Following a report last week of violent threats against a 12-year-old transgender girl in Oklahoma, the family now says they are hoping to flee their current neighborhood and move to a more inclusive environment outside of the state.
The child, whose name is Maddie, was reportedly taunted on social media by parents in the school she attended when she used the girls’ restroom on the first day of seventh grade.
Following a wave of violent Facebook posts in which one of the comments suggested she should be beaten and never return to school, the Achille School District decided to close temporarily for her safety. The parent group’s page was also shut down.
A parent named Kevin Bickerstaff encouraged physical violence with, “Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!!” and another father, Dad Seth Cooper, suggested that another student should “whip his ass until he quits coming to school.”
A restraining order was filed by Maddie’s mom, Brandy Rose. Now, Rose says she plans to relocate her family to Houston, Texas.
The family already has roots in their new destination. Rose’s oldest daughter lives in Houston where she plans to move her husband and their six children. Rose’s mother also plans to join them in the relocation effort.
In an ironic turn, the family relocated from their home near the Texas border in a town called Sherman two years ago. Rose said Maddie was also assaulted there before they made the move to their current home in Achille.
“We actually moved here from Sherman hoping to have a fresh start for Maddie, because she was severely bullied there, and taunted to commit suicide, and assaulted in the bathroom,” Rose shared on her fundraising page for Maddie. “Unfortunately, her fresh start did not last long.”
“Maddie was physically attacked in the boys restroom in fourth grade,” Rose said. “And then bullied so bad that by the time she got to fifth grade, her and her brother – who went to the same school – were being taunted to commit suicide.”
Maddie’s issues with acceptance as a transgender student are not uncommon.
A 2o15 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality showed that more than half of transgender students in K-12 schools have been verbally harassed at school. The same study revealed that about a quarter of transgender youth reported physical assault and violence, or the threat of it, in a school setting.
According to the report, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) is the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States, with 27,715 respondents from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas.
A fundraiser was set up following the threats against Maddie and organizers have since surpassed their goal of $15,000. At the time of this publication, an approximate $23,189 had been raised.
An update on the family’s GoFundMe page said they would invest additional funds for their daughter’s future.
“I’m beyond blown away! I was thinking that anything above and beyond what it takes us to move, we’ll put in a trust fund for Maddie’s future, like hormones or if she decides to have surgery,” Rose shared in the post. “This is just so amazing, I don’t know how to handle it! Thank you all so much!”