Twice during kindergarten at Glen Arden Elementary, NC 6-Year-old Emma was denied the use of the girls’ room. Twice she couldn’t hold it as a teacher led her humiliated, across the school. And twice during this precious young child’s life, Emma was sent home, clothes and shoes soaked in her own pee.
The school, Glen Arden Elementary, a hundred miles west of Charlotte in rural North Carolina had been well informed of Emma’s Transgender status before the beginning of the school year. Emmy’s parents had done the hard work before Emma started school, educating themselves and putting together a plan to inform the school about Emma. They rightfully believed Emma would be called by her authentic name and gender, but she was denied that and the most basic of rights.
Huffington Post documented the effects of HB2 on Emma’s life on a road trip series called “Listen To America”.
Amy and Kevin Smith live in a modest home in a small community outside of historically liberal Asheville, North Carolina with their three children and a menagerie of pets. In 2014, Emma, their youngest child, who was assigned male at birth, began gravitating towards toys and clothing traditionally understood for girls.
“She always had girl tendencies,” Kevin told Huffington Post. “She’s always been petite, she’s always been sweet like a little girl. Before we ever realized, she was always wanting pink and girls’ toys, dolls. We didn’t really know what was going on with it, we just thought, ‘Pink, blue, what makes a difference? We don’t care.’”
For a few years, the parents thought Emma’s preference for girls’ toys and clothing might just be a phase. But as time passed and Emma began trying to articulate her understanding of the world around her, it became clear that something was different about Emma from her two older brothers.
Emma entered her first day of kindergarten at Glen Arden Elementary in August 2016 wearing a white dress with flower embroidery that she picked out herself.
Amy and Kevin thought that if they simply told Glen Arden educators about Emma’s personal journey with gender and identity, they’d be met with support and understanding. But, according to the couple, Emma faced immediate resistance.
“It just turned into a mess,” Kevin said. “They wouldn’t [call her Emma], they refused to do it, the teachers wouldn’t do it. So we had to get a meeting with the principal and formally tell them, ‘Her name is going to be Emma.’ But the teacher she was with from day one disagreed with it, and expressed her feelings to Emma daily. Emma would say she had girl hair and the teacher would tell her, ‘No, you’ve got boy hair. You’re a boy.’”
So this brings us back to the beginning of Emma’s story here at Planet Transgender. But perhaps it’s just the beginning of your story.
Glen Arden Elementary
Address: 50 Pinehurst Cir, Arden, NC 28704 (Map)
Phone: (828) 654-1800
District: Buncombe County Schools