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Transitioning at Pleasant Valley

Rory Donahue, Sports Editor

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The road to the real Ty Stinson hasn’t been easy. During his 6th and 7th grade years, Stinson began binding¹, but didn’t realize that he was transgender until freshman year. At the end of his sophomore year, he cut his hair and began going by his preferred name and pronouns. During his junior year, he officially came out as transgender. Stinson recalls, “It was hard for me in the beginning because I was afraid of what others would think, but after a while, I couldn’t really deal with being misgendered. It takes a while to get the confidence, at least for me. But once I was ready, and did come out, I was so much happier.”

Students just like Stinson roam the halls of PVHS, each with their own story. For sophomore Alex Chapman, he came out as transgender midway through his 8th grade year, and almost a year later, got his name legally changed and then started a hormone replacement treatment. “On December 4th of 2016, my parents gave me my full name because I let them pick my middle name. The day after, we went to the courthouse and [petitioned] the court for a name change. Sixty-one days later it was approved, and the following October, we made an appointment at the endocrinologist to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I got my script for testosterone on April 4th, 2017 and started testosterone about a week later on April 13th, 2017.”

For most students, like Chapman, the hardest thing about coming out is building the courage to come out to their parents. But for Stinson, the most challenging aspect was the negative reactions from people he used to consider his friends. Stinson says, “It really hurt for someone to instantly dislike me just because I was learning how to be myself. That and the comments I get from people I don’t know really hits hard.”

Both Stinson and Chapman have turned to the UNITE Club for support. The UNITE Club is an organization at Pleasant Valley that celebrates diversity of all races, nationalities, religions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. “UNITE has definitely given me a small family within the school that is understanding and supportive,” says Chapman.

Over the past couple of years, PV has tried to be as accommodating as it can to transgender students. “We’ve converted many faculty single stall bathrooms into unisex, started referring to students by their requested pronoun, added their preferred name into Infinite Campus, provided restricted shower access to the visitor locker room and designed single stall showers in the new locker rooms,” stated Mike Zimmer, the school principal. But it’s not just the school administration who believes they have improved the school’s policies. Stinson said, “The teachers are also extremely respectful when it comes to names and pronouns. I haven’t met a teacher yet who doesn’t gladly use them. Some teachers, like the band directors, even tell other teachers for you.”

Earlier this school year, Varsity Brands awarded Pleasant Valley High School with the honor of being the “Most Inclusive School in the Nation.” This award is given to the school that “embraces an unwavering commitment to inclusion.” As Zimmer stood before the student body and faculty, he told the story of how the Sparkles, the world’s first inclusive cheerleading team that originated at Pleasant Valley, came into action and how it has impacted communities from around the nation. He talked about how the cafeteria would soon be decorated with forty-three different country flags, each representing the birthplace of PVHS students. He talked about how the various clubs around the school, like PV Pals and the UNITE Club, have helped our students adapt and feel welcome at Pleasant Valley. But perhaps most importantly, Zimmer talked about “respecting, not tolerating” our peers. He challenged the students, the faculty and the administrators to “stand up to injustice by not being a bystander but an upstander.” As we enter October, LGBT awareness month, students like Stinson and Chapman, and countless others who support their bravery and confidence, hope PV can continue to take more steps forward when it comes to the inclusion of all of our students.  

  1. binding – a way for a transgender masculine person to make their chest look flatter (Stinson)

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Transitioning at Pleasant Valley”

  1. Laurie on October 5th, 2017 6:30 pm

    I think this was a very nicely written article. That being said, I hope the students that are actually affected by this article…feel that it has made a difference. I love PV, I am a PV alum, my kids both attend school in PV and I think the district really is trying.
    However, like I said (2 kids currently enrolled and my graduation high school)I know how some of the students behave at PV (especially at the Junior High). The level of bullying that is tolerated is ridiculous. As of right now, I feel lucky that both my children are doing well. That has not always been the case!
    I think a lot the parents in our community have no idea how their children behave at school. Some parents are happy with grades, some parents feel esteemed to have their children in our sports programs. And then their are the parents who actually get that their son/daughter might not be perfect and check in and monitor on a healthy basis. Sadly, there is a large group that fit in to the category of wanting to be their child’s friend or reliving their youth vicariously through their children’s “popularity”. In this group they often hesitate to direct or discipline their children, in fear that they may not be the “it house” of where their children and friends hang out. A lot of times, I see the children of PV running the household schedule.
    I just want PV to understand that, while it is great to see programs in place, they need to teach the students about those programs.

    [Reply]

  2. Tom wood on October 5th, 2017 10:49 pm

    Ty and Alex display enormous courage. I tip my hat to you.

    [Reply]

  3. Ethan Bettis on October 6th, 2017 6:26 pm

    I am reading this with tears filling my eyes! My time and effort put into UNITE has made an impact and that is the best feeling EVER! I, as a gay male, have never regretted my decision to transfer schools after my freshman year. PV hasn’t only given me an education that is premium to any others, they also gave me the courage and will power to be an upstander and not a bystander. I’m proud to call myself a PV alum.

    [Reply]

  4. Rev Rich D Hendricks on October 6th, 2017 11:06 pm

    Awesome story – bravo!

    [Reply]

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Transitioning at Pleasant Valley