Transphobic bullying is bullying based on prejudice or negative attitudes, views or beliefs about trans people.
'Trans' is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, cross dresser, non-binary, gender queer.
Being non-binary means not feeling that your gender identity fits naturally into the generic categories of male and female. Despite increasing numbers of people identifying themselves publicly as non-binary, there is still little known and understood about non-binary identities, but slowly this is beginning to improve
Transphobic bullying affects young people who are trans but can also affect those questioning their gender identity as well as students who are not trans but do not conform to gender stereotypes. For example:
– students pestering a trans young person with questions about their gender such as 'are you a real boy?' or 'are you a boy, or are you a girl?' or asking invasive questions like 'do you wear knickers or boxers?' or 'what body parts do you have?'
– a girl being teased and called names referring to her as a boy or trans because she wears trousers or 'boys' clothes' – a boy who tells his friends that his dad is now his mum suffers other students laughing and repeatedly telling him 'that can't happen – your dad's a freak'
How is Transphobic Bullying different from Homophobic Bullying?
Homophobic bullying targets someone's sexuality (whether they are, or are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or heterosexual), whereas transphobic bullying targets someone because of their gender identity (whether they identify as male, female or something different, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth) or because they do not 'conform' to traditional gender stereotypes.
It is important to recognise the difference between 'gender identity' and 'sexuality', as person's gender identity alone does not tell us anything about their sexuality.
Is Transphobic bullying a problem?
Metro Youth Chances 2014, a survey of more than 7,000 young people, including 956 trans young people, found the following:
- 83 per cent of trans young people say they have experienced name-calling and 35 per cent have experienced physical attacks
- Almost a third (32 per cent) of trans young people say they have missed lessons due to discrimination or fear of discrimination
- Over a quarter (27 per cent) of trans young people have attempted suicide
What the law says
Equality Act 2010
The public sector Equality Duty requires all schools in England to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
Education and Inspections Act 2006
Schools have a duty to promote the safety and well-being of all children and young people in their care, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans and those experiencing homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying.
Ofsted inspectors are explicitly directed to look at a school's efforts to tackle bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They may also look at how the school supports the needs of distinct groups of students, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans students.
Tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is a clear government priority. The Department for Education, in conjunction with the Government Equalities Office, supports schools and organisations across England to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
For further information and to find out how your school can help to prevent and tackle transphobic bullying, take a look at Stonewall's 'Getting Started' document and Supporting LGBT Young People - a guide for schools. You can also visit their website for further information on homophobic, bi-phobic and transphobic bullying.
Trans support is available locally via Doncaster Pride. In addition we recommend the following organisations:
Doncaster attended the Stonewall Conference in London last year, this included an opening statement from Nicky Morgan. This year all designated safeguarding leads in school will have access to trans awareness support offered via gendered intelligence.
Gendered Intelligence support young trans people aged 8-25 delivering projects aimed at youth programmes, support for parents and carers, professional development and trans awareness training for all sectors and educational workshops for schools, colleges, Universities and other educational settings.
Barnardo's has produced a 'faith toolkit' to help schools support LGBTQ children who are being bullied. The toolkit has been developed with schools, faith, gender and sexual orientation groups and includes views from the major religions, as well as an information pack with background to the issue, advice sheets and personal stories for the LGBTQ community.