Transgender Day of Remembrance: How my union were my rock through transitioning as a teacher

Despite months of planning, I was at my most vulnerable. I knew my career hung in the balance; my job would have become untenable had I lost the confidence of my pupils and their parents.

On Transgender Day of Remembrance we remember trans people who have lost their lives in the face of ignorance, oppression and violence. I remember Lucy Meadows, a teacher who took her own life on 19 March 2013. Three months earlier she had transitioned in the full glare of the media after Richard Littlejohn wrote an infamous article in the Daily Mail: “He’s [sic] not only the wrong body … he’s [sic] in the wrong job”. Coroner Michael Singleton had no doubts about the role of the press in Lucy’s death. “Shame on all of you” he said, as he accused them of ridicule, humiliation, and a character assassination.

Unbeknown to the Mail, another teacher transitioned at exactly the same time. On 20 December 2012, the same day they published Littlejohn’s article, my news was shared with the pupils in my school. Despite months of planning, I was at my most vulnerable. I knew my career hung in the balance; my job would have become untenable had I lost the confidence of my pupils and their parents. Continue reading “Transgender Day of Remembrance: How my union were my rock through transitioning as a teacher”

From gender reassignment to trade union activist

We each have our own skills and talents but, when we organise, those individual qualities add together to create something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Unions: not them; us.

“Think not what your union can do for you but what you can do for your union.” Actually when I went through gender reassignment, my thoughts were very much with what my union could do for me. I am a secondary school teacher, so my journey from he to she happened in front of hundreds of people. I’m grateful for the support of many people at work, but my union were superb. I knew that they were on my side because they were my union. That is what unions do, and their advice about the law and the various practical issues that I had to navigate was second to none. Continue reading “From gender reassignment to trade union activist”

Gender balance, one woman at a time

When my wave function collapsed into the F state, I was able to conduct some controlled social observations in my work as a teacher.

What can be done to increase the number of women in physics? This question keeps committees busy and researchers funded, but the solution seems as elusive as squaring the circle. Four years ago, however, I did my bit: I transitioned from male to female. As this also meant that the number of men in physics was simultaneously reduced by one, it was, as they say in football, a “six-pointer”. Continue reading “Gender balance, one woman at a time”

While government stalls, workers must organise for trans equality

The Government has finally responded to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality that was published in January 2016. This wide ranging report recognised that, despite welcome progress in recent years, our society is still failing to support the rights and interests of trans people.

The Government has finally responded to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality that was published in January 2016.  This wide ranging report recognised that, despite welcome progress in recent years, our society is still failing to support the rights and interests of trans people.  The Committee noted that the earlier 2011 Advancing Transgender Equality action plan remained largely unimplemented, and they required the Government to agree a new strategy, which it can deliver with full cross-departmental support, within six months. Continue reading “While government stalls, workers must organise for trans equality”