Emma Smith is a six-year-old transgender kindergartner who, until recently, attended Glen Arden Elementary, a small public school in a rural western part of North Carolina.
During her time there, the principal encouraged Smith’s parents dress and present Smith as a boy. The school’s transphobic bathroom policies resulted in Smith urinating on herself and being mocked by her classmates. Smith’s teacher regularly chastised and publicly humiliated her for being a girl, even going so far as to institute a rule forbidding her from hugging other students.
Travails of a transgender kindergartner
Before attending her first day of kindergarten, Emma’s parents, Kevin and Amy, met with their daughter’s teacher and principal to explain that she was in the process of transitioning. The faculty refused to agree to call Emma by her chosen name and the principal suggested the parents refuse to let their daughter wear girls’ clothing.
The principal also stated that the school would have to abide by the then-passed House Bill 2, a transphobic bathroom bill requiring trans people to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.
The Huffington Post reports:
Whenever she needed to use the bathroom during her year at Glen Arden, Emma had three options: use a single-stall facility if one was in close proximity, use the boys’ restroom, or hold it. She was not allowed to use the girls’ room.
Once, during gym class, Smith’s teacher told her that there was no single-stall facility nearby, and that Smith could either go to the boy’s bathroom or hold it. Another time during lunch, the single-stall bathrooms in the lunchroom were locked and a teacher gave Smith the same choice. On both occasions, Emma ended up urinating on herself and carrying her soiled clothes home in a plastic bag.
Smith had to endure other humiliations once, including her teacher moving down her mark on a publicly displayed “good behavior” chart for self-identifying as a girl; drawing Smith as a boy during a classroom drawing assignment meant to celebrate each student’s individuality; and creating a “new rule” (that applied only to Smith) forbidding her from hugging other students.
Smith’s mother Amy said, “The only thing I can think of is a concerned parent called the school thinking that transgender [identity] was contagious or some such bullshit.”
The Smith family has since moved Emma to a charter school that embraces her female identity. They have also become advocates to create inclusive policies for transgender and gender-nonconforming children in the Buncombe County School System so that no transgender kindergartner (or any other children) will ever have to endure the treatment that their child endured.
Although North Carolina’s House Bill 2 law has since been repealed, the repeal still leaves transgender people’s bathroom access to the whim of whoever controls the bathroom.
Featured image by Rawpixel via iStock
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