Willum Watson, a currently enrolled student at Knoxville, Tennessee’s Fulton High School, uploaded a pair of TikToks on August 21 under the username @willim4606 that showed Watson crying and speaking to people off-camera about a Black transgender student who was being harassed. Watson says that he was defending a friend from bullies who were deadnaming and threatening this friend’s life. As he stepped up to protect his peer, a woman, who Watson does not name, called the police. Watson was subsequently suspended while the student being bullied was placed in a form of in-school suspension.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) found that 2020 was the most violent year for gender expansive, including transgender, persons in the United States. With more than 44 deaths in that year alone, 2021 has proven to be even more dangerous for the black transgender community. Transgender women of color are being disproportionately targeted in North Carolina; with two NC residents found murdered in the same month. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 78 percent of transgender high schoolers have been harassed, while 35percent have been physically attacked and twelve percent have been sexually assaulted.
Despite not specifying who called 911, there has been speculation that Fulton’s Assistant Principal, Beth Haun was responsible for placing the blame on Watson and the victimized transgender student. Haun is not involved in the Fulton High School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club, which was created with the intent of fostering an understanding relationship between both students and faculty..
The transgender student in question has yet to be identified; however, Watson posted a comment on his original video saying “hey guys I just wanted to say thank you guys for all the support you have given me and aurora we are so greatful.” Many have assumed that Aurora is the student who was being bullied.
Verified TikTok creator, King Bo @suburban_prince, asked Watson, “what’s the email and names” to which Bo received several responses with Fulton HS faculty information. The emails seem to be functional, although no TikTok users have reported contact with any staff members. Both Haun and Fulton High School’s Twitter accounts (@Haunb3_14 and @FultonHigh) have been deleted since the incident.
Watson promises to post an update soon but emphasizes “I am just mentally drained and still trying to process this traumatic event that took place but I am safe.”
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