Person of the Year: The Finalists
BY Advocate.com Editors
December 16 2013 2:24 PM ET
FINALIST: JANE DOE, TRANS TEEN IN COLORADO
The fight over equal rights for transgender people is starting with young people. In California, which this year passed the Student Success and Opportunity Act to protect trans students in its schools, right-wing groups made the bill a call to action and attempted to gather enough signatures to force a vote that would repeal it. So far, they've failed.
Then in October, when a so-called Christian group in California calling itself the Pacific Justice Institute set its sights on an innocent transgender teenager in Colorado, LGBT advocates nationwide — including those working at this publication — condemned the move as downright nasty. "Jane Doe," a 16-year-old transgender girl at Florence High School, just outside of Colorado Springs, was first accused of "harassing" fellow female students in the bathroom. The district superintendent and local police confirmed no harassment took place, but PJI amended its claim to say that Jane's mere presence in the bathroom was "inherently harassing." The right-wing group even produced a video featuring cisgender (nontrans) schoolmates and their parents who claimed they'd "suffered" because the students were forced to share a bathroom with someone who, as one anonymous teen put it, "doesn't have the same parts as me."
After some anti-trans activists published Doe's given name, she was subjected to vile personal attacks online, some rising to the level of death threats. Doe's mothers reported that their daughter had been placed on suicide watch after a nation's ignorance was unwittingly heaped upon their doorstep. For the time being, it appears the Pacific Justice Institute has stepped back its harassment of this teen, though the institute never apologized. With the support of her moms, her school district, and recently reaffirmed Colorado state law on her side, Doe persevered through unimaginable cruelty directed at her simply for who she is.
"I want to be able to let people know I haven’t done anything to harm any being and I am a human with feelings too," Doe told TransAdvocate's Cristan Williams in October. "I just really hope from all of this comes good, and allows more minds to become accepting and open."
— Sunnivie Brydum