Elliott's high school vice principal went to great lengths to accept him a decade ago, and everyone else followed suit at school.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 15, 2022
This year has been particularly dark for trans rights in America with conservative lawmakers across states introducing legislation targeting transgender youth more than in any prior year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. At least 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in 2022, according to the advocacy group's tracker. From discussing gender identity to denying them gender-affirming transitions, lawmakers are targeting trans youth. One man opened up about his transition journey more than a decade ago and explained how the kindness of one person paved the way for acceptance at his high school. Elliott Grinnell, who's a KidLit illustrator, shared his experience on Twitter, reminding everyone of the difference one person's stance can make in the life of a trans kid.
"When I came out as trans in my senior year of high school, I sent an email to all my former and current teachers as well as the administrators to let them know of my name change and pronouns," he wrote, before reminding his followers that the incident happened 10 years ago. "The vice-principal emailed me, asking me to visit his office. I was so surprised to find out he actually wanted to make sure my name was listed correctly for the reading of my diploma, and that since girls wore white robes and boys wore green, he wanted to see if we still had time to get me a green robe. I was FLOORED by his kindness," wrote Elliott Grinnell.
Trans visibility was less then, compared to today, making it incredibly difficult for people to come out as trans, and with fewer allies to support and accept them. Elliott explained how support came from an unexpected source, surprising him and helping him find his feet. "Trans folks weren't exactly everywhere. I was the only out trans kid at the time. This was a cis straight man, obsessed with our sports teams, friend to the jocks. I was a nerdy art kid who sent a long-ass email about my gender journey. I hadn't even THOUGHT of robes," he said.
And of course... I DO have a picture of the cap & gown! I was very nervous, okay? On the right is me more recently! 💙 pic.twitter.com/nWFBaXbdUu— ✨ Elliott ✨ (@elliott_gr) June 11, 2022
Elliott said his mother was worried for him. "My mom was terrified I was going to be bullied. She accepted me but was scared of what others would think. I told her about my vice principal and she was emotional, that someone wanted to take the time to make sure I was respected at my graduation. I had debated not going. It turned out the robes had already been ordered.... but he made some calls, found an extra one, and assured I got my green cap and gown. While my name wasn't legally changed so my diploma read my dead name, he made sure my name was CALLED Elliott," he wrote.
Hi Elliott, as a teacher & parent of a trans son, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this. We need more positive stories like this, to give those struggling some hope. Can’t wait to check out your website!— @knitmom1418🇺🇸🌈🏕(she/her) (@knitmom1418) June 11, 2022
Elliott explained how a senior figure at his school acknowledging his transition paved way for acceptance. "When we talk about treating trans kids with respect, this is the stuff I think about. Not every teacher remembered my name change or used the right pronouns. But by my vice principal advocating for me, MANY fell in line to do the same who seemed reluctant before. Sure, I got questions from some kids I barely talked to who didn't know about my transition. 'Wait, why are you wearing the green robe?' etc. But I still got a boutonniere like the boys, wore green, and they called my true name. All because he took the effort to include me," he wrote.
He further explained that he made the thread in the wake of the school's decision to change the robe colors to ALL be green. "They're not gender separated anymore. I can't imagine how much easier that makes it for trans and gender-diverse kids. It is not difficult to do the right thing for a trans kid. There was an extra robe somewhere, it was easy enough to write my name down appropriately for the announcer to say. It probably took him an extra 15 mins out of his day. It made a HUGE difference to me," he recalled. "When someone takes the lead, others will follow. When you go forward in good faith to include with kindness, others will see that. Just like how one good deed can start a chain reaction. What little thing could make someone feel more included? For me it was a cap & gown," he wrote, before adding that he planned to get in touch with the vice-principal who took the lead in accepting him for who he is.
Elliott is an illustrator in KidLit. He enjoys drawing cute families, magic and kids having fun! You can follow his work online.