February 28, 2013

Soapbox - transgender students and our schools

Oh man. Here I go.

*steps onto soapbox*

*clears throat*

There's a story making the rounds on news networks right now (CNN is where I found it) about a six-year-old girl named Coy, who's being told she has to use the boys' bathroom at school.

Crazy, right?

It becomes less-so to some people when they learn the little girl was, in fact, born a boy, with boy parts, but who identifies so much as a girl her family is raising her as one.

Then people say, "Oh, well, of course they're making him use the boys' room. He's a boy."

Here's a hint - don't say that to me.

I make no secret of the fact that someone very close to me is transgendered, just like Coy. I keep that person's identity secret, for his own privacy, but that person is close. Like, I witnessed his transformation. I watched him endure harsh drug treatments and painful surgeries. It's not an easy road to travel, nor did he have a choice. He had to become himself.

I also make no secret of that fact that the person in question is a HIM, regardless of the body into which he was born. That doesn't matter. 

I don't know what people think this little girl is going to do in the privacy of a stall in the girls' restroom, but I do know if she has to go in with the boys she'll face bullying and scorn. She won't even be able to pretend to fit in there - she'll stick out like a sore thumb. She'll face derision from bigger boys, teasing and invasive questions from smaller ones. 

It would, in short, be disastrous for her, and I don't blame her parents for pulling her out and homeschooling her.

I'd do the same thing.

I consider myself lucky that my child identifies as the gender to which she was born. She won't have to face any of these difficult choices (suppression of self vs. acceptance into mainstream society) that transgender people are faced with daily.

But if she were to come home tomorrow and say, "Mommy, I think I'm a boy," I'd support her. I'd take her to a child psychiatrist to make sure it was a for-real thing, and not just a phase she'd outgrow, but I'd support her. I'd fight tooth and nail for her acceptance into world as a he and not a she. I'd do everything in my power to help her.

Just like the parents of little Coy.

Too many people in our country are still severely homophobic. To add transgender people into the mix makes even more people severely uncomfortable. Just today, news broke that the first openly gay man to run for a mayoral seat in Mississippi was found dead. Do I think everyone in our country is ready to accept that we are all equal in the eyes of the law, and also in the eyes of God? No.

But I don't care. They should be forced to accept it.

Because we are equal. All of us.

And shame on this school for being close-minded and unfair. Shame on them for not being willing to wait and see what happens before closing the door in this child's face. Coy's path will be hard enough moving forward. Shame on her school for making it harder.

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