MPs have recommended that social workers receive formal training on trans and gender identity issues “as a matter of urgency”.
In a report by the Women and Equalities Committee on transgender equality, MPs heard “worrying evidence about some social workers’ lack of knowledge on gender variance” and recommended this should be addressed through formal training..
MPs collected evidence on transgender issues in the UK and were worried about a lack of training for social care staff on trans issues, particularly for gender variant looked-after children or children in secure accommodation.
Evidence submitted by Mermaids UK, which offers support for teenagers and children with gender identity issues, 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.”
Susie Green, Mermaids Chair, also told MPs that many trans looked-after children felt “very unsafe”.
The report identified a “lack of sufficient understanding on trans issues by professionals in the public sector, probably reflecting society’s lack of knowledge – and sometimes prejudice”
The report recommended: “Across the board, government departments are struggling to support trans people effectively, with the 2011 Advancing Transgender Equality action plan remaining largely unimplemented. The government must agree a new strategy which it can deliver with full cross-departmental support.”