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Social workers need formal training to address a knowledge gap surrounding transgender issues, according to MPs.
Social workers have a gap in their knowledge when it comes to trans issues, MPs have warned.
Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee have recommended that social workers are given training on transgender equality “as a matter of urgency”.
MPs listened to “worrying evidence about some social workers’ lack of knowledge on gender variance” and advised that formal training is the way to address this problem.
After collecting evidence surrounding treatment of transgender issues in the UK, MPs raised concerns, particularly when it came to gender variant looked-after children or those in secure accommodation.
Mermaids UK, a support service for children and teenagers with gender identity issues, submitted evidence that 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, underlined that many trans looked-after children feel “very unsafe” in their living situations.
The report concluded that there was a lack of sufficient understanding on trans issues by professionals in the public sector.
This is, it was suggested, “probably reflecting society’s lack of knowledge – and sometimes prejudice”.
The report noted that government departments across the board are struggling to effectively support trans people. The 2011 Advancing Transgender Equality action plan remains “largely unimplemented”, it added.
“The government must agree a new strategy which it can deliver with full cross-departmental support,” according to the report.
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