trans, advocacy, mental health, trans advocacy, school administration, discrimination, bullying, genderism
Tara: I’m struck by the difference between the school that your kids are in now, and the school across the street. Why is the school across the street in such a different place? Is it the leadership? Is it a group of teachers? Is it a group of parents doing the advocacy that you have to do on your own here?
Dawn: Well, I think that kind of goes into the issue of stigma. I think it is the leadership in the school, I think the principals set the tone for the school, although I do think individual teachers can really help a child even without the leadership of the school. But the principal sets the tone for the school, the principal gives the direction to the staff, and in this situation, I don’t think at our current school, I don’t think the principal, I mean, I don’t know her that well, but my instinct is that she’s not a trans positive person, I don’t know, I mean I can’t say for sure but that’s just how it feels.
And also, because there’s the divorce, and the conflict, like without education… like their dad tells people that I’m seriously mentally ill, and that I’m crazy and that’s why I’m trying to make my child into a girl. Which actually just isn’t a thing, that doesn’t exist. So it’s a little frustrating, but he tells that to so many people that I think it clouds people’s judgments of me and I think that there’s a confluence of like stigma around mental health stigma, because I do identify as having mental health problem, or have in the past. I have survived sexual violence, which if you talk about is also a stigma, and I’m supporting and raising a trans child, and there’s, okay and she’s a trans girl, so there’s misogyny, there’s patriarchy, there’s like, ableism and mental health stigma, and it’s all kind of like, and when you experience discrimination, like I think this is like how it is for my child as well, even though she wouldn’t have the words to say it, like you never really know for sure whether someone is treating you differently just because they’re a big jerk, or whether they’re treating you differently because they’re transphobic or they think that people who are mentally ill are serial killers, or they think that women lie when they talk about violence.
So, it’s like you never really know, and you never know whether your kid is getting bullied because there are a lot of rough kids in the class, or whether they’re being specifically targeted because of their gender. So I think trans violence, and violence against women, and gender based violence and patriarchy all kind of go together. So that’s sort of my experience with my life. So in the school I’m not really sure exactly why it is that they didn’t believe at first, I don’t know which of those factors it was, but I feel like it was probably just all of those factors. Which is why I think it’s important for people to speak out and tell the truth if they can. Because a lot of people don’t have that privilege to speak out, because they can’t. So that’s why I do.