A rural Oklahoma school system was closed for two days last week after adults posted violent threats on Facebook against a 12-year-old transgender girl.
Following several tumultuous days, the trans student’s mother told NBC News she and her family are hoping to move out of town — and have received help to do so from donors around the country.
“LET MADDIE BE MADDIE”
Brandy Rose said her daughter, Maddie, who was assigned male at birth, began articulating that she felt like a girl when she was about four years old.
“As far back as I can remember, her expression has always been feminine and female,” Rose told NBC News. “Even back before she could express that she was a girl, she always wanted girls’ things: barbies, princesses, the pink blankets when we would get the bed sets and stuff.”
Rose said she was “very ignorant” about gender-identity issues” and “had no idea what transgender was.”
“I thought she was a very, very feminine boy who might grow up to be gay, and we actually got her into a therapist that specializes in gender things with children, and they’re the ones that informed me, ‘Hey, your kid is transgender,’ and explained to me what that meant,” Rose explained.
“They told me that the best treatment for Maddie was to let Maddie be Maddie,” she added.
“THE BULLYING GOT SO BAD”
After years of letting Maddie live as a girl at home, Rose decided to let her do so at school as well.
On her first day of fourth grade in Sherman, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, Maddie went to school with girls’ clothes, long hair and nail polish. Even though the public school was informed that Maddie was transitioning, Rose said they would not allow her to present as a girl. She said Maddie was taken to the nurse’s office to have her nail polish removed and was not allowed to use the girl’s bathroom.
Her fellow students, who knew she had once presented as a boy, bullied her relentlessly, according to Rose. And as she got older, the students got crueler.
“She was assaulted in the bathroom, they pushed her on the ground and they kicked her, and they pulled her hair,” Rose said. “The bullying got so bad that her and her older brother, who went to the same school, were taunted to commit suicide,” Rose added. “That’s when Charlie, her old brother, was hit in the face.”
Rose said her family got in contact with the ACLU of Texas for help. “We didn’t know who else to reach out to, and we didn’t have money for lawyers.” After the ACLU got involved and penned a letter to the school, the school “backed off a bit” and let Maddie use the staff bathroom instead of forcing her to use the boys’ facilities.
In 2016, the Rose family tried to move to Houston, where they have family, but “financially it ended up being a big mess,” Rose said, so they moved back to Sherman.
Then in March 2017, the family moved Achille, Oklahoma, about 30 minutes north of Sherman, so Maddie could have a fresh start where no one knew she was transgender.
The fresh start, however, spoiled quickly. Students found out Maddie was trans and accused her of peeking at other students under bathroom stalls, an accusation that she denies. She was then asked to use the staff bathrooms, which she said she doesn’t mind, because they’re “bigger” and “smell better.”
“My personal opinion is that she should be allowed to use the girl’s bathroom, ’cause she’s a girl, but I’ve never fought the school district over it,” Rose said. “I’m not the one going to school there, and so since Maddie likes using the staff bathroom, I’m not gonna fight it.”
“IT DIDN’T SEEM REAL TO ME”
Maddie began seventh grade on Wednesday, Aug. 8, in a new school within the Achille Public Schools System. She was supposed to use the staff bathroom and was told she would find out later that day where it was, but nature called first.
Maddie used the girl’s restroom in her new school that first day, and the threats started shortly thereafter. A number of adults posted violent comments in the “Achille ISD Parent Group” on Facebook, which is not officially tied to the school district.
“Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!!” one person wrote, according to local NBC affiliate KFOR. Another added, “This is terrible!! Y’all have great kids and a lil half baked maggot is causing them probs.” A particularly violent comment stated, “If he wants to be a female, make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
“It didn’t seem real to me,” Rose said of the threatening comments. “Then I was just angry. I was angry more than anything, and then the fear set in.”
The Bryan County Sheriff’s Office began to investigate the online threats against Maddie the following weekend, and then the whole school system was closed on Monday, Aug. 13, and Tuesday, Aug. 14, due to the incident.
The sheriff said no arrests were made, but Rose sought a protective order against a local man whom she said verbally harassed her in a parking lot.
Via: NBC News