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September 4, 2013

Homecoming rule stirs transgender debate at Pa. high school

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Kasey Caron didn't plan on making a grand political statement at Richland High School's homecoming ceremony, in this Pennsylvania city 70 miles from Pittsburgh.

He wasn't trying to change any stereotypes about transgender students or fight for equal treatment by asking to be on the king's court.

In fact, Caron, who is a girl but identifies as a female-to-male transgender, didn't even ask to be placed on the male ballot for homecoming court. The guidance counselor, Missy Stringent, asked the 17-year-old which ballot he would prefer to be on. Kasey chose the male side.

"They gave me the option," said Kasey, who was born with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that leads to a hormone imbalance where the ovaries make more androgens – sometimes called male hormones – than normal.

Three days later, Kasey was informed that because his driver's license identifies him as a female, Pennsylvania law prohibits him from being on the male ballot – even though he cannot begin the gender transformation until after he turns 18.

Instead, the school moved Kasey to the female ballot.

"I was trying to be OK with it," he said of getting the news. "I left the office and as soon as I walked across the hallway to the guidance office, I started crying."

Kasey, who estimates that 90 percent of his senior classmates support his decision to run as a male, still won enough votes to earn one of 10 spots on the female court, which will be honored on Oct. 4.

The administration offered to let Kasey be a part of the female court and bring an escort of his choosing.

"I didn't know at that point if I wanted to be on court, if that was the situation," he said. "It just seemed like more of a hassle than just dropping off and letting whoever else go."

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