Supporting Trans Students
Along with the rest of the community we have been saddened to learn of yet another young Trans person who has been lost to the world, as the suicide of Leo Ethrington has made headlines this week.
Obviously we cannot comment on the particulars of one individual, especially at a time when the family and friends will be struggling to come to terms with their loss. However there are a number of inaccuracies and behaviours which we feel it is important to correct.
There is no need for a child to reach 16 in order to change their name. Many children have names changed when parents remarry, it is a common event which schools are equipped to deal with. Regardless of the facts of the situation in Wycombe High School we feel it is important to reassure Trans young people that they do not need to wait to 16 to change their name.
Nor is it the case that the NHS will not fund surgery for trans masculine people. This is completely untrue, currently trans masculine people are entitled to HRT, chest surgery, and reconstruction, and a variety of phalloplasties or genital affirmative surgeries. This would be decided by the individual and their gender identity clinical team. It is of course important to remember that many trans people do not decide to have medical interventions, and this is also valid and in no way undermines their gender.
Lastly, regardless of the policies of the school, we were very disappointed to see that Leo’s gender is still being rejected and disregarded, even in the most recent statement by the school. In our experience behaviours such as misgendering and deadnaming are often the result of lack of training which includes a genuine understanding of the experiences of Trans people. We work with schools to understand how transphobia impacts on their pupils, and this must begin by all staff looking at their own attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. All too often training ignores this vital step.
As the Stonewall school report showed many Trans students feel unsupported by their schools. Almost 50% of trans young people will attempt suicide. It is vital that schools have robust, informed and supportive policies which ensure schools are safe places for their Trans students.
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Leo
If you need help now with suicidal or self harm feelings there is information here.
If you would like to talk to us either about supporting a Trans young person at school, or our training for schools, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org