Baldock school wins praise by leading campaigner after welcoming high-profile transgender visitor

Head Tim Litchfield with Kellie Maloney and year 12 pupils

Head Tim Litchfield with Kellie Maloney and year 12 pupils - Credit: Archant

A Baldock school has been congratulated for addressing gender issues among young people after a celebrity spoke to students about her experiences.

Knights Templar School’s Friday guest was Kellie Maloney, who spoke candidly about her decision to reassign her gender in 2014 – one made all the braver given her position as one of Britain’s most high-profile boxing promoters.

Since her gender transition, Kellie – who as Frank Maloney led Lennox Lewis to the world heavyweight crown – has been thrust even further into the public eye, appearing on political panel shows and reality television programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother.

Kellie has now returned to boxing – less than a year after completing her transition in April last year – to manage a pair of ‘up and coming’ female boxers. She told students that she hopes to make both British champions within the next five years.

As well as being grilled by Knights Templar pupil and budding journalist Bill Bowkett, the 62-year-old spoke to sixth formers in a question and answer session.

“I was really happy when it happened,” she said. “At first it was shocking for some, especially for my daughters and the media, but now I am able to live the life I want.

“Turning from a man to a woman felt like I was putting on a suit and going on stage.

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“Becoming a woman let me find an inner peace.

“The support of my family has made such a difference to me.

“I hated school and I was picked on at school a lot. Boxing was really a way to really express myself as a person.”

After the session, Year 13 student James Cook said: “The talk opened my mind on a subject I wasn’t aware of – it was really interesting.”

But it wasn’t only James who was impressed as Kellie took to Twitter to say the students were ‘a great group to chat with and were so understanding and open’.

Transgender journalist and campaigner Jane Fae, who lives in Letchworth, said: “The school is to be congratulated.

“I am delighted it has taken such a step and hope that in future LGBT speakers – and especially trans speakers – will cease to be exceptional.

“Being transgender is not commonplace or everyday, but there could be as many as 650,000 trans individuals in the UK – or some one per cent of the population.

“That means that as many as a dozen of the pupils now at Knights Templar may need to address personal gender issues at some point in their lifetime.

“Some schools, shamefully, refuse to acknowledge this or, worse, actively collude in discrimination against such pupils – and the victims of such behaviour suffer accordingly.

“By contrast – where schools are open and supportive of transgender pupils – the outcome tends to be better for all concerned, with less estrangement, less disruption, and, more seriously, lower rates of depression and suicide.”