Topic 3 | Jessica’s experience at school

Jessica’s mother approached Gender DynamiX when Jessica was 7 years old. Jessica had just started at a new school, having changed mid-year from their previous school because she was being bullied.

Jessica’s parents had decided to allow her to live and be addressed as who she felt she was. This decision included ensuring that the school environment accommodated her and her gender identity. Further Jessica’s parents were seeking professional help in order to assist their daughter adjust to her environment and gender.

Although the whole school had been instructed to address Jessica in her chosen name and gender, other children at the school started bullying her at the school. The bullying took various forms. At times children would chase Jessica during lunch times and tease her wanting to see what was underneath her school skirt.

The girls at the school refused to use the same toilets as Jessica and reported the issue to their parents. Various parents wrote letters to the school principal and governing body stating that if Jessica was allowed to use the same toilets as their daughters they would not bring their children to the school and would go to the media about the issue.

Further as the school would not allow Jessica to wear the school’s uniform designated for girls, Jessica had started wearing her everyday clothing. This made Jessica feel like an outsider and made the bullying worse. Jessica eventually refused to use any bathroom in the school. This required her parents to take turns to drive from work whenever Jessica wanted to use the toilet. Jessica was so good at holding in her wee that she developed numerous bladder infections

Additionally one of the teachers at the school started behaving very aggressively towards Jessica. She would not address Jessica directly and Jessica had started to notice and reported this to her parents. Further when Jessica’s mother had first announced the changes to the school, the teacher had made the announcement to the entire class. After which the bullying began.

When the mother approached Gender DynamiX, they contacted the school and offered to conduct gender sensitivity workshops. However the school was hesitant as it had never dealt with a case such as this before. The school wanted to first attempt to address the issue on its own and only later seek out-side help.