Kelly is a wonderful, happy fourth grade girl who loves comics, superheroes (especially Wonder Woman), and playing sports. She is also a transgender girl: She has the heart and mind of a girl, but she was born in a boy’s body.
High Meadows School welcomed Kelly this year, and we were deeply inspired by her story. We marveled at her remarkable courage. And we knew that bringing her to our school would be the beginning of a journey that would enable us to demonstrate our values in an extraordinary way.
Though she chose to be private at first, Kelly and her mom expressed the desire to become public one month into the year. We were excited–and a bit nervous–for her. Our team worked with her therapist and a representative from the Trans Youth Family Alliance to design a plan that would help the community learn about Kelly and transgender people. Most importantly, we needed to keep Kelly safe and help her peers understand who she truly is.
We sent a letter to class parents informing them of the conversation we would be having with the children the following day. I received 20 emails of outright support, excitement, and pride. Ten emails expressed anxiety and fear. After calling each of those people, nine of them arrived in a good place.
So far, Kelly’s becoming public has been a great success. Students were immediately accepting and warm. Though we had anticipated tough questions, we heard these instead: “Does it say ‘male’ or ‘female’ on her passport?” “Is it like Asperger’s? Because my brother and dad have Asperger’s…” Adults and children clearly see the world through different lenses.
We are so grateful that Kelly chose to attend High Meadows. Having her here is a gift. We are all learning from Kelly the true meaning of courage and the importance of asserting who you truly are. Such values are rare enough in grown-ups, making a nine-year-old’s example all the more powerful.