Transgender Awareness Week runs from 13 to 19 November and is a one-week celebration leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which memorialises victims of transphobic violence. The week is intended to help raise the visibility about transgender people and address issues members of the community face.
The following resources may be useful:
Members reflect on the importance of the week and share ways they’re marking it in their schools
"I am a senior leader at a primary school in Nottingham and I am a member of the NAHT’s LGBT+ network. To me, it is very important to be an ally to the trans community. As a lesbian school leader, I would not be where I am now without the support of my non-LGBT+ colleagues and I understand the importance of representation in the curriculum and supporting trans members of the school community.
The fear-mongering panic against the trans community in the media is very concerning and the mental and emotional harm that has on trans colleagues, parents, members of the school community and pupils needs to be a concern for all senior leaders.
When you can see it from a child’s point of view, it changes your perspective. When you have a child in school who wears shorts to school but cannot wait to get home at the end of the day to put on a dress and paint his nails, it makes you think. When you find out he cried all weekend because his best friends had a sleepover and he wasn’t invited because he’s a boy and they’re all girls, it breaks your heart. When you understand that it might be tomorrow, next year, five years’ time, or maybe even never that he can put into words that he thinks he’s been born in the wrong body, you can’t help but hope that the future is kind to him (or her). You hope people are accepting and that all their dreams come true.
As a senior leader, I am doing what I can this Transgender Awareness Week to ensure that all pupils at my school are accepting of others and grow up to become respectful adults. There are a number of books that can be shared with primary age pupils to support transgender education. Some of my favourites are:
- A Fox Called Herbert by Margaret Sturton (two-five years)
- I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (four-eight years)
- Red: A Crayons Story by Michael Hall
- Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love (four-nine years)
- George by Alex Gino (nine-12 years)
- Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt (nine-12 years)
If you’re not sure where to start with Transgender Awareness Week, start with some books, start with some representation – but please do start."
– Helen Richardson, primary school leader
"Transgender, like many words in the LGBTQ+ spectrum, has spent far too long whispered in hallways and would never be dreamt of being uttered by a teacher. Not because that teacher wasn't inclusive, not because that teacher didn't know anyone who was trans or even identified as trans themselves, but through fear – fear of saying the wrong thing and offending someone, fear of who might present at the school gate upset, or fear of drawing unnecessary attention on themselves.
At Brandlehow Primary School we decided that there was nothing to fear and instead celebrated those in our communities who identify as transgender or are curious about their identity. During International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in 2020, all children from reception to year 6 had an assembly with me to introduce the language of LGBTQ+ in an age-appropriate way.
Reception and Year One classes enjoyed sharing Introducing Teddy by Julia Walton, and explored the themes, predominantly of friendship, but with the subtle undertone of Teddy's transition into Tilly by the end of the story. Unsurprisingly, the children understood and completely accepted the character's identity change. Instead, they asked more about their interests and admired the beautiful illustrations of the book. A refreshing narrative in what matters to children at Brandlehow, and I think in modern Britain – demonstrating beautifully the change in children's thinking and the accepting ethos we have embedded as a community alongside our vibrant and varied community.
Our older children were taught the definitions of the words that make up LBGT followed by a quiz – naming celebrities, pop stars and famous names using subtle clues about their successes but also, incidentally, that they were either lesbian, bisexual, gay or trans. There were many questions and excitement but interestingly, and most importantly, there was no fear. Questions were asked and answered freely and we all felt safe to just be, and to let others be. A truly special day at Brandlehow.
After the event, as a gay man myself who had always been careful with my pronouns when discussing my partner 'just in case', I waited. I waited for the email, the phone call, the 'backlash' that we all feared would com,e but it didn't. Nothing. What did come, to my utter joy, were parents stopping me in the playground to thank me, telling me how much their children had enjoyed the story/assembly and parents asking for recommendations of other diverse books.
We don't currently have a transgender child at Brandlehow Primary School but as a Year 5 child said to me (in the nicest possible way) 'Who'd care if we did?'."
– James Lacey, deputy for equality, Brandlehow Primary School, Putney
First published 11 November 2021