#VoicesOfMarion: Krys Eli Vyne
While broader strides are being made toward protecting the rights of transgender students, counties across Florida continue to move backwards. The Marion County School Board recently passed a policy that prevents transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. In response, over 80 people from throughout Marion County gathered at a town hall to support each other, brainstorm next steps, and share their stories. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of their letters to the School Board to help you get to know the #VoicesofMarion, the people whose lives and loved ones have been intimately affected by this damaging and discriminatory policy. Even in the face of adversity and oppression, the strength of the LGBTQ and ally community is audible through their words. The #VoicesofMarion refuse to be silenced.
Krys Eli Vyne is a transgender resident of Gainesville, Florida. Krys grew up in the city of Syracuse, New York, and earned their Undergraduate Degree in Psychology from Syracuse University. After graduating in 2009, they moved to Gainesville to find some space away from their parents and gain a better understanding of their gender identity. Soon, they became involved in Trans Activism and the Trans Rights Action Committee of North Central Florida (TRACNCF). Krys’s advocacy for the students of Marion County ties in closely with their own personal experience facing discrimination on the basis of their gender presentation while in school, and in their letter they reflect on how the School Board’s new policy makes transgender youth vulnerable to emotional and physical abuse. Read how Krys calls for positive and significant change, and discusses the importance of creating safe spaces for students to be their authentic selves.
Hello fellow human being and child of God,
I know it is difficult to look past what one finds safe and normal, but we need to protect the health and safety of all of God’s children. I too, was a teenager, and I am transgender. My name is Krys Eli Vyne, and when I was told I was a girl, and that there is a certain way I should look and act, I remember how hard it was. I remember trying to fit in, trying to be invisible, and trying not to get verbally or physically attacked. No child should have to wait to be themselves until the nightmare of school is over.
Growing up, I did as my mother told me and I was obedient to all authorities, but under my academic success and public approval, I hid the pain and loneliness that came with being a gender variant child. I walked the halls with my head down to avoid conflict with my peers, but I still experienced verbal attacks for some of my “boyish” behavior, in a culture where my appearance and behavior was closely scrutinized based on these strict gender rules. Some days got so bad that I wasn’t sure if life was worth living, because it was clear that there was no place for me, and I had no words to describe my gender identity as a non-binary individual. Luckily, my dream to go to college kept me alive, because I saw it as a way out of those suffocating halls, and I held onto the hope that someday I would be able to live my life authentically. Looking at how far I have come, I sometimes wonder how I even made it, but it is frightening when I try to imagine how horrible it would of felt to have these insecurities highlighted as a result of discriminatory bathroom policies.
How are our children supposed to learn to love themselves if they spend Monday through Friday being told that they are wrong? Our youth should not have to hide in shame, thinking they are an abnormality! They should not be consumed on a daily basis by the fear that they might not look male enough or female enough to not become a target. School should be place of learning and personal growth, and we should be creating a culture that makes children feel comfortable to be who they are, and where we embrace the beautiful diversity of human life. School should not be a space where our youth feel threatened and where they dread going to.
These oppressive bathroom policies do not protect anyone, but only encourage more violence and bullying. When adults try to enforce them they will be setting a poor example on how to treat a fellow human being. Students will think it is acceptable to judge people and control people, and even inflict violence upon those who do not look a certain way. These guidelines will dehumanize our transgender youth, and any student who does not look or act like the socially acceptable version of what it means to be a boy or a girl, which will make them vulnerable to emotional and physical abuse.
Implementing these bathroom policies in our schools will lay down a path for a whole lot of hurt; more bullying, and more precious lives lost to teen suicide! We have the power to change this, and to ensure that our schools are a place to focus on learning, and becoming happy and healthy members of society, rather than an environment where teens fear for their lives. Don’t make a child choose between hiding in shame in the name of safety, or ending their lives because they can’t take it anymore. Please, follow the right side of history, and protect all of God’s children, by putting an end to these harmful bathroom policies.
Krys Eli Vyne