Police officers entered the bedroom of a 16-year-old trans girl in Tennessee while she played Minecraft live on Twitch in late April—and the confrontation was caught live on stream.
The streamer, a girl named Wynn who goes by VioWynn on Twitch, in an email to Motherboard said she was pressured to do online school rather than attend in person, and that she has refused to go to the online school and thus has been considered “truant.”
In a recording of the stream, Wynn says, "This will probably be the last stream ever because they're trying to get me to either kill myself or go into foster care or something. Instead of just giving me an education. Honestly, I just want to go to school. But they don't want me to go to school because I'm trans. I'm just really stressed out."
She goes on to say that authorities are trying to place her into foster care. “I was already adopted once, I don't need to be adopted again,” she says on the stream. “I just need to be able to go to school. I'm just worried I'll get abused.” Wynn told Motherboard she believes they were doing a wellness check on her, but that she is being pressured by authorities to enter foster care.
According to Wynn, on the morning of April 27, she had a court date where she’d learn whether she had to go into foster care; she was being denied an education, she claimed, as her school pressured her to attend classes online with fewer resources than in-person students received. “I consider it being denied an education, though it legally isn't considered as such, so that's why the judge considered me truant,” she said. Other students also took an online school option, but she was the only one she knew of who was pressured heavily to stay home, she said.
"I don't understand why the state of Tennessee would rather ruin a child's life than just let her go to school, but it really shows where their priorities are,” Wynn says on the stream, before the police enter the room. A tweet about the situation went viral this weekend:
Wynn told Motherboard that she expected the police were coming that day because she overheard her parents talking about it. “I was insanely stressed out so I decided to stream, as it's one of the only things that reliably makes me happy and calms me down,” she said. She got about 17 minutes into the stream session playing Minecraft when a police officer opens the door behind her and several more walk in. They see her streaming live, and her reaction is extremely casual: “OK, well, now there’s an officer in here just trying to join the stream,” she remarks while they mill around behind her, in full view of the camera. She continues playing Minecraft. “I’m just gonna act like they’re not here because that’s easier,” she says to her viewers.
At that point, the police told her dad to cut the power, she told Motherboard, which is when the stream stopped.
“The police forced me to turn around in my chair and then acted very angry with me, with an officer even saying that he ‘didn't see any tears’ and got mad at me for crying as I had tears running down my face,” she said. “They made me leave my room and had an officer search it. After that, they told me I shouldn't have put the chair against my door and then took my door off of its hinges. They asked if I was suicidal, I said no, and then they left.” They came back later that day, she said, to watch her get into her caseworker's car to be taken to foster care.
“The treatment overall was unempathetic and very cold and angry on their part,” she said. She was allowed to come back home for the weekend because they were unable to place her in a foster home on a Friday, but is in foster care now, she told Motherboard.
Tennessee is one of the most hostile states toward transgender youth. Last year, Gov. Bill Lee signed off on legislation that would make it illegal for doctors to provide gender-confirming hormone treatment to prepubescent minors, and became the first state to require public restrooms to have signs saying whether they allow trans people to use bathrooms in accordance with their gender. And last month, Lee signed H.B. 1895 / S.B. 1861, legislation that would remove funding from school districts that allow trans students to play sports.
Organizations and child welfare groups including the Human Rights Campaign, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have condemned trans-affirming care bans and spoken in support of gender-affirming care for trans kids. Children’s health advocates have called the attack on trans rights in Tennessee a mental health crisis.
Wynn told Motherboard that although she’s in foster care currently, she’s doing better now. “I feel less stressed since I now understand more of the ins and outs of foster care,” she said. She was able to have “two amazing streams” at home since then. “The plan now is to try getting a new court date for the foster care people to tell a judge that I don't need to be in foster care in hopes that I can be officially released from DCS custody,” she said, and the school has agreed to let her attend summer school to catch up in time for the second semester of 11th grade next year.