'Trans' is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, cross dresser, non-binary, gender queer
Being non-binary means not feeling that your gender identity fits naturally into the generic categories of male and female. Despite increasing numbers of people identifying themselves publicly as non-binary, there is still little known and understood about non-binary identities, but slowly this is beginning to improve.
What is Transphobic Bullying?
Transphobic bullying is bullying based on prejudice or negative attitudes, views or beliefs about trans people. Transphobic bullying affects young people who are trans but can also affect those questioning their gender identity as well as students who are not trans but do not conform to gender stereotypes.
– students pestering a trans young person with questions about their gender such as 'are you a real boy?' or 'are you a boy, or are you a girl?' or asking invasive questions like 'do you wear knickers or boxers?' or 'what body parts do you have?'
– a girl being teased and called names referring to her as a boy or trans because she wears trousers or 'boys' clothes' – a boy who tells his friends that his dad is now his mum suffers other students laughing and repeatedly telling him 'that can't happen – your dad's a freak'
How is Transphobic Bullying different from Homophobic Bullying?
Homophobic bullying targets someone's sexuality (whether they are, or are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bi or heterosexual), whereas transphobic bullying targets someone because of their gender identity (whether they identify as male, female or something different, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth) or because they do not 'conform' to traditional gender stereotypes.
It is important to recognise the difference between 'gender identity' and 'sexuality', as person's gender identity alone does not tell us anything about their sexuality.
Is Transphobic bullying a problem?
Metro Youth Chances 2014, a survey of more than 7,000 young people, including 956 trans young people, found the following:
• 83 per cent of trans young people say they have experienced name-calling and 35 per cent have experienced physical attacks.
• Almost a third (32 per cent) of trans young people say they have missed lessons due to discrimination or fear of discrimination.
• Over a quarter (27 per cent) of trans young people have attempted suicide.
What the law says
Equality Act 2010
The public sector Equality Duty requires all schools in England to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
Education and Inspections Act 2006
Schools have a duty to promote the safety and well-being of all children and young people in their care, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans and those experiencing homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying.
Ofsted inspectors are explicitly directed to look at a school's efforts to tackle bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They may also look at how the school supports the needs of distinct groups of students, such as lesbian, gay, bi and trans students.
Tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is a clear government priority. The Department for Education, in conjunction with the Government Equalities Office, supports schools and organisations across England to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
For further information and to find out how your school can help to prevent and tackle transphobic bullying, take a look at Stonewall's 'Getting Started' document and Supporting LGBT Young People - a guide for schools.
You can also visit their website for further information on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
Below are a few recommended books for Primary/early years settings which explore Trans issues in an age appropriate manner:
10,000 Dresses is 2008 children's picture book written by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Rex Ray and published by Seven Stories Press. The book is notable for being one of the first children's books depicting transgender people's experiences.
Dyson loves the colour pink and sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses and sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He's a Princess Boy, and his family loves him exactly the way he is. This is a story about love and acceptance. It is also a call for tolerance and an end to bullying and judgments.
Tiny, the main character, prefers not to tell other children whether they are a boy or a girl; they like to play dress-up, as both a fairy and a knight in shining armour. Tiny's friends don't seem to mind but when they start a new school some other children struggle to understand. Read along as Tiny settles into a new friendship group, overcomes the problems they face, and help to teach children the world over that gender is something to be cherished, explored and enjoyed!
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let's draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can't be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He's blue! This funny, heartwarming, colourful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!
Jamie, By Olly Pike.
What happens when you don't have a fairy godmother to grant your every wish? Jamie doesn't. So she finds her own way to go to the ball.
A story of determination, hard work and transition. With some clever mice and a pumpkin car, join Jamie as she becomes... Jamie.
Recommended Resources - Secondary
Luna by Julie Anne Peters
2004's Luna was one of the very first young adult novels to feature a transgender main character. It's narrated by sixteen year-old Regan whose older brother, Liam, transforms into the beautiful Luna at night. As Regan struggles with her own adolescence, we witness Liam's often painful but ultimately uplifting journey to becoming Luna full-time.
George by Alex Gino
George knows she is a girl, even if no one else sees her that way. When her teacher announces the next school play will be a production of Charlotte's Web, George is desperate to win the main role. Forbidden from even auditioning because she is a biological boy, George and her best friend Kelly come up with a plan for George to play Charlotte. Sweet, funny and joyful, George is a total charmer. Warning: you might need tissues.
For Today I am A Boy by Kim Fu
Young adult novels with transgender main characters remain pretty rare. Young adult novels with non-white transgender main characters are even rarer, which is one of the main reasons Fu's beautifully written 2014 novel is such a welcome addition. Although narrative duties switch throughout, the main focus of the story is Peter, the much-wanted only son of Chinese immigrants. Peter's struggles to embody his father's cultural ideals around masculinity and power are complex and at times heartbreaking.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
This book tells the story of female-to-male music obsessive and amateur radio DJ Gabe. Gabe's final summer in his hometown is crammed with highs and lows as he balances success on the local radio station and dating with battling violence and prejudice and a forcible outing. Although the traditional coming-out narrative is here, this is ultimately a tale about friendship, the power of music and being on that scary cusp of adulthood.
Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Max Walker is popular, good-looking and athletic. He is also intersex – neither fully a boy nor fully a girl. When something awful happens, the secrets surrounding Max's condition begin to unravel, prompting Max to question his true identity. Effortlessly switching from point of view, Tarttelin weaves a fantastically complex, engrossing and occasionally dark tale of discovering who you are.
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Like Golden Boy, Winter's award-winning novel also focuses on an intersex child. When Wayne (secretly nicknamed 'Annabel' by his mother) hits puberty he begins to question his parents' decision to raise him as a boy. Set in a remote Canadian town, this is a quiet novel about loneliness and isolation
Beauty Queens by Libby Bray
A group of teenage beauty queens find themselves stranded on a desert island following a plane crash. This is the irresistible set up of Bray's bestselling 2012 novel. Chapter by chapter, we get to know the twelve survivors behind the sashes and perfect white smiles. Gender stereotypes are turned on their head as Bray employs razor sharp satire to explore the unique pressures teenage girls face. With a diverse cast of characters (including a transgender contestant) and some killer one-liners, the results are smart and hilarious.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Author and photographer Kuklin met, interviewed and photographed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults for this compelling and candid collection. The real strength though is the diversity across the six young people selected, both in terms of gender identity, and socio-economic, religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Leicester LGBT Centre, based in Wellington Street, can offer a range of support and have a number of social groups taking place on a regular basis. These include a weekly social/support group called 'The T Party' for those aged 13-18. Please visit their website for further information and contact details: http://leicesterlgbtcentre.org/#welcome
Mermaids is a UK charity offering family and individual support for teenagers and children with gender identity issues http://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/
LGBT Melton is a youth support group for 14-18 year olds who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and live in Melton Mowbray and surrounding areas. They provide advice, information and guidance on issues such as sexual health, discrimination, education, employment, relationships and mental health.