It's graduation time across the country.
With more and more transgender teens attending high school, this is causing problems some places. How the problems are addressed says a lot about the communities which face them, I think. I the community unwilling to adapt to changing circumstances...or is the community capable of bending its rules to allow for people who are different to retain their dignity.
Red Lion Senior High School held its graduation on Friday. Like an increasing number of school districts around the country, the graduating class contained a transgender student. But you will not find Isaak Wolfe's name on the list of 380 graduates.
Wolfe was granted the right to wear a black cap and gown, which is what male students wear, rather than the gold cap and gown worn by female graduates. But the district refused to use his chosen name.
After the graduation the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition presented Wolfe with flowers, cards, a binder of news stories, and a graduation card signed online by 1300 people from across the country.
It's amazing.Wolfe said it would have been fantastic to have his preferred name read, but…
they're going to go down in history as doing the wrong thing, and I think that hits them harder than they even know.The Red Lion principal earlier in the year took it upon himself to move Wolfe's name from the list of candidates for Prom King to the list for Prom Queen, causing Wolfe to contact the ACLU. It was then that he learned he would not be permitted to graduated under the name he uses.
He has been an inspiration to countless people across the state and across the country and world.
--Jason Landau Goodman, Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition
I think we're going to go on to have bright and amazing futures that no one could ever imagined for us.A transgender senior at St. Pius X Catholic High School in Albuquerque skipped his graduation on May 22. Damian Garcia had been denied the right to wear the black cap and gown worn by male students and would have had to wear the white graduation attire deemed suitable for women.
Damian felt this would have been humiliating. Hence he went out of town with friends.
I'm fully respecting this and myself by not walking and/or attending the ceremony at all.Although Garcia had legally changed his name and all his family, friends, and the faculty recognize him as a man, the state of New Mexico won't issue him a change of gender marker without a medical affidavit affirming he had gender reassignment surgery…which is quite expensive and most generally is not available to anyone under the age of 18.
--Garcia, via Facebook
The University of New Mexico's LGBTQ Resource Center hosted a graduation ceremony for Garcia on May 30. Video of the event is available here.
For me it's amazing for young people like Damien take a stand for him being his authentic self.
--Kim Coco Iwomoto, first transperson elected to Hawaii's Board of Education and graduate of the UNM Law School
I've seen a community, the LGBT community come to the rescue, so to speak, of a fellow member. Because of this and all the support, I've grown as a person as well as the community growing as a whole.Fostoria High School senior Chris Calderon-Perez was allowed to follow the female dress code at her graduation last Sunday, despite a dress code policy which requires male students to wear a dress shirt, tie and black robe, while female students are required to wear a red robe. Principal Tom Grine allowed an exception, determining that the policy ran counter to a new nondiscrimination policy adopted in March.
Calderon-Perez said it would have felt "completely awful" to be forced to dress as a male after living as a female for the past two years, since the family moved from Puerto Rico. She was allowed to attend the prom in female attire.
All I want to see is my mom proud of me, to see me walking — because I deserve it. My academic achievement has nothing to do with my appearance.
It’s a tricky situation. It’s probably going to happen more and more as society evolves in this manner, and this probably won’t be the last time we deal with this.Guernsey said future options include changing the policy to allow transgender students to wear clothing of the gender with which they identify…or using the same color robes for all students.
--Thomas Guernsey, president of the Fostoria Board of Education
One other story is relevant here.
In Middleboro, MA Cody Tubman was elected prom queen.
I was all smiles. We were standing there and they announced I was prom queen. So I was like ‘oh yay, so exciting,’ But it was kind of surprising.Cody began her transition as a freshman. She says she has become more confident and comfortable. She says most of the other students are accepting and her teachers are supportive.
You’re always going to have people that don’t understand you and if you’re different it’s going to be hard.Being voted prom queen was a huge validation.
It was kind of like a realization that people are accepting and it doesn’t really matter to them. So it was a good feeling.Cody graduated June 1 and will further her education in performing arts in New York City.
I’ve learned not to care what people think of me. Just because they want to judge me doesn’t mean that they can bring me down.
--Cody's little sister, Caylin, 7th grader