In early 2008, Melanson holds a press conference with the Christian Civic League, arguing along with several students from the school that Nicole should not be allowed to use the bathroom until she has a “sex change.” The following day, a poll is included during election day asking whether a 12-year-old boy who identifies as a girl should be allowed to use the girls’ bathroom. 82.8 percent say no.
The fact that the poll is so skewed speaks to the problematic way in which it was taken. Not only does it frame Nicole as a boy, rather than the girl that she is, but it also makes no effort to educate people on the issues. Thus, it is likely that many go into the poll without understanding what it means to be transgender, and therefore are unsympathetic to Nicole.
Despite these numbers, the Maineses receive many messages from friends and parents in the school district arguing that Melanson’s behavior is a perfect example of how not to conduct themselves. They also receive many responses from young people, explaining how they’ve learned about being transgender and that there’s nothing wrong with Nicole using the girls’ bathroom.
The ignorance highlighted in the poll is perfectly contrasted with the responses from friends and family members—that is, people who know Nicole and understands what it means for her to be transgender. Her mere presence in the school and Kelly’s constant advocacy for her daughter give the other students and parents the tools to understand and sympathize with Nicole’s situation.
Reading some of the negative articles emboldens Wayne and shows him how Nicole needs him to fight for her rights. He also starts to realize that he’d “spent too much time dwelling on the loss of a son and had never really considered the special rewards of a daughter.” One day, when he’s taking the twins to go shopping, Wayne reaches out to hold their hands to cross the street. Jonas pulls his hand away, but Nicole takes her father’s hand and they swing arms all the way across the street.
Wayne had spent so much of Nicole’s childhood viewing her as an atypical boy, but when he is able to transform his way of thinking about her, he realizes that he can think about her as just a typical girl, and starts to recognize all of the special aspects of having a relationship with a daughter.