In the time between then and now, the world has changed. There has been a shift in how we look at identity. St Stithians recently announced that they were enrolling the first openly trans learner at the Girls’ College and there has been a lot of back and forth on social media. The school also said they underwent training and changed the structures to accommodate this new pupil.
I was put in a storm of emotions. In my formative years, I spent time questioning whether I could have brought a same-sex date or spent time at brothers and others (the equivalent of visiting hours with our sister school) craving the same thing all my friends could experience. I wanted to hold the hand of my partner. I must note that in them being a younger transgender person, we do not experience equal experiences, which only someone who relates to their experiences can explore.
First, I think about the extended community of auxiliary staff and parents who may display prejudicial behaviours that may negatively affect the process. In their statement, they make the plea for people to get on the right side of history. I am glad the school has chosen to state their unequivocal support, but in tandem I worry because this is a big burden to be placed on a teenager (unintentionally so) and I hope that the support translates to action.
Second, I think about how this may shift the state of education and the structures that exist, which is my main concern. I reflect on my time as a queer person who attended an institution similar to St Stithians and I wonder when will that time come for someone who has to attend my former school.
I look at the school and I think of how I went through a painful process of exhuming my multifaceted identity in the years after my time at such an institution. I wonder what it would have been like if I had the explicit support and resources put into the creation of the type of environment that would have been conducive to my learning of identity.
As someone who aspires to be a responsible member of society, I have to reflect on these things because I decide to act. I have to ask not only myself, but the institution who I represent, how we move forward and ensure that we create inclusive environments in which this sort of change is not only accommodated, but openly welcomed.
The profound change and influence of this decision is one I welcome, and I will encourage all of us to bring these conversations into the spaces we traverse.
As queer people, we find ourselves in situations that are incredibly difficult to traverse. I only have love and admiration for this powerful young trans woman who is changing education with just her existence. I wish I could have walked into school and openly learnt about my identity as a queer person because there was so much that I missed that I regret and had to learn from.
I wish I could have done so much more to unleash my own truth. But hearing about the support and unwavering determination displayed by the St Stithians team, I can be proud that in the near future, the youth won’t have to go through the same thing we had to.