As an educator, it’s my firm belief that every single student/participant attending my classes/training programmes should feel not just safe and welcome, but also affirmed and respected. Therefore, whenever I’d introduce myself to the room, I’d politely request that everyone present would let me know how they’d like to be addressed.
I did this, (and still do), because not only do I like to be mindful and thoughtful around my use of pronouns – especially when addressing a person whose preferred one differs from what appears on their birth certificate – but I believe that an individual’s gender identity should never be assumed.
Misgendering a person, especially a young one, can be embarrassing both for the individual who – albeit unintentionally – makes the error, but I’d imagine even more so for the person who’s been called the wrong pronoun. To that end, instead of opening my lectures with “good morning boys and girls” or “hello ladies and gentlemen”, I always said “hi folks”, or, being from north Dublin, opened with the ice-breaking colloquialism, “hower yez”?
I mention the above on foot of many readers asking me what I think about the current debacle, (some say debate; I say catastrophic disaster), regarding a certain educator’s refusal to address a transgender student with the pronoun ‘they’. This educator’s stand is, I believe, being taken based purely on their devout Christian beliefs.
That’s fine, everyone is entitled to hold their religious beliefs, and to base their choices around them if they so wish. I respect that.
However, (and I’m just throwing this out there), doesn’t being a Christian also mean being tolerant? Doesn’t being a Christian, and being a decent human being, also mean striving to foster a relationship with your students which is based on safety and trust? Doesn’t being a Christian mean being able to support and respect another person’s gender preferences; especially if that person is a young student at what is possibly a vulnerable stage of their development?
If I were chatting with this Enoch Burke, my advice to him would be to ask himself two very basic questions: What kind of relationship do you want to have with the young people whose minds you’re guiding/nurturing? I don’t know what their answer would be, but I’d hope they’d want to foster trust and safety. I’d then ask this educator how they’d personally feel if their supervisor (in this instance the school principal), refused to call them by their chosen name or pronoun? Again, I don’t know what their response would be, but I’m guessing they may feel unsupported and disrespected.
On July 15th 2015, our government, in its wisdom, passed an important piece of legislation called the Gender Recognition Act. This Act provides for anyone over the age of 18 years to avail of a process enabling trans people to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender. It also allows them to get a new birth certificate to reflect that change. While the procedure is slightly more difficult/takes a bit longer for teens in the 16-17 age bracket, it’s still possible, and still achievable.
If anyone reading this (particularly a young person) is experiencing uncertainty regarding their gender, believing they don’t identify with the one assigned to them at birth, I implore you to please have a chat and share those feelings with a parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/sibling/friend or a trusted teacher.
Remember folks; our gender identity is the single most fundamental element of our lives from beginning to end – and no individual, organisation or doctrine should ever have the power to invalidate our human sense of being. Nor should they demand we state as fact something which we organically believe to be untrue.
To access support services, or to get advice, readers can log onto www.belongto.org or www.teni.ie.
One man is more than
enough for me, Carol!
Some women are gluttons for punishment! Yes, I’m talking about you Carol Vorderman, and your very candid revelation that you, ahem, are currently entertaining ‘five special’ male friends!
While I wish the stunning and clearly energetic TV presenter every happiness and success with her no-strings-attached polyamorous set-up, I have to admit her inventive, and I’d imagine exhaustive ‘system’ of juggling five lovers, (placing each one on ‘rotation’), would never work for me.
Why? Because it’d be worse than doing hard labour, that’s why!
As far as I’m concerned folks, having one man slumped on the sofa, washing and folding one man’s underpants and socks, scraping one man’s beard stubble out of the bathroom sink, and coping with one man’s snoring is about as much as my nerves can take!
HSE and Donnelly should
have seen mental
health tsnami coming
Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you’ll know that a report by the Mental Health Commission has highlighted a litany of deficits across the board in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
These revelations are damning, bringing into clear focus the fact that our health service is not just struggling, it’s also failing to provide even the most basic of care for children who’re anxious, have an eating disorder or who are self-harming, etc., and to the families battling to help them.
It’s all very well for the HSE to say, (on foot of this report), that it’s now taking steps to address ‘many’ of the issues highlighted; but isn’t it a bit late for them to be getting the finger out?
We all know that when it comes to our mental health, a prompt diagnosis, early intervention and continuous monitoring by a specialised professional is not just key in reducing the progress of a potential lifelong issue, it’s also critical; especially as any delay could in some cases possibly prove fatal.
I do understand that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its fallout has brought a litany of new mental health-related concerns and issues to the fore. I imagine many of these symptoms may have developed (or progressed) in children and teens due to the lack of socialisation and a disruption in their education and sporting activities.
However, shouldn’t HSE bigwigs and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly have seen this tsunami coming? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t forecasting, preparing, planning and structuring all part of our government’s Sharing the Vision – A Mental Health Policy for Everyone, 2020-2030 plan? Maybe the email went into their Spam folders!
I don’t know about you readers, but as a parent/grandparent, and as a human being, I find it an absolute disgrace that vulnerable children and teens experiencing any form of psychotic episodes, behavioural issues, depression or generalised anxiety, etc., are effectively getting lost in a system that’s clearly not fit for purpose.
Instead of Tánaiste Micheál Martin joining in the chorus of ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaahing’, and describing the report’s findings as ‘unacceptable’, it’s my opinion his time would be better served ascertaining exactly what went wrong, who fizzed up, and then sacking their incompetent backsides with immediate effect!