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Elementary principal pens letter telling community he’s transgender, identifies as male and female

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Tom Daniels, an elementary school principal at the Stanley School in Swampscott, Massachusetts, told the local community Tuesday that he is transgender and will be going by his ambiguous middle name, Shannon, going forward.

What are the details?

Daniels, 52, in a letter published by The Salem News, admitted that he has struggled with his gender identity since he was in elementary school, and recently decided to come out with the news that he is transgender.

"After confronting a series of challenges last fall, I let myself imagine the possibility of being completely honest with myself and those around me," he wrote. "I can now say it: I am transgender."

"For me," he explained, "that means I identify as both male and female, and I plan to move toward presenting myself and identifying as female."

Daniels wrote that he doesn't have a particular preference as to what others should call him, writing that "'he,' 'she' and 'they'" are all acceptable.

"As I nurture my new identity, I will most likely be presenting myself differently," Daniels wrote, noting that he is aware his transition might be difficult for some of those within the community.

What is the principal saying?

Daniels then went on to detail ways parents can educate their children to understand, or at least accept, his transition.

Some of the "sample language" provided by Daniels includes:

  • "There are many different ways boys and girls express themselves. It is important that we accept everyone as they are."
  • "Principal Daniels may look and sound different, but inside Principal Daniels is the same caring person."
  • "This doesn't change the fact that Stanley School is a great place to be and learn."

Daniels concluded his letter by expressing his hopes that those around him offer support.

"I humbly ask that you support me as you would any family member going through a profound life change," Daniels wrote.

He told the Salem News that he woke up one morning and asked himself who he was and what it was he wanted.

"I said, internally I'm a female and I want to be one,'" Daniels told the publication. "It gave me this incredible peace and happiness. It was just right. At age 52, I'm brave enough and maybe foolhardy enough to do the right thing."

According to the News, Daniels received emailed messages of support after releasing his letter.

"It's really nice," he said.

What does the superintendent say?

Swampscott Public Schools Superintendent Pamela Angelakis followed Daniels' letter with a note of her own Tuesday.

Angelakis wrote that she applauds Daniels' decision to reveal his "intensely personal decision" to identify as transgender and added her own hopes that the community rally around Daniels with support.

"In all my years in Swampscott, I know the community to be caring, considerate and accepting and I am confident we can provide the level of support and understanding necessary to help Principal Daniels on this journey," she concluded.

Angelakis' letter also included some suggestions for parents to discuss the transition with children, and even included some multimedia resources to help parents teach children about the concept of self-identification and transgenderism.

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