Brighton College alters uniform code to accommodate transgender pupils

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brighton-college2A top British boarding school, Brighton college, has changed its 170 year old uniform code in order to facilitate transgender pupils. The uniforms stay the same, but now pupils can choose between a “trouser uniform” or s “skirt uniform”, regardless of their biological gender. Girls are already walking around the school campus in trousers and more than one boy has expressed the desire to wear a skirt. The change came following requests by a small number of families.

“If some boys and girls are happier identifying with a different gender from that in which they were born, then my job is to make sure that we accommodate that,” Richard Cairns told the BBC. “My only interest as headmaster is their welfare and happiness.”

“I hate the idea of anyone being in my school who is miserable because they’re being asked to dress in a way they are uncomfortable with. Brighton College has instead decided to abolish the notion of boys’ and girls’ uniforms altogether.”

The policy was welcomed by its pupils. Sixth former Amy Arnell commented to the Telegraph: “There really is no negativity towards this new policy at school. To be honest, when the headmaster announced it, no one was really surprised – there is just no reason not to do it if it makes people feel more comfortable about themselves.”

The number of transgender children is rising steeply in the UK. In five years, London’s Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service, where British transgender children are assessed, has seen their numbers increase with 50 per cent each year, from 97 cases in 2009 to 697 in 2014.

Earlier this month, Cairns also made the headlines with his views on gender, when he criticized girls-only educational institutes. He described single-sex education as a “deeply unrealistic world”.

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    My first reaction was that there will be parents who will object to their boy wearing the skirt and that there will be male peer-pressure against other boys who may choose wearing the skirt, regardless of gender identity.

    This story exemplifies how Western culture connotates males who wear ‘female’ attire (skirts) as ‘transvestite’ yet wholly accepts females who wear ‘male’ attire (pants).

    Then reality became obvious. Though I do not know the exact location of Brighton (the coastal city at the South of England?), perhaps with Scottish influence, British males take lesser crises about ‘skirts’ / ‘kilts’ than American males.

    Also, the parents who send their children to Brighton are likely already supportive of their children Thus, they see no issue with the changed policy nor whatever their child, male or female, wears to school as long as it is comforting to the child.

    And thus there is likely little or no harmfull peer pressure because all the students hold respect for each other due to their home environment and the school’s leadership.

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  2. This is the solution I think should be done everywhere. If someone has a dress code (school, employer, whatever) the dress code should be gender neutral. As I understand it, here in the US (under the Civil Rights Acts), they cannot legally prevent a cisgirl from wearing pants. Yet, the reverse is considered fine – not allowing a cisboy or transgirl to wear a skirt. Rather than putting preconditions and hoops to jump through as some have (to prove you are transitioning), just drop the genders from the rules and let boys and girls make their own choices about whether to wear the skirt or the pants. This not only helps the transperson who is unable to meet some requirement to prove their transness, but also those who are gender non-conforming. In the US, the Civil Rights Act should be amended to clarify that gender stereotyping of anyone is unacceptable, not just those AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth).

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