Anything powerful will be controversial.
That’s a given. As I helped distribute the Chronicle this morning, nothing made this more evident than our cover story. On our cover, we featured a story about transgender students at Mason High School.
We knew going into this issue that we would get some backlash. But in the end it would all be worth it. Because the true purpose of journalism is to give people a voice.
When we write, we often take a look at what else is going on in the school – we want to be the voice of the WHOLE student body. We know about the kid that got a perfect score on his ACT, we know about the girl on the Forbes 30 under 30 list, but how much do we know about the rest of Mason High School? In a building with 3200 students, it’s hard to stand out. So we strive to bring unnoticed stories to light.
Transgender students shy away from that light. They’re focused on themselves, not on broadcasting their issues for the world to see. As a result, many students at MHS have no clue what being transgender is like; they’re uneducated because of a lack of exposure. Some of them are set in their views, others just don’t know what they think. But we published this story in hopes of sharing the struggles of a group that many don’t even think exists in Mason. You don’t have to agree; you don’t have to change anything. But read, and try and see things from their eyes – they have stories to tell.
I have a personal connection to this story, so I may be more passionate about the importance of the article than the average student. You see, one of my closest friends is interviewed, and I’m mentioned within. I’ve seen the ups and downs of his struggle like very few other people get the chance to, and I can assure you, transgender people are people too. Their dysphoria and transitions don’t make them any different.
But know this: one student’s struggle cannot be reduced to six or seven hundred words on a page. For every sentence you read, there were countless hours of pain and suffering, of feeling unwanted and wrong in their own bodies, and there will be more. The brave students in this story are putting it all out there because it needs to be heard, but you could never capture everything going on. They were willing to put themselves out there, to educate and to share their stories in hopes of helping others in similar situations. So don’t make any judgements, don’t make assumptions. Because there is so much more to these stories, and these people, than just their gender identity.
Just listen. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.
If you want to hear what the students had to say and get a better picture of the life of a transgender student, check out the story here: