12-year-old makes impassioned plea after girl says she’ll fail gym because of trans students

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A trans teen has made an equality plea to the local school board after a girl complained she’ll fail gym because of trans students.

Ari Bowman spoke at the school district meeting in Pennsylvania on Monday (September 12) about the hateful and fearful language used against transgender students who want to use the changing room that matches their gender identity.

12-year-old makes impassioned plea after girl says she’ll fail gym because of trans students
Sigourney speaking last month

Speaking to the meeting, he said: “The hate that the transgender community has been receiving lately has been terrible. People say things without an open mind and as if we’re not human beings like they are.”

Last month, Sigourney Coyle, another student in the district, said she would fail gym because her religion stopped her using the same changing rooms as trans students.

“I am a woman, and I identify as a woman, and you can’t make me change in front of someone who I don’t identify with, who is physically male,” she told the board.

Ari, who is 12, who came out as a transgender over the summer, said that the fears were being completely overblown.

He said: “I change in the boy’s locker room and I have seen zero genitalia, which is kind of why I do not understand that people make the assumption that a transgender student would accidentally reveal herself in the locker room.”

He added that prior to his transition, the female students wouldn’t let him use the bathroom saying he looked “too much like a boy”.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Ari’s mother, Ailsa, said she sobbed throughout the meeting.

“I sort of knew what his speech was going to be, but some different things came out of him that night that totally blew me away,” she said.

With more than 15 people standing up for trans students, including the local Presbyterian minister, Ailsa added it was more than she could “have dreamed”.

She added: “People just took it upon themselves to stand up for the trans community and vulnerable students in general. Up until Monday night, I felt on the defensive and scared.

“Then I felt, ‘Wow, there’s so much support out there.”

Superintendent Michael Schilder said in a statement that he would “uphold the rights of transgender students and to support them in whatever way possible in their often difficult personal journey.”

Watch Ari’s speech below

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