Saturday, April 27, 2013

York Daily Records Publishes Beautiful Editorial on Transgender Prom King Controversy

Kings and Queens and High School Prom Ballots
York Daily Record/Sunday News editorial - April 25, 2013

Once upon a time in the land of Red Lion...

No, this isn't a fairy tale, but it is a story about kings and queens - of the prom.

Once upon a time there was girl who knew in her heart and mind that she was really a boy.

He knew he was a prince, not a princess, and one day he decided to start living his life as such.

There was no magical transformation. No kissing of frogs. No spells to overcome, other than the spell of misunderstanding that still afflicted the land of Red Lion - and all the neighboring kingdoms.

He simply changed his name and appearance and lived his life as himself. The land of Red Lion espoused freedom - and so he should be free to do just that. And he dreamed of the day when modern medical science would make his body match his heart and mind.

In some ways, though, it was hard.

Some people didn't understand. Many felt uncomfortable with this transformation. Many were ignorant of the science and psychiatric research on transgender individuals.

But others were accepting - first, and most importantly, his parents.

They supported their son's refusal to live what he felt in his very cells to be a lie. They wanted the best for him and were mostly concerned for his well-being and safety in a land where enlightenment spreads slowly - as enlightenment so often does, on issues of race and equality and human rights.

Friends were also accepting. And some teachers, too - though some might have been uncomfortable with the change.

But life was going well - at least heading in the direction of "happily ever after."

He gained confidence - enough confidence that, as the annual ball approached, he decided to run for prom king.

He made fliers with little slogans.

Would he win? Who knows - and really, who cares? This annual tradition is just a light-hearted amusement - unimportant in the grand scheme of things. In some ways, it is more of an anachronism in this day and age than a fairy tale. Really, it's just a popularity contest.

But to a person who had struggled with his identity, it was an important step to feel free and safe enough to come forward as a candidate for "king."

But then the ballots were published, and he was not among the candidates for king. She - his former identity - was listed among the candidates for queen, using his old name.

Apparently school leaders felt uncomfortable including the biological female on the ballot with biological males.

Some supported that decision. Administrators are responsible for the school. They had a tough decision to make and came down on the side of current biology. It was a legally defensible decision. The transgender person was not excluded from the ballot, after all. If the person was elected, he could be a prom queen in a suit.

There was much debate in the mystical realm of Facebook.

Would possibly having a prom king who was technically a female make people uneasy? Would the person chosen as prom queen feel uncomfortable if the "king" was biologically another female?

But what about our would-be king? What about his discomfort at feeling as if he was being forced to pretend to be something and someone he is not?

Did school administrators' discomfort really require stepping in and transforming a he back into a she - for something as inconsequential as a prom court ballot?

Could the officials not simply let the students choose? It's their ball, after all. They were under no obligation to vote for a transgender king.

Could school leaders not see the importance to that individual simply to feel the freedom - and courage - to place himself on the ballot that reflected who he knows himself to be?

Some day - perhaps even in the not-too-distant future - we'll look back on these kinds of stories as we do on fairy tales, reflecting a world that no longer exists, utterly transformed into a world where we are all free to be who we are.

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