A transgender student in New Mexico is being forced to make a difficult choice for graduation by his school — either wear the gown worn by female students, despite his male gender identity, or bow out of “walking” at graduation.
Senior at Saint Pius in Albuquerque Damian Garcia legally changed his name last year from Brandi, and his parents are very supportive of his transgender identity.
But at school, Damian’s transgender status is at issue for the much awaited culmination of a student’s educational life — graduation.
At Saint Pius, females wear a white gown while males don black for the ceremony. Although the attire is not gendered as such, Damian Garcia will be forced to display a visibly female identity despite his stated gender identity — and the school refuses to budge on allowing Garcia to wear a male gown.
It’s heartbreaking to hear Garcia explain the hard choice now ahead of him as he prepares for a ceremony millions of American teens themselves are planning as graduation rolls around.
Damian says that being forced to either not participate or be humiliated doing so is a blemish on what should be a happy memory for the Garcia family.
The transgender high school senior says:
“I just want to walk in my black robe, nice and proud and have that memory to look back on with my family and friends… I would rather not walk than to embarrass myself by wearing a female robe.”
Damian is lucky to have support for use of the name and gender pronouns with which he identifies both at home as well as in school among students and faculty. Dad Luis spoke about the problem faced by the transgender student and explains how the family sees Damian’s transition:
“I look at him and I call him my son. That’s how he wishes to be acknowledged is as a male.”
All transgender students would probably feel lucky to have Luis Garcia as a dad, and he adds of his son’s graduation woes:
“All you want in life is to see your kids happy and healthy. You never want to see them suffer or being ridiculed or be made fun of.”
When asked about the transgender student’s gown issue, the Saint Pius Superintendent told local news station KRQE News 13 that a student’s birth certificate determines gendered dress and that they are unwilling to consider allowing Damian to wear a male gown.
Graduation gown a problem for transgender student