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'I Can Now Say It': Elementary School Principal Comes Out As Transgender

SWAMPSCOTT (CBS) – A Massachusetts elementary school principal announced in a letter to the community they are transgender.

Shannon Daniels, principal of Stanley Elementary School in Swampscott, said they have struggled with gender identity since elementary school.

"I did my best to suppress those feelings for more than 40 years, and while I was successful to a degree, I have never felt completely happy or at peace. I got to the point that I thought I would never be able to reveal my true self. Frankly, the prospect of doing so was terrifying," Daniels wrote.

"That has changed. … I can now say it: I am transgender."

Daniels asked to be called Principal Daniels, and said people can use "he," "she," and "they" as pronouns.

"As I nurture my new identity, I will most likely be presenting myself differently," Daniels wrote. "While my decision is intensely personal, I realize I play a public role in the community. I know there will be questions, and I am aware of the likelihood that my transition won't necessarily be easy for everyone."

Swampscott Principal transgender
Principal Shannon Daniels. (Image Credit: Swampscott Public Schools)

Daniels said there will be an open line of communication with faculty, staff and families.

"I really feel most comfortable presenting myself in a female way," Daniels told WBZ-TV. "I feel really like calm, and sort of peaceful and really kind and sensitive."

Parents were given language to use with children to discuss Daniels' transition, stressing it is important to accept everyone as they are and to know that Daniels is "the same caring person."

"I just explained Principal Daniels looks like a boy, but inside feels like a girl," one mother told her children, "and they'll probably notice some changes when they see him."

Parents WBZ-TV talked to were supportive.

"I don't think it's a big deal, he has lot of courage for coming out and I hope he's the principal for many years to come and I hope people are nice to him," one father said. "He's a nice guy, I'm sure he'll be a nice woman."

Principal Shannon Daniels
Principal Shannon Daniels (WBZ-TV)

Superintendent of Schools Pamela Angelakis also sent a letter to parents.

"I applaud Principal Daniels and admire the courage, honesty and transparency that comes through in the letter you received," Angelakis wrote.

The letter included resources for parents to talk to their children about transgender issues.

"Principal Daniels has committed to being honest and transparent throughout this personal journey. I will certainly do the same from the district's perspective," wrote Angelakis.

Principal Daniels has been married to a woman for 29 years; they have three children ages 16-23.

"Often times what I hear is, 'well that must mean you're gay and that must mean you're going to get a divorce and get fired,'" Daniels said. "None of those things have happened, in fact I feel closer to my wife now."

Daniels hopes to physically transition to a woman some day.

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