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South Dartmoor
Community College

Being Transgender in School

We recently interviewed Taylor, one of our Sixth form students, who identifies as transgender. The aim of the interview was to be able to raise awareness of the transgender community within schools. Below are the questions that we asked him and his response.

What does transgender mean?

  • The definition of being transgender is the way you feel about your gender. The way you feel does not match what doctors assigned you when you were born.
  • Being binary means that you feel that you are the opposite gender to what you were assigned at birth.
  • Being non-binary means that you see gender as a spectrum and either identify in the middle, as neither genders or as both.
  • Taylor used to identify as non-binary but now identifies as male.

What does cisgender mean?

  • The definition of being cisgender is that your gender identity matches what you were assigned at birth.
  • This is used so that people are able to identify differences and comparisons between transgender and cisgender people.
  • This is not a means of creating a barrier between transgender and cisgender people, it is used to be able to compare experiences.

What should people call you/how should people refer to you?

  • Taylor uses male pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘him’, however when he was identifying as non-binary he would use ‘they’ ‘them’ pronouns.
  • The best way to find out is to just ask the person. Ask what the label means to them rather than the dictionary definition as labels are subjective.
  • It’s better to ask the person, rather than to go online, as the internet provides you with too much information that may not make sense.
  • It’s okay if you get it wrong, the most important thing is that you want to learn and are respectful of people’s labels.

How do people know they’re using the right words?

  • A lot of the time, labels are subjective so just ask if you are using the right words or phrases.
  • There is often overlaps in different gender labels so if you ask the person which label they use, you will be able to learn which the right label/words are.
  • There are so many phrases and words that it’s okay if you get it wrong, as long as you are open and willing to learn. There’s a big difference between intentionally using the wrong words and simply not knowing what to say and it’s usually quite easy to tell which is happening when someone gets it wrong. So don’t be afraid to say the wrong thing, use it as an opportunity to learn.

What’s it like to be transgender at school?

  • Taylor said that he had not experienced many negatives throughout school, if he was ever questioned it was only ever out of curiosity.
  • Toilets and changing rooms have been a struggle, so Taylor did not participate in PE and used the disabled/gender neutral toilets.
  • Taylor said he has a good friendship group, a lot of whom are part of the LGBT community, so they are all able to support each other.
  • Taylor said that he had never experienced homophobic bullying, and when asked questions people always accepted his answers.
  • When Taylor receives his exam certificates they will have his previous name on it, as he has not yet legally changed it.