A magician in Wyoming has been forced to cancel a series of kids’ shows after a bigot discovered she’s trans and sent a barrage of hate her way.
Mikayla Oz is a nationally-recognised and award-winning magician who has been featured by multiple TV shows and media outlets and performs for children, teens and adults.
She was set to perform six shows for children and teens at Campbell County Library in the small town of Gillette, Wyoming, but was forced to cancel after she began receiving threats simply for being trans.
Oz told PinkNews that she booked the shows around a year ago, and had no idea there would be any problem until June this year.
“They booked me because they’d heard really good reviews about my show, and I’m one of the most booked entertainers on the ‘library circuit’,” she said.
But when Campbell County Library posted on social media for Pride month, it began receiving backlash from anti-LGBT+ local residents.
Oz explained: “A couple of community members decided to research into everything the library was doing and found out I’m trans.”
The magician is very open about her gender identity, but doesn’t find it necessary to mention it on her summer library programs.
“I’m not ashamed of it, I don’t hide it, but it’s not something I go out of my way to talk about, especially when I’m doing a families and kids show,” she explained.
“It was people doing their research, finding out that I am trans, and using me as a scapegoat to scare the rest of their community.”
In an email seen by PinkNews, one resident claimed Oz would be “sexualising minors… on your tax dime” and that LGBT+ people were “coming for our children”. They encouraged others to protest outside the library during the shows.
Oz continued: “They started posting a ton of hateful rhetoric, saying I’m a paedophile, how I’m going to turn the kids trans, how they don’t want their kids being exposed to a trans person.
“It spiralled, and I ended up getting threats from a couple of people. Somebody called me and said, ‘Don’t f**king come here, you’re not welcome here, there are going to be issues if you come’.
“I decided it probably wasn’t in the interest of my own safety, and the safety of the families and kids, for me to come.”
Nothing like this has ever happened to Oz before, she said, and the library were “super supportive”, allowing her to “guide the way” in cancelling the events. In a statement on Facebook, the library reported that its staff had also received threats.
Since the cancellation of her shows, both Oz and the library have received an outpouring of love and support from local Gillette residents, who are disgusted by the actions of some in their community.
“It seems like there are a lot of good people in the community,” Oz said.
“There’s a just a small population that ruined it for everybody else.”
While the experience has been “mentally draining” for Oz, she added: “The biggest thing for me is that I don’t want any kid in Gillette, Wyoming, to ever feel like they don’t have a safe place to talk about issues they might be having in their own life.”
She hopes that it will “start a conversation” in the community, and “if there is a kid like that, maybe show them who they can talk to, and who maybe they can’t talk to”.