CfEY calls on Minister for Women and Equalities to respect and protect the right of trans young people

29th June 2020

We have written to Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities today to raise concerns following recent comments that we believe will have negative impact on transgender young people across the country.

At CfEY we believe that all young people should be able to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood; this must include ensuring dignity and safety for trans young people.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you as Chief Executive of the Centre for Education and Youth, in your capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities, to show our support for trans equality and to urge the Government to support and recognise trans young people’s rights.

In our work, we talk to children and young people across the country, as well as their teachers, parents and youth workers. We do not believe that any young people should be held back because of their identity, or should be unable to access the support or information that they need to be themselves and to thrive. We are concerned about the idea that access to healthcare for trans young people should be restricted. For many trans young people, this healthcare is needed to feel comfortable with themselves.

We are also concerned about the potential negative impact on trans young people that might result from reports about restricting trans people’s access to single-sex facilities, particularly when attending school and youth projects. Under the Equality Act 2010, trans people have been able to access single-sex facilities that match their gender for over a decade (except in very restricted individual circumstances), however the recent focus on toilets has resulted in trans people feeling unwelcome and unsafe using facilities. I know you will agree that trans people deserve to be safe and treated with dignity and respect.

Trans young people in the UK currently report worryingly high levels of anti-LGBT bullying and poor mental health:

  • Almost half of LGBT pupils (46%) hear transphobic language ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ at school
  • Nearly one in ten trans pupils (9%) are subjected to death threats at school
  • More than half of trans pupils (58%) are not allowed to use the toilets they feel comfortable in at school
  • Four out of five trans young people (84%) have self-harmed
  • Nearly half of trans young people (45%) have attempted to take their own life

Being transgender does not have to result in poor mental health, it is the attitudes and barriers faced by trans people that often result in these difficulties.

Before any changes are made, we should be listening to trans young people to learn more about their experiences and how changes might impact on this small, marginalised community.

As the UK’s think and action tank for young people, it is our job to provide the evidence and support that policy makers and practitioners need to support all young people to make a fulfilling transition to adulthood. We currently have considerable concerns about the potential implications of the current direction of travel in relation to trans and non-binary young people’s rights. We would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about this matter further, and would also be happy to recommend organisations currently supporting trans young people who would be very willing to share their experiences and knowledge with you.

Your sincerely,

Loïc Menzies

Chief Executive, The Centre for Education and Youth