Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Student Writing Contest Winner

Each week during the summer the New York Times has a writing contest where students write about an article that they read that week in the Times,
Summer Reading Contest Winner | Transgender Rights
Each Monday through Sept. 2, we’ll be announcing the winner and runners-up for a different week of our Summer Reading Contest.
New York Times: Education
July 22, 2013

The Winner:

We unanimously chose Lily’s response to “Rights Unit Finds Bias Against Transgender Student” as our contest winner.

Not only is Lily’s post well written and emotionally potent, she deserves commendation for her courage in sharing her story of surviving high school as a transgender teen. Lily celebrates Coy’s victory, comes to terms with her own defeat, and finds consolation in the power of her advocacy. And part of what makes her writing so rich with complexity is her confident and correct use of demeanor, defy and precedent, among other apt words:
    A large smile came to Coy Mathis’s face upon hearing she won; a larger one came to my face upon reading of it. I have identified as female for the past two years, though like Coy my birth certificate states that I am male: simply put, I am transgender.

    I am on my way to college in the fall, but it is with a slight sense of regret over leaving high school without winning my own fight for equality. Like Coy, I had already been living as a female for quite some time. There was little in my demeanor or comportment that suggested anything deviant, but the official administrative decision my school made was to force me to use the gender-neutral staff restroom.

    I didn’t have the support Coy had to fight this decision. I had to settle with defying this order throughout my final two years of high school, though not without a certain degree of shame; I had to settle with thinking of myself as “almost female enough to use the female restrooms.” There was a lot of pride-swallowing over the last few years.

    “Perhaps society isn’t ready yet,” I thought, but this ruling has proven me wrong. It has upheld and even expanded the rights of transgender children and affirmed the existence of hundreds of thousands of children in the same position as Coy and me. This small case in Colorado may seem relatively insignificant in our republic, where states can determine many of their own laws, but it is a massive first step in establishing a precedent for transgender children in our education system.

    My opportunity to benefit from this growing change may have passed, but I still have the power of advocacy, the power to influence my school and others like it to change their policies for the better. Coy Mathis will be able to attend school and live according to the gender she identifies as — I would like to help other children like her to do the same.
The week before Times asked to students the question “What Interested You Most in The Times This Week?” and they received over 450 responses last week. Out of the all the responses not only was a trans-girl was picked number one; her comment was from the heart and personal and it beat out about comments about the 19 firefighters that died in Arizona, the revolt Egypt and other top stories that week.

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