The story of one woman's brave stand against anti-trans myths.
Madeline Goss is a software engineer from North Carolina, and she has one simple request: to be able to use the bathroom.
Believe it or not, her state's legislators called a special session (at a cost of $42,000 to the taxpayers) to pass a bill that says women like Madeline aren't allowed to use public bathrooms.
Why? She happens to be transgender, so those legislators think she should be forced to use men's restrooms.
But before the bill became law, Madeline worked up the courage to make her case in front of state legislators.
She shared an emotional story about growing up in Hickory — a city of about 40,000 people located 57 miles northwest of Charlotte — and what it was like for a woman like her to be forced to use the men's room.
In telling her story, you can hear her voice fill with a swirl of emotion. There's desperation, frustration, exhaustion, and sadness.
Recounting her assault, Madeline verges on crying, but she pushes onward so as not to go down without a fight.
Hearing about the law, "felt like a one-two punch to the stomach."
In a blog post for the Human Rights Campaign, Madeline described how it felt to learn that North Carolina's elected representatives had deemed her less a person than she truly is.
"I couldn't believe my home state would pass such a discriminatory bill into law," she wrote with more than a hint of despair. "They ignored the public outcry from trans people, allies, business leaders, celebrities, as well as representatives from HRC, Equality NC, and the ACLU."
And before the House of Representatives, she shared a chilling truth: Being forced to use the men's room puts her and others like her in grave danger.
Nearly 70% of transgender people have been harassed or assaulted in a public bathroom — so Madeline has every right to be afraid.
A 2013 study found that 68% of trans people had experienced verbal harassment and 9% had been physically assaulted. By telling women like Madeline that she should use the men's room, they're sending her into a very dangerous and scary situation.
17 states and more than 200 cities offer protections that ensure trans people can use restrooms in alignment with their gender identity — without incident.
Even so, those insistent on passing laws blocking nondiscrimination ordinances peddle the fiction that trans-inclusive protections are a radical concept. They're not, and Madeline got that point across as tears welled in her eyes.
"This is the moment when a hero stands up, reeling from just being clobbered, and fights back for the greater good," she wrote, describing her testimony.
Madeline spoke out even though she had to know that there was little hope of her testimony getting through to those intent on making her a second-class citizen. Still, she stood up with a brave face to stand up for what's right.
The world needs more heroes like Madeline.