The Labour Welsh government are cutting the school uniform grant.
Leanne Wood writes of the uniform as a family necessity, but one that can present a challenging economic burden: “Those of us who understand the impact of poverty [know] what it can mean to go to school in second hand or ill-fitting school clothes because replacements can’t be afforded.”
This is cruel penny pinching, a needless cut which will impact on those families who have the least. Either stop the cut — and recognise its essentiality and why — or get rid of school uniform altogether. Labour ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Relatedly, great progress in developing gender neutral uniforms has eased the dread for many dysphoric. Having such understanding and acceptance, in however an externally routine way like a regulation blouse and plaid skirt, would have made my education enormously easier. As study after study has shown, granting trans pupils access to the appropriate attire.
This would include skirts for a trans girl, if she wishes. While the gutter press might squawk about frocks, the pedagogical reality is that treating a trans girl as any other girl will improve her self-esteem and destigmatizes] her gender identity. There is no debate on this point. Even some Catholic schools have twigged that this is ethical common sense! Worldwide, trand affirming school uniform policies have been implemented throughout Japan, as well as utilised in Ceredigion, Wales. Some schools have opted to make their uniform gender free, but this simply means removing skirts — the only item of clothing apparently feminine and thus gendered. This is fine as an option — but trans girls aren’t actually included just by making pants mandatory for all.
But here’s another protocol: a recently opened Japanese high school keeps the traditional seifuku elements, but has introduced a modularity approach, rather than a gendered one, for their uniform system. In other words — any pupil, regardless of assigned sex, can select trousers, skirt, tie, or ribbon bow — each according to personal preference. No explanations, no letters of justification—the school provides a list and the child chooses whatever is comfortable, or looks smart, or indicates their authentic gender. This procedure seems to me more truly ‘gender free’ than issuing the exact same (male) polo shirt and shorts to everybody.
Brighton College, a traditional bastion in the canonical world of the English school, recently revised tradition to accommodate a trans schoolgirl after she came out. For governors and teachers, outdated regulations were far less important than affirmative inclusion: “some children have gender dysphoria and do not wish to lose their emotional gender identities at school.” And, no, these schools have not been inundated with cis lads feigning girlhood because they’ll put up with a year in blouses and pleats just to attempt peakyboo. Farfetched fears failed to transpire, whilst practical policies have benefitted trans kids, whose well-being is being infinitely improved. The harsh symbolism and semiotics of school uniform as the great dysphoric rupture of adolescence can be a living hell for trans kids.
I mention these issues in passing because they’re very topical; but mainly to point out that the loss of the school grant is relevant for all low-income families, but particularly those with a transitioning child who may need to purchase an entire new uniform set in their gender.
trans activists for school uniform rights—