‘Cynthia’ (a pseudonym) is a 15 year-old state secondary school pupil who has written for us previously about gender identity ideology in schools and the problems caused for girls through ‘trans’ policies. Here she writes her account of the culture of intolerance and fear created by gender identity activism in schools, and the impact of social transition on all pupils.
Gender identity activism in school
My generation prides itself on being the most welcoming, liberal, and tolerant one yet – but the pretence of tolerance is instantly dropped when alternate viewpoints are brought to the table. At my school, I’ve seen some of the most rabidly intolerant, frenzied, hostile, and dogmatic activists yet, especially when it comes to the topic of “gender identity”. I’m a fifteen-year-old girl in a state secondary school and I’ve seen this culture of political fanaticism proliferate, where even teachers are afraid to speak against the dogma of the students.
There is an atmosphere of fear when it comes to this specific issue – even normally outspoken students are afraid to venture into the depths of this debate in fear of being called “transphobic”, since any viewpoint that differs from that of the ideologues is considered “wrong” and “bigoted”. The online culture of no-debate seems to have leaked from internet forums into school, and I’ve heard threats of violence being spewed by my own classmates against those they deem “transphobes” and “TERFS”, since my peers are unaware that I hold an opinion that differs from theirs. One of my closest friends mentioned casually how she wished that “JK Rowling and all TERFs should drop dead” – and in a culture where this is allowed, who’d want to speak up? Students who disagree with gender ideology, including me, simply don’t speak out about their views due to the fear of ostracisation by peers. We’ve already seen this happening in other schools, for instance, a sixth-former who was harassed and bullied by her classmates for saying “I disagree” to a speaker that came to her school talking about trans rights in the UK.
On the other end of the spectrum, those who believe in the ideology are the most vocal and outspoken students I’ve seen when it comes to this issue. The more ideological students are almost in competition with each other to prove they’re the most “inclusive” and “tolerant”. Whenever another student decides they’re “trans”, or “non-binary”, or another label from the endless lists you can find online, I’ve noticed their peers tend to deliberately emphasise they’re using the new name and pronouns, as if to prove they’re just that little bit more tolerant. They flock to the LGBT+ and Equalities school clubs, eager to promote DEI (Diversity, Equality, Inclusion) values, preaching the political ideologies they’ve learnt online as fact, repeating mantras like “if you think you might be trans, you probably are”, praising those who “come out” as various nonsense “gender identities” invented by teenagers on social media forums. Since no-one challenges their ideology out of fear of being a recipient of abuse, their ideology is the only one that prevails, and this just reinforces their already-established view that they’re right due to the fact that no-one challenges what they’re saying, and no viewpoints are heard except for theirs.
Some teachers also get in on the action and promote gender ideology in their own lessons, despite it not being part of the curriculum. One of my teachers talked about how “it was a shame that JK Rowling turned out to be a massive TERF” during one of our lessons, whilst another told my sister’s class that Zeus – the Greek God – “could have actually been non-binary”. Whilst it’s mainly the students that try to push this ideology in schools, many teachers do inevitably get involved, becoming the heads of Equality and LGBT+ clubs, advocating for changes to the curriculum to make it more LGBT-inclusive. The head of safeguarding at my school is also the head of the LGBT+ club, which makes it even harder to take issue with the promotion of gender ideology at school.
When everyone at school, even teachers – who are meant to be impartial – constantly promote this ideology to the students and present it as unchallengeable fact, it makes it very difficult for students to openly disagree with people who promote it. This not only affects students, it also creates an atmosphere of censorship for teachers as well, which I’ve observed happening from speaking to members of staff at my school. There are a couple of teachers who I know disagree with this ideology – just not openly. There’s been conversations about preferred pronouns, with some teachers admitting they are afraid of accidentally misgendering students in case they are fired – which we’ve seen happen in some schools in Britain. Despite it going against their values, these teachers are pressured into using biologically incorrect language when talking about trans-identifying students to avoid accusations of bigotry and “transphobia”. Creating a culture of political fanaticism which makes it impossible to state what you truly think is suppressing free speech in schools for both teachers and students.
Enabling social transition at school also aids this culture of censorship and suppression of free speech. Social transition consists of changing pronouns and usually names to be ones more suited to the opposite sex. However, social transition always relies on other people to take part in the pretence that a child has changed sex – it’s up to other people to actually use the new name and pronouns; the requirements for social transition fall upon the classmates of the transitioning child, not the transitioning child themselves.
This raises problems when children like me don’t wish to pander to the transitioning child’s delusions that they are the opposite sex, since forcing children to use biologically incorrect pronouns is questionable at best and active gaslighting at worst – it infringes against our freedom of speech and belief. Children have no obligation to aid in other children’s social transition, however there is constant pressure to use biologically incorrect pronouns or risk ostracisation. Using the pronoun “she” to refer to a boy is an ideological gesture, and signals your allegiance to the point of view that the boy is actually somehow a girl – a belief that clearly not all young people will hold. However, allowing children to socially transition at school, and therefore pressuring other children to use biologically incorrect pronouns to refer to classmates to aid that transition, could be considered an infringement on our rights if we’re forced to use misleading and politically-charged language we fundamentally disagree with. Hatred towards people who don’t believe boys can be girls is already rampant at my school, and mandating the use of a political selection of language to endorse child transition, all the while gaslighting children into believing their classmate has changed sex, is not something we should be allowing, let alone promoting in schools.
This is all bad enough in secondary schools, which is what I’ve been focusing on throughout this article – but it’s amoral to the point of depravity to introduce this into primary schools. Whilst children in secondary school will have some understanding of the debate around this issue, primary school children – that’s 4-to-11-year-olds – lack the basic understanding to comprehend what an ideology even is. You won’t find a 4-year-old who has the mental capacity to tie their own shoelaces, let alone make an educated decision on whether or not to socially transition, a choice that may have a significant impact on how they live their life and relate to their peers. As well as this, we should also consider the substantial impact a transitioning child will have on their classmates in a primary school – the concept that a child has somehow changed from a girl to a boy will be extremely perplexing to children who lack the mental cohesion to understand what this change really means. Young children in primary schools are already extraordinarily impressionable and introducing an incredibly destabilising idea to them will do nothing but cause further confusion and harm.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how primary-school-aged children may be pressured into using misleading and biologically incorrect language. Even if 4-to-11-year-olds are given the choice of whether or not to aid in a classmate’s transition, it’s exceedingly plausible to say that they will almost always do whatever their teacher and classmates are doing, eliminating any freedom they technically had in the matter. When your classmates, teachers, and friends are all saying one thing, a 4-to-11-year-old would have to have an incredible amount of bravery and self-assurance to stand up and be the only one who doesn’t call the trans-identifying boy “she”. I highly doubt that any child will have this level of independence and analytical thinking skills to make this decision, so although there’s technically the illusion of choice, few very children would deliberately choose to be the only one in their entire class to go against the socially accepted norm.
With all this in mind, it’s clear to see how allowing children to transition in schools will have a negative impact on their classmates and teachers – it creates a culture where reluctance or refusal to use biologically incorrect pronouns is seen as “hateful” and “bigoted” despite the fact that gender-critical beliefs are protected under UK law. Allowing the dogma of highly intolerant political activists to prevail in schools results in the suppression of students’ free speech – this should not be the accepted standard in our education system. Social transition not only has a negative impact on the children who transition, but also those surrounding them, who have to indulge in the gender-confused child’s pretence or risk ostracisation and demonisation. This must change, and I urge the Department of Education to create transgender guidance that prioritises safeguarding and protects students’ freedom of speech and belief.