Exploring teachers' experiences of working with transgender young people in Northern Ireland

  • Zara Simmons

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Through the use of qualitative methods, this study explores teacher' experiences of teaching transgender children and young people (CYP) in the NI context. Using an exploratory qualitative research design, eight semi-structured interviews were completed and analysed using Thematic Analysis. Analysis of the data extracted through interview highlighted key aspects of teacher experiences. Analysis suggested that teachers initially presented with fear surrounding their ability to teach a transgender pupil. Despite fears, limitations of knowledge and challenges existing around working with transgender CYP, teachers in the sample displayed positive attitudes to working with transgender pupils and overall demonstrated positive experiences. While much of the literature suggests that the religious context of NI would act as a barrier for this population, teachers within the sample expressed that religion acted as a positive influence for the school experience of transgender CYP. Analysis also shed light on lack of teacher knowledge and the need for additional learning in this area but demonstrated that for some teacher' direct experiences of working with the child is learning in itself. The study demonstrates that teaching a transgender child is similar to teaching any child in the school environment, however training is important to provide reassurance and preparation to teaching staff. The study concludes with analysis of the findings in relation to previous research and a number of recommendations for both teachers and educational psychologists are made.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorAgnieszka Graham (Supervisor) & Patricia Davison (Supervisor)


  • Transgender
  • Northern Ireland
  • gender
  • educators
  • teacher experiences
  • gender identity
  • transgender CYP
  • school
  • school experience

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