The principal of a primary school in Boston has come out as transgender in an email to the community and the reaction from teachers, students and parents could not have been more perfect.
Asa Sevelius sent the email last week that read: “Dear Heath Community, I am writing to all of you to share some powerful news about me. . .
“I am transgender.”
The Boston Globe reports that parents and teachers have expressed overwhelming support both online and in person in reaction to Sevelius’ announcement.
Mother Brenda Sullivan—who has two children at the school—says Sevelius has set a great example for the whole school.
“This is an example of how you live your life openly and honestly,” Sullivan said.
Dawn Tringas says she told her 11-year-old son Mark and 9-year-old daughter Lexi about their principal’s transition.
“He’s still the same person inside,” said Lexi of the news.
Her brother Mark added: “Ever since he came to this school, I felt like he had a connection to everybody in this school.
“And I just felt happy that he can finally be himself and be more true.”
Sevelius opened up to his staff members the day before he sent the email to the wider community, gathering the teachers into a classroom.
The Globe reports that Sevelius was shaking as he came out to his colleagues—who celebrated the news with applause and hugs. Some were relieved—they thought Sevelius was going to announce his resignation.
Sevelius began privately transitioning a couple of years ago, bolstered by support from his family and friends and the increasing visibility of transgender celebrities such as Laverne Cox and Caitlin Jenner.
Before transitioning, Sevelius says: “It was like wearing clothes that don’t fit all the time, and they don’t fit in 10 different ways.”
“Without language, without models, without any resources at all, you don’t know how to make sense of it. The one thing that felt right was so damnable by society.”
Sevelius came out as a lesbian in college and married his wife in 2003 when same-sex marriage was legalised in Massachusetts. The couple have two children together.
“We were making our own family, making a home with two fish and a cat and a lawn I got to mow,” he said.
“But I had these ceaseless waves of dysphoria…and I would just shunt them aside. It was this endless feeling of ‘something else.’ What is that other thing that won’t leave me alone?”
Sevelius says he is “very privileged” in his ability to come out to such a welcoming community in what is a very progressive area in the United States and hopes that by coming out, he can help transgender kids.
“I work very hard to make this a community that is not going to bend on issues of inclusion and full acceptance, where any kid should be able to walk through those doors and have any opportunity,” he says.
“I was that kid who had no idea who I was, and nobody to show me the way.
“I don’t pretend to believe I am some kind of beacon, but if one kid thinks, ‘That’s cool, that’s just like me,’ that would be pretty awesome.”