Kimberly Shappley has radically changed her mind about gender identity and equality for LGBTQ people after the birth of her transgender daughter Kai. Today, she is fighting for her and it is not every day easy.
Aged 5, Kai is facing a lot of difficulties to access bathrooms at her school located in Pearland, Texas.
Before the start of the school year, Shappley had met with the school's officials to ensure that Kai would have access to the bathrooms without any problems. It is clear that the school has failed in this process.
As reports Fusion, Kai’s own classroom, like all kindergarten classrooms at her school, has a single-occupancy, unisex bathroom for everyone to use. But when Kai goes to the cafeteria, library or gym, she isn’t allowed to use the regular girls’ restrooms, thanks to a confusing workaround the school district came up with last spring.
There is a gender-neutral bathroom located at the nurse’s office and supposed to be made available to her all day, but they are closed most of the time according to the child.
In addition, no teacher or staff member seem to know what to do with Kai, what bathroom she should use. The problem is so important that sometimes Kai wets her clothes, which is extremely humiliating.
"As a mom, you don’t want your kid to become bitter and jaded, and so you tell them it’s not your fault and it happens," said Shappley. "But in your head, you’re like 'What the hell? Nobody could get her to a potty?'"
At present, school officials continue to say they are not responsible for anything. Worse they say that Kai lied.
From the legal point of view, a May 2016 directive from Obama’s Departments of Education and Justice mandates that public schools let trans students use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
The superintendent of Pearland School John Kelly is opposed to trans people and this directive.
And of course, the fact that the Trump administration has decided to completely oppose trans* students protection does not improve the situation in Texas.
In addition, a law against the access for trans* people to public bathrooms is voting in the state.
A few weeks ago the Senate approved the law by a 21-10 vote. It went to the House of Representatives.
The only positive point here is to see this mother who was ultraconservative and who finally completely changed thanks to her daughter. It is a phenomenon that is developing in Texas. More and more partnerships are being created between groups that are fighting for LGBTQ rights and parents who want to protect their children.
Photography by Michael Stravato