If you read my original post: "The President, the Promise and the Alliance" from last Thursday, then you know it was about the Kalamazoo Michigan high school where President Obama will be delivering the commencement address this June. That post's basic premise--and important untold story, was one about values and diversity.
Being an out transperson, I often get calls from people who know people who know me. Typically, these calls are asking for information or advice relating to someone they know who is transgender. Two nights ago, I received one of those calls. The topic was mundane; the backstory however, was not.
That story after the jump.
The call was from Brenda, Tom's grandmother. I listened patiently while Brenda explained that her eighteen year-old granddaughter had recently begun transition and was now living full-time as Tom. She, the grandmother was afraid that he was moving too fast "with the whole transgender thing" and could I point them to some resources?
This, of course, wasn't the first time I had heard this concern. My mother had expressed much the same sentiment toward my transition several years ago. One difference was that Tom's parents had long assumed that he was lesbian and actively encouraged "her to be true to herself."
My mother at first, resisted hardily the notion that I was anything other than her youngest son, despite longstanding evidence to the contrary and the fact that I was in my forties! Thankfully, before she passed away, mom had finally admitted that she always knew there was something "different" about me too.
Back to Tom. As Brenda related, things are moving quite fast. Tom has come out to his parents and friends. All has been going well. Next however, comes the coolest part, especially in light of how this situation has turned out at other schools in recent weeks...
Tom is a senior at Kalamazoo Central High School.
After coming out to friends and family, Tom, with his parent's support, had conversations individually with each of his teachers--all of whom agreed to refer to him by the male name he had chosen and with the proper pronouns to boot. He has a girlfriend and as senior prom approached, his father offered to take him to get a tuxedo. Tom proudly escorted his girlfriend to the dance without a hitch. No parents protested, no classmates beat him up, no administrator tried to stop them.
Unbelievable! The sky did not fall, the world did not end. Two young people chose to be as authentic to themselves and to the rest of their adolescent world as possible and remarkably--the adults acted like adults.