Social workers ‘to be given’ training on trans gender and identity issues

The issue of transgender equality has been gaining momentum over the last 12 months. From Bruce Jenner and the release of The Danish Girl to the tragedy of transgender woman Vikki Thompson taking her own life in a male prison last November, concerns over the ability of social and care workers to better manage transgender identity issues have been growing.

To address this, a new report published this week by the Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee has recommended that all social workers should receive formal training on gender identity issues as a “matter of urgency” after it unveiled what it described as “worrying evidence about some social workers’ lack of knowledge on gender variance”.

The report authors stated that the care sector, NHS and GPs are “letting down trans gender people” and failing in their “legal duty under the Equality Act”. This, they explained, is the result of the “attitude of some clinicians and other staff who lack knowledge and understanding – and in some cases are prejudiced.” The report called for a root-and-branch review to be conducted.

Based on the evidence presented, MPs reported concern over the lack of adequate support and training being provided to social care staff to enable them to manage the care for trans gender patients, especially for gender-variant children and adolescents living in secure accommodation.

Susie Green, Chair of Mermaid UK, an organisation that supports children with gender issues and their families, who submitted evidence, said: “There have been many cases where, if the families support their child’s gender variance, social services have attempted to remove children from the family home by treating this as a safeguarding concern and investigating the parents accordingly.

“Social workers have no formal knowledge or training around gender variance and appear to act on their own prejudices rather than researching gender issues.” She adds that many trans looked-after children felt “very unsafe”.

The report concluded with the recommendation “The government must agree a new strategy which it can deliver with full cross-departmental support.”