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New Jersey
teacher's sex change worries parents

New Jersey
teacher's sex change worries parents

A New Jersey middle school teacher who ended the academic year known as Mr. McCaffrey plans to be back in September as Ms. McCaffrey. However, some parents are questioning whether children are mature enough to deal with her sex change. "I feel it's unfair to put this on young children," said Anna Marie Seavey, a mother of three who would prefer that Kerri McCaffrey not be assigned to the middle school. "It is unfair for us to have to explain it."

The transgender teacher, who underwent sex-change surgery in February, says she's ready to continue helping children. "I just want to be Kerri McCaffrey, a great teacher like I've always been," the 41-year-old language arts instructor told The Star-Ledger of Newark. "I'm a good influence on children, and I've dedicated my life to them."

Some parents, such as Caren Cusano, are trying to educate themselves on transgender issues. She said she sent an e-mail to McCaffrey to ask for information and to "applaud" the teacher's decision. "I said to Kerri that if we could have some Web sites so we could explain it in layman's terms to our kids, that would be great," said Cusano, whose children are in elementary school.

McCaffrey, who grew up as Herb McCaffrey, said she had struggled with her gender identity since age 7. She married, had two children, and taught for 12 years prior to undergoing the sex-change surgery. Immediately afterward she still went to school in a jacket and tie. "If I came out with this in February, I wouldn't have been able to teach because it would have caused such a commotion," she said. "I could not be selfish and hurt the kids in the middle of the year."

McCaffrey said she felt summer would be a better time for students and parents to hear about the surgery and come to terms with it. Janie Edmunds, the district's superintendent of schools, said she could not comment about McCaffrey because personnel and medical issues are involved. "I think it's fine," said Rebecca Tishman, who is going into eighth grade and hopes to have McCaffrey as a teacher. "I'm sorry that she was confused for so long." (AP)

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