A 10-year-old transgender girl has been receiving death threats after she testified for her right to access gender-affirming treatment in front of a Texas legislature.
Kai Shappley went viral last week after she testified in front of the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs last week regarding two bills that would criminalise gender-transition healthcare for children.
“When it comes to bills that target trans youth I immediately feel angry,” she said during her testimony. “It’s been very scary and overwhelming.”
“It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist,” the 10-year-old told Texas legislators.
Now, the 10-year-old is facing “horrific” online harassment as a result of her testimony, her family members have said, forcing them to stop her from looking at her social media.
“Kai’s mom here. She’s not allowed on any of her social media accounts for now. The messages and comments directed at a 10-year-old have been horrifying,” a post on her Twitter account on Tuesday said, before giving an example of one of the hateful comments.
Amber Briggle, the mother of a transgender boy who also presented testimony at the hearing detailed how she had also received abuse online following her appearance.
“I filed a police report today over threatening voice messages listing all the ways I should kill myself,” she said on Twitter on Tuesday. “I’m MAD.”
She added: “I’m mad because the people who were elected to keep us safe and protected here in Texas are the same people who are putting my family in danger.”
The legislation up for discussion would criminalise parents for helping their child under the age of 18 to get access to any form of transition-related care, adding it to the state’s definition of child abuse.
“I’m terrified to be here today,” Ms Briggle said, reading from her phone at the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs at a hearing about the bills.
“I’m afraid that by speaking here today that my words will be used against me should SB 1646 or SB 1311 pass, and my sweet son whom I love more than life itself will be taken from me.”
She said her son is now 13 and “the most popular boy in the seventh grade,” she said. “Taking that support away from him, or worse, taking him away from his family because we broke the law to provide that support – will have devastating and heartbreaking consequences.”
The committee approved the bill in a six to two vote on Tuesday evening.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
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