Caitlyn Jenner began an extreme awareness of the transgender community by her ESPY appearance and speech. However, questions remained afterwards. Would the transgender community receive the same kind of support despite not having celebrity status like Jenner? It’s been a mixed bag so far but today’s story is one of outrage from a small community in Missouri.
For two hours, approximately 150 students stood in front of Hillsboro High School to protest a transgender teen’s use of the girls’ facilities. And for those same two hours, the 17-year-old transgender teen named Lila Perry huddled inside her counselor’s office with the door locked.
“I was concerned about my own safety,” Lila Perry told the New York Times. And it wasn’t just fellow students who were update that Perry used the girls’ bathroom and locker room. The entire town has risen in an uproar. 3000 people have been thrust into national spotlight. The protest comprised of approximately 13 percent of the school as well as angry adults.
“This needs to stop before it goes too far,” Jeff Childs, who has a niece and a nephew in the Hillsboro School System, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He and his 21-year-old son showed up to the school with “Girls Rights Matter” painted on the sides and back of his pickup truck. “I’m not trying to be ignorant, but [the transgender student] is bringing it out in public for everybody else to deal with,” Childs said.
It’s evident that outside the lines of big media and fancy magazines that transgender life remains and will remain difficult in many places throughout the world. Perry’s struggle as a transgender began as early as 13. At age 13, Perry began to feel “more like a girl than a boy,” she told the Times.
When school began on Aug. 13, Perry told school administrators that she wanted to use the girls’ bathroom and locker room, instead of the unisex bathroom she had used as a junior.
“The way I was raised, I have no problem with a transgender, but he shouldn’t be in the women’s locker room until he has the surgery,” said parent Greg Wilson, according to local news Web site the Leader. “The girls have rights, and they shouldn’t have to share a bathroom with a boy,” Tammy Sorden, who has a son at Hillsboro High, told the Post-Dispatch. Lila should not get special treatment, Sorden said, “while the girls just have to suck it up.”
Derrick Good, a local lawyer with two daughters in the school district, has led the opposition to Perry’s use of girls’ facilities. He got involved after hearing that a female student had encountered “an intact male” in the girls’ locker room, he told the Times.
“As a parent, it’s my right to educate my child, to make decisions on when it’s appropriate for my child to understand things about the opposite sex,” he told KTVI at the Aug. 27 school board meeting. “It’s not the school’s option to insert that at that age.”
“With using the staff bathroom, I felt like I was being segregated off, like: ‘Here are the boys, here are the girls, this is me,’” she told the TV station. “And I wanted to help blend in with all the other girls.” “I wasn’t hurting anyone,” she told the Post-Dispatch. “I am a girl. I am not going to be pushed away to another bathroom.”
“She is such a good person. They are just judging her on the outside,” Perry’s best friend, Skyla Thompson, told the Post-Dispatch. “She is choosing her life to better herself, to better accept herself,” echoed another friend, Gianna Warfel. “I don’t know what there is to discriminate about that. I really support the bravery she has.”
Ever since the controversy began, Perry dropped out of her phys ed class to avoid using the locker room entirely. She also tries to avoid using the bathroom at her high school. Not an easy task for any teenage girl.
What do you think?