Schools are “reluctant” to offer support to as many as 80 school aged children in the UK who say they want to transition.
The Mermaids charity, which provides support to young people with gender identity issues, has reported that the number of children who speak out whilst still in school has risen to as many as 80.
Susie Green, the chair of Mermaids, spoke in an interview with the Telegraph to say that many of those children go on to transition.
She said children as young as four find support from their families when they speak out about their gender identities.
Despite this, she said schools have drastic gaps in knowledge.
“I would say about 50 per cent of schools have literally no knowledge of the issue and are often quite reluctant to accommodate child gender issues,” she said.
“They often turn around and say you can’t have this, you can’t have that, it has got to be the name on the birth certificate, it has got to be the name on the school roll.
“We often get involved and have to intervene to help the parents, to talk to the school, to educate them.
Green’s comments come as one school in the North West of England refused a request for a child to be identified as a male.
“We are working with them, we are trying to resolve that but [the school] are very reluctant,” said Green.
Mermaids is working with the parents, who have requested that the school tread the child as male.
Green went on to say that such “stand-offs” are now “very common”, and said that the issue could come to legal action in the near future.
Speaking of her own experience of having a transgender daughter, Green said primary age is no longer considered young to begin transitioning.
“We have got four-year-olds, five-year-olds, six-year-olds who are transitioning as parents know more about it and are more aware if they have a child who is struggling and suffering,” she said.
“You wouldn’t necessarily do anything unless it is causing distress [but] these kids are so much happier now they have been supported to live in the gender they identify with, it is a no-brainer.
“We have parents reporting back saying ‘my kid is so much happier now, they are attending school now, they are making friends now’.
“We have got families of five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds – eight isn’t particularly early.”
Of Mermaids, Green said more and more families have signed up to the parents’ group – over 200 families in one year.
She said over half of them have teenage trans children but the rest are families with young children.
Information being more accessible is to what Green attributes the growth in interest in her charity.
Saying the more children see other children coming out and dealing with their gender identity issues, the more they are likely to ask for help themselves.
“I have just seen [that] with a school that I did some training with before Christmas – they had one trans boy came out and then had two other young people come forward and asking for help.
“If they see other young people dealing with it, it could be a light-bulb moment, or it could be that they feel confident that they will be helped.”