Editor’s Note: This is a guest post, written by Brandon Frazier. He was volunteering at the Ted Cruz rally on Thursday and was inside the main hall of the Weinberg during the James Debacle. Editor Comments from Eric Beasley
We’ve all read and heard the story of James, the transgender teen who was removed from a Ted Cruz rally Thursday. Newspapers and blogs have carried his side of the story. Interestingly enough, only Eric Beasley, local activist and blogger, sought out the Cruz campaign for comment. Beasley obtained a statement from a Maryland for Cruz official indicating their people were not responsible for or involved in removing James from the event. A photo of the incident shows a suited man and a police officer, not campaign staff or volunteers. James claims he was removed because he is transgender, and the public seems to have embraced his story. But we have some unanswered questions and thoughts we’d like to share.
First, James and his mother Nicola sat in the back of the hall, directly in front of the press. We’ve talked with numerous volunteers, and they were instructed to usher people forward, to fill the front seats first. Why did James and Nicola sit in back, in front of the press, rather than in an open seat toward the front of the hall?
In his blog, photojournalist Johnny Martyr first notices James as men in suits are escorting James out of the hall and snaps a photo. In the photo James is clearly yelling. According to Johnny, James is yelling toward the press that he is being kicked out because he is transgender. Johnny adds that, until that point, James had not been “loud or aggressive…,” but how would Johnny know what James had been up to before first noticing him?
Editor’s Note: We are not going to steal Mr. Martyr’s pictures, so please visit his blog and see them for yourself. They add an interesting perspective to the story.
According to a Frederick New Post interview , James was told he was removed because he had been seen with a protest group outside. Why would James turn and yell to the press that he was being removed because he was transgender? And how did James know exactly where the press would be? And, given the number of photographers on the scene, why was Johnny Martyr the only one to capture this on film?
We spoke to numerous people who were on the scene, and none of them knew James was transgender. Also, no one seemed to realize he was wearing a flag of significance for transgender people. Most people thought it was a shower curtain. That may explain why he was recognized inside the hall and some people laughed at him outside.
Further, the security detail thought James was a female and called him ma’am. They didn’t know he was transgender. No one seemed to know James was transgender, until he announced it. How could he be removed for being transgender when no one knew that to be the case?
James and Nicola have admitted they held signs outside the event. James reported on his Facebook page that he attended to “gain a better understanding of [Cruz’s] platform.” However, in the News post interview, James was apparently there to “show Cruz supporters that rhetoric about gay and transgender rights hurts real people like him.” That would explain why James and Nicola were carrying signs.
So, which is it? Did James come to learn about Cruz’s platform, or did he come to make a statement about supporters’ rhetoric on transgender issues? Was it pure chance that one self-styled liberal photojournalist decided to attend a Ted Cruz rally, same day and city, and spotted James and Nicola at just the right time? If not the campaign staff or volunteers who removed James from the hall, who is the suited man in Johnny Martyr’s timely snapshot?
Editor’s Note: We have been hearing rumors about a photographer that had set up a time-lapse picture in the Weinberg, to capture the crowd filtering in. I believe it is likely that if such a picture was going on, that the James incident was photographed.
I believe in treating people as their character dictates, not by how they appear, color, gender or otherwise. I believe in the general good of people. I believe in the good in James. But in this case, I believe we may have rushed too quickly to make James a hero, rather than asking some important questions and, more importantly, missing an opportunity to come together in discussion before choosing a side.
There is just enough missing from this story to make it believable, but also just enough to get a skeptic’s wheels turning.