Transgender High School Senior Skips Graduation Over School's Transphobic Policy

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com May 23 2013 3:39 PM ET

A transgender senior at St. Pius X Catholic High School in Albuquerque skipped his graduation Wednesday after the school refused to let the teenager wear the black cap and gown worn by male graduates, instead insisting he wear the white graduation garb worn by female students.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the student, Damian Garcia, thanked his friends and supporters on Facebook Wednesday morning, noting that the school would not make an exception to allow Garcia to dress in gender-appropriate attire at graduation.

"I'm fully respecting this and myself by not walking and/or attending the ceremony at all," the Journal reports Garcia writing.  

Garcia has been vocal about his disapproval of his school's refusal to recognize his gender identity, but acknowledged earlier this week that the private parochial school was unlikely to change its policy, which mandates that students dress in gender-specific graduation attire according to the gender listed on their birth certificate. Although Garcia legally changed his name last year, and family, friends, and faculty recognize him as male, the state of New Mexico won't change the gender marker on a birth certificate without a medical affidavit affirming that he's had expensive, experimental surgery that is generally not covered by insurance. 

Garcia and friends rallied outside the school earlier this week, and the school's most famous alumnus, out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tuesday called on the school to "do the right thing and let all your students graduate with dignity."

The Journal also notes that the University of New Mexico's LGBTQ Resource Center has announced plans to host a graduation celebration for Garcia May 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Scholes Hall on the university's main campus.