Teaching Kids About Trans: The Australian Safe Schools Programme

Three years after it was launched in Australia, the ‘Safe Schools’ programme has been scrapped in New South Wales by the Education Minister Bob Stokes and funding has been allocated for a new anti-bullying programme to take its place.

Safe Schools is the equivalent of UK organisations such as Gendered Intelligence, GIRES and the government-backed Educate and Celebrate.  Going into schools ostensibly to raise awareness and prevent bullying of ‘LGBT’ pupils, these organisations train both teachers and children in ‘gender identity’ ideology which says that your sex is randomly assigned to you at birth by someone and you can choose to change it. ‘Boy’ and ‘girl’ are redefined as states of mind, unrelated in any way to biological sex. This belief is taught to children as fact.

There were two contrasting articles published on this story in the Australian press: the first blamed the programme for the spike in children and adolescents self-identifying as ‘transgender,’ as reported by the NSW Education Department:

An epidemic of transgender children is Safe Schools’ legacy

This was followed by the inevitable response in the Sydney Morning Herald which praised the programme for exactly the same reason:

If more young people came out as transgender because of Safe Schools, it worked

You don’t often hear the voices of paediatricians on this issue but the first article found one brave enough to speak out so it’s worth quoting this passage in full:

“One of the few doctors willing to criticise the “fashion in child surgical abuse” is Dr John Whitehall, Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University, who questions the “massive intrusion into the minds and bodies of children… It’s a collective madness.”
“Most transgender children will, “grow out of it through puberty if parents do little more than gently watch and wait… The worst thing that can happen is the child is adopted as a poster child for the school.”
“With teachers being trained by Safe Schools to think gender is whatever you feel like, “it’s not surprising we’re seeing more kids responding to this propaganda and parents getting on board. It’s very hard for professionals to speak out.””

Also worth hearing is this view from a clinician which illustrates starkly the kind of underlying issues which remain covered up when the “affirmation of preferred gender” rule now enforced across the therapeutic professions replaces normal psychological assessment and exploration:

“Megan, who works at a clinic in Sydney with young people, aged from 12 to early 20s, who have asked for referrals for sex changes, says: “Often, especially with females, there’s child abuse in their background, a lot of mental health issues and challenges. The system I work in does push that process. You’re not able to say this is a psychological issue. There’s this push to refer them out and get them processed to [send them to] Westmead children’s hospital and into that [sex change] process.””

By comparison the defense of Safe Schools is from a transgender adult, Allison Gallagher, and therefore inevitably personal, based on reminiscences of childhood shaming:

“One of the earliest memories I have is breaking into my mother’s wardrobe as a young child and emerging draped in an ill-fitting dress, and consequently being severely scolded by an embarrassed aunt, who asserted that it “wasn’t right” for me to do so.

“I wondered how my playful actions could possibly have alarmed my aunt so deeply, who explained that dresses were “not for boys”. When I refuted that I wasn’t a boy, she swiftly hushed me and asked I not repeat what I’d said. I grew to associate “girl’s clothing” – and therefore, girlhood – with something that was off-limits to me.

“When you are a child telling an adult that your gender is different to what they say you are, being told to be quiet in response can have lasting consequences, and I pushed down any feelings around my gender for over a decade.”

Childhood shaming and subsequent suppression of personality is a common story from adult transsexuals. Because of their emotional impact these kind of devastating memories are retained into adulthood, which makes it impossible to countenance the possibility that other children’s experiences may be different to your own. Gallagher therefore finds it impossible to believe that teaching children that how they feel inside is a greater indicator of reality than their biological sex will not influence ‘gender non-conforming’ kids to start feeling they may be ‘trans’:

“Here’s the thing, though – being trans isn’t some contagious disease, and you certainly can’t “catch” it from hearing about it in a classroom. If there has anecdotally been any increase in the number of young people in New South Wales identifying as transgender as a result of Safe Schools, it’s no “epidemic”. If anything, it’s a sign of improved mental wellbeing among an extremely vulnerable group.

“Higher numbers of trans-identifying youth simply reflects more young people accessing resources and support to express their gender identity – not that they’ve been coercively manufactured via some extreme left-wing propaganda the way Devine and co argue. Support I didn’t have.”

Gallagher is 100% confident that children are innately ‘transgender’ and need help and support to ‘come out’ and that this can be the only reason for the unprecedented increase in the number referred to gender clinics. Of course. What Gallagher sees in these kids is himself as a little boy, with all the painful feelings of shame that that memory evokes.

But what if Gallagher’s Aunt had just responded casually that he looked nice in a dress and that boys can wear dresses too if they like? The opposite to shaming a boy for wearing dresses is not to encourage him in the belief that he’s really a girl, it’s to accept him as a little boy who likes to wear dresses. Turning him into a girl is just another way of telling him it’s shameful for boys to do so.

Transgender ideology is absolutely NOT saying that boys who like to wear dresses should be accepted. Instead it plants the idea in children’s heads that it is indication that they might really be girls. This is what the first article justifiably points out. Tell children they can choose their sex, and how do children know whether they are boys or girls other than going by their interests, toys and clothes choices which society is hell-bent on teaching them are ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’?

Transgender commentators routinely suggest that only trans people should comment on trans issues. To apply that to the case of children means we only get the voice which represents the very small minority whose ‘gender dysphoria’ did not resolve itself during adolescence, and even within that group we hear disproportionately from adult transgender males who experienced being shamed as children.

The childhood experiences of an adult male transsexual will be very different to those of a girl. Girls are generally not shamed to the extent boys are when very young; girls may sometimes face a (much milder) disapproval but are usually indulged in their ‘boyish’ ways until adolescence. It is only then that the shaming begins in earnest if a teenage girl does not perform ‘femininity’ to the expected standard.

Just as a boy learns to suppress his ‘femininity’ from a very young age, it is at adolescence that a girl learns she must give up all that makes her who she is in order to fit in to an extremely restricted straightjacket of femininity. ‘Transition’ therefore becomes an extreme response to an intolerable repression.

Along with the views of professionals such as the paediatrician and clinician published in the first article, it is the voices of adults who ‘grew out’ of childhood dysphoria we need to hear to balance the views of adult transsexuals when devising policy for schools: the gay men, lesbians, ‘tomboys,’ the women who suffered throughout adolescence and subsequently came to terms with being female.

The result of a schools policy which trains both teachers and children into a belief that ‘gender identity’ is fixed and innate and that if you identify more with the opposite sex you are ‘transgender’ is illustrated clearly by this piece from the mother of a ‘tomboy’ daughter: My daughter is not transgender. She’s a tomboy.

My daughter wears track pants and T-shirts. She has shaggy short hair (the look she requested from the hairdresser was “Luke Skywalker in Episode IV”). Most, but not all, of her friends are boys. She is sporty and strong, incredibly sweet, and a girl.

And yet she is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.

If the adults in a young girl’s life are constantly making the ‘transgender’ assumption (with the implicit message that ‘being a boy’ is a possibility) it is impossible to believe that no girl would start to question it herself. The message is very clear, in any case, that she’s obviously not a proper girl.

Just as we don’t want little boys being shamed for wanting to wear dresses, we don’t want young girls to face disapproval for being ‘unfeminine’ because they prefer activities which society says are ‘for boys.’ But nor do we want everyone assuming these children are ‘transgender,’ which just gives children exactly the same message but now couched in a new ‘liberal’ language.

The old way may have led to a lifetime of shame and repression; the new way may lead to a lifetime’s dependency on synthetic hormones, probable sterilisation and possible surgery. Schools should not be employing any policy which enforces strict gender roles and expression, no matter how much it is packaged as ‘progressive.’

3 Comments

  • Linda Wiener Reply

    It seems like the good news is in the first paragraph–that the program to train teachers to identify gender non-conforming kids as trans has been replaced by an anti-bullying program. I hope this can give kids the message that no matter how kids behave and/or dress they don’t need a label attached to them and the important thing is to accept these kids as the (now) are and make sure they can get a good education without being threatened by other kids.

  • AE Reply

    So a question please: In your faq you say you are “not prejudiced against trans people in anyway” and believe that the trans community “deserve the same civil and human rights as all of us”.
    This Allison Gallagher has a female name yet you continually misgender her as him and himself (although I appreciate you are also at times referring to her as a child, when she was a boy). If transitioned adults can legally change their sex and their social gender role – would you not refer to them with the appropriate pronouns if that is their official designation, as determined by the legal processes of society, as surely they “deserve the same civil and human rights as all of us?”

    Also, it is very easy for Dr John Whitehall to make such provocative statements from his ivory tower of academia. He is not a practising doctor, he is a lecturer, professor and researcher at a university. He doesn’t have to deal with a parent and child sitting in front of him in pain and distress, neither of them knowing how to cope with the difficulties of gender identity disorder. He doesn’t have to provide a solution for the child who is absolutely convinced that they are the opposite sex, or the parent who is conflicted or wants to help their child in the best way. He will hold little sway with the decision makers here; not only is he non practising (as far as I can tell) but he is not a child psychologist or psychiatrist. His expertise and qualifications are in general paediatrics and neonatology, not children’s mental health.

    • Transgender Trend Reply

      Thanks for your comment. We only use ‘he’ and ‘himself’ about Allison Gallagher when referring to ‘him’ as a child. We are actually very careful about pronouns, and usually stick to using the name wherever possible. Especially when talking about cases of children and young people, we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. But it’s tricky. We also want to be clear about which sex someone is otherwise we can’t write coherently about this subject. For example it’s important to know that it’s a male transsexual speaking in this case because that is the relevant factor in the argument. Likewise it’s important to state that it’s overwhelmingly teenage GIRLS who are transitioning. You didn’t say this yourself, but the charge ‘misgendering is violence’ is commonly used as a manipulative tactic which we reject. We do support the human rights of transgender people but we don’t believe those rights include coercing others to change their language, nor change the meaning of words with established definitions. We support the rights of transgender people but that does not mean we believe that a man is actually a woman – and it is not a human right to force others to adopt your personal belief. On the subject of professionals, very few speak out about their concerns about the transgendering of children for fear of being accused of ‘transphobia’ and putting their jobs at risk. This is why it has been almost exclusively the voices of adult transsexuals and activists which have set the agenda regarding children, which we believe is wrong for the reasons we state in the post. We will take the chance to publish the views of any professional who works in any capacity with children because those are the views which have been silenced.

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