Mason Catrambone long wanted to be a student at Camden Catholic High School, his dad's alma mater.
Earlier this year, he was on the road to fulfilling that dream when he landed acceptance into the high school's freshman class.
But now, Mason and his parents, Frank Catrambone and Annmarie Kita, say the school has crushed his dream by refusing to support and accommodate his gender identity. When Mason, who attended public elementary and middle school in Williamstown, where he lives with his parents, applied to Camden Catholic, he was Madelyn.
In the time since, though, Madelyn became Mason as the teen learned more about himself and came out as transgender. He's been transitioning from Madelyn to Mason this summer.
"Even when I see pictures of myself from the beginning of the summer, I think, 'Wow, that was a whole different person,'" Mason told NBC10's Cydney Long.
He said embarking on the journey of his transition was a tough decision, but something he knew he had to do. "No one wants to go through these struggles, but I didn't want to not be myself anymore," the teen explained. "The fact that I have support of my friends and parents has given me support to handle this."
Mason planned to start his freshman year at Camden Catholic this fall, but when the school learned of his transition and met with his parents to discuss it, they said they couldn't accommodate him, saying his gender identity doesn't mesh with the school's Catholic teachings.
"By choosing a Catholic school, students and their parents must understand that this means the school environment is shaped by religious beliefs and behavior is governed accordingly," Camden Catholic officials said in a written statement. "After discussion with the student’s parents and reflection on the requests, it was clear that we could not provide the accommodations, as they would contradict Catholic teaching on gender identity."
Mason's parents twice met with school officials to talk about what their son would need if he became the 750-student school's first openly transgender pupil, including that Mason be allowed to wear a boys' uniform.
The school said it couldn't meet their needs.
"We strive to be welcoming, respectful and sensitive to each student's unique needs, while always remaining true to the Church's teachings," the school continued in its statement. "In this case, we could not do what the parents wished for their child and they chose to look for another school."
Mason is going to cyber high school for the moment. He's disappointed at Camden Catholic's decision, but not surprised.
"I felt like I was rejected even though I knew the students of Camden Catholic would accept me as one of their peers," he said.
"I had learned that there is a stance against transgender people in the Bible ... and you are as God created you, and you shouldn't tamper with that," Mason added. "So yeah, I would say I wasn't surprised at the end."
He said he hopes to raise awareness by going public with his story. And it seems he has: A Change.org petition supporting him created by someone identified only as "Concerned Camden Catholic Student" garnered 955 signatures since it began a day ago.
"I just want people to know what happened," he said. "I know it wasn't very logical at first to go to a Catholic school knowing that I was transgender ... but at the same time, they could have worked it out."