A 12-year-old girl who is being forced to flee her hometown after transphobic knife threats has spoken out about what’s happening.
Police shut down schools in Achille, Oklahoma for two days earlier this month after threats emerged to a transgender student, Maddie.
Messages had come to light in a Facebook group for parents of students, where several people had vented about Maddie being allowed to use the female bathroom.
They referred to the 12-year-old girl as “it,” “this thing,” “half baked maggot” and “the transgender,” and threatened to use a “good sharp knife” to slice her genitals. Another suggested: “Just tell the kids to kick [her] ass in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!”
A local pilot was suspended by his employer over the public threats, and an influx of donations have helped ensure that Maddie’s family will be able to relocate to live with family in Houston, Texas.
The girl has now spoken out in an interview with HBO’s Vice News, publicly identified for the first time as Maddison Kleeman Rose.
Her mother Brandy Jay Rose explained that Maddie had been living as female with no issue until the school pulled up old records that identified her as male.
She said: “Around the time that they found out that she is transgender, they called us and said that she’s no longer going to be allowed to use the girl’s bathroom, that she’s going to have to use a staff bathroom.”
However, rumours quickly spread throughout the town about Maddie after the intervention – including an incident where Maddie was confronted about her gender by a “fully grown man” at a Daddy-Daughter dance.
The same man later posted the Facebook thread that led to the security incident.
Speaking to VICE News, Maddie put on a brave face.
The 12-year-old said: “I don’t care for it. I think it’s all stupid. The threats and that is stupid. Who would do that, to a 12-year-old?
“Everyone’s different. No-one’s the same. We’re all different and unique and special in our own way.
“Some of those adults out there do get it but don’t support it, and that’s their choice. They can be hateful and rude about it, but they ain’t dragging me down.”
Superintendent Rick Beene defended the school’s actions.
He said: “What do you say to a mother who says ‘I do not want my daughter in a restroom where somebody has… you know, is a different gender’?
“We have one side who says the transgender student is what they say they are, and that sounds good. You have another side, that is the majority, that says I do not want my child in a bathroom with someone of a different gender.”
The town’s mayor David Northcutt, who is openly gay, insisted that the community was changing and that “the day of running someone out of town is gone.” Addressing Maddie’s family leaving town, he said: “I was sad when I heard that.”
He added: “I can understand the want and need to be near her family, and I think that’s a goal that did nor originate in the last few weeks, and was a goal for some time. I hope that’s true.”