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Boston Charter School Teacher Discusses His Transgender Identity with Kindergarten Students

'When babies are born, the doctor looks, and they make a guess on whether the baby is a boy or girl based on what they look like,' Skyer said

In March, a Boston-area charter school first-grade teacher, a biological woman who identifies as a man, participated in an “Identity Share” Zoom call with students aged 5-7 years, in which he discussed his gender and sexual identity. 

During the call, Ray Skyer explained the differences between cisgender and transgender. In a post to his Facebook page, Skyer notes that the Zoom included kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students at Brooke Roslindale School

Sarah Hammond, Brooke Roslindale School’s assistant principal, opened the call by saying: “Remember: Your job during the Identity Share is to be listening really carefully so that you can learn something new about Mr. Skyer. We’re running a little low on time, so I don’t think we’ll have questions, but you can always ask questions to Mr. Skyer when you have a chance to see him later.”

In the video, Skyer says:

“So something that’s really cool and unique about who I am is that I am transgender. …

“So when babies are born, the doctor looks at them, and they make a guess about whether the baby is a boy or girl based on what they look like. Most of the time, that guess is 100% correct; there are no issues whatsoever, but sometimes the doctor is wrong; the doctor makes an incorrect guess. When a doctor makes a correct guess, that’s when a person is called cisgender. When a doctor’s guess is wrong, that’s when they are transgender.

“So I’m a man, but when I was a baby, the doctors told my parents I was a girl. And so my parents gave me a name that girls typically have and bought me clothes that girls typically wear, and until I was eighteen years old, everyone thought I was a girl. And this was super, super uncomfortable for me because I knew that wasn’t right. The way I like to describe it is like wearing a super-itchy sweater. The longer you wear it, the itchier it gets, and the only way to make the itching stop is to have everyone see and know the person that you really are.

“So when I was eighteen, I told my family and my friends that I’m really a boy, and it was like this huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I had the freedom to be who I truly am. And even though this experience is super-challenging sometimes it made me the person I am, and I’m super-proud to be transgender.”

In the full video, which is available on Skyer’s Facebook page, he goes on to share details about his transition from living as a female to living as a male. He discusses the change of pronouns and the transition his family faced in the change. He also discusses a personal idol, transgender actress Laverne Cox, and expresses the importance of speaking up about transgender rights. 

Skyer references a book that the assistant principal, Hammond, had used while instructing students earlier in the week — pointing to an earlier lesson covering gender and sexuality for young students. 

In his Facebook post, Skyer states, “I’ve had many conversations with many young children (I’m a 1st grade teacher) about what being transgender is, and never once have I been met with any fear or confusion. I’ve even been the recipient of a group hug! Children just get it; it’s as simple as that.” 

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