In a world that is becoming more and more accepting of different identities and ideas that would have been unimaginable only 20 years ago, it is also becoming more and more difficult for people to keep up to date and educated on all of these new revelations.
In recent months, it seems like the world we live in has gone from black and white to a rainbow. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Since the passing of the monumental Same-Sex Marriage Bill in Ireland last May, another issue has arisen – gender. And it is an issue that Ireland is making moves to address, particularly in schools across the country.
On October 6th, the Department of Education held discussions about changing policies in schools regarding uniforms and toilets/changing rooms for transgender students.
The meeting was hosted by Mr. Kevin Humphreys, Minister for Community and Social Support, who said that the discussions were to “ensure transgender children are treated the very same way as other students”.
Although Mr. John Duffy, the national network manager of LGBT group Belong To, said that they have not yet discussed the ‘finer details’ of the changes that will be made in regards to uniforms, I believe they might take some inspiration from Bangkok University, who recently introduced a new uniform for their transgender students. These are split into options for what they have labelled ‘ladyboys’ (males that have transitioned to females) and for ‘tomboys’ (females that have transitioned to males).
The ‘ladyboys’ in Bangkok have the option of wearing trousers that are tighter than the male uniform trousers, therefore giving them a feminine ‘skinny jean’ look, or a skirt. The ‘tomboys’ have the option of wearing trousers that are a looser fit than the males uniform trousers, or a skirt also. This seems like a logical model for Ireland to base any future changes on.
The second topic addressed at this meeting was that of transgender changing rooms and toilets. Although it is obvious that every human should be treated equally, I find it is difficult to understand how providing different toilets would be the answer to this.
Duffy said on the issue, “Preferably a young person identifying as a female should be able to use the female toilets, the same as any young woman”. But this statement leads me to pose the question – why are there separate toilets for males and females in the first place? Is the system put there for convenience, i.e urinals for boys, sit down toilets for girls?
However, the introduction of these new schools uniforms will undoubtedly allow for young transgenders to feel more comfortable in their own skin, which is something that can only be seen as a positive.
Cliona Nic Dhomhnaill
Image Credit: ukschools.org