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Parents in Oklahoma Who Threatened Trans Kid Are Now Targets of Violence and Harassment

Content warning: this article details extreme threats against individuals, including transgender children.

“Here’s hoping that you get your fat ass ripped to shreds by the biggest, hung dude in jail,” wrote Jasmine Li. “I hope you’re labeled as a sex offender, and someone castrates you!”

The comment is posted on Eddie Belcher’s Facebook page, and it’s one of many.

“If you ever come to the Pacific Northwest you’re getting your shit rocked all the way back to bumfuck Oklahoma you fat nasty Nazi pig,” Max Welldean Matthews wrote to Belcher.

Belcher is famous these days because he posted in a Facebook group that if a transgender 12-year-old student at Achille Public Schools in Oklahoma wanted to be a girl, “a good sharp knife will do the job really quick.”

Now he’s getting a taste of his own medicine. So are other parents who made similar threats. Their Facebook pages are full of abusive comments and graphic threats. Their phone numbers and home addresses have been plastered across the internet.

Earlier this month, Achille Public Schools shuttered for two days after parents posted a series of graphic threats against transgender student Maddie (her last name has been withheld). Her story made national headlines.

Maddie has since received an outpouring of support. A GoFundMe to help her family flee Oklahoma has nearly doubled its $15,000 goal in just five days. The parents threatening her have been widely condemned.

“Bullying against any student is wrong and should be dealt with swiftly,” said New York LGBT Network President David Kilmnick in a statement. “And when the bullying is coming from parents, a community-wide response led by school officials and local elected officials is necessary to protect and ensure all students are safe.”

But others have apparently taken matters into their own hands.

It’s easy now to find Kevin Bickerstaff, the man who posted that kids should “kick ass in the bathroom and it won’t want to come back!!” about Maddie. People posted his phone number, address, and workplace on his Facebook posts.

“It’s open season on you and your family,” wrote AJ Basso, in reference to an abusive comment another parent had made about Maddie. “A good sharp knife will do the job really quick, you fat shitbag.”

“This guy pees sitting down,” James Hortman wrote.

The comments follow a transphobic post Bickerstaff made in 2016 in which a photo meme of John F. Kennedy bragging about sending people to the moon is mashed up against a photo of President Obama boasting about going into women’s restrooms.

Jamie and Burney Crenshaw, who reportedly instigated the abusive comments against Maddie, are now easily trackable via Facebook posts, as well. Their addresses, phone numbers, and places of work have been posted multiple times.

The group is already facing potential consequences. Last week, Bryan County Sheriff Johnny Christian told INTO that his department was investigating threats made about Maddie.

“In all my years in law enforcement, I have not heard of anything like this, and I’ve been in law enforcement for 31 years,” Christian said. “It’s just incredible that adults would threaten a child.”

On Aug. 13, Bickerstaff was also suspended from his position as a pilot from Frontier Airlines pending an investigation into his conduct, the company told INTO.  

“Frontier Airlines prides itself on setting an example as a respectful workplace and we do not condone discrimination,” said the company in a statement.  “We have long-established standards of conduct, to which all employees must agree to adhere, that among other things require people to act in a professional manner and to treat each other with genuine respect and kindness.”

Sheriff Christian said he can’t comment on the status of the investigation or whether it now included threats made against those who threatened Maddie.

“I wouldn’t be able to confirm or deny at this point,” Christian said. “Everything is still under investigation.”

Li, Belcher, Bickerstaff, Hortman, and Basso did not respond to requests to comment.

But Matthews, the one who wrote to Belcher that he would get his “shit rocked all the way back to bumfuck Oklahoma you fat nasty Nazi pig,” says they stand by their comments.

Matthews is trans, and those comments, suggesting a trans kid should be beaten, made them angry.

“I have nothing but fury and contempt for any adults who wish harm upon a child,” Matthews said. “Those people posted online publicly just like I did. Even worse, they were suggesting beatings and mutilation of a child because she’s trans.”

Catherine Shugrue dos Santos, deputy executive director for programs at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, recognizes the gratifying feeling that comes when others who have caused us harm have to face that harm themselves.

“What we feel though is that violence doesn’t solve anything,” she says.  “Violence begets violence.”

Shugrue dos Santos doesn’t advocate for counseling those who are hateful, but she does say we need to make room for potential allies.

“If we want to end the violence, this is the moment we need to begin to take a stand,” she said. “It’s the only way we get out of this.”

Image via Getty


Kate Sosin 

Kate Sosin is a trans news and features reporter and former associate editor of Chicago’s Windy City Times.

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