Bigots target 12-year-old trans girl
Sunday morning, I was lounging in bed with a cup of coffee enjoying a weekend that was all too short. I was perusing Facebook — I find myself spending less and less time there anymore — and looking at new photos my daughter had posted of my new grandson, who born on the Fourth of July.
Then I saw it — a post about a 12-year-old transgender girl named Maddie, who lives in Achille, Okla., and who was being called absolutely horrible, disrespectful things even though she had done nothing wrong.
There were even threats of physical violence made by adults who were also encouraging Maddie’s classmates to cause her physical harm.
It started on Maddie’s first day of the new school year. She was in a new school building, and she didn’t have the lay of the land yet; she hadn’t yet been told where the faculty restroom she normally used was located. So when nature called, she did what any other girl would do: she used the girls’ restroom.
That really should be the end of the story right there. But it’s not.
Apparently, word got back to the mother of one of Maddie’s fellow students, and soon that parent, Jamie Crenshaw, posted a “Head’s Up” in an Achille ISD parents group on Facebook, directed to parents of students at Maddie’s school. Crenshaw used abusive language targeting this young lady and intentionally used incorrect pronouns in referring to her.
Then Jamie Crenshaw’s post was shared on a relative’s Facebook page, and many others started piling on. And the insults turned into threats.
Let me stop here to say that it’s honestly hard for me to even write this. What is wrong with these people?! I’ve been wrestling with writing this for days. It sickens me. But I believe people need to know what happened.
Parent Seth Cooper posted: “Let Parker whip his ass until he quits coming to school.” I can only assume “Parker” is a fellow student who is being given permission to assault another child. Hopefully Parker has better sense than these pitchfork-wielding idiots claiming to be adults.
Several posts used “it” and “thing” and worse to refer to the transgender child, and more than one threatened violence against Maddie.
Some called on churches to get involved in this bigot-driven hatefest. Wouldn’t that be the height of hypocrisy?! Churches must stand against violent threats made toward children!
Where are the voices of political leaders? Their silence is deafening.
I was in a meeting with the policy committee of a north Texas school board a while back. We were working on an anti-bullying policy that included gender identity and sexual orientation. We were asked why those protections were needed.
THIS IS WHY!
If your child’s school doesn’t offer those protections, it’s high time they did!
Usually when one thinks of a bully, it’s a fellow classmate that has a shittier life than their target and a chip on their shoulder. They decide to take out their frustrations on someone unable to defend themselves either physically or verbally.
I was bullied in school, and it wasn’t fun. But it was nothing like this. Parents never threatened my life. My story wasn’t in the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post.
This is different. And it needs to stop.
I want you to come with me, back to the first day of school. Your first day of junior high. Mine was in early September 1970. Hill Junior High in Long Beach, Calif. I had only been in public school for four years by then, because I went to a private school up until third grade.
Public school had been quite an awakening. I was scared and nervous that first day of junior high.
Remember that junior high is the absolute worst time for being different. And some kids really have a capacity for cruelty. Puberty is also a major player. Mine was late, so I was on the small side. I’d gone from being left alone as a sixth grader at the top of the heap to being the lowest of the low — a new seventh grader in a new school that seemed huge. We didn’t have one classroom all day anymore; now we had different classes to go to. I had a locker. I didn’t know where everything was, and there were so many new kids.
Now imagine going through that day and being transgender.
Maddie and kids like her don’t want your pity. What they want is an education. What they want is to NOT feel different.
Schools need to understand that gender identity is protected medical information under FERPA. That’s serious stuff.
Forcing transgender kids like Maddie into “staff bathrooms” singles them out. It raises questions about “Why.”
Transgender kids should be treated like any other kid.
School is hard enough as is for those of us who are different. We sure as hell don’t need parents like Eddie Belcher posting on social media that “A good sharp knife will do the job real quick.”
Thankfully, Achille ISD Supt. Rick Beene closed the schools for a couple of days to allow things to cool off a bit.
But really — what the hell is the matter with these people?
Education is the key. Hopefully, these poor, ignorant small-town bigots can be educated, and maybe they won’t be so frightened of a 12-year-old girl that they feel the need to threaten violence against her.
Open season on children? That is definitely not OK.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.