Corey Maison has blonde curly hair, likes to wear makeup, and dresses in tank tops and tight jeans. So she wants to know: would you let someone who looks like her into a men’s bathroom? Probably not. Photographer Meg Bitton shared a glamorous shot of the teenager on Facebook, asking friends and followers that very question. “Neither would I. Be fair. Be kind. Be empathetic. Treat others how you would like to be treated,” Bitton wrote.
Since being posted on Tuesday, the image has been shared more than 17,000 times. Its message is strong. The caption explains that Maison is transgender and the photo has been edited by Bitton reflect the way she would like to be seen.
Though she was born a boy, the 16-year-old has known she was transgender for many years. Even at age two she recalls getting a truck for Christmas while one of her sisters received a Barbie and wanted nothing to do with the truck. She feels like she lived the first decade of her life in a body that didn’t belong to her. Six months ago, her mother surprised her with a gift of her first dose of hormones.
Bitton’s post describes how Maison has struggled over the years and touches on the abuse many transgender individuals face — particularly when it comes to something as simple as using a public bathroom. “She was born with male anatomy but identifies as a female. Under the new laws, SHE would be forced to use the men’s room,” she said.
Bitton then goes on to speak of the online abuse she’s certain the post will receive. “It is impossible to moderate this post, try as we may. I want to delete it as badly as I don’t want to delete it. I decided to let Corey’s mother make that call and she asked for it to stay to raise awareness so it will. PLEASE BE ASSURED that I do not in anyway support the trolling insanity I am seeing here and I VERY MUCH appreciate all the positivity around Corey as does she AND her family.”
This is a particularly powerful statement to make on Bitton’s part considering North Carolina’s recent passing of HB2 and its subsequent backlash. The law, also known as the “bathroom bill,” restricts people to using public restrooms based on their birth-gender.