ColumnsUnapologetically Trans

Unapologetically Trans: Wishing You a Wonderful 2019–2020 School Year

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School has started across the State of Texas and throughout our nation, both for K–12 and at the collegiate level. That also means our trans kids are returning to those school campuses to get their learn on.

And yes, some of our teachers tasked with the job of educating our next generation are also members of the trans community. I wish them and their students a wonderful and drama-free school year as well.

Whether you are at the elementary-school level, making the jump to middle school, starting your freshman year of high school or college, or doing postgraduate work for an advanced degree, know that I and your trans elders are exceedingly proud of you, and wish you nothing but success in your educational endeavors.

During this school year, some of you high-schoolers will blaze trails by becoming the first out trans kids to become homecoming or prom kings or queens. You may be inclined to participate in sports, academic contests, or other school activities—or maybe you’ll just find that group of school friends that have your back, now and into the future. Hopefully, one day I’ll get the opportunity to write about the first out trans student to become the valedictorian or salutatorian of their class.

And yes, some of you will face challenges this year—obstacles put in your way to make it harder for you to get an education as your true selves. Trans students of all ages are facing a 2019–2020 school environment that has been made more hostile by Secretary of (Mis)Education Betsy DeVos.

Cruella DeVos has rolled back trans-student protections put in place by the Obama administration, leaving trans students vulnerable to bullying by their fellow students and administrators. Those students now have little recourse but to fight back with lawsuits in federal court.

Cases have been litigated over many issues, from allowing trans students to run for homecoming queen or king to dressing for prom in the attire that matches their gender expression.

And yes, we’re still going to battle over bathrooms, taking yearbook pics that match your gender identity and expression, and forming Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) on high-school campuses.

Since the evilgelicals wish to fight us, fight we must for our human rights and our very humanity in school settings, because an education is priceless.

When it comes to fighting peeps at the local, state, or national level on your behalf, rest assured that I and your trans elders will do our part.

The ACLU, GLAD, GLSEN, PFLAG, and other community organizations are standing by to help you. Collectively, they have a track record of success in fighting for the rights of all transgender students to get an education as their true selves.

You also have amazing allies—teachers, support staff, and administrators—that you can turn to if and when you need help.

I have no doubt that you trans students will do well in school, make lifelong friends, and even make a little history as this school year progresses into the third decade of the 21st century.

Know that as you sit in your classrooms, you have an entire community cheering you on to become the best students you can be. And as for those ignorant folks who will throw shade your way, bear in mind that the best way to silence them is to excel in your classwork.

May this 2019–2020 school year be an enjoyable and successful one for all of you.

This article appears in the September 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, a native Houstonian, is the founding editor of the GLAAD award-winning blog TransGriot. Her ongoing mission is to educate people on the lives of transgender people and fight for everyone’s human rights.

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