Mom Defends Gender-fluid Child in Heartfelt Facebook Post

Jamie Rawlings rocking some lipstick and shades. (Photo courtesy of Heather Rawlings)

After finding out that her 15-year-old child, Jamie — who is gender-fluid and doesn’t identify as male or female — was being mocked and bullied online by a group of fellow students, mom Heather Rawlings took to Facebook on Wednesday, posting a heartfelt open letter on her page (which has been removed) that has been shared by more than 280 people and counting:A screenshot was taken of Jamie’s Facebook page where Jamie was modeling a particularly awesome shade of lip color,” wrote the Eagle, Colo.-based mom of two. “This was then posted into a group of their peers for the amusement of the group. Trust me when I say that the comments were mortifying.”

The private Facebook group was originally started by teens to share and talk about “memes.” But it morphed into something ugly when one of the students posted Jamie’s photo, which was then mocked by some in the group. That post was up for four months before a friend of Jamie’s spotted it and shared it with Jamie at school, in the office of a trusted teacher. “Jamie was mortified,” Rawlings tells Yahoo Beauty, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them” when referring to Jamie. “Embarrassed. Heartbroken. [Jamie] said that they cried so hard that they were choking. Some of the kids in the group were people that Jamie had known since they were toddlers.”

Jamie, left, with dad Michael Rawlings and a sibling. (Photo courtesy of Heather Rawlings)

Rawlings, who found out about the incident when Jamie sent her screenshots of the comments, was devastated. “[Jamie was] so upset that they couldn’t even talk,” she recalls. “I left work and drove immediately to the high school. I was furious, of course. Under the seething anger was a depth of pain that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.”

In her personal Facebook post, Rawlings mentions how 36 peers of Jamie’s thought the mockery was “entertaining.” “Only one of those 36 students saw that post it for what it was,” she wrote. “Demeaning. Mean. Inappropriate. Hateful.”

The school administration and the police were informed about the incident. “But the district attorney declined to prosecute, since it was in a private group and Jamie wasn’t supposed to see it,” Rawlings says. “We are still waiting to hear what action the school will take.”

Jamie all smiles with mom. (Photo courtesy of Heather Rawlings)

Sadly, bullying is common for kids who don’t conform to typical gender norms. But for Jamie, defying labels has been the norm since Jamie was little. “I always knew that Jamie was special,” Rawlings tells Yahoo Beauty. “I don’t want to say ‘different,’ because that could imply that something is wrong with the way that Jamie is. When at preschool, we knew that Jamie could be found playing in the dress-up area. Never had an interest in the ‘typical’ boy things. Jamie was always very verbal and expressed themselves and their feelings in a way that children their age typically didn’t. It was only in the past couple of years, when gender-fluid became something that was better understood that we could finally put a ‘label’ on Jamie’s gender.”

Like any child, Jamie just wants to be accepted and liked, but society can make things difficult — and even dangerous — for children and adults who don’t fit into obvious gender categories. In fact, this isn’t the first time that Jamie has been bullied. “A long history of bullying from other children has left Jamie guarded about who to trust,” says Rawlings. “To Jamie’s credit, [Jamie is] always willing to try and to forgive people who have treated them badly. Jamie inspires all of us on a daily basis. [Jamie is] a fantastic son, a wonderful sibling, an excellent student, and a loyal and devoted friend. Jamie is a kid with a heart of gold, and a reserve of strength that I find admirable.”

There’s no question about Jamie’s inner strength. “When confronted with that sort of intolerance,” Rawlings wrote in her post, “[Jamie] responded by getting up in the morning, doing their makeup in a fabulous and flawless way, and going to school.”

Rawlings added: “Even though [Jamie was] scared, [Jamie] showed up, determined to live their best life. I believe in the kid who refuses to back down. I believe that this kid, kids like them, and their peers who love them and believe in them, are the hope of that school. I believe that love will win.”

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