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To: The National Union of Teachers
Kiri Tunks: Vice President of the NUT
Kiri Tunks is Vice President of the National Union of Teachers, and as such holds a position of power and influence directly affecting children. Today she published a wholly inaccurate and transphobic piece in the Morning Star. We believe she must be formally and publicly reprimanded to show the NUT does not condone or support these beliefs.
You can read the article here;
Why is this important?
Stonewall recently released research which showed almost half of trans children had attempted suicide. Fewer than a third of school children had seen teachers intervene to stop bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
We know as a trans support organisation that children are bullied, misgendered, and have their gender identity called into question within schools daily. This negatively impacts their mental wellbeing, and ability to thrive in education.
It is vital that teachers do not endorse, or participate in this abuse of often very vulnerable children and young people.
By voicing transphobic ideas and upholding the belief that trans people who self identity are a threat the Vice President of the NUT is helping perpetuate harmful attitudes to trans children. For example she argues that trans people being able to self identify their gender (as all children currently do) will harm cis women "The ability to define one’s own 'gender' will undermine the legal characteristic of 'sex' and could lead to serious implications for women and their ability to fight sex discrimination and oppression."
We believe that Tunks is perpetuating the beliefs and values which lead to so many trans children attempting to take their own lives. The direct link between societal transphobia and suicide has been proved by an number of different pieces of research and has been highlighted by organisations such as Stonewall and the Women and Equalities committee in Parliament.
The National Union of Teachers must make clear it condemns transphobia, and that there is no place for it within schools, or it's own union body. Until it does so it is letting down every trans school child in the country.
Tunks says in her article; "But the term 'woman' is now being defined in several ways. For the majority of women it is still determined by biology; for many transwomen it is by a strongly held belief or 'knowing.' In this context, how can the term mean the same thing to both?"
To allow someone who believes that cis women are biologically women, whilst trans women simply know they are woman is to allow a person who openly expresses transphobic beliefs, with no knowledge of science, or current gender theory to hold a position of power for which they are completely unsuited.
She goes on to say "There are people in this debate who claim that sex is also a social construct and cite biological variations to show that a binary does not exist. To accept this is to ignore the biological reality of billions of people"
The people who she dismisses are scientists, biologists who are not talking theoretically, but about the fact that our beliefs about gender and it's biological basis are not supported by the facts.
We believe this article endorses the kind of beliefs which have led to President Trump banning trans people from the military and Christian extremists to pass bathroom bills. These beliefs have no place in British schools.