Columnist resigns over trans article

Natasha Devon

A newspaper columnist has resigned, because she believes the publication she wrote fr supports transphobia.

Natasha Devon was angry at the publication TES over a feature about trans children in schools, which was splashed on the front page.

She had been a columnist for four years at TES (which used to be known as the Times Educational Supplement), but says she can’t continue to be associated with “a publication which supports transphobia”.

Natasha describes herself as “a vocal ally to the trans community. She resigned from TES “with deep regret”.

“I have been concerned for some months now re TES’ stance on trans issues”.

controversial advice

The TES front page feature was titled “how teachers can support transgender students”. It promoted a controversial pack for schools from the group Transgender Trend, which gives advice to teachers on how to work with transgender children in schools.

The organisation are worried by the growing numbers of children who are coming out as trans, and believe medical interventions  are wrong.

The controversial advice to teachers includes this on dealing with questions from school-mates of trans children: answer such questions directly with factual information while still showing compassion “You can’t actually change from a boy to a girl, but he really feels like he is a girl and wants to be one”.

the trans author

The TES article was written by the teacher Debbie Hayton, whose own transition was announced to her school in December 2012.

Debbie Hayton, teacher and author of the TES article

Ms Hayton says she’s a trans woman, but she’s not female. And she believes that on the question of whether “transsexual women are women” the answer is “OK, maybe – maybe if they have been ‘done’.”

Her article looks at where schools can go to for advice about caring for trans children in school.

She says the main conclusion of her 3,500 words is: “children need to be taught, and they need to learn about themselves, each other and the wider world. But even more important than that, we must keep them safe – all of them”.

Safeguarding must always come first, she says. And in her opinion that controversial pack from Transgender Trend prioritises safeguarding.

Others profoundly disagree.

“dangerous and deeply damaging”

The LGBT charity Stonewall say the schools’ pack is a dangerous and deeply damaging publication.

“Masquerading as professional, ‘evidence-based’ advice for schools on how to ‘support trans and gender nonconforming young people’, the pack in fact provides the reverse”, they said in a blog about the pack more than a year ago.

“It is a deeply damaging document, packed with factually inaccurate content”.

Many supporters of the trans community believe that some of the advice to schools in the Transgender Trend pack would actually be unlawful.

“suggests being trans is a mental disorder”

The group Teachers Against Conversion Therapy are also critical of the handbook, saying it “attempts to subject teachers to a specific anti-trans ideology which denies the legitimacy and even the existence of trans children”.

They say:

” In our opinion Transgender Trend’s ‘school pack’:

  • 1. Encourages Conversion Therapy
  • 2. Misrepresents the medical consensus
  • 3. Denies the existence & validity of trans people
  • 4. Suggests being trans is a mental disorder
  • 5. Provides false information on gender identity

The TES article was published on 10 May 2019, and is available to read only with a subscription.


Picture credits: Natasha Devon pic from Twitter, Debbie Hayton pic from Facebook, TES front page (c) TES and taken from their promotional Twitter posts, Transgender Trend report cover from their website for review purposes.






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