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.