Anti-trans Tory MP Miriam Cates wants to ban all pupils from social transitioning

Miriam Cates

Tory MP Miriam Cates has demanded a full ban on trans students’ gender identity being recognised in school, ahead of the government’s new guidance being published.

The Conservative government’s forthcoming guidance for schools, drawn up by education secretary Gillian Keegan and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, will reportedly see teachers forced to ‘out’ trans pupils to their parents.

Trans and non-binary children will not be allowed to socially transition – to wear different items of uniform or be addressed by different pronouns, for example – without their parents’ permission. Trans pupils will also be banned from using bathrooms and changing facilities and competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. 

The guidance is set to be published within days. 

However, Tory backbencher Cates, who is known for her anti-trans views and for teaming up with Labour MP Rosie Duffield to push back against trans rights, wants to go a step further. 

The Penistone and Stocksbridge MP told the Sun on Sunday that there should be nothing less than a full ban on “schools socially transitioning children”.

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Cates said: “I really think that anything other than a ban on schools socially transitioning children is wrong.

“This is about the responsibility of the state in schools – we shouldn’t be saying children can change gender or be referred to as anything other than their biological sex.

“I also think it is unworkable. Once you start saying biological boys are a she she, how can you start saying they can’t use girls toilets and things?

“Schools are the responsibility of the state, and to start going down the road of gender identity is the wrong territory to go down.”

Teachers say proposals could put trans pupils at risk of harm

Teachers and teaching unions have already expressed dismay at the government’s proposals, with one educator, who wished to remain anonymous, telling PinkNews that her “number one priority is safeguarding” and she “can’t really understand how this has anything to do with safeguarding students”.

Although there will reportedly be exceptions for children believed to be at risk of “significant harm”, it is not clear how schools will identify whether students from homes without known safeguarding risks will be subject to transphobic harm if ‘outed’ under the new guidance. 

Children who social transition at school  – which can be a place of safety for pupils – rather than in their home setting, may fear familial rejection or abuse. 

This sentiment was echoed by Matt Adams, a head of department at a London school, who told PinkNews that teachers do not have “all the information about every child’s home environment”, and by outing them to their parents, “we could be putting them at risk of harm”.  

Cates has made clear that she does not want children to social transition at school at all, with or without the knowledge or consent of parents. 

“If you codify this – saying you can transition – you are giving the state’s blessing,” she added. 

In May, Cates told The Telegraph that it’s a “good thing for children not to change gender at school”.

“I think we’ve moved the public debate on so the vast majority can see it’s a good thing for parents to know what their children are being taught, it’s a good thing for children not to change gender at school,” she said, before adding “it’ll be much harder for any incoming government to row back on that”.

Stonewall, the largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation in Europe, have criticised the government’s proposals, telling PinkNews that creating LGBTQ-inclusive environments should be the priority.

“We know that young people face unprecedentedly rising abuse against their sexual orientation and gender identity while trans people across the country are scared and targeted with rapidly rising hate,” a Stonewall spokesperson told PinkNews. 

“We need to prioritise creating LGBTQ+ inclusive environments that will protect and safeguard LGBTQ+ pupils, which this proposed solution doesn’t seem to be doing.”