Stephen Alexander says he always knew as far back as he can remember that he was transgendered. Inside he was male, but on the outside he was really female.
"I knew early on, but transgender is a very broad term," he said.
The gender issue was nearly all consuming through middle and high school growing up in rural northwest Rhode Island. So he poured his heart into sports.
"I couldn't express myself, so I focused on school work. I focused on sports. I loved basketball. I loved playing with my teammates. Such a great feeling when you win a state championship," Alexander said.
Alexander is the first publicly out transgendered coach in the U.S. He's also a coach at Ponaganset High School.
It hasn't been completely smooth sailing at Ponaganset, but Alexander says he gives "much love and props to the students who are receptive."
There are questions though.
"If it's a yes or no question ... I say 'Yes I am' and then, you know, if you want to talk about it later, I'll certainly be open to it," Alexander said.
By Alexander's own research, one in 10 people are gay or bisexual. Of that 10 percent, possibly 1 percent are transgendered, although he says more research needs to be done.
Those who go through with hormone treatment and surgery are transsexual.
"Transgendered people, with the proper support from family and friends, can be thriving individuals in society and can bring good insights into the world around," he said.
Coming back as coach Stephen Alexander to the very school where he used to be Jen Dandrow is complex. He applied for the coaching job, and got hired on his merits, and not because of who he used to be.
"Did I think it was my secret not to tell them? I didn't feel it was necessary. I just wanted to do the job and not make it a big issue. It's really about the kids and coaching," Alexander said.
Alexander says he's ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
And now carrying a certain badge of distinction, if it helps just one other person or enlightens others who are not about the diverse fabric of humanity, it'll all be worth it.
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