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Trans teen gets push back on locker rooms in Galesburg

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GALESBURG — A transgender teenager was the target of a social media post angry about her using the girls’ locker room at Galesburg High School.

The since-deleted post was went up on Tuesday with the person angry at Ali McDorman using the girls’ locker room at her school, misgendering her in the process. What has followed was a social media battle on the post and one of the first instances of bathroom access for trans students as an issue in the state outside the Chicago metro area.

Screen cap of the post before it was deleted.

(Editor’s note: We have gotten permission from the McDorman family to use their full names.)

Despite the comments on the post, the family has been getting support. Ali’s mother, Holly McDorman, said that the school has been very supportive.

“She has a great team of teachers and social workers who are allowing her to be who she is,” said McDorman. “Recently, they allowed her to change her name on her ID and my daughter getting to use the girls locker room is part of that support.” The school has a Gay-Straight Alliance and Ali is friends with other trans students. And despite a lot of hostility at the start of the thread, many more people started to comment on the post in support of Ali.

“As far as we are aware she is the only transgender student with two supportive parents,” McDorman said.

State law does side with the family. Last month, Ill. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order that directed the state education department to support transgender students. A lawsuit trying to prevent a trans teenager from using the girls’ locker room was dismissed in Schaumburg back in April.

A federal survey released in January 2019 found that 2% of high school students identify as transgender.

The family doesn’t know the man who posted the comment.

Galesburg is known for Knox College and tourism. McDorman said the college helps with attitudes but there is still resistance.

“Galesburg is home of Knox College which is very liberal and affirming,” she said. “However, the majority demographic remains conservative. We belong to several groups in the community that are trying to lean the population toward openness.” McDorman herself is the president of the Galesburg chapter of PFLAG, started just this year. The family has contacted the school board. They’ve also reached out to PFLAG National for resources.

The family is encouraging others to embrace who they are, “live their best life, and remember you are exactly who you are meant to be.”

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the original post has been taken down with the poster’s profile offline. However, the post was shared more than 200 times before it was deleted.

McDorman said they were hoping for a silver lining.

“I’m hoping that we can educate the community,” she said. “I’m hoping that people will stop drawing conclusions about who people are inside based on the ‘outside’. If anyone actually knew my daughter, they would know her for who she really is… the beautiful young woman we see everyday.”

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