The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 23, 2013

Top 10 of 2013 | No. 8: Transgender debate a global headliner

JOHNSTOWN — The Tribune-Democrat is counting down the top stories of 2013, as determined by voting by newsroom employees. One story will appear each day in print and e-editions between now and the end of the year. Readers can vote for their choice for the top story at

Kasey Caron just wanted the opportunity that was promised to him by Richland High School. Instead, the 17-year-old ended up making headlines around the world with his fight for transgender rights.

The high school senior, who was born a girl but identifies as a female-to-male transgender, said that the school’s guidance counselor, Missy Stringent, asked him on which side of the homecoming ballot he would like his name to appear. Caron chose the male side, but the school later said that he had to be listed as a female.

The ensuing debate, which was first detailed in The Tribune-Democrat on Sept. 3, gathered attention from media outlets around the nation and the world.

“I didn’t think it was going to get that big,” Kasey said on Monday. “I thought it was something with me fighting with the school board.”

Instead, the fight debate, which divided many in conservative Cambria County, drew the attention of gay and transgender activists the world over.

“It was kind of overwhelming,” Kasey said. “I have a friend in Australia and she messaged me and said I made the front page of a gay newspaper in Perth.”

Kasey didn’t win the battle – the school ruled that he could be a part of the girls’ homecoming court, but not the boys’ – but might have struck a blow in a larger war.

“I had so many people message me and say that I helped them personally and I that I gave them hope. I’m glad that attention was drawn to the issue,” he said. “People that I don’t even know come up to me and say ‘Go you!’ and ‘Keep up the good fight!’ ”

Richland did agree to let Kasey wear the blue cap and gown traditionally worn by boys to the school’s graduation ceremony, which will be held in the spring.

He recently was informed that he will be honored by the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition as the statewide winner of the Brandon Bitner Memorial Award. The award is given in memory of a 14-year-old Snyder County boy who committed suicide in 2010 after he was allegedly bullied by those who thought him to be a homosexual. Kasey will receive the statewide award in February at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

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