BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - "A lot of kids thought I was weird," said 17-year-old Dean who has identified as a transgender boy as long as he can remember. "They didn't want to play with me," he said. "I didn't have a lot of friends." To compensate, Dean said he would often try to fit in instead. "For a while I'd conform to more gender norms and I'd fit in for awhile," he said. "But when I'd be more true to who I am then that would alienate even more people."
Two years ago, while attending Stockdale High School, Dean decided public school was not where he belonged. "A lot of slurs were said in the hallways," said Dean. "People would make rude hand gestures at me like for being queer I guess?" So he quit, and started attending high school online.
Dean is now an active member of the Youth Empowerment Pride Project, a group dedicated to informing teens of their rights and encouraging them as they make difficult decisions. For Dean, the passage of AB-1266, which allows transgender students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity, was a significant step toward helping transgender students feel comfortable at school. And, he said, it is a change that could have made a difference in his own educational choices.
"Because for awhile I really did want to go back to school and do the traditional school and have the traditional experiences," said Dean. "But the idea of having to use female facilities and not have my gender recognized was not something I would have felt comfortable with."
"I feel like I'm a boy and I shouldn't be in the women's bathroom," said Dean. "I feel that's invalidating a woman's place."
As for concerns expressed by some parents that other students' safety and privacy could be compromised, Dean said he can't imagine any transgender student violating another student's rights.
"When you go to the bathroom," he said, "you're just going to the bathroom. You're not going to look at anyone else. You're just going to the bathroom."
And Dean has serious doubts that any non-transgender student might try to abuse the policy.
"There is already a huge stigma with being transgender," he said, "And I don't think a non-trans kid will claim to be trans just to go in the bathroom because of the social stigma associated with it."
On Thursday on 23ABC News at 6:00, a look at how local districts might implement AB-1266 and the guidance they're receiving from other districts that have already on similar policies in place for years.
READ | Bathroom Battle: Transgender Law Angers Opponents: http://bit.ly/19AwDcW
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