Lily Madigan, a trans teenager from Chatham in Kent, has shared the empowering story of how she fought to wear the correct school uniform for her gender.
Lily, 18, realised she was transgender at the age of 14 and came out to her school friends in January of this year, having already told her mother. In March, she arrived at the school gates wearing a female uniform for the first time, but was told to go home because she was breaking the dress code.
“It made me feel that something was wrong with me," Madigan told BuzzFeed News. "You think maybe you’re the problem. It’s alienating. You think school is supposed to be there for you and when that happens it breaks your trust."
Lily and her mother then attended a meeting at Lily's school, the state-run St Simon Stock Catholic School in nearby Maidstone, but failed to persuade teachers that Lily had a right to be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The school also refused to back down when Lily handed in a petition signed by over 200 pupils, and for a time she was forced to attend school in a male uniform that she says "put me in a bad mood all day."
Undeterred, Lily found a law firm in London that would take her case pro bono and together they sent a letter to the school threatening a court case if Lily's rights under the the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998 were not upheld. Two weeks later, the school apologised and since the start of term, she has been allowed to attend classes wearing whatever clothes she feels comfortable in.
“It's a lot better; I’m a lot happier,” she told BuzzFeed News. “It shows how much it affects someone when they’re being discriminated against." Her Facebook profile now features the heartening description: "Transgender woman. Sued my school and won. Lover of pinafores. Trans activist!"
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