Kit wrote to us to explain the effect that newspaper articles about trans teachers and pupils had on her as a young person transitioning in a school environment.
The media paints transness as something strange and unusual, something so rare that anyone being trans is apparently newsworthy. Because of this supposed rarity, they go so far as to say that it’s wrong, or at least exotic – and sometimes apparently just a fetish gone too far. They say that children being exposed to the concept of transness (if their teacher is trans, for example) threatens their innocence, or makes them think too hard about the world and themselves – which, according to some, are the same thing.
But the truth is that more and more people are coming out as trans younger and younger, and transitioning while going through school is now not uncommon. My name is Kit, and I transitioned during year 11, while also having the stress of GCSEs to cope with. Some even begin transition during primary school, though it is more common to do so in secondary.
Unfortunately, transitioning in the last year of mandatory (and therefore, uniformed) school meant that I couldn’t justify purchasing a girls’ uniform to replace the boys’ one. There was only about 6 months’ of having to wear it left, because of term effectively ending early due to study leave, and spending between £50 and £100 on clothes that will only ever be worn for a few months wasn’t something I was willing to do.
Since I was unable to afford a new uniform, I could only wear women’s clothes about half of the time, which caused “clothing dysphoria”, if you will. Out of all the things that reminded me that I wasn’t seen as the gender I am at least half of the time, ill-fitting and itchy clothes are pretty high up that list.
Of course, there were plenty of people refusing to call me by my proper pronouns (I’m lucky in that I hadn’t needed to change my name, as it was already androgynous), and shouting slurs and demeaning sexual remarks from a distance. I also received invasive questions about my breast size and what plans I had for my genitals. While those things hurt, and were highly upsetting, they weren’t constantly physically present, uncomfortably brushing against me whenever I moved.
If one of my teachers were trans, and would therefore have been able to properly empathise, that would have been amazing. I wouldn’t have felt so isolated when at school. When at home, I could talk to trans people my age. But at school, I couldn’t talk to any trans people, my age or not; I was the only one. I was completely at my peers’ mercy.
Trans teachers are not scandalous, and they’re not ruining your children’s innocence. In fact, statistically, in every school, there’s at least one person who doesn’t identify with the gender that was announced when they were born. These teachers help make it known that it’s okay to be trans, it doesn’t mean you’re an outcast, or a freak, or any of the other things that trans people say they felt and/or feel about themselves.
Trans teachers should be encouraged, not shunned. When newspapers report that trans teachers damage children, it hurts. Those statements hurt all trans people. If you attack one trans person, you attack us all.
© 2012 Kit Szerszen Lynam
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