We LOVE when people in the community stand beside one another and show support, that's what our entire business model is based on.
This last week the local media exploded over the issue of a young trans girl in Dripping Springs, TX (a small town outside of Austin) who has been allowed to use the girl's bathroom for the last year or so at her public elementary school. If you are like us then you are so shocked and thrilled to hear that this small southern school is allowing this girl to use the correct bathroom, but parents were up in arms when they found out.
We made a trip out to the elementary school in question this past Monday, where a board meeting was being held to discuss the matter. Imagine that scene in Freeheld when Ellen Page is pleading for her right to Julianne Moore's benefits as her gay lover, except with a lot more camouflage in the audience.
There we were, clad in our finest queer attire, I was sporting my fave "Support Trans Kids" shirt from Bobo Academy, and we were bracing ourselves for what we assumed would be an onslaught of ignorance. What we were instead met with was and overwhelming amount of support for this little girl. If I were to hazard a guess I would say the "sides" were proportioned about 8:2 in this girl's favor. Most taking the stance that she'd been using the bathroom all along, what's the big deal now?
We were brought to tears as we saw signs from her classmates spelling out "You can Pee next to me!" and "She is who she is!" We were hanging around outside and got to catch part of an interview with one of the little girl's friends who spoke more eloquently than any 9-year-old I've ever met (or adult for that matter) on the topic of gender and inclusive rights for everyone.
A woman introduced herself to us within the first hour of us waiting around hoping for a seat in the overflowed overflow room, where a livestream was playing of the meeting. This woman had two young adopted children with her, one of whom was trans. The little girl turned to me and said, "They let me use the right bathroom at my school, this is just silly." I told her I couldn't agree more.
As the meeting went on, for about two hours (much longer than any other recent board meeting according to the parents around us), we got to hear both sides. As infuriating as it was to hear the opposing views I could see where some of their frustration was coming from -- they felt lied to, they felt that they had a right to know about these things -- and though I didn't agree I can understand that a lot of the anger was coming from a fear of the unknown. One father was particularly surprising, standing at the podium clad in a cowboy hat and handlebar mustache, I'll be honest when I say I profiled him from the start. He began by saying that when he found out about the trans child at the school he was forced to confront his feelings about transgender people as a whole, and he didn't like being forced to confront those feelings, I felt myself starting to get frustrated with him. But then he went on to say that his own children didn't seem to have any feelings at all about the issue -- they knew this girl as a girl, they showed no fear or discomfort about it, they showed no problems at all, and if they didn't mind it then why should he.
A few academics spoke up, making us laugh as they told people to get their heads out of the sand (a very polite way to say "get your heads out of your asses" in an elementary school setting) and realize that this isn't an issue of "boys in girls bathrooms" because trans girls are in fact girls.
We left as people wrapped up their statements, as we headed out the door I heard a mother saying that she had always trusted the school to do the right thing and she had no doubt they had done just that. I was happy we went to witness this slice of humanity, these people grappling with their beliefs and their internalized transphobia, but mostly the unbelievable amount of educated, open-minded, and respectful individuals who showed this girl love.
I wish that the news had never gotten a hold of this story -- trans women are already often the victims of harassment, abuse, and violence; and to make a young trans girl the center of such a dramatic story at a young age is just reinforcing this narrative. I do hope, however, that she sees the amount of people who stood beside her and dared speak out for her, and that she knows there is community out there even in places you might not expect one to be.