Jonas adapts easily to Nicole’s new name, but Wayne is nervous about explaining the name change to his friends and family. But to Wayne’s relief, his friends; his parents, Bill and Betty; and his brother Billy are completely unsurprised. There are no judgments or rejections. They simply say they want what’s best for Nicole.
Like Wayne, his relatives know that the most important thing is to support Nicole. This also represents another hurdle that Wayne is able to overcome, in fully acknowledging to his family that he has a transgender daughter.
Nicole begins the fifth grade in 2007 and immediately her nerves are dissipated. She wears her first skirt on the third day of classes. She is quickly elected class vice president, signs up for choir and viola, and joins a team of girls in a program for math, science and arts.
Nicole’s transition in school also demonstrates how, for the most part, kids are accepting of difference and have an innate sense of equality—often more so than adults. They know that Nicole had once been Wyatt but are completely accepting of her being proud of her identity.
There are hints of issues coming up, however: one day, the mother of another fifth-grade girl calls Lisa Erhardt and says that she had become a little worried about Nicole using the girls’ bathroom when she is still anatomically a boy, since her own daughter is about to go through puberty. Erhardt assures her that the last thing Nicole wants is for anyone to see her “birth genitals.” Now knowing this, the mother agrees that it is fine for Nicole to use the girls’ bathroom.
This episode represents another aspect of why it is important to educate others on transgender issues. When the mother of this fifth-grade girl is informed about Nicole’s perspective, and because Lisa Erhardt has done the research to be able to give her that information, she becomes much more tolerant of Nicole’s presence in the girls’ bathroom.
Soon after, there is an issue with another fifth-grade boy, Jacob, and his grandfather and guardian, Paul Melanson. Melanson believes “men and women [are] not interchangeable” and that people should not be allowed to “choose” their own gender. Melanson visits the acting principal, Bob Lucy, to complain about Nicole using the girls’ restroom, but Lucy refuses to hear his complaint. Melanson tells Jacob, then, that there is “only one thing to do” about the situation.
Melanson’s discrimination against transgender people as a whole, and against Nicole in particular, is also borne of ignorance about the issues. Nicole does not think that men and women are interchangeable either, nor does she “choose” her gender: she simply innately feels that she is a girl despite having male sexual anatomy.