Gender Identity Challenges

Navigating through puberty is not smooth sailing for most teenagers - this can be especially challenging for those who are struggling to identify with their biological gender (also known as gender dysphoria). Although awareness is growing, school is never an easy place to experience this and it can lead to further anxiety and school refusal. Gender dysphoria is recognised as a medical issue for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It is not considered a mental health illness.

Some indications of gender dysphoria:

  • The child at a young age will refuse to wear clothing usual for that gender
  • A dislike for taking part in activities usually associated with their gender
  • As an adult they feel trapped in the wrong body
  • They have a strong desire to remove signs of their biological sex, for example facial hair or breasts.

Note, the first two points can be perfectly normal for children growing up and may not therefore be a sign of gender dysphoria

An in-depth assessment will be needed with the child, but most important is family and friend support at this time.  Not all children with gender dysphoria require medical intervention and this can be a sensitive issue.

Our tutors are made aware of gender dysphoria and how to be sensitive to the student’s individual needs in line with the person-centred Bright Heart Approach.

How our tutors approach students with gender identity challenges

Most important is the warm and accepting space our tutors provide for these students. Our tutors are aware that they should not make conversation which expresses gender stereotypes. They also focus on being patient and receptive. There are often confidence and self-esteem issues with these students. Our tutors therefore strive to develop trust during the lessons. We have found this rapport is much needed in order to make progress academically.