This isn’t a group anyone would wish to be a part of… All of us have lost trust. Some of us have lost friends and family. For some of us, the very children we are here trying to protect have rejected us, sometimes in the most brutal of ways.
I’m different from anyone else in the room: at the moment, you aren’t saying you’re a boy. That passed, four years ago, when you entered a different stage of childhood. You thought that your difference meant you were a boy for three years, and I feel like I barely breathed for a lot of that time. I knew what the NHS said about children who were persistent, consistent and insistent in saying they were the opposite sex. Children who only played with the opposite sex. Children who exhibited extreme distress at being made to wear the “wrong” gendered clothing or hair. This was you.
Maybe I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t a teacher. You see, they aren’t very much older than you, those girls. The girls I’ve always taught, have always known, who close their arms and hide their bodies from approaching womanhood. Girls chose to starve themselves until they disappeared back in my day. At the start of my career, they chose razor blades to peel away the flesh they hated.
Now, however, I watch these girls, the different ones (so like you) and they are absorbed into a rainbow fantasy…They bind their breasts. They change their names. They join the queue for drugs and surgeries. For the chance to be someone new. For escape. Even five years ago, I had never seen this in my school. Now it’s commonplace.
Not any more. You still have the same likes and dislikes (you’re known for your constancy) but now, for this precious time, you are proud to be a different sort of girl. You are embarrassed to be reminded that once you said otherwise, sliding off the sofa with an eye roll at your youthful self as you go to play football with your mates.
And I know, you see, what’s out there. I’ve seen the LGBT+ assemblies, the posters on the walls and the leaflets; the words put in your teachers’ mouths. You will be told that gender is innate and that you’re not a proper girl.