Parker Hitt, InIt Class of ’18, Publishes “Milton’s History with Gender”
Current InIt delegate Parker Hitt of Milton Academy launched their Community Action Project by planning and implementing a Gender Awareness Week to challenge the gender binary. Community Action Projects are an opportunity for InIt students to implement their social justice knowledge and leadership to engage their peers and improve equity in their school or community.
Parker’s Gender Awareness Week included original art pieces about gender hanging in student common areas, an article published in the school paper, and daily announcements about statistics and personal experiences. Parker also facilitated a meeting focused on gender at their school’s Gender and Sexuality Perspectives club. In January and beyond, Parker will continue to facilitate conversations about gender beyond the binary and establish a transgender student affinity group.
Read on to check out their powerful article on their gender identity and their experiences at Milton Academy:
“Milton’s History with Gender” by Parker Hitt
(originally published in The Milton Paper)
My name is Parker Hitt. I identify as gender fluid — meaning I am a person who does not identify as having a fixed gender — and transgender, and use they/them pronouns. Gender Awareness Week comes as a part of my coordination with InIt, a YW Boston program based in leadership and social justice for highschool students in the Boston community.
In the past year, the administration has made several confused attempts towards a shared goal of comfort and inclusion for all trans* [a notation used to indicate the inclusion of gender-queer individuals under the label of “transgender”] people on campus. A new parietals system — revised after scrutiny and request by the campus LGBTQ+ community — attempted to solve the issue of acknowledgement, replacing an outright refusal to admit the existence of trans* folks on campus with a few line edits, a bedazzled name, and some word replacements.
The new, improved “in room visitation rules” still leave trans* students just as confused and misguided as to where we fit in. Are we allowed in certain rooms based on our gender expression? Our sex? Our perceived gender? The wording of the rule does nothing but make it more confusion; the student handbook repeatedly alternates between “sex” and “gender”, and uses terms such as “opposite sex”: muddling the two words, which both have their own separate meanings, and incorrectly defining both (there is no “opposite sex”: the existence of intersex people negates such language).
The history of gender at Milton runs far deeper than parietals. It extends into the girls’ and boys’ schools, divided by Centre Street and merged rather recently (1981), absolutely no space was included here for gender-queer students. Where would we stand? The middle of the road? Even today, the remnants of the schools remain obvious: around this time of year, the holiday assembly pops up. The dreaded “12 Days of Christmas” song plays, and girls are asked to stand for one category, boys for the next. Last year, I sat for both. Should I have stood for both? My gender fluidity sat, unable to decide.
Gendered dorms lie as a proposed necessity in our community, for the security of students and mental well being of their parents. I live a good distance away from school, but my decision not to board came at the discomfort I felt nestling into a girl’s dorm. I knew doing so would serve ages of “but am I really,” and questioned of my gender long after I had already arrived at my logical conclusion.In classes, students are constantly asked to sort themselves into the boys’ group and the girls’ group, or these two form naturally and allotted such names. I sit there, a little befuddled: of course, I present as feminine, but I am not a girl…but here I sit, in my assigned girl group. Hours of dysmorphia follow.
Milton’s structure is not the sole basis on which the burdens of trans* students on campus can be placed: the student body, a mesh of teens and their social networks, is the most complicated and yet most obvious reason for my own uncertainty in coming out. I knew that the second I mentioned my “new name” and “new pronouns” and “new gender” that the perception of me would shift dramatically, even though these facts have been true for years. I walk into class, and cooperate with students I know have used trans slurs, or have poked fun at my gender. Beyond their explicit hatred, and underlying, hard to see perception of trans* people lurks. I am gender-fluid. My belonging doesn’t make sense. I don’t fit in with the idea of “normal,” or with the simplified idea of how things should be, and so I unavoidably fit the concept of “weird.”
This sentiment has been implicitly and explicitly expressed on campus. I don’t fit into feminism (though I have many experiences that align with that of any oppressed gender); I don’t share some of the common experiences of LGBTQ+ people. Most don’t even know what gender-fluid means, and resultingly, my gender specifically has been the wrong end of many a bad joke — as have those of all trans* people at some point in their lives. Our appearances, our voices, our identities are called into question and placed under unnecessary scrutiny on a daily basis by everyone around us, and Milton is certainly no exception to this rule.
Looking forward, opportunities for in depth collaboration between trans* students and the administration need to occur on a much more periodic basis. Consultations on perception and effectiveness of the rules, and their impact on trans* students, need to become a regular occurrence, as does communication on the level of “acceptedness” trans* students on campus feel. Perhaps the most important change which needs to happen is a more-than-superficial acknowledgement of trans* students and of the trans* identity as a whole: we are more than just a footnote or afterthought. We belong in the fight for gender equality, in considerations over rules and classifications, as more than simply a recognized group. Given the progression LGBTQ+ rights have seen in the past 50 years, and continuous acceleration of learning and acceptance of trans folks, the future is bright for us, and particularly on campus, if Milton can keep up or even get ahead of with these patterns.
(1) Gender fluid: a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender
(2) trans* is a notation used to indicate the inclusion of gender-queer individuals under the label of “transgender”