A high school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that planned to deadname a transgender student at his upcoming graduation ceremony has reversed course thanks to an online petition signed by over 14,000 supporters.
Brian Thomas, the student’s father, launched his Change.org petition after learning that the powers that be at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne planned to use the teen’s old name at commencement.
The petition, addressed to principal Park Ginder, asked that the teen’s chosen and preferred name, Wyatt, be read aloud at graduation as opposed to his deadname, which he hasn’t used in years.
“My transgender child is a senior this year and will graduate in early June,” Thomas wrote. “He has been going by his preferred name since the summer between his freshman and sophomore year. Teachers, pastors, managers, family and friends know him as a boy named Wyatt.
“But at graduation, because of an unwritten standard the school administration is unwilling to change, he will be called by his dead name. What is meant to be a celebration will instead be yet another moment of humiliation and embarrassment.”
“As Wyatt’s parents, we ask that our wishes be honored on behalf of our precious child. Call the name he will bear legally once the lengthy process of a name change is complete. Call him what his future university calls him. Call him what we and many others call him every day. Call him Wyatt.”
For many transgender people, undergoing a name change can be a powerful affirmation in transitioning their gender.
Each time it’s spoken, it gives trans folks tangible validation as they move closer to the gender they know themselves to be.
But changing names, whether on a day-by-day basis, on government-issued ID or legal documents can be a glacially-slow process in some areas.
The good news is this past Friday the school informed Thomas that Wyatt’s name will be read at graduation, and there are efforts underway to have his name on his diploma as well.
They will #CallHimWyatt at his graduation! So grateful to the school for their careful consideration and positive outcome for Wyatt. Thank you for your support and positive thoughts.
— Brian (@TheCheekofGod) May 10, 2019
In an update on Change.org, Thomas wrote, “According to Dr. Ginder, he has been called Wyatt for three years, so why not at graduation? This has been a matter of purposeful discussion and careful consideration on the part of the school, and a procedural decision has been made that benefits Wyatt. We are grateful the school took this request seriously and gave it the attention it deserves.”
“Thank you to all who signed this petition,” he added. “The impact of your support, encouraging words and positive vibes has been felt and received with astounded gratitude. On to graduation!”