All Lila Perry wanted to do was use the girls' bathroom. Although she had been born with male genitalia — which means her sex is male — she has identified as a girl (aka, her gender) since she was 13. Sex and gender are different, yet people at Hillsboro High School near St. Louis don't seem to understand.
When they found out Perry had used a girls' locker room, more than 150 students took part in a walkout. According to KMOV, 30 to 40 students stood by Perry. And she was unwavering.
“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” Perry told the station.
Others obviously disagreed. According to KMOV, the controversy first erupted when a female student told her parent that there was a gender-assigned male in the girls' locker room.
Among those who would prefer Perry to use a gender-neutral bathroom is Derrick Good, who has two daughters in the district.
"It's a violation of my daughters' rights to privacy to not have a policy," he told the New York Times.
School officials have complied with Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination based on sex that would mandate gender-neutral bathrooms be provided for transgender students, but Perry refused. She didn't feel it was fair.
"I wasn't hurting anyone and I didn't want to feel segregated out. I didn't want to be in the gender-neutral bathroom. I am girl, I shouldn't be pushed off to another bathroom," she said.
As the two-hour protest got underway, Perry says she felt scared. But she isn't alone.
"Young people, including trans and gender non conforming young people, have the right to education with dignity and equity," the group wrote on the Facebook event.
"We are here to show Lila and other trans students around the state of Missouri and around the county that we lift them up when others might try to bring them down."
Caitlyn Jenner has headlined news lately when it comes to transgender issues, but the issues run much deeper than the "brave vs. not brave" debate.
In Washington state, more than 50 percent of transgender youth under 20 have attempted suicide. And too many succeed across the country. LGBT youth also report much higher rates of bullying and violence than heterosexual youth and transgender individuals are more likely than any other group to have violence inflicted upon them.
Sad facts, given that you don't choose to be transgender. Transgender people just choose to be open about it.
Gender therapist Patricia Berne explained to KMOV:
"That's really important for many people to know and parents to know, that a person does not choose this, they really don't. They know it very early on and are in a great deal of pain," she said.
Last May, Perry shared an image of a Voltaire quote to her Facebook page that read "I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life."
Keep loving life, Lila.