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Religious Tolerance logo

Transgender persons and transsexuals

2015-AUG: Conflicts in a Hillsboro,
Missouri high school concerning
a transgender student:

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Part 1 of two parts.

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Lila Perry

A photograph of Lila Perry, from Facebook.

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Background:

2015-AUG to OCT: Lila Perry, 17, is a senior high school student in Hillsboro, MO. It is a city with a population of about 3,000 people, located about 30 miles (50 km) south of St Louis. She was identified as male at birth and transitioned to female at the age of 13. She started to identify as female to fellow students at the start of her final year in High School during 2015-AUG. This led to a demonstration during late August that involved 150 students. They walked out of their classes to protest her use of a female locker room in the school. A smaller rally was held later by her supporters.

Life Site News reported that Lila felt that the demonstrators were acting out of:

"... pure and simple bigotry." 1

Student Sophie Beel, a student at the school, said that she found Lila's response:

"... offensive because Lila has not went [sic] through any procedure to become female. Putting on a dress and putting on a wig is not transgender to me." 1

Jeff Childs, 47, has a niece and nephew in the school. He attended the demonstration, carrying a sign reading: "Girls [sic] Right [sic] Matter." His sign is ambiguous because it does not define whether he is referring to:

  • Girls' rights -- the right of multiple female students to prevent a transgender girl from using their washroom, or to:

  • A girl's right -- the right for Lila Perry to use a washroom that matches her actual gender identity.

It appears to be the former because he was quoted as saying:

"This needs to stop before it goes too far. I'm not trying to be ignorant, but [Lila Perry] is bringing it out in public for everybody else to deal with." 1

At the time of the walkout, Lila Perry had dropped out of gym class because she feared for her safety. But the walkout was held anyway.

One of the organizers, Sydney Dye, 17, said:

"This protest wasn't out to bully Lila or call her out on anything or try to make her feel depressed; that wasn't what it meant to be. It was so the students could have a voice.

I believe that inside Lila is a female. I believe that she wants to have the female body and wants to be like the rest of females, but I know right now that's not physically possible. The only thing that bothers me is that Lila was in the girls' locker room. Some girls already have insecurity problems getting dressed in front of other girls as it is, much less having to get dressed in front of a boy." 2

Sydney posted messages on her Facebook page saying:

"Please realize this is to get a compromise, not a way to get Lila out or anything." 2

and:

"They r [sic] protesting because a transgender boy is allowed to use the girls locker room and bathroom. They are not protesting him because he is transgender. BIG DIFFERENCE." 2

As most religious, political, and social conservatives do, Sydney referred to Lila Perry as a male, because that was her birth-identified gender. Most of the LGBT community and their allies refer to a MTF (male to female transgender person) like Lila as female, and use personal pronouns like she and her.

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Lila rejected the suggestion that she use a gender-neutral washroom -- a single occupancy washroom. She refused, apparently because she regards herself as female and wishes to be recognized as such. However, the protestors apparently regard her current gender as unchanged from how she was identified as a newborn. Many look upon her as a boy with male anatomy who is simply wearing a wig and dress.

She said:

"I wasn’t hurting anyone and I didn’t want to feel segregated out. I didn’t want to be in the gender-neutral bathroom. I am girl. I shouldn’t be pushed off to another bathroom." 1

She also said:

"I’m not going to hurt their daughters. I’m not going to expose myself. I’m not a pervert; I’m a transgender woman; I’m a girl. I’m just in there to change, do my business, and that if they have any questions about being transgender, they are more than welcome to talk to me, and I’ll be happy to explain it."

“It wasn`t too long ago [that] white people were saying I don`t feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with a black person, and history repeats itself." 1

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2015-AUG-27: A discussion at a school board meeting:

One parent at the meeting expressed the belief held by many religious, social, and political conservatives that transgender persons are merely "gender confused" and should seek therapy to be "straightened out." The parent asked the board to stop extending privileges to:

"... confused teenagers who want to be something they are not sexually." 2

Another parent asked the board what its policy would be if he sued them for violating his right to parent a transgender child as he wished.

A local lawyer, Derrick Good, also spoke at the meeting. He has been working with the Alliance Defending Freedom. This is a conservative Christian group that promotes the belief that people should have the religious freedom to discriminate against others, and to to violate human rights ordinances and laws, in violation of the Golden Rule. They believe that a person's birth-identified gender is their true, permanent gender for the rest of their life.

Derrick Good said:

"For the group of parents I'm communicating with, this isn't about a particular student; this is about putting rules in place that everybody can live with. I've tried to keep it about the need for policy so we can set some ground rules. Maybe not everyone agrees to them, but at least at that point, we know what they are and we can work from there. ..."

"We believe the current situation violates rights of other students. Girls have a right to privacy of their own bodies, and parents have a right to raise their children the way they want." 2

He proposed a compromise policy in which students would use the public washroom and locker facilities associated with their anatomical sex. However, transgender students would also be permitted to use use a gender-neutral facility, presumably a single-occupancy washroom.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Dustin Siggins, "More than 150 students walk out of classes to protest boy using girls’ locker room," Life Site News, 2015-SEP-03, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/
  2. Emanuella Grinberg, "Bathroom access for transgender teen divides Missouri town," CNN, 2015-SEP-05, at: http://www.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-OCT-24
Latest update : 2016-OCT-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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