Ashlynn shares her side of online bathroom debate

“People were trying to tell me I was disgusting, that I have a mental disorder, but I was born this way...”

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Ashlynn Cameron Ingram, 15, has inadvertently become the catalyst for a heated debate online about the trans-community’s legal right to use whichever bathroom best represents their gender identity.

Ashlynn, who is now a freshman at Pilgrim, shared her gender identity with family and friends in August of last year before she started her first year of high school. Although she only announced last year, Ashlynn said she was aware of her gender identity at the young age of 5.

“I had always known something was different,” she said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “I was always more feminine and always wanted to play dress-up. When I was 5 I knew I was supposed to be a girl.”

Last summer, when Ashlynn began telling family and friends she said there was a lot of support for her and her decision. Although some people were a little confused, for the most part Ashlynn felt supported.

“People seemed happy for me and they wanted to be there for me,” she said. “Even the first couple of weeks at Pilgrim, when I was coming as myself, no one even seemed to notice.”

When she began telling her teachers and classmates, Ashlynn found that there were a few snide remarks, but for the most part her friends were always still there for her.

Initially, Ashlynn had been using the nurse’s office to change for gym class, but then a friend told her she was legally allowed to use whichever facility she most identified with and was most comfortable in.

“I don’t bother anyone,” Ashlynn said. “I do my business like everyone else and get out. It’s the bathroom. I try and fly under the radar.”

During her gym class no one ever complained or said anything to Ashlynn, and that is why she was so surprised when she found out the Warwick Watch Facebook page, operated by Stacia Huyler, had begun a debate about her legal right to use the female changing room when a friend sent her an image of the thread.

“At first I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say. I saw all these bad things being said about me,” Ashlynn said. “I couldn’t really believe this whole thing started. I haven’t really had any trouble before this. It was super unexpected, especially here in Rhode Island. I never thought it would be an issue.”

To defend herself, Ashlynn commented on the thread, questioning why people were so “against her” and her right to use whichever changing room and bathroom she identified with, especially since none of them went to her school or knew her personally. According to Ashlynn, the only student she knew who commented negatively on the page was a girl she doesn’t even share gym class with, who would never be in the changing room with her anyway. She isn’t aware of who would have initially complained to the page.

Ashlynn said, “I’m the only transgender girl at the school, so the page had already outed me. I decided I might as well stick up for myself to show my side, and I am glad I did. People were trying to tell me I was disgusting, that I have a mental disorder, but I was born this way and anything other than that is just preposterous. I wanted to prove I’m not a freak, that there is nothing wrong with me, that I’m a person like anyone else.”

Ashlynn believes it was a “little immature” to mention the school she went to when the page could have privately looked into the matter or even held their debate without bringing her and her school community into it.

Because many of the posts showing support for Ashlynn were deleted from the thread, the 15-year-old girl initially only saw the negative posts about her. Quickly, the #IStandWithAshlynn hashtag became popular on Facebook and others started reaching out to Ashlynn personally to express their support for her. On Monday, Ashlynn did go to school despite the debacle; individuals were supposedly even calling the school to show they stood with Ashlynn as well. Teachers and students, some of which she didn’t even know, were coming up to Ashlynn in the hallway to tell her how brave she was and they were going to stand by her side.

“I think it was a bit childish to delete posts supporting me. There were people that took the time to write comments in support of me and those were just taken away,” she said. “It made me so happy to see how many people were really supporting me. It felt so good.”

When Ashlynn began to realize that more people were standing behind her than against her, she said she “let the whole thing go” to do the “mature thing.”

Now Ashlynn will continue being a high school girl, doing homework, hanging with friends, volunteering at a senior center, and hopefully joining a cheerleading squad (she “loves” cheerleading).

Moving forward, Ashlynn plans to continue with her transition, hopefully starting hormone therapy soon, legally changing her name and eventually undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

“I think the whole thing was uncalled for. I am a person no matter what, and this shouldn’t matter,” Ashlynn said. “It’s just ignorance, people who can’t understand. Luckily, I’ve seen that most people aren’t like that.”

Comments

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warwickcitizen1

as of this posting, stacia huyler has had her initial post removed from facebook for hate speech.

#westandwithashlynn

Thursday, May 5, 2016
WarwickWatch

After viewing Ashlynn's YouTube videos, we sincerely hope that Ashlynn is getting all of the family support she needs and takes the time to enjoy adolescence. We wish Ashlynn nothing but the best.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Justanidiot

Close all the bathrooms in the school. It is the easiest solution.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
GoodGolly

I am so proud of Ashlynn! I didn't know her until Warwick Watch called her out and bullied her. Although I am sorry this happened to Ashlynn, I am happy I got to know her and I am proud to call her a friend. She has handled this situation with grace and dignity which is much more than I can say for some so called adults who commented on the Hate Post which was created on Warwick Watch. Stacia should be ashamed for her part in that fiasco she created. And instead of an apology to Ashlynn, she writes how she is glad Ashlynn has family support! She has more ..much more support than Stacia ever dreamed. Not just family, but many friends now...and more to come. Thank you Warwick Beacon for being the beacon of light and truth in this unfortunate situation.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
maryn@technic.com

I'm so glad you stood up for yourself Ashlynn, I wish you well.. I'm so happy Facebook has shut down Warwick Watch..

Thursday, May 5, 2016
JulieW

I find it very telling, and truly disturbing, that Warwick Watch has sunk so low as to stalk this poor girl's other social media activities. Unlike being transgender, this absolutely suggests some sort of mental health issues.

I hope the group and its leader gets the help it obviously needs. I also hope a more responsible adult steps in to their lives and restricts their online activities.

I wish, Warwick Watch, that you could be more like Ashlynn - articulate, intelligent, and most importantly, responsible.

The sad reality is that whIle being transgender isn't a choice, being morally corrupt is.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
GoodGolly

JulieW...well said!!

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Scal1024

Again, for all those who would like to see the unstable nature of Stacia (not that anyone needs more proof) Beacon article from December 30th, 2014 titled "Debate continues over plan for rising legacy costs". In the comment section of this article (and many others around the same time frame) this woman (Stacia) talks to herself using 2 different accounts, posing as a "Stacia supporter" until she was caught and deleted the account. Its quite an entertaining read and shows just what a pathetic liar and fraud she truly is. Usernames "Stacia Huyler" and ". . ." ( formerly SabrinaV). So remember to look up this article, and tell your friends.

Stacia, instead of bullying teens and making useless videos, why don't you debate in a place where you can't delete people's comments? The truth is because most of your claims are baseless. It is all propaganda that you throw against the wall to pray something will stick. You spend everyday as an "advocate" for 2 years and yet you have accomplished nothing. I hope you'll actually respond instead of hiding behind Warwick Watch, deleting comments and continuing a biased, one sided debate.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Norm88

https://www.change.org/p/human-rights-campaign-get-warwick-watch-removed-from-facebook?recruiter=332665487&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive&utm_term=mob-xs-share_petition-no_msg

Thursday, May 5, 2016
BigPapi

I'd like to hear what Richard Corrente (democratic candidate for mayor) has to say about his buddy stacia now. Maybe next city council meeting you can publicly denounce her richard. Or tell her in person when you are exaggerating claims against the current administration together.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
JessicaHolloway

It is truly inspiring to see how Ashlynn has been so mature, respectful, and reasonable in her response to this situation that she should have never been put in to begin with! It's also wonderful how do many people, some of which didn't even know her before this, came together to support her and stand up against Warwick WATCH'S bully Stacia Huyler.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Warwickproud

That a way Stacia, now you're stalking this poor teen's Youtube videos and Facebook page and making accusations that she has a motive to sue you, You are a sanctimonious, self-righteous, bigoted blowhard. I can't even imagine what must have happened in your life to make you so mean and cruel. You must have illusions of being an important person but you aren't, in fact you are irrelevant.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
itsmewhosu

As a psychology professional, I see traces of personality disorders in Stacia. It is called "grandiose personality disorder", that is she thinks she is more important than she is, not to mention "narcissism", meaning she wants everything all about her, and top it off with "anti-social", meaning she doesn't feel or fear any consequences, because she simply doesn't care. Someone should get her help immediately. She is a danger to our community.

Ok, in layman's terms? She is a bitch.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Amrtine

I have been closely watching this story from Sunday afternoon on. I watched as Stacia Huyler / Warwick Watch deleted housands of responses challenging her initial posts which baited then dehumanized Ashlyn Cameron. Most of the response posts were polite and insightful, sharing facts about what it means to be transgender and chastizing Huyler's insinuation that Ashlyn is anything other than a typical teen GIRL entitled to basic civil rights and dignity. Huylers posts have become increasingly invasive, insensitive and outright grandious. Some even threatening in tone, though never directly. I have come to understand that Huyler is a cinstant irritant for many residents of Warwick RI. I agree with the post suggesting there are some serious psychological issues going on. But not in Ashlyn. Ashlyn is a delightful young person and is very BRAVE to face such an agressive and fearful accuser with such dignity.

#westandwithashlyn

Thursday, May 5, 2016
BigPapi

Where's Patrick Maloney and Richard Corrente. Why aren't they denouncing Stacia? They blindly support her with her claims against the city. Maybe Maloney was one of the bigoted parents who complained to her and doesn't have the balls to put his name behind it. Remember this at election time. Maloney is running for city council, Corrente for mayor. Is this the type of political leadership this city needs? Also, if Maloney doesn't have the balls, shouldn't he be forced to use the women's rooms?

Saturday, May 7, 2016