Ever since Nicole publicly transitioned, Wayne explained to Jonas that he needed to protect his sister—a thought that was confusing to Jonas, as Nicole was always more aggressive than he was. Sometimes this means answering questions from others about Nicole’s gender identity, but usually it just makes Jonas paranoid that someone might threaten Nicole.
Just as Kelly and Wayne find their individual ways to love and support Nicole, Jonas is charged with his own way to support Nicole: to make sure that she is safe within their elementary school. This is yet another dimension of the strong, immutable bond that exists between the twins.
One day, Jacob joins a game of four square in which Jonas is playing. The two quickly get into a fight, and Jacob calls Nicole a “fag.” Jonas jumps on Jacob’s back, and Jacob swiftly flings Jonas to the ground. Both boys are punished, losing recess for the next two weeks. When Kelly and Wayne hear of the incident, they tell Jonas that they understand his frustration but that he can’t get into physical fights.
This fight illustrates how Jacob’s discrimination is affecting the whole family. They are proud and supportive of Nicole, but consequently, they, too, become targets of the harassment she experiences.
On Tuesday, December 18, 2007, Paul Melanson appears in front of the school board at a meeting. He expresses his distress that “this little boy is being treated as a little girl.” A board member stops him, saying that the student is using the appropriate bathroom, and that they would not discuss the matter further.
Melanson’s comments demonstrate his continued ignorance—perhaps even willful ignorance—regarding Nicole’s situation, in that he insists that she is a “little boy” even though she clearly identifies as a girl. Melanson’s belief that gender is solely determined by sex is, as Nutt has proven, misguided.
The incident makes the local news and papers. None of the outlets mention the Maineses by name, but the story is being discussed everywhere, including online forums and blogs. Some comment that Wayne and Kelly should be “arrested for child abuse” for helping Nicole “persist in the mental illness.”
The commenter’s statements prove a point that Nutt makes in an earlier chapter: for so long, variance in gender and sexuality was treated as a psychological problem. Nutt argues, on the other hand, that it is more important and successful to treat it as a medical one.
A letter to the school from Melanson’s lawyer argues that they are discriminating against Jacob because of his “sexual orientation” because they are letting another boy use the girls’ bathroom and not him. Melanson himself believes that his rights “are being infringed upon every time his country invent[s] new ones for special interest groups.”
Nutt displays the irony in Melanson’s thinking. He believes that Nicole using the girls’ bathroom means Jacob is somehow losing rights, when in reality his discrimination only causes Nicole to lose the right to use the student bathroom.