A transgender senior at St. Pius X Catholic High School in Albuquerque is considering not walking across the stage at his graduation because the school has told him he must wear a cap and gown designated for female students.
The Catholic school has a policy that female students wear white caps and gowns, while male students wear black outfits for graduation. That's problematic for Damian Garcia, a transgender man who was assigned female at birth, but presents and identifies as a male. Garcia legally changed his name last year, and his family, friends, and teachers recognize him as male.
"I just want to wear my black robe, nice and proud, and have that memory to look back on with my family and friends," Garcia told Albuquerque's KRQE. "I would rather not walk than to embarrass myself by wearing a female robe."
The school superintendent told KRQE the school determines graduation dress code by the gender listed on the student's birth certificate. Although Garcia's birth certificate now contains his legal male name, his gender is still listed as female, since New Mexico requires a medical affidavit and proof of legal name change before amending gender on a birth certificate.
A pair of young Quaker brothers in Albuquerque heard about Garcia's story and launched a petition on MoveOn.org calling for St. Pius to let Garcia walk in men's regalia for graduation. The petition, addressed to St. Pius principal Barbara Rothweiler, currently has more than 24,000 signatures.
Garcia's family, who support his male identity, said they don't expect the parochial school to make an exception before graduation, but hope the school will consider doing away with gendered graduation gowns altogether in the future.
Watch KRQE's report below.