Published: 00:01, 26 November 2016
An overseas author and ambassador for transgender rights has pledged to send a copy of his book and words of encouragement to a trans pupil in Maidstone.
Liam Klenk, who lives in Zurich, Switzerland, with his wife, was inspired by the story of Lily Madigan, an 18-year-old pupil at St Simon Stock Catholic School in Oakwood Park who started a petition and hired a solicitor after being told she could not wear female school uniform or use the girls’ toilets and changing rooms.
The school apologised to Lily, formerly Liam, who came out in the New Year, and said it was an inclusive academy that wanted to ensure all students were happy and comfortable.
Mr Klenk, 45, who transitioned from female to male more than 20 years ago, finally felt able to write his life story three years ago, moving to Hong Kong and spending 14 months on the project.
The result was Paralian: Not Just Transgender, a memoir narrated through the author’s relationship to water.
Mr Klenk, who has previously worked as a scuba diving instructor in the Maldives and an underwater stage manager at an aquatic show in China, said: “Dear Lily, keep on standing up for who you are and what you believe in. You’re not alone!
“Lily Madigan knows who she is. Gender dysphoria is not a joke. I myself was struggling with it for many years until I finally transitioned from Stefanie to Liam when I was 23.
“We transgender people don’t make these things up. It’s not a mood. It’s not a phase. We are not having a case of mental indigestion.
"We are, in all seriousness, not at home in our own bodies. We were born like this. Souls stranded in a wrongly-gendered physical shell. It simply happened, luck of the draw, through no fault of our own.”
Mr Klenk’s publicist said she would send three copies of the book, one for Ms Madigan and one each for the school’s library and staff room, this week.