First anniversary of my new journey in life
I can't believe it is almost a year since I started my new business (Gendercare). I was a little apprehensive setting out on this...
The Joint Managerial Body provides an advisory and support service to Ireland’s 380 voluntary secondary schools. While the incidence of gender identity questioning and transition has, no doubt, been a constant presence in the school-going population, it’s only since around 2010 that students have been ‘coming out’ as transgender to school personnel in any significant numbers. The spectrum of pastoral and, indeed, policy challenges arising from this emergence required trustworthy, professional, and compassionate guidance for school authorities, particularly as most of our schools have a distinctive faith ethos and many have single-sex provision.
Enter Dr Vanessa Lacey! Vanessa was our first point of contact in terms of seeking not alone advice, but actual accompaniment, on a case-by-case basis over a number of years. Her empathic understanding of young people on the trans journey, their parents and siblings, as well as their school principals, guidance counsellors, teachers, and classroom peers, provided a secure, ‘held’, foundation for addressing the many anxieties and practical challenges often arising in such situations.
Empathy, however, only gets you so far. Trust-building with school communities is embedded in the twin foundations of relationship and professionalism, and Vanessa’s calm and considerate demeanour was underpinned by her experience and expertise, containing, and holding everyone concerned in the ultimate goal of meeting the student’s needs while on this often-complex journey.
The JMB and its school communities have been so fortunate to have encountered Dr Lacey in our own respective journeys toward transgender student recognition, integration, and pastoral care, and we wholeheartedly commend Vanessa to her new and exciting venture with Gendercare Ireland.
Dr Michael Redmond,
Director, JMB Research & Development,
Secretariat of Secondary Schools,
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