The letter to the small California paper Sierra Star was entitled “Are You Shocked?
“There is a teacher at Yosemite High School that is in the process of having a sex change. This teacher has informed the school district that he will return after the Easter break transformed from his former male self into a woman and is requiring to be addressed as such.”
The writer, Kathi Bales of Oakhurst, California, then argued that the high school science teacher in question, a person born with male genitalia named Gary Sconce, had signed a school contract “as a man.” The fact that Sconce would now be a woman named Karen Adell Scot was, according to Bales, a “deal breaker.” Thus, if Bales was to have her way, Karen Scot was out of luck; her 30-year, award-winning teaching career should summarily end at Yosemite High.
Easy for Kathi Bales to say.
But the letter to the editor doesn’t stop with tossing Karen Scot to the street. It gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective):
“People of the community, the point of this letter is to reveal the challenge this community is now facing and in turn, to challenge the community to become a voice against this unacceptable situation. Are we willing to fall prey to grey area thinking, like live and let live, or who are we to judge? I see this as an assault on the minds and morals of our children. It blurs the lines of what is right and wrong….I challenge the adults of this community to take a stand for our children, showing them that there (sic) is a time not to accept the unacceptable, rather to identify a wrong and stand firm against ever accepting it as a right.”
“Grey area thinking.” God forbid.
“Live and let live.” No way.
“Who are we to judge.” Hell no!
“A time not to accept the unacceptable.” Words that long ago adorned water fountains in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Little Rock.
It’s comforting to know that the good people of Oakhurst have Kathi Bales to protect them from transgender people trying to live their lives.
Not that Karen Scot couldn’t teach their children a thing or two about living authentically.
As reported in the Fresno Bee, Scot described her decision to come out as transgender as “like getting out of dark solitary confinement in prison where you never saw the light. You can’t believe that you are actually free…It’s being your authentic self after being a fake you.”
Unfortunately, Scot’s learning firsthand the price of freedom and costs of living an authentic life.
In a letter to Yosemite High School employees, Scot itemized the costs thus far. In coming out as transgender, she lost her “magnificent, brilliant” wife of 35 years. She also lost her house and found herself being “shunned” by friends and family, including her church of nearly 30 years. Scot detailed that she had been “scorned and laughed at by those who had for decades said they were my friends.”
Scot has two adult children. A son has accepted her transition while a daughter has not.
If you ask me, all of that is a hell of a price to pay for finally achieving self-honesty.
Scot’s announcement about transitioning genders prompted the school’s principal to write to the parents of 650 students. The principal’s letter reminded that California law prohibits gender identity discrimination.
In other words, the law trumps letter writers like Kathi Bales.
Because much of Scot’s story parallels losses I encountered when I transitioned genders, I found myself writing to Scot. It was a human to human contact; as I’ve written in this space before, there are certain life situations where you need to reach out, where you need to show compassion and kindness to absolute complete strangers.
I had no great words of wisdom for Scot, other than to let her know that in transitioning, I had learned the difference between loss and regret. “Loss is manageable,” I wrote. “Over time, the pain subsides and perspective helps to make the loss less painful.”
“Regret,” I contrasted, “doesn’t go away. It simply gets worse. Far worse.”
I explained that until I transitioned genders, I didn’t understand how loss differed from regret. I found that I could endure the losses but would never have been able to take the regret of not transitioning. Understanding that Scot teaches high school science, I wrote, “Not for a nanosecond of a nanosecond of a nanosecond have I ever regretted my decision to live authentically as my true self.”
I included a copy of my memoir with the inscription, Welcome to sisterhood!
For sure, it was grey area thinking at its very best.
That’s the only way to think, dear gentle readers.
Living and helping others to live.
Ellie Krug is the author of Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org