That usually can after I left the cocoon of gifted and talented classes and had to interact with the rest of the school's huddled masses in gym, recess, art and health classes or on my three mile walk home.
Even though I was matriculating through school in the 70's, J. Escobar's recent drama at North Cobb High School resonated with me and was a reminder of just how tough open trans kids have it trying to navigate the shoal filled school environment.
It's not that we don't have some brilliant people in the trans community. I've had the pleasure of meeting many of them. I discovered during my 20 year HS reunion that I wasn't the only transperson in my class. There is a transman in my Vanguard class that I'm aware of but haven't seen since we graduated and were on opposite sides of the gender fence.
I graduated with honors and a 3.0 GPA, but in hindsight I believe it could have been much higher if Monica was around in the late 70's and dealt with whatever gender issues I had then, even in a 70's era environment.
But it's hard to concentrate on academics to improve your life and set the table for a better future when you have concerns about other non-academic issues impacting it at that moment in time.
GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network recently published a report called Harsh Realities- The Experiences of Transgender Youth In Our Nation's Schools.
Autumn Sandeen wrote about it at Pam's House Blend back in March, and in light of what just happened to J. Escobar in Cobb County, GA, what happened a few months ago on Guam to Jeremy, and the federal civil rights lawsuit currently pending in court over what happened to KK Logan in Gary, IN, it's time to revisit this report.
Some of the findings of the report brought back some painful memories.
• Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%).
• Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%).
• More than half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and gender expression (53%).
• More than a quarter of transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and gender expression (26%).
• Most transgender students (54%) who were victimized in school did not report the events to school authorities. Among those who did report incidents to school personnel, few students (33%) believed that staff addressed the situation effectively.
• 90% of transgender students heard derogatory remarks, such as "dyke" or "faggot," sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year.
• 90% of transgender students heard negative remarks about someone's gender expression sometimes, often or frequently in school in the past year.
• Less than a fifth of transgender students said that school staff intervened most of the time or always when hearing homophobic remarks (16%) or negative remarks about someone's gender expression (11%).
• School staff also contributed to the harassment. A third of transgender students heard school staff make homophobic remarks (32%), sexist remarks (39%) and negative comments about someone's gender expression (39%) sometimes, often or frequently in the past year.
I know all too well that outside influences can have a powerful impact on educational success. It's why I support whatever efforts are underway and ongoing to make schools a safe space for transgender students.
School should be a pleasant part of your childhood memories, not a bitter chapter of your life.
But for too many trans kids matriculating through school right now, that is the harsh reality of their school years.