Shannon

 

The title speaks for itself, but click on the link to see the story.

Swampscott Principal: I’m Transgender 
I do not live in Swampscott. I do not have children who attend the school that Principal Daniels has lead and, from what I gather, lead well, for six years. I do not even have elementary school aged children. I do, however, have a child who is transgender and this story, happening in the next town over from where I live, did catch my eye.

My first reaction when I saw this on Facebook (where else?): “hot damn, times they are a changin’!”

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My second reaction: Principal Daniels’ courage and honesty are to be celebrated. Better than any math, science or English class, she taught a spectacular lesson for the kids in her charge!

Be yourself!

Have the courage of your convictions!

Live genuinely!

Respect people who are different from you!

You got this!

Then, with caution, I began to follow the Facebook threads. To my great joy, most people were solidly Team Shannon. In fact, it was a veritable love fest. Win!

For the vast majority of those posting, it was not the news of Principal Daniels’ transition that had them upset.  Rather, it was the presence of local television stations, shoving microphones and cameras in the faces of them and their children that was upsetting.

“What do you think?”

“How will you explain this to your children?’

“Did this come as a surprise?”

“Blah blah blah…”

Some parents, many of whom had not yet had the opportunity to read the email announcement from school, were caught off-guard. Others noted that their kids were upset by all the trucks and cameras. I get that; school pick up doesn’t normally include t.v. coverage!

The steady stream of comments supporting the principal was heartwarming. The urge to hug and thank every one of them for their open hearted response was strong. Wow, we’ve come a long way, I thought.

Wait! Stop right there! There it is: “Principal Daniels should step down from the principalship.” Yes, there was a fair amount of condemnation of the comment, but, ugh, more than a few people were in agreement. Damn.

Some of the arguments in support of Shannon stepping down:

She is unstable: Perhaps she is. But if she is, it has nothing to do with her gender identity. She is the same person she was yesterday. Was she unstable then?

Kids should not be exposed to this: Yes, yes they should. Kids are kinder, tougher and way more accepting than their parents. They might even know someone who is transgender. And, if they don’t, I can assure you that at some point in their lives they will. How about using this opportunity to teach your children that the world is made up of all sorts of people? And, just sayin’, maybe now would be a good time to consider what you would do it if was your child who needed to transition?  Believe me, it can happen.

Which bathroom will she use?:  Okay, there is no other way to say this. Are you fucking kidding me? In all my years as first a student and then a parent I never knew, cared or thought about where my principal did their business. That said, if the principal is openly peeing with students, I would agree: we have an issue.

Transitioning is a choice: Let’s think about this for a moment. Why on earth would anyone ever make a choice as huge, unsettling and potentially dangerous as this? Maybe, just maybe, they knew that shoving their feeling down was no longer an option. Aren’t we all entitled to feel comfortable in our skin?

Shannon is exactly my age. As a fellow old dog, I am certain that I would think long and hard before making even a far less complicated change in my own life. Transitions of any kind are not for the faint of heart. Socially transitioning from male to female at 52? Damn.

Shannon did not wake up one morning and choose what to wear, what to have for breakfast, and what gender to be. She has been grappling with her identity and sense of self for her entire life. Can you even imagine feeling this way for ten minutes, let alone better than 50 years?  Again, I saw damn.

A few facts that bear repeating:

  • Gender identity is who you are.
  • Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to.
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation have nothing to do with one another.
  • Transgender people might straight, or gay, or bisexual, or asexual…hey! just like cis-gender people.
  • Transitioning is never easy for anyone ever. It takes tremendous courage and support. Don’t be a hater.
  • Kids.Don’t.Care.
  • We all pee in private. Therefore, no issue.
  • Tom Daniels and Shannon Daniels is the same person. If you liked him, you will like her. If you weren’t a big fan of him, you aren’t going to be a big fan of hers. Get it?

 

I readily acknowledge that I have no idea what it is like to look one way and feel another. I do not profess to know why one time in your life is better than another to make the change. In fact, aren’t I kind of lucky that I have never had to put any thought to the fact that I am a heterosexual cis-gender female? File under: things we take for granted.

This is not easy stuff. I appreciate that the age of being openly transgender is still in relative infancy. I know how strange and unsettling the transgender experience must be to someone who has never felt those feels. And, while this is certainly unchartered territory, it is also a tremendous opportunity. Imagine what the world will look like if we push through our own discomfort and accept people for who they are, no matter their gender or gender identity.

As for those little people who call us mom or dad? They will be better adults, partners and parents from this experience. No question about it.

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