This is Maddie. She’s 12.
She’s “the transgender”, “the thing”, the “lil half baked maggot” that parents of other kids think should be sorted out with “a good sharp knife”.
Maddie’s story went viral. I thought it was upsetting enough, but then I watched the Vice News video report. Seeing a wee girl pretending to be braver than she feels made the whole thing even more heartbreaking.
Please watch it. One of the reasons anti-trans sentiment still spreads is because many of us don’t know any trans people. It’s easy to mistrust and even hate people you don’t know, people you’re told are different, and some of the worst people exploit that. But it’s a lot harder to hate when you see someone who’s just like your own kids (Maddie is only slightly older than my daughter. The thought of anybody, let alone parents, ganging up on her…), because of course trans people are just people.
It’s not a long film, but there are plenty of moments to break your heart, to make you angry and sad. The police not so subtly implying that the filmmakers should get out of town or expect violence from the locals. The school board discussing everything but the case. The town mayor, who’s gay, having obvious difficulty defending bigotry. But the moment that really jumped out for me was an almost throwaway remark: when Maddie came to town, nobody knew she was trans until a teacher pulled the old records and told others.
Teachers are supposed to be the protectors of our children.
This particular case went viral, and strangers’ fundraising has enabled Maddie’s family to move to somewhere less backward. But there have been and will be many more Maddies whose stories you won’t hear, and for whom nobody will crowdfund anything.