In January 2016, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee issued a report on Transgender Equality. The report contains a wide-ranging set of recommendations and discussion points related to (among other things) NHS services, regulation of doctors, treatment protocols, data protection, and hate crime legislation.
One of the discussion points in the report is about social care for young people. In summary, the Committee heard evidence that there is a lack of appropriate training of social care staff in trans issues.
The report made these key points and observations:
- There is a lack of sufficient understanding of trans issues by professionals in the public sector, probably reflecting society’s lack of knowledge – and sometimes prejudice.
- Social workers have no formal knowledge or training around gender variance, and appear to act on their own prejudices rather than researching gender issues.
- There have been many cases where social services have attempted to remove children from the family home if the parents support their child’s gender variance.
The report doesn’t assign blame to any individual or group of individuals; in fact, it quotes Dr. Bernadette Wren of the Tavistock Clinic as saying,
“We have some exemplary cases where social care is incredibly supportive of the young people. There is good practice out there.”
However, this is a systemic issue and the report strongly recommends (and we agree) that the Government should seek to address the problem through formal training of public sector professionals on gender identity issues. The care provided to transgender young people by social workers must be in sync with current knowledge and best medical practices, and not be influenced by outdated (and quite possibly harmful) ways of thinking.