A school in Kent threatened a transgender student with suspension for wearing her female uniform.
Lily Madigan, 18, was forced to hire a solicitor after her school in Maidstone told the student she was not allowed to adhere to the female dress code, use female toilets or change in the female dressing room.
Madigan said: “When I first went it felt really great. I felt like myself. But I was treated like I did something wrong, which was upsetting.”
Teachers at St Simon Stock Catholic school also refused to use Madigan’s legal female name and female pronouns whilst talking to the student.
Lily came out as transgender in January, and was out to everyone when she decided to take the step to go to school in the female dress code.
At first, her confidence soared and she felt relieved, but the student was sent home for breaking the dress code.
“Wearing male clothes makes me feel really invalidated and puts me in a low mood for the whole day,” she added.
“They gave me three options: I could come back in the male dress code, go on permanent study leave or find a new school.”
Students started a petition on behalf of Lily to allow transgender pupils to follow the dress code they feel most comfortable with and gained over 200 signatures.
But the school stood by its decision and forced Lily to wear a men’s suit and tie for a further six months.
Madigan defended her rights with the 2010 Equality Act, but the school ignored her needs, so she hired herself a solicitor to have her gender identity recognised.
The solicitor helped Madigan send a letter to the school, which outlined her rights and prompted an apology.
“I hired a solicitor because my family and school weren’t very supportive,” Lily explained. “I felt isolated and very alone.”
The A Level student suffered depression because of the ordeal, and her attendance suffered.
However, she hopes her fight will make future students lives easier.
“The reason I did it is because I know I’ll be leaving soon and I know there are at least five other transgender students at our school. So I wanted to do it for them as well,” she said.
“Coming out as transgender is very scary but now that I’ve come out looking back it shouldn’t have been that scary. That’s part of the reason I’m doing this, because I want people to know that it’s okay and we have the rights that we have for a reason and we deserve equality.”
“Since everything has gone on, I think the attitude is a lot better at school. To other transgender students I would say: keep fighting your corner, you deserve equality. Don’t let it get you down.”
The schools apology stated: “I would like to offer an apology for any hurt to you which has been caused by individuals or the school in respect of this situation.”
“It was never anyone’s intention to cause hurt; on the contrary, St Simon Stock staff, and the pastoral team in particular, have always wanted to support you on this important journey that you are undertaking and remain committed to help you succeed in your education and be happy.”