Respond to the government consultation now


Defend childhood: demand Selfhood.

The Government is seeking to publish guidance for teachers and schools on “gender questioning children” which places harsh restrictions on children’s ability to explore their gender. They want to place boys in a blue box and girls in a pink box and tell any child who doesn’t think they fit in those boxes that they have something wrong with them. If rolled out, this guidance would profoundly harm trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming children and young people - it must be scrapped. 

The government’s draft guidance published on 19th of December is now open for public consultation. The purpose of a consultation is to get insight from the public, organisations, and people who will be directly affected (trans* people, parents, school staff, etc.).

This is your step-by-step guide to responding to the consultation and making it clear to the Government that the guidance in its current form is unfit for use. We recommend that you include examples of how the guidance is discriminatory and might harm trans* young people. We also encourage you to share you own experience of being trans* or supporting trans* youth.

Respond now to the consultation on this discriminatory guidance today and make sure that trans* children - and all children - are free to use their childhood to find their selfhood. 

You have until 12 March 2024 to have your voice heard. 

Here's a breakdown of 3 ways to respond:

The bulk of the survey is structured as multiple choice questions with the option to provide further detail with your personal experience or opinion.

  • Allocate 20 minutes to answer comprehensively to the questions we’ve identified below - remember to avoid copy and pasting. Below we have identified the 7 most important questions (you don’t need to respond to all 36!) that your perspective on would be especially valuable. 
  • Spend 10 minutes answering the Yes/No/Don’t Know questions and then utilise the General Comments section to express your concerns and share your thoughts on why and how this guidance will negatively impact trans* youth.
  • If you only have a few minutes, focus on the essentials by answering the Yes/No/Don’t Know questions. If you’re really in a rush, a simple 'No' to each suffices for quick input. 

If you have more time, please do provide more detail as to why this guidance needs to be stopped. 

Important points for your response:

  • Put your answers in your own words: Use our guidance to help you get started but make your response individual and personal. If all our supporters copy and paste answers, they will all be counted together as one submission.
  • Avoid personal details: Make sure that you don’t share any identifying personal information either about yourself or specific schools/colleges you may refer to in your answer. 
  • Please respond as an individual, not as an organisation: Selfhood will submit and publish our full organisational response. 
  • Language: We use “trans*” to refer to trans and non-binary individuals. We use “gender non-conforming” to describe individuals whose gender is the same as their sex assigned at birth, but whose behaviour or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender in any given way. We use children or young people or students to describe individuals under-18 who would be affected by this guidance in a school/college environment. 


Questions 1-10 are a few quick questions about who you are in relation to the survey i.e. are you a parent or teacher? Are you responding as an organisation or an individual? - and a few demographic questions.


Please respond as an individual, not as an organisation - Selfhood will submit and publish our full organisational response.



Question 13: Does this guidance provide practical advice to support schools and colleges to meet their duties effectively?

Please respond: No.

Question 14: If you answered no, how could we improve deliverability placed on schools and colleges whilst still providing for schools to meet their duties?

This question is focused on how schools should take action to deliver the advice presented in the guidance. We don’t think the guidance provides practical advice to support schools as it does not include anything specific around:
  • - supporting students who are trans or non-binary, or who want the freedom to explore their gender identity.
  • - supporting students who have already transitioned.
  • - supporting students who are victims of bullying or harassment.
  • - supporting students who do not have the support of their guardians or who may be at risk of abuse at home.
If you have first hand experience of this as a trans*or gender non-conforming person or as a teacher or educational professional, and feel comfortable doing so, feel free to use real life examples of why good guidance would need to address any of the above points and what this guidance risks by failing to address them. In your answer you can also say that this guidance is unfit for purpose and must be developed from scratch by experts in collaboration with trans and non-binary people.


These questions refer to the section of the guidance that’s supposed to help teachers and schools to navigate requests from students wishing to socially transition at school and how they engage with their parents and carers around this request.

Question 15: Does this section provide enough detail to help schools and colleges support children?

Please respond: No.

Question 16: If you answered no, in which of the following areas do schools and colleges need further guidance to support a child?

Some things to consider in your response are:

  • • Watchful waiting is an inappropriate recommendation to make for trans* students and is poorly defined in the guidance.
    • - One recommendation in this section suggests a period of watchful waiting for teachers and staff before allowing a student to socially transition at school. This period is not defined and the guidance provides no indicators that teachers or school staff can refer to to know when the period should end and students should be allowed to transition.
    • - The substantial benefits of a gender affirming approach significantly outweigh watchful waiting which harmfully pathologises trans* students.
    • - Watchful waiting directly contradicts a gender affirming approach, which supports students to express and explore their gender healthily and has been proven to lead to better mental and physical health and social outcomes for trans* students.
  • • This guidance does not give teachers adequate support to protect trans* students legal rights.
    • - The guidance doesn’t refer to the Equality Act 2010, despite the fact that students socially transitioning at school will likely be protected by that legislation. This omission means that that teachers or school staff may not have the information needed to protect trans* students’ legal rights.
  • • Trans* students have not been adequately consulted in the development of this guidance.
  • • The guidance doesn’t provide adequate evidence to support its claims.
    • - The guidance makes the baseless claim that requests to socially transition are likely to be peer influenced. This language undermines students’ agency and expressions of individuality, which should be fostered and encouraged rather than undermined.
    • - You might want to make the argument that historic policies around sexuality that rest on this kind of social contagion argument have been widely debunked.
If you have personal experience of your (or your children’s) school supporting trans* children - either well or badly - please describe that in your response, referencing the recommendations being made in the proposed guidance.


Question 17: Think about the points outlined for schools and colleges to consider on pages 9-11 regarding making decisions about how to respond to requests for social transition. Are these points helpful?

Please respond: No.

Question 18: If you answered no, what considerations would be more helpful for schools and colleges to consider? For example, when assessing whether to support a child wishing to socially transition, do you think different weight should be given to the views of parents, the age of the child, the long- and short-term impacts on the child, the impact on other children, and any relevant clinical or medical advice?

In your answer you could consider:

  • In terms of whose views should receive the most weight: The child’s views should always be the most important, and it should be recognised that children have a clear sense of self from a young age.
  • • When working with children and young people, their best interests must guide all welfare and safeguarding decisions. Socially transitioning clearly falls within this remit, yet trans* children’s views and wishes are absent from this guidance which implies that others should decide on their behalf whether or not it is appropriate for them to transition.
  • • The guidance implies that there could be a negative impact on “the school community” for a child to socially transition. This is not explained and it is unclear why this should matter more than the child’s welfare. Any guidance that is fit for purpose should support teachers to involve the student wishing to transition in conversations around socially transitioning. This guidance fails to do this.
  • • Informing parents of a student’s LGBTQ+ identity without their permission risks breaching confidentiality and is likely not to be in a student’s best interest if they are not safe to transition at home.
  • • The guidance doesn’t make recommendations for how schools should respond if students’ parents or carers are supportive of their wish to socially transition. Teachers need this kind of support as well.


These questions refer to the section of the guidance that’s supposed to provide schools with the information needed to respond to students wishing to change their pronouns.

Question 23: Does this section on page 13 provide enough detail for schools and colleges to respond to a child’s requests to change their pronouns?

Please respond: No.

Question 24: If you answered no, in which of the following areas do schools and colleges need further guidance to respond to a child’s requests to change their pronouns?

In your answer you could include:

  • • All schools should have inclusive pronoun policies.
    • - The guidance suggests that primary school students should not be allowed to change their pronoun. This is entirely unjustified. Many trans* children have a clear sense of who they are from a very young age, and limiting them in this way prevents young children from exploring their gender in a healthy, playful way. It also imposes unnecessarily rigid gender norms on primary school-aged students.
  • • The guidance implies that some children are too young to know they are trans*.
    • - The guidance ignores the impact of refusing requests to transition on trans* students and suggests that any requests for differing pronouns made by primary school aged children are invalid by as they’re “too young” without exploring why or why exploring pronouns is a bad thing.
  • • Schools need to know how to handle transphobic bullying.
    • - The guidance suggests that classmates or teachers who misgender students may be bullied, while the reality of trans* children’s experience at school shows that they are much more likely to be the target of bullying from students and teachers who deliberately misgender them.
  • • All children should be free to explore their gender.
    • - As is the case with other sections, the guidance implies that instances of self expression that fall outside of the gender binary, or represent expressions of gender that differ from the child’s assigned sex, during childhood are abnormal and should be discouraged and limited within school spaces. This provides little room for the freedom of self expression that should be fostered and encouraged during childhood.
  • • Your personal experience.
    • - If you have personal experience of being poorly or well supported by teachers or school staff to change your pronouns while socially transitioning please include your views on what made that experience a positive or negative one.


Question 25: Does this section on pages 14 and 15 provide enough detail for schools and colleges to respond when a child who is questioning their gender makes a request to use facilities (e.g. toilets, changing rooms, showers and boarding and residential accommodation) designated for the opposite sex?

Please respond: No.

Question 26: If you answered no, in which of the following areas do schools and colleges need further guidance?

In your answer you could include:

  • • All facilities at schools should be inclusive.
    • - All students should be free to use facilities that align with their identity.
    • - Banning students from using facilities that align with their identity is likely to be legally considered discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
  • •Trans* students are not an inherent danger to their peers.
    • - The approach set out in the guidance is based on an assumption that trans students are an inherent threat to their schoolmates. In reality, trans students often experience significant distress when accessing gendered facilities and avoid them entirely. Schools must support these students to access the facilities that best suit their needs.
  • •Separate facilities for trans* students can be isolating and humiliating
    • - Advising schools to create separate facilities is not a satisfactory solution. Forcing some students to use separate facilities is isolating and can be humiliating. Some schools may also be unable to provide these separate spaces due to budget or logistical constraints.


Question 30: Does this section on page 16 provide enough detail for schools and colleges to respond to a gender-questioning child who makes a request in relation to uniform?

Please respond: No.

Question 31: If you answered no, in which of the following areas do schools and colleges need further guidance to respond to a gender-questioning child, who makes a request in relation to uniform?

In your answer you could include:

  • • All schools should have inclusive uniform policies.
    • - All students should have the freedom to choose uniforms that align with their gender identity. Prohibiting students from wearing clothing that corresponds with their identity may constitute discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The existing government guidance on school uniforms emphasises considering protected characteristics, including gender reassignment, which should be consistently reflected in this guidance.
  • • Schools should be challenging gender norms, not reinforcing them.
    • - Banning students from wearing certain items of uniform depending on their gender reinforces the idea that clothing is inherently gendered. It is crucial to offer all students the option to wear the uniform that makes them feel comfortable and allows for self-expression.
  • • The way the guidance is currently drafted would make it impossible to enforce consistently.
    • - The proposal suggesting students can wear different uniforms as long as it is unrelated to social transition is impractical and may infringe on students' privacy rights. Vetting the reasons behind a student's desire for a different uniform would limit their freedom to explore diverse clothing options.


Here you can share any more thoughts you have about the guidance. You may want to consider:

  • • The guidance seeks to place harsh limitations on students authentically expressing themselves.
    • - The guidance appears to restrict children and young people's ability to explore and live authentically, particularly concerning their gender identity. A more inclusive approach is needed to support self-discovery and expression.
  • • The guidance disproportionately prioritises the experience of an undefined “school community” over the experiences of trans* or gender nonconforming students without justification.
    • - The guidance's implementation could have profound effects on the school or college experience for both current and past students. It is essential to consider how these restrictions may have influenced individuals during their education.
  • • If rolled out, this guidance could cause serious harm to trans* students of all ages.
    • - You may wish to consider any personal experience you have of the impact of similar approaches being used when you were a young person/as a young person.
  • • The impact of this guidance in the context of a political climate that is already extremely hostile to trans* people.
    • - Think about how the guidance treats trans people, especially children and young individuals as not really knowing who they are and as an inherent risk to their classmates.