The 12-year transgender girl who was bullied online by local parents says she’s trying hard not to be bothered by the negativity.

Maddison Kleeman Rose spoke to VICE News, her first on-camera interview since her story caught national attention. Said she does not understand the fuss around her using the girls’ restroom.

“I don’t care for it. I think it’s all stupid, except supporters. But the threats and that, is stupid. Who would do that to a 12-year-old?” she said.

“Heads up parents of 5th through 7th grade,” parent Jamie Crenshaw said in a now-deleted post. “The transgender is already using the girls bathroom. We have been told how the school has gone above and beyond to make sure he has his own restroom yet he is still using the girls. REALLY… Looks like its going to be a long year.”

Another parent weighed in and said a “sharp knife” could take care Maddie using the girls’ bathroom. Other parents said their children should beat up Maddie until she left school.

Maddie and her family had moved to Achille from Sherman, Texas, where they said Maddie was bullied during her transition. Maddie’s mother, Brandy Rose, told TIME that in Sherman students had forced her daughter into the boys’ bathroom and taunted her to commit suicide. The family moved to Achille in 2017 hoping for a more accepting environment for their daughter, but after the controversy the family has decided to move out of Achille for fear of Maddie’s safety.

Maddie said she would not allow the negativity of certain parents affect her.

“Some adults out there do get it but they don’t support it and thats their choice, they can be hateful and rude about it but they ain’t dragging me down.” she said.

“Everyone’s different, no one’s the same,” Maddie added. “We’re all different, unique and special in our own way.”

Maddie’s mother said she plans to move her family to Houston, Texas, where Maddie will have more support and is likely not to be the only transgender student in her school.

Bathrooms have long been a flashpoint in the fight for LGBTQ rights – and recently became a hot-button political issue as several states debated bills restricting transgender people from using the bathroom of their gender identity. Transgender teen Gavin Grimm’s battle to use the boy’s bathroom at his Virginia school gained national attention.

In January, an Oklahoma state lawmaker introduced a “bathroom bill” that critics said would have restricted the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender identity, but the bill never came up for a vote.

A woman hurled a brick through the double-pane window of an LGBTQ community center in Anacostia this week in an incident D.C. police are investigating as a suspected hate crime.

The attack left a hole in the facade of Check It Enterprises and a crack in the door. It also rattled those who work and gather inside — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth who have grown to see the community center as a safe haven where they can escape violence and hate.

“Bad things happen to young people in this city,” said Ronald Moten, a youth mentor who has worked with Check It for about six years. “They’re always worried about their safety when they’re out there, but when they come here they feel safe. This is their safe haven.”

It’s an organization that exists on the fringes of two worlds: Washington’s LGBTQ community has been slow to embrace Check It, members, Moten said, because of “classist attitudes,” and neighborhoods where many of its members live still harbor homo­phobic attitudes that make them feel unsafe.

“D.C. still has a lot of violence and hate crimes directed at the LGBTQ community, and there’s a lot of work to be done,” Moten said. “Even within the gay community, there’s work to be done.”

Security cameras in and around the building captured footage of a woman throwing the brick. She targeted the front door at about 6:07 a.m. Tuesday, then moved to the front window.

After fracturing the first pane of glass, the footage shows, the woman threw the brick again and shattered the second pane.

The store was littered with shards of glass — Check It markets clothing — as Moten arrived that morning about 6:45 a.m. after receiving a call from a neighbor. Moten said the neighbor told him and other Check It volunteers that he heard the woman scream anti-gay slurs as she vandalized the storefront.

Police updated an initial report to indicate the crime may have been motivated by hate. “Suspected hate crime,” the police report says. “Anti-gay.”

The investigation continues.

Although members of the organization felt shaken by the attack, few were surprised that hatred may have found its way to Check It’s front door.

“It makes you remember where you’re at, reminds you not to get too comfortable,” Moten said. “We’ve had some of our kids attacked on Metro buses on their way here, but once they get inside this building, it’s been a safe haven.

“When things like this happen, it makes you think twice,” he said.

Check It Enterprises, on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast Washington, was founded by a group that had been members of the Check It street gang — a crew of teenagers in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast Washington who banded together for support and protection in the early 2000s.

Members of the group reformed to open Check It Enterprises, a community hub combined with the business that focuses on creating and marketing clothing.

Not wanting to drive up insurance premiums after the vandalism, the community center turned to the Internet to raise funds to fix the damage. It took Check It three days to surpass its goal of $2,500.

Most of the donations came from community members with ties to the organization, Moten said.

“This is the miracle of Check It — most of the supporters of Check It are not gay,” Moten said. “They’re members of our community who look at our kids as children who need support to change their life around. They don’t see the gay part.”

Several events this weekend will go on as planned, Moten said, despite the boarded-up “black eye” on the face of the store.

AB 2719 will help prioritize access to state-administered services and programs for LGBTQ Californians ages 60+.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a new bill into law that will support the inclusion of LGBTQ seniors in state-administered programs and services for the elderly.

AB 2719, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and co-sponsored by SAGE and Equality California, adds sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the definition of elderly communities that will receive priority for resources from California’s Department of Aging. The department helps seniors across the state find employment opportunities, receive healthcare and support, and find community among other elders.

Previously, the bill passed unanimously through both chambers of California’s state legislature earlier this year. 

Equality California cites estimates that about 10.9 million Californians will be over the age of 60 by 2030. Since LGBTQ people comprise at least 3.5% of general population in the U.S., some 380,000 LGBTQ seniors could be living in California by the 2030 mark.

“It’s incredibly important that we ensure LGBTQ older adults have access to the services and support they need to maintain their health and live their lives with dignity,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, in a statement. “We’re deeply grateful to Gov. Brown for signing AB 2719 and to Assemblymember Irwin for being such a strong champion for our LGBTQ elders.”

California isn’t the only area of the country looking to ensure the wellbeing of LGBTQ seniors: Last September, SAGE, the New York Housing Authority, and HELP USA announced plans for LGBTQ-friendly senior housing in Brooklyn and the Bronx, expected to open in the fall of 2019. The two homes will be the largest queer-inclusive senior living communities of their kind in the country and could help house some of New York City’s 100,000 estimated LGBTQ elders.

Experts say fostering community among elders is especially important for aging LGBTQ people, whose quality of life is greatly improved by friendship and support.

 

A Wyoming newspaper is under fire from GLAAD after running an op-ed from conservative writer Mona Charen that referred to Vermont’s transgender Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist as a male “who now prefers to dress as a woman.”

“Instead of providing a platform for medically and scientifically debunked lies, media should use this moment to elevate voices who can properly share stories and insights with their readers about who transgender people really are,” said GLAAD vice president Zeke Stokes in a tweet from GLAAD’s official account.

In her piece which ran in Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune on Tuesday, Charen said she didn’t consider Hallquist a woman and suggested that people should just be “polite and respectful” to her.

“If someone born a man now wears a dress and has breast implants and wants me to call him ‘she,’ I will respect that (even if I do not believe that makes him a woman). It’s important to be polite and respectful,” Charen wrote.

“Part of the progressive project is to shoehorn certain new nonconformists, particularly sexual nonconformists, into the minority category,” she added. “These favored groups — transgender people are the flavor of the month — are compared explicitly to African-Americans, and thus any accomplishment is celebrated as progress for them personally and for our society for shedding its prejudice.”

Josh Wolfson, the Star-Tribune’s editor-in-chief, did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

Charen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is no stranger to controversy. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, she was booed after she denounced President Trump and had to be escorted from the venue for her own safety.

This is not the first time a prominent conservative has gotten into trouble over their coverage of Hallquist. Last week, “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt called her “that transgender” before swiftly apologizing for the remark.

“I was responding to the reporter’s comments when I moved too quickly and couldn’t recall Christine Hallquist’s name,” Earhardt told TheWrap. “As a person of faith, I sincerely promise I never ever meant anything derogatory and I am sorry it may have come off that way.”

 

Being transgender in Birmingham isn’t easy. Harassment, bullying, and misgendering—referring to a transgender person with a word, especially a pronoun, that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify—are just a few of the challenges. Add skin color as a factor, and things can be even worse for trans women.

Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, founder and executive director of Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering (TAKE), is working to change all of that for transgender women of color.

What started out as a peer group in 2013 formed into a nonprofit that now features a drop-in center with peer-support groups, the T Girls Boutique Clothing Closet for interview looks, and a place where trans women can find anything to help meet their basic daily needs.

“We have toiletry kits, clothes, hair weaves, shoes, undergarments,” she said. “We do job-readiness training, help with job searches, host movie nights. Everything is done here. It’s a one-stop shop.”

Located at 8246 2nd Ave. South, TAKE has been housed in the East Birmingham community since June 2017. It is fiscally sponsored by Trans United, a national organization based in Washington, D.C., that supports transgender communities around the U.S.

Boyd said TAKE would like to partner with the city of Birmingham, as well, especially after Mayor Randall Woodfin, while a candidate, campaigned at the 2017 Transgender Day of Visibility.

Boyd said she has seen the mayor in passing but has not yet had a sit-down conversation with him. Some of the questions Boyd would like to ask Woodfin: “What’s going to be done for trans women? What are next steps for the city around sensitivity training when it comes to trans women, specifically trans women of color? How can a relationship be built with the community?”

Boyd said she was encouraged to see the city hire a new lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) liaison. Woodfin named Josh Coleman to the position in June 2018, but Boyd believes people in such positions should also reflect the community, particularly in Birmingham.

“So many people in the city are on the front line fighting for LGBTQ rights, … and black folks are doing some real critical work,” she said. “Just because you’re in office now, you can’t erase our existence in Birmingham. We were the same ones who, when [Woodfin was] out there campaigning, [were part of] the conversation to [get voters to the polls.]”

Boyd is determined to ensure that the trans community gets fair treatment in Birmingham.

“The most important thing people have to realize is that we do exist and we do live here,” she said. “They’d rather support more closeted, undercover cisgender men around here on all different levels than support people authentically living in their truth. It’s OK for gay men to go around and live out and loud, and nobody could know what they have going on. But [things are different] if a trans woman is out and loud, demanding respect and support from a community that doesn’t even feel like [she] should exist.”

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