The Times has reported that the Department of Education’s (DoE) new guidance on transgender students will be published “within weeks”. The guidance will state that schools must out trans pupils to their parents. Beyond this, it will also state that a child’s name and pronouns can’t be used in school without their parents’ permission.
The Canary has already stated that both main party leaders appear to favour this guidance. We also pointed out that this is potentially dangerous for vulnerable trans children, on top of being pointlessly cruel. Consider the following example:
A trans child thinks that they will be beaten or thrown out of their home for coming out. However, they think their school will be more accepting. They choose to use a different name at school. Then, their school is compelled to out the child to their parents – that is if Policy Exchange, Starmer, and Sunak get their way.
This is a clear safeguarding risk. What’s more, it should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of care for the children they’re speaking of. But apparently this goes out the window where trans kids are concerned.
However, the guidelines now reported by the Times are actively worse than we were expecting.
We already knew that the new ruleset was going to be harmful towards trans kids. However, it appears that they will go far beyond just transness in scope. The Times reported that:
It will be clear that certain triggers, such as a child changing their name, must involve parents and require their consent before the school can affirm their new identity. Changes to uniform, such as a boy who begins wearing a skirt, are considered less obvious triggers but will nonetheless be highlighted in a similar way.
So how did we get here?
the findings and recommendations of Hilary Cass, the paediatrician who was tasked by the NHS with reviewing gender identity services for children and young people.
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There’s an important bit in there. Cass was tasked with reviewing care for trans kids in a medical context, not schools. Now, her work is being used to control gender nonconformity – even beyond trans contexts, or healthcare contexts – by a government that has a clear transphobic bent.
An anonymous source told the Times that:
Cass is really clear that social transition, so even wearing a skirt to school, using a different name, all of those things, are consequential; they are not a neutral thing to do,” a source said. “As someone responsible for safeguarding you have a duty to tell the parents.
So, a conflation is taking place here. Social transition includes changing clothes to those traditionally belonging to the ‘opposite gender’. But then, the DoE takes any act of gender non-conformist dress – our ‘boy in a skirt’ – as an act of social transition, and therefore brought under scrutiny.
This is, of course, a deeply regressive form of gender conservativism. Boys wear boys clothes, girls wear girls clothes. The (interim) Cass Report stated that “social transition is not a neutral act” – which has been immediately seized upon by transphobes to be synonymous with ‘harmful’. In turn, this has provided a perfect excuse for bigots to apply its deeply ambivalent findings wildly, and far beyond their original scope.
We have reached a point where basic acts of gender-nonconformity can be monstered, provided that this can be hidden behind the excuse of targeting trans kids. The reasoning is simple. To the bigot – ‘gender critical, just voicing concerns’ and ‘raging transphobe’ alike – a trans individual is just a person playing dress-up. With that in mind, any non-conformist dress becomes a valid target.
This current crackdown was never going to stop at trans people – they’re just an easy wedge.
Featured image via Pexels/k Edu Mentrors, licensed under Creative Commons, resized to 770*403
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