Transgender student: I felt like a leper
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- On the surface, 23-year-old Jillian Dawson, a student at Tulsa Community College, seems fine.
But she knows a harder life. One that cuts deep and leaves scars.
"Well, I transitioned publicly in high school," said Dawson.
Dawson, born a male, transitioned to female during her senior year in high school.
"People treated me as if I was a leper," said Dawson. "Even my own friends wouldn't talk to me."
People talked. Rooms would go quiet when she walked in.
And then there was the issue of the bathroom.
"There was this huge ordeal about which restroom I should use, either men's or the women's," said Dawson. "And I said, do you really want me in the men's restroom?"
Years, before it was front-page news, deciding which bathroom to use, was all the talk at her Arkansas high school.
"It was half and half," said Dawson. "There were people who were accepting of it, and there were people who really did not want me in the women's restroom."
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In the frenzy of right and wrong, male or female, Dawson hopes people on both sides of the argument will remember one thing.
"I understand why people are afraid of us as well because they don't understand us. That's usually what happens when people don't understand something. They label us and say we're going to do something bad, and we're not," said Dawson.
Dawson said her school agreed to let her use the women's restroom because they weren't sure what else to do. But that feeling of isolation never left her. Eventually, she left the school and finished her high school degree online.