Open Access College - Transgender student
Posted on December 31, 2019
Student referred by a local high school in February 2013
• Under care for high levels of social anxiety/major depression
• Attendance challenging due to medical condition
• Described as highly intelligent, however requiring time to adjust to overcome issues from previous school
“M” began in a year 9 group with a review towards the end of term to determine suitability for conversion to a college based student.
Attendance and engagement significantly improved compared with face to face school so she was formally enrolled.
The year concluded with a psychological assessment for adjustment disorder relating to gender change. The student was keen to remain at OAC until year 12 completion was attained. Classes in year 10 needed to fit around numerous regular appointments with doctors.
The student disclosed the fact that she was transgender and was now using male pronouns. Due to heightened mental health and anxiety he became withdrawn from lessons and reticent to communicate in class.
He was transferred to e-Worx in 2015, which provided a relatively safe environment in which the student had time and space from mainstream schooling to attend to a range of issues surrounding his transition. There were numerous appointments to accommodate.
Small steps towards a negotiated program that fitted interests and goals were made, however complexities led to a declining willingness to engage regularly.
The OAC Youth Worker and teacher assigned to “M” found contacting and communicating with him challenging; frequently there were weeks when there was nothing even from his parents. In his time with e-Worx the student maintained interest in art and design and happily attended events such as Cosplay. He spent many hours creating and constructing costumes for the event.
Other interests in literacy and music were maintained throughout with positive intent showing skill at writing. Patience was rewarded when “M” decided to re-enroll in SACE in 2017 with a plan for completion.
Issues around anxiety remained, however there was positive response to ongoing personalised feedback and encouragement. “M” has returned this year to complete his SACE over two years with a Certificate III program this year and completion of the certificate with Research Project in 2019.
Negotiating and developing a learning program that provided “M” with a flexible and safe environment was challenging. E-Worx provided “M” a space in which he was able to reflect, continue with his treatment and engage with education in ways that were comfortable. The Youth Worker supported access to a range of agencies and groups that assisted transgender people. Initial successes to engage were problematic however with patience and being available success did come.
A decision to re-enroll in SACE was a major step forward.