Last week, a transgender teenager from California was crowned homecoming queen. It should have been one of the happiest moments of her life so far. Instead, she was soon reduced to tears by the hateful negativity she received.
Cassidy Lynn Campbell, 16, won homecoming queen on Friday, September 20. This would be a cause for celebration for any teenager, but for Campbell it was a special moment that showed her she had the support of her peers at Marina High School.
In the run up to the vote announcement, Campbell told the LA Times why she had decided to run, saying:
“If I win it would mean that the school recognizes me as the gender I always felt I was, but with all the attention, I realized it’s bigger than me. I’m doing this for the kids who can’t be themselves.”
When Campbell’s victory was announced she broke down in tears, appearing overcome by the news. Luckily, she had family there to support her. You can watch the wonderful moment below:
The media has largely cast this in a favorable light and avoided sensationalizing the story, opting for the angle of Campbell being the first transgender homecoming queen in the country.
Yet, despite the largely positive response, Campbell has also received a substantial portion of negativity. Things became so bad for Campbell that on the day after her victory, she uploaded a video to YouTube entitled “I should be so happy…” in which she sobs about the ignorance and hateful comments she has seen and heard surrounding her story.
In the video, Campbell says she doesn’t understand why people have to judge her based on her being trans when, as she emphasizes a number of times, she is above all a human being.
Watch the video below (which contains a few instances of profanity):
Fortunately, if readers click through to YouTube, they will see that the comments on that video now appear to be overwhelmingly positive. It is fortunate, too, that Campbell appears to have the support of at least some members of her family and, crucially, her school.
Campbell resides in California, a state that this year passed a groundbreaking law known as Assembly Bill 1266. The bill guarantees that transgender students should be given access to sports programs, facilities, changing rooms and bathrooms that align with their gender identity and not their birth assigned gender.
This has been hailed as a monumental step in firming up aspects of policies that several districts had already adopted, and sends a strong message of support to trans kids that their schools, in fact their state, supports them in living gender aligned.
Still, and just like in the case of California’s landmark LGBT-inclusive Fair Education Act, there are some that want to repeal the bill — and those groups just got a boost with the USA’s biggest anti-gay marriage group, the National Organization for Marriage, throwing its support behind an attempted ballot measure to vote away these nondiscrimination provisions.
Reducing the landmark California legislation to a “bathroom bill,” NOM president Brian Brown said in a statement issued, coincidentally, on the day of Campbell’s victory that:
AB1266, the co-ed bathroom law, is a horrible attempt by activists to strip society of all gender roles and uses children as a weapon in their culture war. The National Organization for Marriage fully supports the efforts of the Privacy for All Students coalition to repeal this dangerous law. Opening our most vulnerable areas at school including showers, bathrooms and changing rooms to members of the opposite sex is politically-correct madness that risks the privacy and security of our children and grandchildren.
Going on to explicitly fabricate a connection between the Supreme Court’s refusal to take on the Proposition 8 case and the new education law, Brown said:
Not even two short months after the US Supreme Court refused to uphold the right of over 7 million Californians to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the California Legislature passed AB 1266, the school co-ed bathroom law. They are forcing our school children to be exposed in showers and bathrooms to members of the opposite sex who claim a ‘gender identity’ with that sex. This new law doesn’t prevent bullying – it is bullying. It is not about protecting kids; it damages kids.
NOM of course has no evidence for the assertion that the law damages kids, in much the same way that they had no evidence that same-sex marriage harms children. Reality has not impeded them before, and it appears it will not do so now.
In the release, NOM goes on to ask its supporters to throw money at the so-called Privacy for All Students campaign, while saying that NOM “expects to play a significant role in getting the referendum on the ballot as it did in the Prop 8 campaign in 2008.”
The coalition must now gather 505,000 voter signatures by early November in order to have the law suspended until the next opportunity for a statewide ballot at the 2014 general election.
Cassidy Lynn Campbell has witnessed for herself the ignorant vitriol that a thankfully diminishing but still significant portion of society still holds for trans people. In Campbell’s tearful video we have seen just what that kind of hate does to kids and young adults like Campbell; how it brings them to their knees and makes them think that life might not be worth living. We’ve also seen what it means to Campbell to have the support of her school and her peers.
Before Californians even consider signing on to the repeal of AB 1266, they should reflect on Campbell’s story as the homecoming queen who on coronation night was reduced to tears, and I hope they will consider how they can make things better for kids and young adults like her, instead of choosing to roll back the much needed progress which AB 1266 embodies.
Image taken from YouTube video, no infringement intended.