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Oxfordshire schoolgirl rises up against ‘trans inclusion’ that neglects vulnerable non-trans kids

Frank Furedi
Frank Furedi

is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

Oxfordshire schoolgirl rises up against ‘trans inclusion’ that neglects vulnerable non-trans kids
A 13-year-old girl is suing Oxford County Council over its decision to allow trans pupils to choose which dorm they sleep in and which toilets they use, and the questions it raises go way beyond her own wish for privacy.

“I am very surprised that the council never asked the opinion of girls in Oxfordshire about what we thought before they published the toolkit,” the teenager, whose name has not been disclosed in the media, said in her statement as she announced her legal action against the Oxford Country Council’s decision to implement its Orwellian-sounding ‘Trans Inclusion Toolkit’.

All children have their needs

As a sociologist who has written extensively on the life of children, I have no doubt her court action deserves the public’s attention. Yet you don’t have to possess a Ph.D. in child psychology to understand the serious emotional problems that Oxford’s new policy is likely to cause young girls.

There is no doubt that children going through gender uncertainty can face a lot of distress – and the toolkit includes some disturbing examples of offences they can face, including a teacher calling a trans pupil “it.” However, the drive to ‘include’ one troubled group is coming at the price of excluding another – whose troubles are no less genuine.

You don’t need much insight to imagine why younger teenage girls, coping with all the insecurity and aggravations of puberty, are concerned and confused about allowing biological boys into their dorms and lavatories. Puberty’s psychological tribulations are rooted in the biological changes a girl’s body is going through – which someone who is physically male cannot relate to. The early years of periods, for one, (often unpredictable and heavy) make girls anxious about showing any sign of 'having started,' and embarrassed about being seen with period products, at a time when boys are keen to make girls in general and periods in particular the butt of jokes.

Guilt trip

As the young girl taking the county council to the High Court remarked, “under these guidelines I have no right to privacy from the opposite sex in changing rooms, loos or on residential trips.” Worse still, she noted that the policy “makes me feel that my desire for privacy, dignity, safety and respect is wrong.” In other words, the policy actually undermines the way many young girls feel about the need to maintain their dignity and attempts to make them feel guilty about the way they feel about their personal privacy. No wonder that she declared in her statement that the new policy “makes me feel sad, powerless and confused.”

It is evident that neither parents nor girls who are most affected by the introduction of the new policy were consulted about their views on the matter.The fundamental issue at stake is who gets to decide that from now on that males who identify as girls can have access to female toilets and dormitories?

As is frequently the case, the institutionalisation of new trans-related policies appeared out of nowhere and gets promoted by its supporters as the last word on the subject. Typically, individuals who hesitantly raise criticisms of policies such as those advocated by the authors of the Trans Inclusion Toolkit are immediately condemned as transphobic haters.

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Off-limits for debate

The authors of the Toolkit claim that it is the product of serious thought and expertise – but it’s a product of political advocacy, put together by a self-selected group of national experts and people who identify as transgender. While their expertise is vaguely defined, what is certain is that in the current era, you don’t need a lot of evidence to promote trans culture. That cause enjoys the support of significant sections of the political and cultural establishment, including numerous leading parliamentarians. Indeed, government policy-making relies on the advice of transgender advocacy groups. And as far as these groups are concerned these policy recommendations are the final word on the issue and are therefore not a legitimate subject for debate, – they are indeed, non-debatable.

Those who authored the Trans Toolkit are either unaware of the facts of life or they are totally indifferent to the anguish their policies will cause young, non-trans girls. Theirs is a higher cause – which is to alter the way people regard the meaning of biological sex – and trampling over the feelings of young children who did not sign up to their crusade is for them totally irrelevant.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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