Transgender McLean student and father seek to educate others

Another local transgender student, and his father, share their story.

MCLEAN, VA (WUSA9) - The Supreme Court's decision this week not to hear the Virginia transgender case was a disappointment to all transgender people. 

Another local Virginia transgender student is now sharing his story, and so is his father, hoping to help people better understand the issue.

When Paul Wooldridge's teenage daughter Nicole suddenly quit McLean High School's all star softball team, he didn't know what was wrong. 

His then-daughter, told him he identified as a male. Now a senior in high school, he's change his name to Rowan, is comfortable sharing his story.

"We're always been out there. Transgender people have always existed, it's just we've always been in hiding because everyone's been so afraid of us. And when people are afraid of things they tend to lash out and not really be accepting. And not be accepting at all," said Rowan.

Rowan is the feature story in the award-winning student magazine, the Highlander.

"I just really wanted to share my story so that people could realize that I'm not really that much different than everyone else. I'm not some spectacle that no one is ever going to understand. It's not a huge mystery," said Rowan. "I wasn't born a girl. I was born a guy that the rest of society saw as a girl," he said. 

Rowan's good friend Marissa Walia stood by him through the transition.

"I just don't understand people that think that it's so about them to a point that they think they have a right to be against it. It's like, it's not your life," said Walia.

At first, it was tough for Rowan's parents.

"And, yeah. You go through the shock, you go through grief, all those stages of denial and anger. You go through all of that," said Wooldridge.

Knowing he had to love and accept his new son, Paul Wooldridge got to work learning.

Keeping it a secret from his family for many months, he finally put a PowerPoint presentation and invited his family over. It starts with explaining that Paul has a son, a transgender boy named Rowan. He explains that gender identity is different than sexual orientation.

"Okay, you guys ready to meet Rowan?," Paul asked. Rowan's senior class picture in a tux and bow tie pops up and the relatives realize who Rowan is.

"He's the same kind, strong, intelligent, funny person you have known all his life. He is a transgender male. Please love and respect him as you grandson or nephew or cousin or friend of whatever relations you have to him," wrote Paul.  He asked them to use the pronouns "he" and "him" and to be respectful and accepting.  

That's something nobody had to tell Rowan's  friend Marissa, "A friend is a friend no matter who they are. Or what they're gender is or whatever."

The Fairfax County School Board chairman put out a statement this week saying that FCPS is fully committed to extending its non-discrimination policy to include gender identify.   

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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