MAFS’ Ella Morgan says the government’s trans guidance would have kept her in closet

Ella Morgan speaks out about the government's trans guidance for schools.

Married at First Sight UK star Ella Morgan has said the government’s controversial guidance for schools on trans pupils would have effectively kept her in the closet, and warned of the negative impact it will have on trans youth. 

Westminster’s long-promised guidance for schools in England on how best to support trans, non-binary and gender-fluid children was finally published on Tuesday (19 December) after lengthy delays. 

It lays out how schools might approach a range of issues, including social transition, changing names and pronouns, and access to single-sex spaces. The long delays have resulted in many schools setting their own rules on how to support trans youth, meaning the support available can vary from school to school. 

The non-statutory guidelines states teachers can “decline” to use a pupil’s chosen pronouns if they so wish, primary age students “should not have different pronouns to their sex-based pronouns used about them” and requests by a pupil to socially transition explicitly does not include access to single-sex spaces. 

The government’s guidance has been widely condemned by LGBTQ+ groups, including charities such as Stonewall, Galop and Mermaids, who labelled it “chilling” and “actively dangerous”.

A number of teachers have also slated the guidance, saying they will not follow it and fear it may put their trans pupils at risk of harm. 

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Ella Morgan has slammed the government’s new guidance for schools. (Supplied)

Speaking with PinkNews about the guidance and her own experiences at school, Morgan, 29, who was the first trans bride to appear on hit reality show Married at First Sight UK, said if such guidelines had come out when she was a child it would have “put [her] back” in terms of coming out and being herself. 

“The equality has gone out the window with this, there is no equality,” she said of the guidelines, which she described as “damaging” for trans kids.

“There wasn’t anything good, there was nothing for me that was constructive, that would make someone feel comfortable – and we are talking about children here.”

She questioned whether any trans people were actually consulted by the government when the guidance was being drawn up. 

“This affects so very few people, the least that the government could do is listen to trans people and their experiences,” Morgan said.

“Instead of talking for trans people, they should listen to us in our experiences rather than making decisions for us without hearing us or our stories. That’s what really bugs me.”

Morgan did not transition until after she left school at 16, but during her time as a pupil teachers allowed her to use a different changing facility and play sports with the girls – all of which helped her feel “free”.

She explained she did not “have the best experience” at school and was “bullied quite badly”, where she was called a raft of vile names and slurs which meant she did not feel safe enough to transition until she left. 

“I actually did come out to my family whilst I was in secondary school. I knew that I was a girl from such a young age but society back then, over 20 years ago, wasn’t always accepting of gay people. 

“I thought, well, how on earth are my family and friends going to be accepting of me being trans?”

Ella Morgan was the first trans bride to appear on Married at First Sight UK. (Supplied)

As a pupil, Morgan said she was fine with the day-to-day of school life, except when it came to PE and swimming as these subjects meant she had to get changed in front of others at a time when she was extremely dysphoric about her body.  

She continued: “I told my PE teacher, ‘I don’t feel comfortable changing with the boys, I don’t see myself as a boy’. 

“So they made an exception that I would get changed in the disabled toilet, away from everybody else and I could join the girls teams. 

“To be fair, the girls didn’t have a problem with it and the majority of the boys would just make fun of me but they didn’t have a problem with me being on the girls team.

“I just felt like one of the girls and it was amazing,” she added. 

Under the new guidance published by the government, if Morgan was a pupil today she would not be allowed to play with the girls. She might be approved to use a third space to get changed, but only after a number of specific steps have been taken, such as the school informing her parents. 

“The teachers didn’t go back and tell my parents, it was me that I had that conversation with them,” Morgan said of her own experience.  

She said in her view the guidance is “actually doing the opposite to what it intends to do”, in terms of protecting and safeguarding children.

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