It’s OK—I’m a Boy.

Today Sam started second grade, and he used the bathroom. He used the bathroom. This sounds like something every second grader does every day, but for Sam, sadly, it’s not.

In first grade, whenever Sam walked into the boy’s bathroom—whether wearing a dress, or wearing boy clothes but damned by his long hair—boys would question his right to be there, yell at him, or tell him to leave. One kid tried to pull off Sam’s pants to check his boyhood. The stress wasn’t worth it to him, so he stopped using the bathroom. After school, his urine was dark and concentrated. After two weeks, the urinary tract infections started. It took us a while to understand that the UTIs were caused, fundamentally, by fear.

Along with his teacher, we came up with a solution so that Sam could use a separate bathroom at school. It wasn’t perfect, but at least he would be safe, less stressed, and no longer ill.

So this year, when he went into the boy’s room, it was a big deal. He reported that he walked in, saw two other boys, and said in anticipation of their reactions, “I’m a boy.” He peed at the urinal. Another boy came in, and the look on this boy’s face scared Sam. But the first two vouched for him: “It’s OK. He’s a boy.”

Sam was proud. He dealt with the issue himself before questions were asked. Sam spoke up the way parents spoke up against KRXQ, the California radio station that spewed hatred toward transgender children (read my response here). To KRXQ, we said: you can’t disparage our children, call them freaks, advocate violence against them. To the boys in the bathroom, Sam said: I’m OK, I belong here.

The parents spoke defensively. Sam—so bravely—spoke preemptively. Together, our message is clear: speak up, be proactive, make the world safe.



  1. says

    My son had the same ‘gender free’ bathroom option, and has ended up frequently using the girl’s room, without any explicit permission. Nobody seems to care, but all it will take is one kid or parent and I’m sure it will become an issue. I think in these things there’s an ‘official response’ and there’s the working out of something on the ground in the real world. It’s important to follow up with your kids—and the school, to figure out what is really going on. We heard about the girl’s room usage from the school counselor.

  2. says

    Sam has so much to teach the world not only about being true to one’s self, but also about having the authority and self-assurance to declare one’s own humanity and the right to live their life the best way personally possible. He is a teacher by living his life. He definitely has a fan in me.

  3. Jay says

    Bathrooms are very hard for people outside the gender-binary; gender-non-conforming kids–who tend to pass very well–get a ton of crap if they try to use the ‘correct’ bathroom. This may drive a boy who is comfortable with his boyness but who is perceived as female to use the female bathroom out of expediency; this means that a boy, who may not even feel transgender, is using the girls room–just to avoid a scene.


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