Social transition – the changing of names and pronouns – occasionally comes at the end of a long period of reflection. But that’s often far from the case, as one family from the Welsh Valleys discovered all too quickly.
When their young adolescent son announced his transgender identity at school, the parents were not told. Yet the school decided to go ahead and switch the names and pronouns they used to refer to him nonetheless.
To make things worse, this was within only days of the boy’s declaration.
But in this case, a family facing scholastic overstep decided to push back. They got in touch, via their lawyer, with Genspect, whose founder and Executive Director Stella O’Malley was quick to jump to the parents’ defense.
Stella met with the school leadership, advancing the parents’ rights and informing the staff of the wider context of social transition — which is, after all, a form of therapeutic intervention.
For their part, the school staff were keen to point out that they were only following the ‘Trans Toolkit’ guidance of the local council, Rhondda Cynon Taf — a defense which will sound all too familiar to many parents who have sought to question school policy.
And very often, that’s where these stories end: with a shrugging of shoulders and a passing of bucks. What made this case different was one thing and one thing alone: coverage.
The UK’s Safe Schools Alliance also helped the family, and parents of gender-questioning kids from parent groups across the world offered their support.
The result? The local government, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, has withdrawn its “Trans Toolkit”. The advice which the Council dispenses is now under review — a review which will certainly take into account the pressure which media attention brought to bear in this instance.
We don’t yet know where that review will lead. But what we do know is this: media attention makes all the difference. That’s what Genspect was set up to achieve, and we’re achieving it.
Image credit: Alan Hughes