Here is a letter of testimony that my dear sister wrote to the Fairfax County, VA School Board in support of a change to the Board’s non-discrimination policy to include transgender students. She granted permission to share it.
To: The Fairfax County School Board
Re: Policy 1450, Nondiscrimination
I am a resident of Fairfax County, and both my children graduated from Annandale High School in the early 2000’s. One of my siblings and I also graduated from Annandale High school, in 1967 and 1970, respectively.
I am very sympathetic to those who are uncomfortable with the idea of trans-gender individuals. I really would prefer this did not exist, and that I wouldn’t have to deal in any way with these issues. But I do, up-close and personal: my brother came out as a trans-gender woman a few years ago, when she was in her 60’s, after a life-time living as a man.
When I look back now, honestly, I see that there was always something different about her—when she was living life as a boy and as a man. She did her best to conform in High School, playing football, being in Drama Club, asking girls to Prom, trying to fit in. She was always a gentle person, to me and to our brothers and had our support when she received low draft number during the Viet Nam War, and showed great personal courage in gathering evidence and letters of recommendation to apply for Conscientious Objector status.
The pressures of social conformity, though, are very strong, and my sister did her best, graduating college, finding work, getting married, rearing a son. Only late in life did my sister have the courage to face her greatest challenge and claim her true identity. Believe me, this has not been an easy process for her, or for our entire family. Any discomfort you can imagine with this issue, and especially about being with a trans-gender person, whether for yourself or your children—I have experienced personally.
Do I wish I hadn’t had to go through this? Yes. Frankly, I wish none of us would have to deal with this. However, even more, I fervently wish that no one should ever have to experience not feeling safe to be themselves. No one should ever have to pretend for a lifetime to be other than who they truly are. No one should ever have to hide themselves in fear, because who they are makes us uncomfortable.
If the laws and school regulations had allowed my sister to dress as and live as the woman she always was, her life—and her entire family’s life—would have been very different. We cannot change the past, but we surely can change the future for all trans-gender people by allowing them to fully express who they truly are. I urge the Fairfax County School Board to include gender identity as a protected class in its non-discrimination policy.
If you didn’t figure it out thats me about whom she is speaking! The measure was passed!
Deanna Joy Hallmark