A Republican, Christian mom of a trans child sounds off on Trump's bathroom order.

Kimberly Shappley didn't vote for Barack Obama, but she recalls the exact moment she became grateful for him.

A lifelong conservative Republican, Shappley found herself sobbing with joy when then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch told transgender Americans, "We see you" and "We stand with you" a few days before the White House issued guidelines requiring schools to treat students' gender identity as their sex.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.


"I sobbed with relief, and in my mind, I thought our fight just got shortened and it was going to be easier," Shappley says.

Shappley's daughter Kai started telling her mom that she was a girl at age 3. At first, they tried to discourage her, hiding "girl toys" and even punishing her for insisting, but after meetings with a series of psychologists and psychiatrists, the Texas nursing student and devout evangelical Christian began to accept she had a daughter.

Shappley was always skeptical of the Trump administration's claims that it would support LGBTQ rights, given Mike Pence's record of supporting measures limiting them.

That didn't make the Justice and Education departments' Feb. 22, 2017, announcement rescinding the Obama-era guidelines any easier to stomach, particularly the notion that protections for trans students should be a "states' rights" issue.  

“He just threw my kid under the bus, so to speak," she says. "He just said it’s OK for people to discriminate against her because of where we live. It’s still the United States. I shouldn’t have to decide which town or state is safe enough or welcoming enough or kind enough to let us live there."

It was a crushing blow after losing her family and almost all of her friends when her daughter came out.

Living in a conservative Houston suburb, many of her neighbors still have trouble accepting her daughter is a girl who belongs in the girls' bathroom.

Kai Shappley. Photo by Kimberly Shappley/Facebook.

Still, after months of agonizing, Shappley made the decision to continue to attend her church, where she says she and Kai still get dirty looks. Nevertheless, she believes it's important to continue to engage her community, even if that means changing one mind at a time.

"They still have to see me and they still have to see my daughter, and they still have to see that we love the Lord, that we still study our Bible, that we still pray, that we’re still good people," she says. "And I think that a lot of times the best advocacy is just being there, being present, being seen, and not hiding."

Through online support and advocacy groups, Shappley keeps in close touch with thousands of moms of transgender youth who identify as Christian. She says helping Kai navigate the world has enriched her faith.

Kimberly and Kai. Photo by Kimberly Shappley/Facebook.

"One of the things that I realized for me is that the Bible helps me be a better person," she says. "The Bible doesn’t help me tell other people how to be a better person, and that’s not what it was given to us for. It’s not a weapon for us to hurt other people, or tell them what they’re supposed to do or not do. It’s there so that we read it and we change."

Shappley doesn't expect Trump to come around to her way of thinking, though she hopes he heeds his own advice from the campaign trail.

"He said it didn’t matter to him which bathroom Caitlyn Jenner used at Trump Tower. If that is really true, and that is at the core of what he believes, then he should tell people that: 'This is right, and this is wrong. This is what I see.'"

In the bathroom debate, she sees parallels to the civil rights movement, where public safety concerns were used to mask a broader bigotry.

Winning with opponents in the White House, she believes, will mean fighting in every school district in every town across America.

Photo by Kimberly Shappley/Facebook.

"Call your school board members. Call your superintendent," she advises. "Call them, call them, call them. These are people that are elected, so just continuing to call them and let them hear. Whether they agree or not isn’t even the point. So I would encourage everyone who votes, especially, to call the school board members where you live. Call your superintendent that you elected."

Fighting on Kai's behalf and encouraging others to do so, she explains, is her duty a parent and a Christian.

"Is it challenging? Yes. Is it discouraging? Yes. But I can’t just stop because right now my child is 6 and I’m fighting for her now so that when she’s 13 or 20 or 50 or 75 years old that hopefully I’ve done enough, I’ve been loud enough, I’ve been vocal enough that there’s been change. Because as her mom, I won’t always be there for her."

For Shappley herself, that means continuing to show up.

Kimberly (rear center), Kai (front center), and family. Photo by Eric Edward Schell.

"We want people to see that we’re just people. We’re a family. We’re crazy, and our house is sometimes messy. It’s crazy to think that we have to show people that we’re human."

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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