Monday, February 20, 2017

Maybe This Should Be Titled “My Time In Hell”

We all know what North Carolina’s HB2 is, it the law that bans us from using the facilities of our gender identity among other draconian measure against the LGBT community. Can you imagine what it is like living and working under that law?
My Life as a Trans Woman Teaching High School in a 'Bathroom Bill' State
By Aila Boyd
February 8, 2017
Because none of my coworkers or students knew I was trans, I thought I'd be immune to the effects of government-sanctioned discrimination. I was wrong—I witnessed the consequences of HB2 every day.

e first two professional jobs that I had following my graduation from a fairly liberal, midsized university in Virginia were both in North Carolina, a stark contrast from the openly queer lifestyle that I had taken for granted for while serving as president of my university's Gay-Straight Alliance.

At the time of my move, I considered North Carolina to be a fairly progressive state—most likely because all of the gay clubs that I had ever been to were located there. However, within a month of starting my job as a teacher at a public high school, HB2, the state's notorious "bathroom bill," was passed, legalizing discrimination against trans people in public spaces.

When the legislation took effect, I was terrified. I'm a trans woman, a fact that none of my coworkers or students knew. But despite my fury and disbelief at HB2's passage, I took comfort in the fact that I had already transitioned and had chosen to undergo gender confirmation surgery. I thought that, because I "passed" well, I was immune to the effects of the government-sanctioned discrimination. I was wrong. Although I was never told to use the men's restroom or outed, I witnessed the consequences of HB2 every day.

I started to overhear students joking with each other, saying things like, "You sound like a man," which was always directed at female students. I never heard anything like that before the bill was splashed across the front cover of local and national publications alike. One day, I witnessed a group of high school students wondering aloud how trans people reproduce; one suggested that "transgenders" could give birth through their "butt holes." The group let out a collective giggle, and started to loudly make comments about how "disgusting" the thought was.
When the laws give reign to discrimination the bullies come out of the woodwork because now they have the green light.

She moved to another school which had a strong anti-bullying policy and one of her students was bullying the other classmates,
Eventually, I moved to another school in the state; during my first week there, I was called into the guidance counselor's office following allegations that some students were bullying their androgynous female classmate. The guidance counselor informed me that the school had in place a strict anti-bullying policy, something my own students later reiterated, and something they would typically bring up whenever tensions started to run high in the classroom or when constructive criticisms weren't phrased as gently as they could have been.
One student felt save enough in her class to come out.
Towards the end of the semester, the student who had been bullied during my first week approached me after class and informed me that he actually identified as a trans man, and that he preferred male pronouns and wanted to go by the name Ashton rather than his female birth name. He said that he had wanted to tell me at the beginning of the semester, but was afraid that I would tell his parents. (He only felt comfortable coming to me, he added, because I'd assigned plays like Fences to read in class and taught a lesson about the life and persecution of queer playwright Oscar Wilde.) I reassured him that I would never out him to his parents—or anyone, for that matter—and though I could read his sense of relief immediately, I felt troubled. I was sad that he had assumed that revealing his true gender identity to a teacher was too dangerous to risk, and that he wouldn't be celebrated and embraced for doing so.
It can be hard when you integrate into society and you hide your history, but at the same time you can help other people while keeping your own secret.

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