An 8-year-old was outed by a group of conservative parents on Facebook to in response to their mom running for election.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of transphobia that some readers may find distressing
Hundreds of residents rallied to show their support for a transgender kid who was publicly outed by conservative parents in Hastings, Minnesota. Kit, 8, was outed by a rival of their mom after a bitter school board election, reported NBC News. Kelsey Waits ran for re-election to the town school board in November and her opponents tried to get back at her by outing her child. It was through a Facebook group of conservative parents—Concerned Parents of Hastings—that they outed Kit. Hundreds of residents took to the streets to show their support for Kit and the LGBTQIA++ community. Kelsey Waits said she was overwhelmed by the response and support from the community in Hastings.
“Seeing so many people rally behind a child is particularly meaningful. … It meant a lot to [Kit],” said Waits. “It was amazing. I would not have expected almost a thousand people to come out for my kid.” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, showed his support for the Waits family as well, tweeting: “Everyone deserves to live in a state that values them for who they are — especially our kids.” The Waits family had been 'incredibly private' about Kit's gender identity for the fear of being bullied and misgendered. The conservative parents who outed Kit put them at risk. Kelsey Waits released a statement saying that Kit has since been misgendered by classmates and been subjected to transphobic bullying.
What an incredible event. I haven’t heard an official number but best guesses are between 750 and 1000 people showed up to #protecttranskids. Thank you to the amazing groups who pulled this together and to everyone who came to show your support. #istandwithkit pic.twitter.com/y3Xi75tAFM— Kelsey Waits (@KelseyWaitsMN) December 4, 2021
Waits had considered moving after Kit was outed. “This was the final event for us, but really this neighborhood, this house, there is a lot of trauma here. A lot of negativity has been brought into our home, and we need a fresh start for our own mental health.” Waits has since changed her mind after the show of support from the community inspired their family to continue in Hastings. “If we moved away and didn’t say anything, the bullies would have won,” said a defiant Waits. “What does that teach? That teaches that they can do all of these things and that there are no repercussions and that no one is going to push back against them, and that just makes them bully harder for the next person.” The rally saw dozens of LGBTQ speakers, groups and elected officials speak out in support of LGBTQIA++ children. “My message to Kit is to don’t give up,” said Ren Olive, a 30-year-old transgender person at the rally. “We’re here, we’re loud, we’re queer and we have your back.”
Attended the amazing “Rally for Trans Kids” in Hastings, MN to support Kelsey Waits and her family. In case you can’t tell, hundreds of people showed up to take a stand against the bullying and hate that they experienced during her campaign for school board. #istandwithkit pic.twitter.com/bnr1vsE2Gk— Ceri Everett (She/Her) (@CeriEverett) December 4, 2021
An administrator of the Concerned Parents of Hastings Facebook group issued a statement denying they had harassed the family but didn't deny outing Kit. “The only reason Kelsey’s parental decision was a concern to the members was because she was not just an average mom, but someone who was running for a position where she would be in charge of making decisions for other parents’ children,” the administrator wrote in the same post. “Most parents in the group believe that a child needs to be mature enough to make life-altering decisions,” wrote the admin, parroting the rhetoric of the conservative movement that has been at the heart of a string of anti-trans bills being passed across America. Waits' motivation to run for the school board was also motivated by the hate directed at trans students. "Being on school board is not about my kid. It's about protecting all kids. And transgender students are the most at-risk students in our schools for attempting suicide," she said, reported CNN.
Waits believe the hate directed towards Kit has sparked the community into action. “It’s woken a lot of people up to their silence,” she said. “A lot of leaders in the community were aware of what was happening and did not say anything because they didn’t want it to impact them. Now they are seeing the damage that silence can cause.” “We need to keep this work moving forward in this community for everyone who does not have the option to leave,” Waits said. It remains to be seen if Waits will seek legal action, but is in contact with Minnesota-based advocacy group Gender Justice to see what can be done about it.
Tonight, hundreds of houses in our community and around the country put on their porch lights for Kit. Looking trough all of the photos has been the highlight of their night. Thank you for bringing light to our darkness. pic.twitter.com/MY59DXeqv6— Kelsey Waits (@KelseyWaitsMN) December 2, 2021
If you're a transgender person and are being subjected to abuse, or need any help, please reach out to TRANS LIFELINE at 877-330-6366.