By KASEY CARON
For The Tribune-Democrat
This editorial written by Kasey Caaron was originally published on http://gaylifenewsletter.com with the headline "Speak Out: Richland High School Bigotry?" Caron said that he did not write the headline for it.
Imagine waking up one day in the body of the opposite sex. Sure, at first it might be exciting, different, interesting to say the least. But eventually it would become uncomfortable, scary, unsettling. You might even feel trapped in a way, wondering if you’ll ever return to your own body where you belong. Now, imagine feeling like this for 17 years, your own skin is your prison, you’re unable to escape, and you’ve just taken a glimpse at what it’s like to walk in my shoes.
My name is Kasey Caron and I’m a senior at Richland High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Ever since I was a kid, I have always fit into a more masculine role. Even before I truly understood the difference between girls and boys, I knew something just wasn’t right. I tried having a boyfriend, wearing dresses, and playing with dolls, but it never felt right. I was happiest playing Nintendo, wearing baggy clothes, and keeping my hair short. Today, I identify as a FTM (female to male) transgender. This means that I plan on eventually having gender reassignment surgery and taking testosterone, ultimately becoming a male. I’ve never been happy in this body, and having this done will be my chance to finally be comfortable in my own skin. Most of my close friends already knew this, and I've been listed as male on Facebook for a few years, but I haven’t really come out and said this publicly until recently.
The reason I came out about this is because my school was about to vote for the members of this year’s homecoming court, and I was asked by the school guidance counselor and the staff organizing homecoming whether I preferred to be placed on the male or female ballot. Obviously, since I was given the choice, I wanted to be on the male ballot. I quickly posted a Facebook status the night before the voting to make the seniors of my school aware of this. This status received 109 likes, 51 comments, and several shares overnight. The support I had coming from Richland’s senior class alone was phenomenal. Walking into school the next day, it was hard to turn the corner without someone congratulating me, hugging me, and promising me their vote. I had never felt so accepted, so supported, and so respected in my life. I was sure I was going to make it onto court, and this would be a major step forward for me, my school, and the young LGBTQ community. I was so excited that not only was I going to be on homecoming court, but I also had a real shot at being crowned homecoming king. Everything was falling perfectly into place and it seemed like nothing could possibly go wrong.
Something did go wrong, however. In fact, everything fell apart in one single moment. Friday the (30th), the day of voting, shortly before the vote was to occur, I was called into the principal’s office. I walked in to find the principal and vice principal sitting in the office with serious, and yet vaguely unfazed expressions. They asked me to have a seat, and I set my bag down and sat down in front of the vice principal’s desk. They told me that it had come to their attention that I was running for homecoming court as a male, and informed me that they had apparently contacted some lawyers who had told them that it was illegal for me to be on the male ballot as my driver’s license states that I am female. They also, without previously informing me, had removed my name from the male ballot and replaced it onto the female ballot. I was in shock, enraged, and disappointed. It felt like everything I had worked for had been destroyed. They had opened a new and important door for me, and then slammed it right in my face. I was heartbroken and on the verge of tears as I stormed out of their office and directly into the guidance counselor’s office across the hall. I was crying so hard I almost couldn’t explain to her what had happened. I could barely breathe. When I could finally get something understandable to come out of my mouth, she immediately apologized. She didn’t know what to say, and neither did I. I wasn’t sure whether I was more angry, or disappointed. Something needed to be done. I told her this wasn’t going to be let go, that people were going to hear about this, and I wouldn’t be the only one who was angry. This wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning. After spending a few periods in her office discussing my plans on dealing with this, I left to continue my school day. Some people had asked me why I was on the wrong ballot, and I didn’t hesitate to tell them the whole truth.
At the end of the day, they were supposed to announce the members of homecoming court over the P.A. system. They never did, but my mind was in a few hundred other places and I really hadn’t noticed, until I was about to get on the bus to go home and the principals pulled me aside. I wondered what they could possibly have to say to me after everything that had happened that day. They told me that it looked like I had gotten enough votes to have made it on court, however they weren’t going to send me with a male escort due to my “unique situation.” They had proposed to me that they were going to add another girl onto court and send her with my original escort, and that I could bring “whoever I want.” I couldn’t understand how I wasn’t allowed to be on court as a guy and escort a girl, but I apparently couldn’t be on court as a girl and be escorted by a guy either. It didn’t make any sense. They told me I could give them a decision by calling later that day, or informing them Tuesday. So essentially I was being treated as a special case, and I didn’t appreciate it at all.
Even though I could go to homecoming and wear a suit and escort a girl of my choice, I was still going to be in the running for homecoming queen, and that’s not right. I’m sure they half expected me to drop off of court all together because of this, but that won’t be the case. I’m going to fight this until I’m on homecoming court as a male, and I’m officially in the running for homecoming king. Richland School district advertises itself as a school which is progressive, modern and one that prepares its students for the future. However, by their actions, they have displayed how close-minded and backward they truly are. I had posted about how proud I was of RHS for initially placing me on the male ballot. There were many comments praising them for that decision, but they have now shown their true colors.