ACHILLE, Oklahoma — Maddison Kleeman Rose is a pretty normal Oklahoma 12-year-old. She enjoys school, she dances at the drop of a hat, and she loves church. But because she also happens to be trans, Maddie's life is anything but pretty normal.
Three weeks ago, on her first day of seventh grade at the Achille public school, Maddie went to the bathroom. The girls bathroom. She was in a new building and, in the commotion, none of the adults around had remembered to tell her where to find the bathroom she's allowed to use — the staff bathroom, part of an arrangement her parents worked out with the school after staff learned she was trans back in fifth grade.
But Maddie used the girls' bathroom, and transphobic parents in her community started to come out of the woodwork.
"The transgender is already using the girls bathroom," one parent named Jamie Crenshaw posted on Facebook, accusing Maddie of spying on other children in the restroom. "Enough is enough."
Things got uglier from there, as parents insulted Maddie and called for her to leave the school — and the community. A protest supporting Maddie was planned, and a counterprotest, too, until the school finally closed for a few days to let things settle down.
"Everyone's different. No one's the same. We're all different and unique and special in our own way," Maddie said. "Some adults do get it, but they don't support it, and that's their choice. They can be hateful and rude about it, but they ain't dragging me down."
But so far, they've managed to make it impossible for Maddie to live a normal life. VICE News interviewed Maddie, her family, and the leaders of her town as the Rose family prepared to leave a place they hoped they could call home using the proceeds of a GoFundMe started after the bathroom controversy.
"The threats and that [are] stupid," Maddie told VICE News. "Who would do that to a 12-year-old?"
This segment originally aired August 28, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Producers: Seth Dalton and Maria Gabriella Pezzo, DP: Joshua Frank, Editors: Seth Dalton and Kimmy Gorden