Lily B. McBeth (born 1934) is an American transgender teacher from Tuckerton, New Jersey. She was born William B. McBeth and as part of her transition underwent sex reassignment surgery in 2005. She has three grown children from a previous marriage of 33 years. She is a retired medical sales & marketing executive She was an active surfer, sailor, skier and duck hunter. As former soldier she served in the U.S. Army as a Senior Medical Corpsman with a tour duty in Alasks. She says that she had always perceived herself as female and identified with other women. She says that for many years, she was afraid to address her transgenderism and felt that her first priority was keeping her family together for the sake of her children.
She worked as a substitute teacher at Little Egg Harbor Township School District, Pinelands Regional School District and Eagleswood Elementary School District for five years prior to her transition and returned after completing surgery to resume her teaching career. However, some in the community did not think she should have been allowed to return to teaching in the rural town of Eagleswood, near the Jersey Shore. One parent took out a full page advert in a local newspaper alerting parents that they should be aware of what was happening. There were parental fears expressed that some of her students would not understand transgenderism. However, after listening to dozens of parents and citizens providing public input, the school district board decided to uphold their previous 4 to 1 vote for her reinstatement. This decision was hailed and criticized by politicians, journalists, and activists around the world. While she continued working as a substitute in Eagleswood School District she reapplied and was put on the substitute teachers list in the Pinelands Regional School in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey in the fall of 2006. The School Board appointed her to this position after a meeting at which they heard no negative comments; the vote to accept her was unanimous, with one member abstaining.
Her case attracted considerable media attention. She appeared in interviews on ABC's Good Morning America, The Lynne Doyle Show in addition to being the subject of many articles and stories published in regional, national and international publications. She has also appeared in interviews on all three major news networks She used these opportunities as platforms to explain her life so as to raise public awareness about transgenderism and the truth about gender identity.
Considered by some as the "Rosa Parks" of the transgender movement in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported her as saying: "Look at me as a person: Am I qualified to teach? Yes. Do I have experience? Yes. Do I have a good report card from the schools? Yes. I have nothing to hide, and I'm proud of who I am."
"Make no mistake: Lily McBeth is one of the most important figures in New Jersey civil rights history over the past two decades," said Steven Goldstein, president of Garden State Equality, a gay and transgender rights group.
She continues as an advocate and activist to support transgender equality by working within the framework of many leading National and regional GLBT organizations to achieve this goal.