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Starting Primary PGCE in September but worried about gender identity

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by Natho490, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Natho490

    Natho490 New commenter

    Hi,
    I'll be starting my primary pgce this September. I started to transition during my undergraduate degree and by the end of my time there, everyone knew me as my preferred pronouns and name. I don't know how to approach this during the pgce. Does anyone know of any trans teachers or have any idea how this would be approached? Would the schools I do placements at be okay with it?
     
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Gender identity is a protected characteristic, so discrimination on that basis would be illegal. Of course, not everyone knows the law, or cares for it, but it is there.

    I haven't worked with any transgender teachers, but there have been transgender students in the schools I've worked in - they were well supported, from my point of view, although I don't know what their own personal experiences would have been on a day to day basis. I do know their parents were happy though. I'm a secondary teacher, so these were older kids.

    I would suggest talking to your university as soon as possible. Perhaps you should also decide what you're comfortable revealing about yourself, whether to the school or students, just so you're sure in your own mind of your boundaries. You should not have to reveal anything about your personal life to any student or colleague. Kids may be curious and ask you questions, but that doesn't mean you have to answer them - perhaps uni can help you prepare some stock responses. The parents could be another story, unfortunately, which is why it's important to get support from your uni - they know their schools, so can hopefully make an informed decision about your placement schools.

    You can ask the school to call you by whatever name you wish, and whatever pronouns - but do it in advance before they set up your email account!
     
    MathMan1 likes this.
  3. marbles78

    marbles78 New commenter

    We received some fantastic training at my primary school from Gendered Intelligence. They might be able to offer some advice on how to proceed?
     
  4. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I think any school will and should respect your wishes. You can be known by any name you choose. You do not have to explain. Many women teachers use their maiden names in school and married names outside. Similarly divorced ones do not always change. You do not have to (and should avoid) telling students about your private life, not because of being trans, but because you are their teacher and not a friend and it is no business of theirs who you live with, where you live, if you have children etc. That said, bearing in mind some of the trouble in schools in Birmingham recently and the way some parents reacted perhaps a quiet word with your provider will ensure you will not end up in a school like that,( but hopefully there are not many in your area.)
     
    agathamorse and MathMan1 like this.
  5. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    As no one has said it, I will:- Welcome to TES. In all walks of life, you will find some that like you and some that do not. Concentrate on being nice to the ones that are polite and smile at you. I know I do.
     
    MathMan1 and TheoGriff like this.
  6. Ellakits

    Ellakits Lead commenter

    No it isn’t.

    Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act, gender identity isn’t.
     
  7. Ellakits

    Ellakits Lead commenter

    Although the term gender reassignment includes those who are proposing to undergo gender transition (ie those who currently do not take hormone treatment and have not undergone cosmetic surgery, or even dress in clothes most commonly associated with the opposite sex) as well as those who have undergone full surgical and hormonal treatment and hold a GRC (actually quite rare), there are circumstances in which discriminating against those people is perfectly legal, whether or not they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate.

    An example of this would be a women’s refuge for rape victims. It is perfectly legal to exclude biological men from such a service as it could have a negative impact on the female users of the service if they were to be admitted. The same is true of competitive sports where women would face a disadvantage or risk to safety in mixed teams - think men playing on a women’s rugby team or mixed boxing matches.

    It’s important to remember that sex is one of the protected characteristics, and this often comes into conflict with the notion of gender reassignment. Single sex provision is legal and transsexuals can be excluded on that basis as outlined above.

    It’s also important to note that without a Gender Recognition Certificate an individual retains the legal sex corresponding to their biology. So a transwoman without a GRC is legally male and would be treated as a man in terms of sex-discrimination provisions and considerations, irrespective of whether the individual had undergone surgery or hormonal treatment.

    So, for the OP, there are certain things to consider in terms of how the school approaches a transsexual teacher. The first thing is to determine your legal sex. This may, or may not be the same as your biological sex, depending on whether you hold a GRC or not. Having determined that, the next bit becomes clearer.

    You have the right to be treated the same as any other member of your legal sex, and should not receive less favourable treatment because you decide to appear as a member of the opposite biological sex.

    However although gender reassignment is a protected characteristic, you do not automatically gain exactly the same rights as members of the biological sex you wish to emulate without a GRC. If you do hold a GRC then you can still be denied the same rights as those of the same legal sex where it can be shown that granting those rights to the transsexual individual would cause hardship for the members of the opposite biological sex.

    For example, a man who declares himself to be a transwoman (without a GRC) cannot expect the right to conduct PSHE lessons for girls where these lessons would normally be taken by a biological woman - think discussing puberty and periods with teenage girls - and where biological men do not normally have any right to conduct the lessons. The reason for excluding male teachers from this role is usually that it could cause the girls acute embarrassment and distress and the teacher would have no experience of the topics under discussion.

    Even where a transwoman holds a GRC it may be considered appropriate to exclude that individual from being involved in things usually reserved for biological females. So a biological man with a GRC does not have the right to demand to be treated as a woman when going on residential visits where this could cause distress to female pupils - here sex is being used as the protected characteristic.

    Legal status aside, it is debatable whether ethically a transman should be conducting PSHE lessons with teenage boys due to having no experience of being a teenage boy, and whether it could be considered misleading to do so without explicitly stating that the individual is a transsexual. Clearly such a statement would not be appropriate, but would the boys be happy discussing potentially personal issues with a biological woman?

    So, to answer the OP’s question, the law states that you should not be disadvantaged by your employer (or training institution) due to your choices, and that you retain the right to be treated comparable to any other member of your legal sex. However there are certain areas in which you cannot expect to be treated in the same way as a member of the opposite biological sex where doing so may cause disadvantage to members of the opposite biological sex.

    Depending on the age of the pupils you teach, your legal sex status could mean that your training and eventual employment is slightly different from those whose legal sex is the same as their biological sex - think residentials, changing rooms, intimate care of pupils, sex ed lessons split for boys and girls, PE etc.
     
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. Ellakits

    Ellakits Lead commenter

    As an aside, in terms of transgender children, it’s essential to remember that they have no legal standing as members of the opposite sex due to under 18s being barred from obtaining a GRC.

    Schools can refuse to let a transgirl use the girls’ loos on the basis that he would be legally male.

    I also think the legislation requiring schools to provide single-sex loos for children over the age of 8 still stands, so letting a transgirl use the girls’ loos effectively renders them mixed sex and so contravenes the provision requirement.

    What each school chooses to do though may not always be in accordance with the specific requirements of the law.
     
  9. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    As a biology teacher, all I can say is please don't lie to children and pretend that it is possible to actually biologically become a member of the opposite sex, becasue children are coming through to secondary science with all sorts of fictions and confusions about what it is to be male, or female, and it all takes some unravelling.

    particularly when girls hear they have some sort of "girl brain" and should be concerning themselves with being dainty and glamorous, which is the message they are getting from some transactivism. This is causing so much anger and distress.

    I spend an inordenant amount of time clarifying that there is no such thing as a "girl brain" and no one needs to worry bout it.

    By all means explain what trans means, and that it is possible to choose a name and wear the clothing of the opposite gender, and even have cosmetic surgery to make you physically resemble the other sex up to a point. As long as you are quite clear that you are trans, not actually the opposite sex.

    As to the use of staff toilets, you can probably use the accesible toilet. All staff in my current school do anyway.
     
    agathamorse and Ellakits like this.
  10. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    The selecting of your gender identity is in itself 'gender reassignment'.

    https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/gender-reassignment-discrimination

    The Equality Act 2010 says that you must not be discriminated against because you are transsexual, when your gender identity is different from the gender assigned to you when you were born. For example:
    • a person who was born female decides to spend the rest of his life as a man
    In the Equality Act it is known as gender reassignment. All transsexual people share the common characteristic of gender reassignment.

    To be protected from gender reassignment discrimination, you do not need to have undergone any specific treatment or surgery to change from your birth sex to your preferred gender. This is because changing your physiological or other gender attributes is a personal process rather than a medical one.
     
  11. Ellakits

    Ellakits Lead commenter

    Gender is not assigned at birth, sex is observed.

    This is why birth certificates list the person’s sex, not gender.

    There is a difference in law.

    The holding of a GRC creates a legal sex which is different from the holder’s biological sex. This allows the holder to be treated for all intents and purposes as a member of the opposite sex in law. There is no legal right to this if a GRC is not held.

    The law states that someone who is transsexual but does not hold a GRC should not be treated less favourably than someone of the same legal (in this case biological) sex. In other words the comparator for fair treatment for a transwoman without a GRC is equal treatment with other men, not women.
     
    Corvuscorax likes this.
  12. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Everything beneath the link was copied and pasted from the link - I forgot the quotation marks - so you're arguing with the wrong person. I suggest forwarding your comments to the Equality and Human Rights Commision; they're the people who posted it.
     
    MathMan1 likes this.
  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    We have had gender neutral and gender fluid trainees on the course. You declare your preferred address and that’s it. They didn’t have any issues, it was fine.
     
  14. rolls

    rolls Occasional commenter

    Do talk to the person organising placements about your concerns. As has previously been said the Equality Act gives you protection under the law but that does not mean that there will not be people who have discriminatory attitudes whether that be members of school staff, parents or young people themselves. Hopefully your PGCE provider will find placements in schools that they know will be supportive and that will deal well with any discriminatory attitudes you encounter,
     
    MathMan1 likes this.

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