Maddie – Photo: VICE News, via YouTube.
“Some of those adults out there, they do get it, but they don’t support it. And that’s their choice. They can be hateful and rude about it, but they’re not dragging me down.”
—Maddie, a 12-year-old transgender girl in Achille, Okla., speaking to VICE News about the violent threats and harassment she received last month, after the parent of a fellow student objected to her using the girls’ bathroom.
According to Maddie and her parents, she had previously used the staff bathroom at her old school, but when a new school building opened, she was never told where the staff bathroom was. So she used the girls’ bathroom for a day.
One set of parents found out about Maddie’s restroom use, with the wife taking to Facebook to post a message on a parents’ group page — later shared on her husband’s personal Facebook page — objecting to Maddie’s presence at school and making inflammatory and false charges about her regularly using the girls’ room or having gotten in trouble for trying to peek through bathroom stalls.
Other parents and community members responded on Facebook, with some threatening to harm, castrate, and even kill Maddie, with one declaring it was “open hunting season” on transgender people. The threats were so bad that the school district thought it was better to cancel classes for a few days to allow cooler heads to prevail.
But the family still continues to live in fear of violence, which is why they’re intending to move to the Houston area, where they can be closer to extended family. Following the threats on Maddie’s life, a GoFundMe page was started to help the family relocate. (The family initially moved to Achille, from Sherman, Texas, two years ago after Maddie and her older brother were beaten up by fellow students because of her gender identity and her decision to transition.)
Speaking with VICE News‘ Evan McMorris-Santoro, Maddie said she thinks the outcry over her gender identity is overblown.
“I don’t care for it. I think it’s all stupid. Except supporters,” she said, referring to a small protest held in support of her by a handful of community members. “But the threats and that? It’s stupid. Who would do that to a 12-year-old?”
When asked if she feels she is different from other 12-year-old girls, Maddie said: “Everyone’s different. No one’s the same. We’re all different and unique and special, in our own way.”