The term transgender is used to express gender identity or gender expression that differs from assigned sex. It is an umbrella term that refers to people whose gender is the opposite of their actual sex. Other definitions include people who belong to a third gender. The opposite of transgender is Cisgender which is a term for people whose gender identity matches their actual sex. Many transgender people face discrimination in the workplace and in accessing public accommodation and healthcare. It is not surprising that students too will have challenges as transgender students. In most places, they are not legally protected from this discrimination.
Challenges transgender students go through
Being a such a student can be very difficult because they are always intimidated by their peers and this everyday obstacle impacts their mental health, social capacity, and ease of movement. Bathrooms, changing rooms and other gendered facilities are some of the intimidating places transgender youths and students avoid. A transgender student named Emme once told Teem Vogue “For so many of us, our daily movements are dictated by fear.”
Some of the difficulties or challenges include:
People tend to avoid transgender students because of the ever-present discordance between the internal conception of the students and the external perception of other students of gender identity born of ignorance and malice and the order social structure has placed in society.
The constant harassment of students who are transgendered is common in school by both students and teachers. Harassment and discrimination are products of not establishing a culture of acceptance of gender identity and because of this fact, bullying and discrimination in schools are one of the problems transgender students are facing. Statistics has that they are five times more likely to miss school out of fear of bullying than cisgender students.
3. Risks of self-endangerment
As a result of the pressure mounted on them, these students are more likely to commit suicide. According to an American non-governmental media monitoring organization, GLAAD’s, statistics, 46% of the transgender population has been reported committing suicide.
Many adolescents and teenagers are teased or bullied at school for being transgendered and since they are unable to fit into the gender norms, the bullying can cause students to experience stress-related issues as well as depression.
5. Body alteration
Many transgender students are pressured into altering their bodies in order to fit the internal gender identity they associate with. Some apply for surgeries and others choose to do Hormone therapy.
6. Rejection of admission into schools
Many school administrators refuse to accommodate transgender students thus, they are cast aside and if even they are admitted, their safety in school is not guaranteed.
7. No legal protection
There’s no government provision for the accommodation of the transgender parents and as a result of that, parents who have transgender children who are also students suffer from this issue of no legal protection for the children in their custody. Those students are then subject to bullying, harassment, and anti-transgender violence.
8. Barrier to healthcare services
They suffer a lack of access to the good healthcare system as a result of the stigma attached to transgender students. The stigma characterizes transgender students as mentally ill, socially awkward and sexual predators.
9. Problem of Identity documents
Transgender students will have a problem with their identity documents because they are unable to match their actual gender. The problem of identification will continue to be a problem for them unless they can conform to their actual gender and forgo their perceptive gender.
How these challenges can be addressed
1. Bullying should be addressed
Schools and parents should address bullying in schools. There should be a parent-teacher forum where discriminatory behavior will be addressed and punishment will be meted out on students who are found guilty of bullying them.
2. Helpful resources should be provided
Books and websites for learning about gender identity and the community should be made available in schools for students to represent themselves positively and stop anti-transgender violence and bullying.
3. Teachers should defend their students
Teachers and members of staff should be active in treating their students equally. This will be more encouraging for them if the staff can speak out in support of their transgender students. Teachers should work against things that affect them.
4. They should be accorded respect
Transgender students are no less deserving respect than other cisgender students.
5. Pay attention to to them
Teachers should be encouraged to pay attention to transgender students and let the transgender students express themselves the way they wish to.
6. Provision of an alternative student identity
They should not be addressed by their gender identity or their gender identity transition as this victimizes the student. Rather, attention should be paid on how well they are doing in the class and how well their faring.
7. Ensure safe spaces for these students
Areas in schools where transgender students can be bullied should be monitored by staff and teachers as research has proven that areas unmonitored by staff are key locations for bullying.
8. Schools should challenge transphobia
When schools challenge transphobia, young transgender students will have little or no problems in coping with their gender identities.
This is all anyone really needs to know about dealing with transgender issue in schools. Education is considered to be a tool, a weapon, and a ticket to prosperity and success in life so when transgender people and students are denied the resources and support needed to obtain that education, the resulting effects are felt by the society at large. The fight for transgender equality has seen both strides and setbacks in the past few years as it has made its way into the mainstream conversation as well as ideologies. In education and elsewhere, transgender youths and their allies are mobilizing and fighting for the support of the masses, hoping that the latter prevails and that transgender people, as well as students, have a place too.