This weekend saw widespread reporting of data showing a dramatic increase in the numbers of adults and children seeking gender identity treatment.
At the Tavistock, the only specialist gender identity clinic for children, referrals have been increasing by 50% a year since 2010-11, and in the past year increased by 100% to 1,398.
The fact these services exist and children and young people can access them is a powerful testament to the positive impact trans activism has had on the landscape of services and the visibility of trans people.
But doing the right thing by trans children and young people is about more than providing specialist services. NatCen’s evaluation of the Government Equalities Office/Department for Education programme to reduce homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying gives us great insights into how to make schools safe and supportive places for trans pupils.
The study found that training aimed at increasing teachers’ knowledge and skills made a substantial difference to their confidence in addressing transphobic bullying.
Before training, only 19% of teachers felt they had a good understanding of strategies they could use to address transphobic bullying, and only 40% felt confident in challenging explicitly transphobic language. Afterwards, 80% of teachers felt they had the understanding they needed, and 93% felt confident addressing transphobic language in the classroom. Even in more complex territory, such as the link between gender stereotypes and transphobia, training had a notable impact on teachers feeling confident in opening up challenging discussions.
Based on this evidence, the government has launched an invitation to tender for the Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Bullying Fund, with up to £2.8 million available to help prevent and respond to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
When we look at the data on the rise in trans children and young people accessing gender services, we should ask whether those services are able to meet a rising need, but we should also ask whether public services as a whole are doing their job right. Initiatives like this are key to making sure that trans children and young people are able to thrive.