Rhea Butcher started trending on Friday for speaking up in light of the Trump administration’s decision to strip away federal guidelines for trans kids’ bathroom use at school. Butcher’s response, which was posted in multiple tweets, is deeply personal and moving, and it highlights how complicated and terrifying it is to be a child who is “different” from the status quo.
“I spent my entire life terrified of public bathrooms,” Butcher, who identifies as nonbinary, tweeted before going on to vividly describe being harassed and assaulted as a child for entering a women’s restroom. “I am serving jury duty right now. Moments ago, I had to reassure a confused woman that she was, indeed, in the women’s restroom,” Butcher continued. “This happens every day to trans, nonbinary, genderqueer folks. We have to hide or edit or confront. Eyes everywhere. Every. Single. Day. And this law is about KIDS. Children. Little tiny people. Forced to enter a space that scares them. Told by adults they are wrong.”
Butcher’s statement perfectly echoes what trans advocates have been saying, so why is this the first time her eloquent words have gone viral? That’s a good question, because this certainly isn’t the first time Butcher has gotten political. Her stand-up comedy, her social media accounts, her TV show, her podcast — shit, her whole life — are peppered with strong statements about her views on today’s society.
Here are some examples.
1. When she broke down what it’s like to be a woman in comedy
In 2015, Butcher talked about what it’s like being a woman in the comedy world.
“When a woman walks on stage, people go, ‘Wait, what? Huh?’ in a way that they don’t with men,” Butcher said in an interview, which you can watch above. “When a guy walks on stage, people go, ‘OK’… When a woman walks on stage, they’re just, like, scanning the whole the whole thing and going, ‘Like, wait, I’m not sure what this is. Who is this person? Why are they here? Is she supposed to be on stage?’ It’s not even looks, like whether you’re hot or not. It’s just the fact that you are a woman and you’re not a man. Being a man is a default.”
2. When she joked about the way the TSA addresses her
Butcher has a hilarious bit in her stand-up routine in which she talks about how the TSA can’t seem to address her correctly — but she’s cool with it because that’s how she knows she’s got good hair.
“You guys, I got my hair cut recently,” Butcher opens, and the crowd cheers. “Thank you. Thank you for your support of my haircut. I know it’s a good haircut, not only because you appreciate it, but because when I went through the airport the other day, I got an equal number of ‘ma’ams’ and ‘sirs.’ Right down the middle. Perfect. It’s working.”
Print doesn’t do it justice. You have to watch it in the video above.
3. She stands with Standing Rock
Butcher is very vocal on social media about the Standing Rock situation and stands in solidarity with the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. Her Instagram bio currently links out to standwithstandingrock.net, where you can get information about taking action against the pipeline.
4. She’s with her
On Presidents Day, Butcher posted a pic of Hillary Clinton with the simple caption, “Happy Presidents Day.” Pretty much says it all.
5. She’s totally over the Cleveland Indians mascot
Butcher, who is from Ohio and a huge baseball fan, recently made the decision to break up with her hometown team, and the Dakota Access Pipeline was a major catalyst.
“I’m trying to phrase this in a way that’s going to make the most sense in print, but I don’t want teams to have these logos. It’s wrong, and it’s racist. It’s 2016,” she told the A.V. Club last year. “I tried as a fan to demonstrate that by only calling them ‘Cleveland baseball’ and only buying merchandise that uses the supposed primary logo of the block C, but I realized, at some point, I’m still supporting it. No matter what, I’m still supporting it. I’m still giving the team my money. I am trying to lead by an example, but I don’t know that it’s actually effecting that amount of change.”
6. She’s previously spoken out against Trump
“I am unsure if Donald Trump is a homophobe. I don’t think he is; I don’t give a shit if he is at this point… because he hasn’t said anything contradictory to the terrible stuff that’s gone on,” Butcher said on Alison Rosen’s podcast last summer. “The thing that I’m struggling with is, how do you engage with someone who, when you’re simply, like, smiling, you’re smug. If you’re being kind, you’re smug, or you’re talking down to them. And if you’re angry, well, you’re just a dumb angry liberal. Like, I don’t know how I’m supposed to tell you, like, I just want to feel safe walking down the street.”
7. She’s here for the animals, too
Butcher really will stick up for pretty much anyone who needs an advocate. A lifelong vegetarian (literally, her mom was vegetarian when she was pregnant with her), she says she stuck with the lifestyle not because she likes vegetables but because she likes animals. Granted, her vegetarianism also makes for some really great stand-up, as well.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.