POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Case Spotleson spends his days helping others as a traveling fireman and paramedic. He recently returned from Ukraine where he provided humanitarian aid as a volunteer paramedic.
Case says the fact that he is a transgender man is one of the least important traits about him.
“I just want to exist, I just want to exist, I don’t want to say constantly that I’m transgender, I don’t want to constantly be telling people that I’m transgender,” he said.
But, Case says he’s found himself in a position where he feels like he needs to speak out about transgender rights.
After Case made the transition, he went through the process of getting all his legal documents changed to reflect his new legal name. In his career field, he’s often required to turn in documentation for background checks.
“Everything else was so easy. Like getting my license changed was one piece of paper, and my doctor signing it. Getting my birth certificate, changed itself. Like, when I got my social security card changed, my birth certificate was changed with it,” he said.
However, he says there’s one document that has become more of an issue than any other when trying to get it changed.
“My high school transcript not getting changed could potentially have a big impact on whether I get a job or not,” he said.
Case graduated from Mooney High School. A Catholic School under the direction of the Youngstown Diocese. Case said when he requested that his name be changed on his transcripts, he was originally told no.
“They said that it is a historical document that does not need changed. And I said, ‘Well my birth certificate is my personal historical, the most historical of the historical documents,” he said.
Case says not having his name changed on his transcript means he may have to out himself as transgender when turning records into potential employers because he has to explain why there is a different name on it.
He said after several months of emailing the school, along with a viral TikTok video, a new transcript was sent to him. However, his former name was not removed. His new name was simply added to the transcript.
According to a statement from the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Youngstown, “It has been the policy of the Office of Catholic Schools to not alter personal information on historical transcripts based on later changes, for any reason.”
It goes on to say the school “may add an identifier to a person’s name on their official historical transcript to reflect they are “Now Known As” their new legal name.” This is what was done with Case’s transcript. But he says having his original name still on the transcript is the issue.
“I don’t need to tell people that I’m transgender to get a job, but I do because the high school is refusing to change it,” he said.
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, “eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading.” However, the law only applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
The statement sent by the Youngstown Diocese does state that, “the Office of Catholic Schools is in the process of updating this policy based on the expressed needs of graduates.”
It also states that its policy applies to all and is not related to gender identity.
Case says he was proud to graduate from Mooney and would love to carry the school name with him on his new career ventures. Soon, he’ll be traveling to Antarctica for work and says it’s an opportunity of a lifetime that he could potentially tie to his hometown and school. But until his records can reflect who he is, he doesn’t feel like he can.
“I’ve been a first responder in this community for 13 years like I’ve served this community for 13 years. So, like for a part of that community to turn its back on me and say that I’m not important enough because I’m transgender is incredibly hurtful,” he said.
Despite the fear of being discriminated against for being transgender, he felt it was important to speak out about this issue in the hope that it can be changed and not affect others after him.
“There are kids coming up behind me that are just like me and they need to know that they are safe in this world,” said Case.