It has been announced that the Massachusetts Department of Education has modified its directive to be transgender inclusive. The recent guidelines will not restrict bathroom access nor participation in gender-specific school related activities to one's anatomical sex if a student wishes to use facilities or participate in events as the gender they identify. The guideline states:
A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of her life, should be respected and treated like a girl.
The same principle applies if a student identifies as a boy. Moreover, the Massachusetts Department of Education also instructs faculty members and other school officials to acknowledge a student's gender identity by using pronouns consistent with their self-perceived gender. Staff also must adopt the gender-neutral or gender-specific name a student chooses for themselves if they do not wish to use the name assigned to them at birth.
School personnel should use the student’s chosen name and pronouns appropriate to a student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned birth sex... It is important to develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity.
Bathroom access, pronoun usage and recognition of one's chosen name are all major concerns for transgender youth. Although Social Work Practice with Transgender and Gender Variant Youth (2009) notes that it is standard for transgender youth to wait until they reach 18 years of age to complete genital reconstructive surgery, adopting a presentation consistent with one's gender identity can begin as early as entering elementary school, while starting hormone replacement therapy can before the onset of puberty. Whether students are on the path to completing gender reassignment or simply wish to be accepted as their self-perceived gender, the new guidelines presented by the Massachusetts Department of Education will ensure a safe nurturing environment for all gender-variant youth.