young person to accept than their teachers or peers. Having a key person to talk to at school can help any young person facing challenges and change; this key person can help the student have the confidence to initiate potentially difficult conversations with their family.
Sports - Students who represented a traditionally female or male sports team in school may no longer want to be able to play for the same team. See what they want to do and help them find new activities.
Residential trips - If travelling abroad, check the student has changed the name on their passport before booking any flights in their new name. Think about who the young person will share a room with and discuss whether they want to make their room-mates aware of any need for privacy.
Confidentiality - Everyone has the right to privacy; this includes the right to keep one's trans status private. A trans person's previous name, gender assigned at birth or anything else regarding their transition constitutes private information and shouldn't be shared without the knowledge or consent of the young person . It is important to discuss confidentiality with the young person and ask who they would like the information to be shared with. This includes any university applications.