I recently came across this video whilst searching for something else and it really struck me because her experience in many ways resonated with mine. I had been feeling a bit down and it really cheered me up and gave me a more positive sense about the journey I am on. It made me cry some of those happy tears.
When she mentions about having people tell her she ‘should not exist’ and street abuse, that reminds me of a phase I had to deal with, and I’m aware many others go through the same. It made me feel more positive because it made me realise how far I have come, and I feel it is inspiring – I wish I’d had someone say that to me back when I was going through that. The gradual change she shows through her clothing and voice are of course something I have also experienced and it’s wonderful to see that condensed into a few minutes in such a creative way.
I was delighted to hear the Netherlands has passed a law which lowers the legal age of consent for transition to 16, and removes the previous requirement that required anybody changing documents to be sterilised.
Following recent events, I got thinking about the hellish time I had at school, and the similar experiences others have had. Of course, at the time I had no idea what trans even was, or why I felt the way I did. I just knew I was different, and children will pick up on any difference and bully mercilessly for it. It wasn’t until recently revisiting that experience that I realised how much I felt failed by the teachers and many others, and failed by the system that was meant to protect me. In fact, because they did nothing, I feel like I was failed by the school. There is no doubt in my mind that this constituted neglect of a duty of care on their part.
I also remember reading a report online, and hearing something on the radio which were both discussing the often rampant homophobia present in many schools even to this day. I remember how at school the word gay was used as an insult, and even used to denote anything perceived as ‘bad’. Anything they didn’t like would be called ‘gay’. The report said this use of language is still very prevalent today, and they were discussing ways of bringing about a culture change. It seems like homophobia and transphobia quite often fester together within a community of any kind. Looking back, I can clearly see that within my school homophobia and transphobia existed together, although at that age I didn’t necessarily recognise the latter, and only had a basic idea of the former. It’s also interesting homophobia and transphobia, and the idea of guilt and self-blaming that comes about because of lack of awareness can become internalised within people over time.
Inspired by the above, and the recent t-zone podcast where we discussed some aspects of childhood for trans children (which can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dal5bL7i6_4), I have decided this may be an interesting topic to consider.
How do we better protect today’s children from the experiences that I and so many other children went through?
How do we bring about the culture change that seems to be so much needed in our schools? How do we provide an inclusive environment where trans children (and those of other minorities) feel comfortable and safe? It seems the school system is still currently failing pupils as it did back when I was at school. A system that permits discrimination or creates an environment conducive to such is in fact discriminating itself, because it is saying that trans children are not worthy of such protection, or are worth less. I feel for young people today. Such transphobia, guilt and self-hatred can easily become internalised. Trans children today deserve to be nurtured and protected as much as any other child. To fail to do so is nothing other than neglect.