‘Pronoun stickers’ are being handed out at secondary schools and colleges in Brighton as part of a new campaign to support transgender and non-binary pupils.
Brighton and Hove City Council is providing the stickers and badges, which include options such as “he”, “she” and “they”, as well as a blank version for students to choose how they wish to be identified.
A spokeswoman for the council said the stickers – which are optional to wear, and also carry messages such as “gender is a spectrum”, “respect my pronouns, respect me” and “my pronouns matter” – were designed to prevent “misgendering”.
“Misgendering” means referring to somebody either intentionally or accidentally by the wrong pronoun. And campaigners say it should be of particular benefit to children who are going through a “difficult development period”.
Sophie Cook, trans rights campaigner, told The Argus : “The problem is that people look at one incident of misgendering and think it’s just one word.
“But it’s not just one word, it is that word 10 times a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
“It has a cumulative effect which chips away at a person’s identity.”
Research shows that more than four in five (83%) of young trans people have experienced name-calling or verbal abuse; three in five (60%) have experienced threats and intimidation; and more than a third (35%) have experienced physical assault.
More than one in four (27%) trans young people have attempted to commit suicide – and 72% have self-harmed at least once.
A city council spokesperson said the badges and stickers would show people “that you can’t assume someone’s gender identity and the pronouns they use”.
“We know from a range of evidence that gender is more complicated than is traditionally recognised,” they added. “We all define our own gender and we should respect other people’s identities and rights.”