Student Focus: Meeting Luna Vasquez

Sapna Nath, Commons Editor

Throughout the past few years there has been a renewed push at Ward Melville High School to create a more tolerant and bully-free environment, one where all students can feel secure regardless of their differences. Senior Luna Vasquez truly supports and applauds this movement, however still believes more needs to be done. Acceptance is very important to Vasquez, especially because she is transgender – when a person self-identifies with a different gender than his or her assigned birth gender.

Secretary of the school’s GSA or Gay Straight Alliance, Luna Vasquez, praises the many initiations the school already has established to promote acceptance and tolerance. As a transgender student, Vasquez says she can be subject to ridicule, “but not so much in the school because of these initiations.” She is glad to know that she will be leaving the school in June with this club in place because of the good things the club is doing, such as “trying to instill a greater education of gay rights and the LGBT community through subjects like English, where students can read a story with gay protagonist and even through History lessons.” According to PBS, or the Public Broadcasting Service, the average age gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual students are coming out is dropping largely in part from these more accepting environments. However, Vasquez feels that the club still “needs more experience, more organization, and more members for the important task it is given.”

Vasquez says, “being transgender is not something you choose and it is not something you can help; the choice is to come out.” She continues, “coming out required a lot of courage and was very difficult, especially for me because I am not the most social person.” Throughout this experience, Luna Vasquez believes that the school administration “should make it more known to students that the school has facilities where you can receive help about issues like this.”

Last year, Vasquez went to speak with her guidance counselor to garner advice about the best ways to handle the many changes she was facing. Although she says that the school does have “plenty of allies and a great counseling center,” she feels a greater onus needs to be taken by the school to educate students on what it truly means to be gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual. Vazquez hopes that if a lot of the misconceptions are dismantled, a greater tolerance and acceptance within the school community will be engendered.

Vasquez states that, “having strong foundation of friends and now family as allies is extremely helpful with your self-confidence.” However, for Vasquez, having this very strong support of allies was not immediate and consequently, “I was more on my own and had to do more self-research.” To others with the same situation she believes that, “if this is the case, use the internet as a means of connecting with places that can help you and finding reliable sources of information; also look into your school to see if there are clubs, such as the GSA, and counseling centers.” Because everyone does not have accepting families, especially initially through the transition, it is very important for the school to make it know to the students that they are accepted, they are not alone, and that help is available.

Speaking about her interests, Vasquez says she is very interested in 2D art and plans to further pursue this in college. For her, art is a means of “conveying a message to others- a way to let others know it’s okay to be who you are.” Luna Vasquez also believes that art, for herself, is one of the best forms of expression, because “it’s a way to show to people that I am still a person.” She is now drawing a self-portrait, which she describes as being “more feminine” and a reflection of who she is.

Although Vasquez states, “certain challenges still remain and more challenges are certainly to come,” she believes that this change is a progression and should best be handled in stages. One of the earlier stages she went through last year was to change the way she dressed to her preferred gender. Another was approaching teachers to “ask them to change their outlook on me.” Vasquez says that many of her teachers last year were exceptionally helpful and “really stood out in adapting to the change almost instantaneously, such as Mr. Buckland, Ms. Thomas, and Ms. Robertson.” She says the next stage for her will be to obtain a legal name change; a change she hopes will occur on her eighteenth birthday next year.