A transgender girl in Vermont was bullied by teammates on her high school volleyball team, and then by right-wing media, after she was misidentified by classmates as the perpetrator of a locker room lockout.
Last week, WCAX-3, a CBS affiliate in the state, reported in a post since removed that the Randolph High School girls’ volleyball team had been “banned from its own locker room,” under a banner headline reading “Gender locker room dispute.” Right-wing media jumped on the trans-hate catnip.
The original story quoted cisgender student Blake Allen, who claimed she and her teammates in the locker room were the targets of an inappropriate comment by a trans girl, triggering an incident between students. As a result, the school shut the locker room down while the dispute was being investigated.
In an interview, Allen told WCAX: “They want all the girls who feel uncomfortable, so pretty much 10 girls, to get changed in a single-stall bathroom, which would take over 30 minutes. Where if one person got changed separately, it would take a minute, like no extra time.”
She added: “My mom wants me to do this interview to try to make a change.”
According to the mother of the trans student, WCAX got the story exactly backward, but neither she nor her trans daughter were asked for their version by the CBS affiliate.
That left the one-sided, and inaccurate, story to the devices of the right-media media machine, and opened the trans player, her family, and Randolph High School to an online campaign of harassment.
On Monday, the trans girl’s mom shared her daughter’s version of the incident with local news site Seven Days. The trans player says that she was changing clothes in the locker room when three teammates started “yelling at her to get out and to stop looking at them.” She says she entered a stall to assuage them, but when she looked out to ask if jerseys were required for that day’s practice, the girls resumed their shouting.
Later, the team’s coach told the trans player she’d overheard the incident and would be reporting the bullying to school officials. That’s when and why the locker room was closed to all players, confirmed by school administrators in a call to the trans girl’s mom.
School Superintendent Layne Millington said the school wanted to keep the locker room open, with adult supervision, but “false and escalating rhetoric on social media” dissuaded volunteers. The district’s website was hacked and defaced with “hate speech, symbols, and photographs targeting transgender individuals.”
In the aftermath of the false reporting, the trans student has been the victim of bullying from other students and parents, who’ve labelled her a “voyeur,” “pervert,” and “freak” online.
The story exploded in the media, and even Fox News contributor Caitlyn Jenner responded to the distorted version of the story.
“What is the school’s solution to this?” she said on Fox earlier this week. “Well, let’s ban the ten girls who complain, the complainers, put them off in the corner in their own little part of the locker room and don’t do anything when it comes to this trans person. So honestly, everything is out of whack right now and these things have to stop.”
The trans player is asking for an apology from WCAX, for misrepresenting the facts. In a letter to the station’s news director, Roger Garrity, the girl states: “I am here to inform you that what was written about me is not truthful, I had never made inappropriate comments in the girls locker room nor outside of it. That is a lie.”
“News is meant to inform,” the girl writes, “but all you have done is enable lies that not only hurt me, but hurt the transgender youth that are within Randolph and Vermont.”
WCAX did not respond to LGBTQ Nation’s request for comment.