February 28, 2013

Transgender girl comes out of her shell

Parents of a first-grader file a complaint after school officials say she can't use the girls' room.

By P. SOLOMON BANDA/The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Coy Mathis, Auri Mathis.
click image to enlarge

Coy Mathis, right, walks out of her bedroom in Fountain, Colo. Coy has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder. Biologically, Coy is a boy, but to her family she’s a transgender girl.

AP

They bought Coy toys normally associated with boys, but she showed little interest. While Max was excited when Coy opened her Christmas present in 2009 to find a toy car from the Disney movie "Cars," Coy simply set it down and walked away.

As Coy got older, she found and wore her older sister's bathing suit, which had fringe that made it look like a tutu.

Still they pressed on in raising a boy, encouraging Coy to wear boy clothes and bought shirts that had pictures of sports, monsters and dinosaurs on them. She showed little interest, and refused to leave the house if she had to wear boy's clothes.

It didn't bother her father, an ex-Marine, that Coy liked to wear pink bows and dress up in girls clothes. That is, until Coy insisted on leaving the house with them on.

"She would see the stereotypical outfits laid out and then get this look of defeat and then would go, 'I'd just rather stay home,'" her mother said. "It wasn't about the pink. It was about people knowing she was a girl."

When Coy asked to be taken to the doctor to be "fixed," they took her to a psychologist who diagnosed her.

Coy started kindergarten in August 2011 but once the Mathises learned that Coy's behavior wasn't a phase, they allowed her to wear dresses and identify herself as a girl in the middle of the school year. The withdrawn child who was lagging behind in school began to flourish.

In kindergarten, the children used unisex bathrooms. Last fall, in first grade, the district allowed her to use the girls' bathroom. But then they told the Mathises that Coy would have to either use the staff bathroom or the one in the nurse's office starting in January. Coy is being home-schooled now, along with her siblings, while the issue is being litigated.

The family hopes that the district will reconsider, especially since using the bathroom is done in private anyway, and that Coy isn't stigmatized by being forced to use a different bathroom than her peers.

"The doctor's bathroom is only for sick people and I'm not sick," said Coy, wearing white tights, a red dress and sweater and sitting on the living room couch at her house as her siblings played a computer game nearby at the kitchen table.

 

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