YOUR HELP REQUESTED: HRC condemns fake trans harassment charges, ex-gay group dodges my fact checking, family & friends open up

Today, HRC has joined GLAAD in condemning the false reports of trans harassment by an ex-gay/creationist group, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI). The PJI is the organization at the center of an international effort to malign one transgender kid. Last week, the PJI issued the right-wing community talking points for use in their fight for their right to discriminate against trans children. In their letter, the PJI claimed that they were concerned that the school was helping a trans kid harass cisgender girls. Right wing media outlets jumped at the story without fact checking and inspired members of the right wing community to call for the death of the trans kid.

I’ve been talking with the family targeted by these hate groups – both ex-gay & TERF – and I’ve got to say, I feel disgusted by the entire thing. The girl that’s the focus of this anti-trans hate campaign is a beautiful talented young lady and the mother has a spine of steel. I feel horrified at what’s happened to their family.

In a PJI fundraising letter issued yesterday – replete with a huge red working donation button and hosted by attorney Cathy Brennan – PJI extolls their hard work in targeting the trans kid:

Donate to the anti-gay hate group, “click here,” hosted by Cathy Brennan

The fundraising letter was written by Brad Dacus of the PJI:

After it came out that the trans harassment story was a right-wing hoax, some media outlets began retracting the story. The Daily Mail tabloid deleted the story from its site and the Examiner retracted the story and apologized to the trans student.

Unfortunately, Fox News continues to run the lie:

Fox News Headline as of October 18, 2013

TERF attorney Cathy Brennan promoted PJI’s fundraising letter yesterday via her numerous social media accounts. Brennan’s PJI letter claims to have sent LGBT forces scrambling:


For her part, Brennan created a page that promotes the ex-gay organization’s claims. However, she went a step further than most and outed the trans kid:

Releasing the name of the trans youth


The “Cristan Williams” link in the above image takes you a page Brennan created for me on her rapist/incest site. She used my photo and underneath it asserted that I’m a man and that I have a history of harassing cisgender women. Brennan, like PJI offered no evidence to substantiate their claims of harassment.

Both PJI and Brennan seem content to pretend that this is about something other than the life of a transgender child. ADULTS have made reprehensible claims about this kid – directly inciting violent intent – without evidence to back it up. After their smear campaign lead to public calls to hunt, beat and kill the trans youth, Brennan released the kid’s name.

Brennan became somewhat infamous after she outed a trans teen to his parents and school, attempted to intervene in the medical care of a transgender person she didn’t like and attempted to have the United Nations strip protections from the global trans community.


A Dose of Reality


The lies being spread through the “news” are just horrible. I want to be able to let people know I haven’t done anything to harm any being and I am a human with feelings too. I just really hope from all of this comes good & allows more minds to become accepting & open.

 – The trans kid PJI and Cathy Brennan are targeting

I think the right-wing and TERF attorneys mistakenly believe they’re fighting for a cause when what they’re doing is publicly beating up a trans kid.

This is the image the trans youth shared with her friends for Spirit Day:


I’ve spoken with the School Superintendent, the family that’s being targeted, family friends and have published honest statements by people who are familiar with the day to day life at Florence High School.

[PJI is] so pathetic. My mom asked me about this whole thing when she saw it on the news, and I told her. She even said they were being dramatic.

– A Florence High School cisgender female student familiar with the issue

Another cis female student
Another cis female student

I have to believe that adults, in their blind crusade to stop trans equality at seemingly all cost, have lost sight of the fact that they’re talking about A KID. Worse, they seem indifferent to the fact that kids like the one they’re targeting attempt suicide at a 51% rate.




PJI gloated in their fundraising letter:

PJI urged school officials to immediately identify any factual allegations they considered to be disputed. School officials have yet to respond to this invitation, but Superintendent Rhonda Vendetti instead gave an interview to a transgender activist in which she was defensive of the school’s actions and dismissive of some of the allegations. This interview was seized upon by advocates, who claimed it somehow proved the story to be a fabrication. Under intense pressure, several news sites took down or retracted their stories rather than investigating further. Not so fast, say PJI attorneys.

“Transgender activists are in full damage control mode because they know how explosive and damaging to their cause this story is,” noted Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute. “The central issue in this case—a high school’s decision to give a biological teenage boy full access to teenage girls’ bathrooms is both disturbing and not seriously disputed. It is very revealing that the Superintendent is seeking sympathy from transgender activists instead of addressing the serious concerns raised in our letter.”


Yup. I did pick up the phone and call the school. Did you?

Yup. I did talk with the family. Did you?

Yup. I have talked with family friends and people who live in Florence, Colorado. Did you?

Yup. I have talked with Florence business owners about this issue. Did you?

Yup. I did produce evidence relevant to your fact assertions. Did you?

In the real word – especially when we’re talking about possibly destroying the life of a kid – you had better have some evidence to back up your claims. In the real world, you can’t make a wild assertion and then claim that it’s true because people are ignoring you.

PJI admits that they know there was an investigation and that claims of harassment were deemed false. They say so in their fundraising letter. If they know this, why do they persist in going after this kid?

What’s their endgame, here?

Oh, that’s right. The ex-gay group tipped their hand to their true purpose in the last paragraph of their original press release:


Apparently the life of this Colorado kid is mere fodder in their larger war against Californian protections for school-age trans kids.


And still more fact checking


If you notice, the PJI fundraising letter lists a number to call if you have any questions. The letter directs you to speak with Brad Dacus. Brad is the guy who, in August 2013, claimed that protecting trans kids would lead naked boys, assisted by the state, taking showers with naked girls:

So I called Brad.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: Hello? I’m Cristan Williams. I’m with the TransAdvocate. I’ve written a few stories about what you’re doing with regard to the Colorado trans youth. A letter was passed on to me yesterday from you guys and listed you as the contact.


Me: Hello?

Brad: Are you left wing or right wing or…

Me: Um… no. I’m not writing for a political party, I’m writing about transgender issues, specifically what’s going on with the trans kid you’ve been writing about.

Brad: Right, so it’s progressive…

Me: Um… well, no. It’s not about endorsing a political party or anything like that. So… your letter, do you have time to talk about it?

Brad: I don’t have much time, but you know who might talk to you about that is Matt McReynolds. And that would be 916-857-6900. I think he’ll be able to answer your questions better than I.

Me: But, that’s the number I called to get you.

Brad: Right. Call it and ask for Matt

Me: Alright, well… thanks for talking with me.

So, I call Matt:

Me: I’m Cristan Williams. I’m with the TransAdvocate. I’ve written a few stories about what you’re doing with regard to the Colorado trans youth. Brad asked me to talk with you.

Matt: Well, I don’t really have time to talk.

Me: Okay. Is there a better time?

Matt: Monday?

Me: … Okay. Monday would work.

Matt: Yeah, that would allow me time to organize a conference call so that we can talk with you.

Me: *chuckles* Sure. No problem. What time? I’m central. You?

Matt: We’re pacific. How about 1:30?

Me: That sound perfect! While I have you on the phone, would you just let me know if you’ve ever talked with the family you’re targeting?

Matt: … I’m gonna… I won’t be able to comment on that.

Me: Gotcha. Sure. Okay. Then we’ll talk Monday then, I suppose.

Matt: Yes…

Me: Okay. Thanks for speaking with me.

Ugh! I know the drill on Monday and I’ve about had my fill of anti-trans attorneys who seem to think it’s fine to behave like this. This isn’t a game. This is the life of a trans kid.

Where YOU come in


So, I need your help and no, unlike PJI, I don’t want your money.

This is as real as it gets. I need your help in holding PJI to account.

I think it would be a powerful statement to ask PJI serious, hard hitting from a community of people who stand against their obdurate behavior.

What are the serious questions you’d ask PJI on Monday during our interview?

What sort of questions do you want them to answer?

I would like to represent the community’s voice in my call to PJI Monday. So, please… share with me the serious, hard-hitting questions you want PJI to answer.

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Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.