Monday, October 19, 2009

Forced Femininity = Heterosexual Drag = A High School Principal Still Living in the 1950’s

Ceara Sturgis is gay. Everyone in her school in Mississippi knows that. She is also an honor student, a trumpet player and the goalie on the school girls’ soccer team. Ceara wore a tuxedo for her yearbook picture. Once school officials found out, they said no, Ceara would have to retake the photo wearing the traditional drape that female students are forced to wear for yearbook photos. Only male students can wear a tuxedo. Now the ACLU is involved and insisting that Ceara has a right to wear a tux for her yearbook picture.

Ceara’s mother says the school is trying to force her daughter to be more feminine and that she doesn’t even own a dress. Her mother says, "The tux is who she is. She wears boys' clothes. She's athletic. She's gay. She's not feminine." Ceara says, "I feel like I'm not important, that the school is dismissing who I am as a gay student and that they don't even care about me. All I want is to be able to be me, and to be included in the yearbook."

There was a day in the not too distant past when women and men could be arrested if they were caught by the police not wearing at least three articles of clothing deemed “appropriate” to their sex. This happened in large metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco in the 1950’s. Apparently the principal of Ceara’s school in Mississippi did not get the memo that, 60 years later, most of us understand the right to freedom of expression.

You should see my high school graduation picture, the one that appeared in my high school yearbook. I did not have the sense of self that Ceara does. Though I too knew I was gay then, I submitted to the traditional picture required for girls when I would have loved to have posed in a tux. That would have been the real me. If I had been able to wear a tux, I would not laugh at my high school picture every time I see it as I do now. The girl posing in that photo wasn’t me. She was who everyone else wanted her to be. I lost a lot of time trying to fit into that girly hetero mold terrified of the truth I knew about me. Posing for that picture did not make me straight. It did not make me feminine. It just made everyone more comfortable.

You go, Ceara. I salute your courage and determination to be you. I salute your mother for supporting you. Thanks to the ACLU for reminding your principal that he doesn’t get to be the gender police and you don’t have wear three articles of “gender appropriate” clothes any more. I hope you play soccer in college. I want to root for your team.


Mary said...

I think it is so brave and congruent of Ceara to be herself!
I just got my very own fitted tux last Feb.
A friend thought I should have to marry (again - 2nd time) my partner!
There will be a day when this is not news.

calugg said...

Good for Ceara! I got put in the old-fashioned drape for my graduation photos/yearbook photos. What a crock. At least thirty years later, a whole bunch of us "draped dykes" can laugh about this.

But it's really not a laughing matter. And that principal needs to get a life.

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