18 Jan 2008
Resources needed to back transgender findings
PPTA president Robin Duff welcomes the release of the Human Rights Commission’s transgender inquiry and hopes government resources will be provided to help implement its findings.
The report, titled To Be Who I Am, looks at discrimination issues faced by transgender people and has a particular focus on schools.
Discrimination against transgender children at school was looked at closely with Human Rights Commissioner Joy Liddicoat advocating a “common-sense approach” to dealing with their needs.
Issues such as bullying, ignorance, clothing worn at school and which toilets students were allowed to use were all highlighted.
“Trans children and young people experience barriers to education and participation in school life in relation to the appropriate name on school records, school uniforms, participation in sports and safety.
“(They) have the right to be accepted for who they are, but are dependent on others, parents and teachers, to ensure those rights are understood and protected…There is an urgent need for information and resources for trans children and young people, their parents and families and schools,” the report reads.
Mr Duff welcomes the increasing awareness of gender identity in schools but is aware that time and resources will be needed to support the report’s findings.
“If schools are going to be required to do this sort of work and provide facilities to make it easier (for transgender students) then resourcing, preparation and professional development needs to be a focus from government - rather than leaving the schools to struggle on with it.
“In an area where people are not exactly aware of the nature and extent of transgender issues we need to be active rather than just leave it again to the goodwill of teachers,” he said.
Mr Duff was pleased to see a growing awareness and sensitivity towards transgender issues and said some schools were already dealing with this.
“It’s great to see recognition of these issues and it would be wonderful to see the Ministry step in to help guide schools in this area,” he said.
The commission is also calling for an amendment to legislation that would allow transgender people to obtain birth certificates and passports that reflect their gender identity and sex.
The report was compiled after meeting 200 transgender people aged between 11 and 70 years old.