Exclusive: TripAdvisor co-founder gives $10,000 to help abused transgender child move
TripAdvisor co-founder Nick Shanny has donated $10,000 to the transgender girl who was threatened with castration and beatings for using a girls’ bathroom, PinkNews has confirmed.
Award-winning young adult fiction author Katherine Applegate has also given $1,000 to the fundraiser, it can be revealed.
The campaign was set up by 12-year-old Maddie’s family after terrible abuse led them to want to move away from Achille, Oklahoma, to nearer the rest of their relatives in Houston, Texas.
A total of $51,000 has been given to the cause – which started with an initial $10,000 goal – by more than 1,400 people in just over a week, but no-one has given more than Shanny and Applegate.
Speaking to PinkNews, Applegate – who has won awards and a huge following for creating series like Animorphs, Remnants and Everworld – said she had a personal reason for the generous donation.
“We have a 21-year-old trans daughter, and it broke our hearts to see what Maddie was going through,” the prolific author and Newbery Medal winner revealed.
She added: “When I heard about Maddie’s story, I was heartbroken. I was horrified by the level of vitriol coming from adults, but not, sadly, at all surprised.
“On the other hand, when I saw the GoFundMe page for Maddie, which is now at over 51K (the goal was 15K), I was reminded, once again, that there is far more kindness in this world than hatred.
“Intolerance always starts with fear of the unknown. And it only ends with education.”
And it seems that the famous pair’s contributions have allowed Maddie’s family to afford a new home.
Brandy Rose posted on Facebook today (August 24) with the good news, saying: “I just got home today from spending a couple of days in Houston looking for a house, AND WE FOUND ONE!!!
“Just have to jump through the hoops, and wait for all paperwork to check out, and we should get the keys in 1 to 2 weeks!
“We couldn’t have done this without all the support! Thank you to each and every one of you!”
Maddie was called “it,” “this thing,” “half baked maggot” and “the transgender” on a Facebook group for parents of students in the small rural town after she used the female facilities at Achille High School.
A Frontier Airlines pilot has since been suspended over the abuse, and schools in the district were closed for two days while the authorities made sure their security was sufficient.
Maddie returned to school on August 15, but was still “too scared to sleep alone,” according to her mother, Brandy.
The abuse and threats came in a tidal wave after local resident Jamie Crenshaw posted about Maddie, who has been out as trans since the fifth grade, used the girl’s bathroom because she didn’t know where the staff bathroom was.
One member called David Williams wrote: “You know we have open hunting seasons on them kind. Aint no bag limit in them either.”
Eddie Belcher said: “If he wants to be a female make him a female.
“A good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”
Another group member, Kevin Lee Bickerstaff, said: “Just tell the kids to kick ass in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!”
And one post by Seth Cooper suggested that Parker, who it is understood is Jamie Crenshaw’s son, “whip his ass until he quits coming to school.”
A silent demonstration was held on August 14 in Achilles – which has a population of around 500 – with attendees dressing in red and making their feelings clear, despite constant rain.
Police cleared space for a counter-protest, but no-one showed up.
One of the protesters, Darius Douglas, said: “Today was a representation of every tear everyone has cried for being different.”
This article has been altered to add a further comment from Katherine Applegate.