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Trans teacher bullying

 

An article in The Times Educational Supplement Magazine on 12 September 2008: www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6002373

Mr or Miss?

By: Nick Morrison

Being a transsexual isn’t easy: aside from the mental and physical obstacles, there’s the battle for acceptance. So how do teachers in this situation cope? Nick Morrison finds out

One of the first things Jennie learnt was that it’s better if she throws left-handed. Otherwise she risks startling the children. “I have to tone it down a bit,” she says. “At one school a boy just went ‘Whoa, Miss!’ when he saw how far I could throw.” It sounds like a superhero concealing their powers from ordinary mortals, but in Jennie’s case there is a more prosaic reason. On the whole, men can throw further than women, and Jennie was born a biological male. ...

The article goes on to describe 'Jenny', who keeps her trans history to herself and is confident that no-one at her school knows. It describes a little of her surgery and the cost of transitioning against its value to her.

But this was not her first experience, which convinced her that she would have to leave and seek temporary work until she had settled into her new role.

The article explains why it was her legal right to expect much better.

It describes "Carolyn", who, after a long and successful career, had enormous problems in transitioning, even facing a staff petition against her - even though there were no issues when she did transition. She feels that the main problem was she didn't have the right to impose her transition on other people.

"Hayley", a science technician in a school, has been abuse by pupils some of whom continued their abuse - not all of which was verbal - to her home. Hayley reported little support from her school, who seemed not to know how to handle the situation.

"Jane" was pressured into resigning.

"Robert" believes he has been fired from four jobs as a result of parental pressure. Like others he lives with the knowledge that he may have to move if his present professional role comes under fire.

Transitioning affects partners of the person who transitions. The curiosity of pupils sometimes becomes abuse.

"Alison", on other hand, has transitioned at work, with staff and parents informed in advance. She has since been promoted, and comments that it's actually more difficult for others than it is for the teacher who transitions: for the teacher it is solving a big problem, for the others, it introduces one.

She says “It has been easier than I thought, but you can never assume that things are going to stay that way.”

Some names have been changed

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