This week is Anti Bullying week and as far as I am aware for the first time CBBC has broadcast a documentary on the life struggles of a young trans boy called Leo. Written by Leo this is an excellent insight into the life of a young trans person. His mother has always been hugely supportive of him despite having to “lose her daughter”.
I was really impressed with this documentary. Leo is confident and full of life. It is clear from what he says that he has had to face considerable pressure from people and the media for simply being himself. I hope that now it is on YouTube this documentary will be seen widely by everyone, but especially other trans children and their parents and by schools, particularly those like Leo’s primary school who simply did not get what was going on and were therefore unable to provide the support needed, until Press for Change intervened.
Gender is the second highest cause of bullying, behind body shape, and gender non conformity is the primary problem. Any child who does not conform to the huge societal pressure to be clearly male of female is liable to extreme bullying. Sadly the attitude of many parents and staff is to add pressure on children to conform as a solution to stop the bullying.
Fortunately since 2010 when the Equality Act came into force there has been a steadily growing acceptance of the fact that some children are born with gender dysphoria and that they need support to cope with this condition. Last Month year Jazz Jennings, a 14 year old trans girl, published a book co authored with Jessica Herthel telling her story. This is one of the first books aimed specifically at educating young children and their parents about trans issues.
To view details on Amazon UK click here I Am Jazz
To view details on Amazon US click here I Am Jazz
If you have any influence on schools then please let them know about this book and encourage them to use it to help children understand what transgender is all about. There is lots more helpful information at Schools Out and Welcoming Schools
The soaps have included trans characters from time to time although the prize for addressing the issues faced by young trans people must go to Hollyoaks who have had two significant trans stories over the past 5 years.
The first character was Jason Costello, a young trans man (female to male trans person) played by actress Victoria Atkins from August 2010. The character left in December 2011 to emigrate to America and start a new life as Jason where people would not be aware of his past. This story addressed the challenge of a young trans person coming out as trans to parents and friends, the complications that brings about in relationships and the inevitable bullying.
The second storyline is about to finish this week with the departure of Trans woman Blessing Chambers played by actress Modupe Adeyeye. Introduced in February this year – she finally came out as trans in May a young trans woman. On 21st November the character is leaving as a result of complications in her relationship with Dennis Savage played by actor Joe Tracini. Perhaps next time they will try to find an trans actor to play the role.
Sadly “I am Leo” is no longer on CBBC iPlayer but I hope it has managed to help a good contribution to this years Anti Bullying Week and start to make a real difference in stopping the gender based bullying that is currently responsible more than a third of young trans people attempting suicide.