High School Graduation. If you are lucky enough, you have been able to experience this monumental moment in your young adult life. When you have a diploma, when you know what it feels like to have earned something you worked so hard for. The day arrives, family and friends assemble. You put on your nice clothing, grab your graduation gown and head to the ceremony. But something is wrong,the graduation gown you have isn’t right. Your school gives you the same color as the girls, but you don’t identify as female. You’re a transgendered individual.
High schools around the nation are finally starting to change this age old tradition of gender specific gowns and making them all one color. First off why are there different colors for genders in the first place? Typically, this is not for all school districts, when there is a separation of colors by the ‘old’ heteronormative ideals. A majority of the time the female graduates wear white and the male graduates wear a darker color. Why? Why are there different colors for different genders?
I remember getting my graduation gown from my high school and asking my teacher “Why do I have to wear white”, he responded with “Because you are a girl.” and shoved me aside. Even at the young, uneducated age of 17 years old, I was still able to notice that something was not adding up. The reason why I was not happy wearing a white gown when I graduated was because they were very shear and my dress was bright green, although it may not have been the best reason for questioning the gender norms of my high school; it was a start.
The other day I was looking at old graduation photos on Facebook and sparked up the same though I had when I was 17, “why do I have to wear white?” Now being older and with a greater insight and education the first though I had about the graduation gowns was “What about trans or non identifying individuals? Do they have to wear the color according to the gender that their school believes or wants them to be?
A lot of people may not think that it is a big deal, that its just a color. but it is not just a color, it is a person. It is a person who does not identify with the color that they are being forced to wear. That on one of the most important milestones in their life they are forced to be a color that they are not, to identify with something that is not who they are? That on a day of celebration and achievment these graduates do not have a say in who they are as a person and are letting an outdated ‘tradition’ put them into this socital box? No. And if it is “just a color” then why not make it so that the whole student body is included?
I have and will never understand the plight that transgendered individuals face, but having to wear a certain gender specific graduation gown is not okay. I do not believe that there should be a separation by color. All the students who graduate have earned their degree and should not feel uncomfortable on one of the biggest milestones in their life, it is not fair to those individuals. I challenge all high schools to have the same color gowns and give respect to all graduates.