“Cynthia”, 14, writes…
I recently read in The Times that Ministers were seeking a “compromise” concerning the Department for Education’s long-awaited transgender schools’ guidance and, as a 14-year-old-girl in secondary school, to say I am furious is an understatement. It is absolutely vital that we – teenage girls who are undergoing puberty during a stressful part of our lives – have our right to single-sex spaces protected.
I thought we’d started to make progress getting this ideology out of our schools, but with the new Education Secretary, Kit Malthouse, apparently considering guidance to allow males who claim to be girls into female-only spaces, I’m writing this to urge ministers to take a firmer approach to stop this insane breach of privacy which destroys the dignity and safety of girls.
The Daily Mail reported that a proposed compromise is to allow boys who claim to be female to get changed in the female changing rooms before the girls. This is insanely insulting to us actual girls: it feels like they’re acting as if we’re somehow second-class citizens in our own spaces, who should prioritise males – let them take the lead while we just wait behind.
My question is: why should we allow boys into our changing rooms to begin with? From what I’ve heard, the main (and only) reason is because “It’ll hurt their feelings” – to which I say: What about OUR feelings? The feelings of the girls who don’t want a male in our changing rooms, the place where young girls undress? Is it too much to ask? Why should one of the only private single-sex spaces in schools left be opened up to boys?
The Daily Mail also reported that the new guidance would advise that “gender-neutral” toilets should be built. This is also insulting and regressive, and it feels as if none of the people proposing this knows what it’s like to actually be a young girl at school who has just started puberty and is feeling scared and insecure and alone – or knows anything about mixed-sex toilets. I’m part of the Year Council and in our most recent meeting, all of the kids there were protesting about the mixed-sex toilets at our school – the boys complained about finding used tampons and female health products on the ground, us girls horrified by the urine all over the floor, toilet seats broken, drawings of male genitalia scrawled all over the walls, and the kids just generally feeling unsettled and uncomfortable having to use the toilet right next to a member of the opposite sex. Tiny girls aged eleven sat in the cubicle right next to large sixteen-year-old males. Everyone found the mixed-sex toilets disgusting: it’s generally just a horrible experience there, and the single-sex ones are far cleaner and more private.
Gender ideology has already infiltrated my school – displays featuring several “Pride Flags” with labels such as “Genderqueer”, “Polysexual”, “Gender Fluid”, “Non-Binary”, “Demigirl”, “Demiboy” among others, and an LGBTQIA+ section in the school library featuring the book Beyond Magenta, which contains extremely explicit material, as well as an LGBTQIA+ Club. We had a PowerPoint presentation in year 8 which claimed that words such as “butch” were offensive, and we had to write a “pledge” to LGBTQIA+ students.
Dozens of kids in my year have been “identifying” themselves as made-up genders; we’ve been asked our pronouns by fellow pupils, and people have been asking me if I’m “trans”, simply because I’m a girl with short hair and trousers – instead of relying on biological fact, the kids at school depend on sexist stereotypes. Thankfully, the “Pride Flag” display and the explicit book were removed after my mum complained; however, teachers still call kids by biologically incorrect pronouns, and in year 7 there was even a petition calling for the Head of Year to be fired because he’d been allegedly “transphobic”.
So please, Education Secretary and school leaders, stop fence-sitting and trying to compromise – there is simply no way to please both sides without putting me, my friends, and all other schoolgirls at a disadvantage. Don’t treat us like second-class citizens, prioritising a single male’s feelings above the safety, dignity, and respect of so many girls. We are relying on you to get this dangerous ideology OUT of our schools and protect the rights of all pupils.
Picture by Scopio from NounProject.com