Well today I am going to rake a look transgender education awareness. Now having contacted governments and expert groups to find their opinions on this topic and receiving no response it seems clear it is very high on their agenda. Due to this lack of response I was forced to do my own research and am now attempting to formulate it into some form of coherent statement.
Out with the governments legal duty to assure equality and protect against gender based discrimination or attacks there seems to be a lack of support and awareness provided by them. All proposals are faced with stiff opposition and frequently seem to disappear. Yes we have our LGBT groups, some even within school although the government have not made these mandatory. What we do not have though is a broad awareness of the meaning of transgender in schools as there is no strict part of the curriculum set for transgender education
Some have argued that transgender education is not a positive thing full stop (generally very narrow minded people). More commonly questions are raised over at what age this education should start and of course to what depth they should look into to it, with the infamous 71 genders now being listed as options by Facebook couldn’t this be confusing?
Looking at the age question it has been said that in trying to explain it to 6-8 year olds the children became very against the idea that they could be anything other than the gender they are assigned at birth and those younger than that have poor comprehension of what is going on anyway. At 6-8 it would seem that the children have just become used to their assigned gender and are really sticking with it; boys with their tools, guns and football and girls with their dresses, Barbie’s and skipping. For the average Primary School teacher educating young children about male to female or female to male transsexual people, never mind the vast umbrella incorporated under transgender as whole, would be difficult. Perhaps provided with expert training they may be able to go on to define the difference between transsexual and transgender (although transgender can be used as a blanket term for both like I have done in referencing transgender in this article, when used as a gender identity they are normally distinguished as different terms). This definition could be provided by starting at the basics of defining sex and gender, how they are different and how some people feel body dysphoria (perhaps using an easier term) and feel the need to change themselves physically to become that sex while others just want a way of expressing their true gender. Even with that though trying to explain segments like Asexual and non-binary to 6 year olds just isn’t going to work no matter how hard you try, I’m still trying to get the grip of it and I’m 18. The answer then couldd be to start educating people when they have matured slightly perhaps from the ages of 11-12.
Some transgender people though say this isn’t soon enough, quite a few people know from a very young age that they are not the sex or gender they were assigned at birth, shouldn’t education and support be provided for their sakes. My response to this may not be entirely what all activists want to hear but there is a reasonably small amount of people who identify at this early age as being transgender or transsexual the answer then may come in the form teachers receiving training in supporting those who show signs of being trans; however, this would have to be done very delicately with significant input from educational psychologists. The matter of transitioning is often frequently discussed in relation to age but if I write about here too this post will be huge so I will discuss that another day.
Moving onto my second question over to what depth we should look at genders, often highlighted by the huge list of 71 possible genders on Facebook. Firstly I want to consider the list of Facebook genders, many of them are replications of the same meaning but using different terminology to help people identify as they will. For example there is: cis woman, cis female, cisgender woman, cisgender female. Which if I am not mistaken (please correct me if I am, I’m still learning) all mean the same thing. When narrowing it down there are really only about 23 or 24 specific genders although I have to state this, Facebook’s list although extensive is not a complete list of all genders.
There is some confusion though in what each term actually means though. Some would count being a transvestite as falling under transgender where as others wouldn’t, equally some state gender queer and gender fluid are the same thing and others don’t. Some people identify simply as non-conformists and some just as transgender, using what are largely seen as blanket terms whereas others prefer to identify more specifically for example non-binary or androgynous. How then, if there is no definitive definition of each gender, can we adequately educate children on it? I am tempted to say we can’t but that’s not my style. I have managed to gain something of an understanding so there must be a way to do it. If in educating people you explain that the definition can vary and try then and just explain the fundamental underpinnings of each gender. This could then be developed upon by getting people from each of the gender to help write a guide or lesson plan for it explaining what it means to them and why they choose to identify that way. This may help people click more about what is going on with the genders. The number of genders to educate on is still slightly tricky in that you would need to dedicate an entire subject to it in order to do it justice but I feel some adaptation of it could easily be adopted into Personal and Social Education.
I am then, if you can’t tell, in favour of transgender education but only if done right and in way that is sympathetic to those in need of support but also in a way that helps people understand how they can help people going through this change and to become more aware and informed of other genders. I feel that much of the discrimination faced is largely due to ignorance and education from the reasonably young age of 11 or 12 could really help tackle this.
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