Transitioning To A More Accepting Viewpoint

, , , , , , , | Learning | June 20, 2021

I’m a science teacher at a small high school. For a few years, I’ve also been handing out Vetinari points, or vet points, for students that answer difficult questions, ask truly insightful questions, or otherwise do something to impress me. The students can then trade the points in for a few potential benefits, most noticeably a small increase in a future test score.

A little while ago, the parent who gave birth to one of our students came out as trans and started his transition. It seems this detail has only recently filtered down to some of the less enlightened students in our school, though. I’ve recently warned one bully in particular about his transphobic comments and harassment.

On this particular day, I’m alone in my room during a break period grading papers while the student in question is at his locker right outside of my room. I’m not listening to his conversation at first, until I overhear a non-school-appropriate synonym for penis that I won’t be repeating here, coming from the hallway. Since I came in partway into the conversation, I am only able to deduce part of the conversation between the bully and the student, though it is clear from tone and attitude alone that the bully is intentionally harassing my student.

Bully: “…mom has a [penis] now.”

Student: “You clearly don’t understand anything about being trans.”

Bully: “What’s there to know?!”

I have already gotten up and am headed out to handle the situation, but by the time I get out there, the student has already started responding with such confidence that I choose to let him finish before intervening. He is literally counting off points on his finger as he speaks.

Student: “First, I don’t have a mom. Second, of my two fathers, only one has, or will ever have, a [penis]. Three, I think you’re just jealous I can kill Macbeth and you can’t.”

Bully: “Huh?”

They are covering “Macbeth” in English around this time. In the play, it’s prophesied that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.”

Me: “[Student], you just earned yourself one vet point for coming up with a much better subversion of that prophecy than the actual play managed, though you should both use less vulgar terminology next time you wish to discuss a penis.”

Student: “Oh, umm… yes, sir. Thank you.”

Me: “[Bully], I’ve already warned you twice about transphobic comments. Now you will be spending your lunch discussing it with the principal, instead.”

All of us teachers were a little worried for this student originally when his father transitioned, but he proved us all wrong. He handled every question about his father with just as much confidence and conviction, without once losing his cool or lashing out in anger, as he did this time. More than once, I saw him inform ignorant students about what it meant to be trans with such confidence that he managed to convince even some of those who were originally skeptical of the concept to support his father’s transition. It was quite refreshing seeing not only how strongly he stood by his father’s transition but how well (most) of the student body ended up taking and supporting the transition after he explained things to them.


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