Trans activists in London, 2021. Credit: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images
Artillery Row

Are children being bullied into being trans?

Schools are not fulfilling their duty of care to vulnerable children

Many people who endured bullying at school will remember the teacher who provided words of comfort and wisdom after they’d been taunted — for being overweight, perhaps, or ginger, or tall, or any of the other characteristics about which children can be so cruel. “Don’t listen to them,” the teacher would say, “they only do it because you’re different. You’re perfect just the way you are.”

Times have changed. Today’s teachers are not only eschewing their role as comforters-in-chief; they are just as likely to be complicit in this bullying.

Such an extraordinary claim requires compelling evidence. Sadly, we have it by the bucketful. Since we founded Our Duty in 2018, we have gathered testimony from parents who are struggling with children who are determined to go down a pathway that ends in mutilation, sterilisation, loss of sexual function and life-long regret. They reveal how children are being encouraged to embrace a transgender identity by other pupils, with the connivance of teachers and often, deliberately, without the knowledge of their parents. 

Autistic children are especially vulnerable to transgender ideology

Parents of school-age children may already suspect that something is rotten in the state of our Relationships and Sex Education (RSE); they might baulk when their kids come home parroting unscientific dogma, including the denial of biological sex and the existence of infinite gender identities. But many will have no idea how completely their schools have been captured by trans lobby groups, how invested teachers are in this ideology, and what this means for their children. That’s why it’s so important that we listen to the whistleblowers.

First, there is the mother of a boy with autism, ADHD, epilepsy, mental health problems (including suicidal ideation) and learning difficulties, who was encouraged by girls at his school to wear a skirt. 

[The girls] brought skirts in for him to wear and encouraged him to go into the toilet and change into it. When he came out, they cheered…they also gave him tights to wear. My son then went into his maths intervention where the teacher also cheered him. The school contacted us and asked us to write a letter saying why we did not want our son to wear a skirt for school; when we raised our concerns about the girls encouraging him, the school responded that they were merely being supportive. The girls then encouraged my son to wear a dress to the prom, and invited him over to their place to get ready. The school contacted me to say they have offered to fund a dress for him. I really did not know what to say to them at that point; I was dumbfounded.

This is a classic example of social affirmation, an incredibly powerful psychological intervention centred on accepting a child’s new identity, name, and pronouns. The goal is to cement the sense that they are “born in the wrong body” and that they require medical intervention to be happy; it is a foreclosure which makes further exploration (and a rowing back from the pathway of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery) almost impossible.

But there’s a more sinister side to this story. As pioneering transgender researcher Dr Lisa Littman, investigative reporter Abigail Shrier and many others have noted, autistic children are especially vulnerable to transgender ideology; studies have shown that transgender and gender non-conforming people are six times more likely to be autistic. (Many more autistic people go undiagnosed, so this is likely to be a significant underestimate.)

The mother continues:

We found out recently from my youngest son who attends the same school that there are posters in all the toilets and corridors saying it’s okay to be a girl if you are a boy, and vice versa. He told us that an outside organisation came in to do a talk in assembly about pronouns (he mentioned “the Z one”) and about the hundreds of different sexualities and how each one had a flag.  In my opinion this is encouraging vulnerable children, especially if they are autistic or have other difficulties.

Transgender activists say this is a moral panic; that no one can be convinced to be trans, and that these concerns are simply a rehashing of the tired old trope of “homosexual recruitment” from the 1980s. 

Experts disagree. As Jungian analyst and social worker Lisa Marchiano puts it (quoted in Abigail Shrier’s superb book Irreversible Damage): “I think the human psyche is very susceptible to these kinds of psychic epidemics. It happened with lobotomies. It happened with multiple personality disorder. It happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Human beings are susceptible to psychic contagion. We just are. Any of us.”

This view — that rapid-onset gender dysphoria is contagious and occurs in clusters — is backed by a range of both anecdotal and research evidence from both sides of the Atlantic. Sometimes, it even makes the papers, as in the case of the Brighton school with over 70 “transgender and gender non-conforming kids”. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the transmissibility of gender dysphoria, we also have testimony from another parent with a child at the same school mentioned above.

This girl was also diagnosed autistic; like so many children struggling with the onset of puberty today, she was self-harming and had started wearing a binder to flatten her breasts. Her belief in her transgender identity was bolstered by other girls, who not only supported her delusion that she was a boy — they even started targeting her parents.

I was surprised when I got a message from one of her school friends. In the message she said that my daughter is a transgender boy and we use he/him pronouns and we feel you should do the same. I was shocked, upset and angry. How could anyone else know our daughter as we do? They had been pushing her to tell us. I looked at my daughter’s messages and they were trying to get her to tell all the teachers to use her new name and pronouns and they also said they wanted to tell their parents and friends who would be “cool with it”.

The mother goes on to describe the immense pressure these friends placed on her daughter to pursue her transgender journey identity. They urged her to tell her parents and teachers that she was trans, told her she would feel better once she started taking testosterone, and that “someone will love you no matter what surgeries you have”. They referred to her given name as her “deadname” and even offered to buy her a binder. Amid this coercion, this bullying, where was the school? Where were the teachers?

I really wanted to go round to these kids’ houses and talk to the parents, but was advised that the school should intervene. I informed the school what had been happening and showed them all the screenshots of the coercion. The school’s head of year denied it was bullying, and said she had had a “lovely chat” with the girls and their parents. Nothing more was done. My daughter is seeing a clinical psychologist now. During a family session we asked where she first heard of transgender issues; she said “at school”. I am now wondering what is being taught with regards to gender ideology at that school?

Parents who challenge teachers on transgender ideology in schools are used to being ignored or, worse, branded as hate-filled transphobes intent on immiserating their offspring by denying their new identity. Meanwhile, schools broadcast their LGBTQIA+ credentials and relationships with lobbyists like Stonewall and Gendered Intelligence, the same organisations who are quick to smear those who are critical of gender ideology as bigots and “sexual racists” 

What’s most frustrating about schools’ support for gender ideology and the bullies who promote it is that they are ignoring government guidance on planning lessons on relationships, sex and health. This could not be clearer, advising teachers not to reinforce harmful stereotypes by suggesting children are a different gender based on their personality, interests or clothes, and that they should not suggest to gender non-conforming children that their personality or their body is wrong and needs changing.

The only way to end bullying is to stand up to it, but there are few obvious routes to challenging school policies. In the UK, the only formal power parents have to challenge lesson content is by religious objection through the SACRE system; there is no other official channel that enables them to hold schools to account in the same way as in the United States. 

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can do damage that lasts a lifetime

But that doesn’t mean parents are powerless. Write to your school to ask if they are aware of and are following government guidance; if you know of teachers actively championing gender ideology, challenge them. Write to Chairs of Governors, to your MP, to Academy Trust CEOs and to LEA Directors of Children’s Services. Read the huge range of practical and educational resources available from TransgenderTrend and Safe Schools Alliance, and the views of affected parents at Our Duty.

When parents pull together, they can often expel gender ideology. There have been two notable success stories: first, Safe Schools Alliance forced Oxfordshire County Council to withdraw the trans toolkit after threatening legal action; meanwhile, parents at a school in Rhondda Cynon Taf were similarly successful.    

 If you doubt why you should do this, imagine your daughter with stubble, double mastectomy scars and infertile; imagine your son with breasts and a wound between his legs. Plenty of us do not have to imagine. 

Activist teachers cannot continue cheerleading for these barbarities unchallenged. If they do not take their duty of care seriously, then it’s up to parents to remind them that sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can do damage that lasts a lifetime.   

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