1E Te Take Matauranga: Education

Trans people often struggle at school. Children with trans parents may face harassment and discrimination. Discrimination at education institutions affects the right to education and limits opportunities to gain qualifications necessary for the workplace.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Primary Schools

A number of trans parents made submissions identifying the support that ECE and primary teachers have given their children, particularly when the parent started transitioning.

Secondary Schools

It’s a minefield trying to fit in and be accepted. (Youth worker)

Gender specific uniforms and sports teams compounded the bullying and harassment faced by young trans people. In one case, a school and community denounced a mother for allowing her MtF child to wear female clothes at school. Another submitter legally changed her name when she was 16 with parental support. Her high school refused to reissue school reports under that name and required her to use the male toilets and changing rooms where she was harassed. Community organisations said there was a growing demand (from schools, parents and government agencies) for information and resources for trans youth and their families.

Tertiary Education

I hate being the only trannie at school [university]. (Whakawahine)

At least three trans people described difficulties gaining selection for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Institutions, they said, were concerned they “might not fit in” or could find the course difficult as they were transitioning. A FtM described his struggle to have “Miss” removed from forms, when he had never been enrolled under a female name. Another trans man was continually harassed in the university’s public toilets and resorted to using bed-wetting medication so he wouldn’t need to use the toilet.

Trans students at one university approached their administration to clarify processes for changing one’s name and sex on academic records. That process identified a willingness to ensure previous names were restricted so they did not appear on transcripts, and that trans students were able to apply to change their user identification details. At this university, sex is a mandatory field on student enrolment records and is not changed without legal documentation, usually a birth certificate. After discussion, Registry staff suggested a
statutory declaration would suffice.


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