It is being reported by the transgender children’s charity Mermaids that up to 80 primary school aged children are now actively seeking help to transition to their true genders. Some cases have children as young as four years old having already started the transition process, according to Susie Green, Chair of Mermaids.
Her comments have emerged following the reports of a primary school in the north west of England who are in the midst of a ‘stand-off’ over the issue of refusing to allow an eight year old transgender student the right to transition to his true identity.
‘We are working with them, we are trying to resolve that but the school are very reluctant,’ Mrs Green said. She went on to say that these kinds of stand-offs are becoming more and more common and even went on to say that a legal challenge to these issues could not be ruled out in the near future.
Mrs Green says that eight is no longer considered to be particularly young to begin the process of transitioning, as awareness of transgender issues is increasing and becoming more accepted than it once was.
‘We’ve got four year olds, five year olds, six year olds who are transitioning as parents know more about it and are more aware if they have a child who is suffering. You wouldn’t necessarily do anything unless it’s causing distress, but these children are so much happier now that they have been supported to live in the gender they identify with, it’s a no brainer.’
‘We’ve had parents reporting back saying ‘my kid is so much happier now, they are attending school now, they are making friends now’.’
She went on to suggest that the charity is now dealing with around 80 cases involving primary school children each year.
‘In terms of families joining our parents group, this year alone we’ve had over 200 families. The majority of those – around 60 per cent – are teens, but the rest are families with young children. It’s a lot more than people realise.’
‘But one thing is that there is more information getting out there now and we are finding now that about half the schools are dealing with actually accommodating and want to learn because there is more in the media and more out there.’
Despite this statement indicating that there are still a great deal many schools who are not dealing with transgender students in a positive or accepting way, there is evidence that those schools who are embracing their trans students and allowing them to transition at school are having a positive impact, even allowing other students the chance to deal with their gender identity issues by seeing their peers come out.
‘I have seen that with a school I did some training with before Christmas, they had one trans boy come out and then had two other young people come forward asking for help. If they see other young people dealing with it, it could be a light-bulb moment, or it could be that they feel confident that they will be helped.’
Obviously some detractors will turn around and say that by allowing children to transition at such an early stage in life and in school it is trying to encourage a certain agenda or promote a trans ‘lifestyle’, but the fact is that any student who comes forward with gender identity issues following the coming out of another student will be given help. They will have guidance and support to figure out if they themselves are trans, or if any gender issues they might have are coming from another place.
This system is designed to help all children who are facing gender identity struggles, trans or not. Hopefully more schools will realise that accommodating their trans students is the right thing to do,