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Benjamin Elder

Meet Benjamin Elder, a better and braver person than Dan Patrick will ever be.

Spend a few hours in Benjamin Elder’s company and you’ll realize he’s an average, bubbly 10-year-old kid.

All lanky limbs and wavy chestnut-colored hair, he’s easy to pick out of a room by his infectious laughter and toothy grin.

His favorite food is mac and cheese — really any kind of pasta dish — and he loves to play outside. He wants to be a scientist when he grows up, but he’s also interested in gymnastics. His favorite color is blue.

He’s a massive fan of American Ninja Warrior, an obstacle competition show. He has a pet hamster named Princess and two sweet dogs named Pepper and Maple. And his room is a shrine to Minecraft, stuffed animals, Pokemon figures and his martial arts medals.

Most people don’t realize he is transgender. And that’s kind of the point, his mother Ann Elder often repeats.


Despite the fight over which bathroom transgender kids can use, Ben’s doing just fine. A lot of other transgender kids have fears about even using the bathrooms in school, said Robbie Sharp, a Houston developmental psychologist and Ben’s gender therapist.

“For the kids, it’s not a matter of what’s on the bathroom door,” Sharp said. “It’s, ‘This is who I am, and this is the bathroom I go into.’”

Ben, in the meantime, breaks into laughter when he thinks about bathrooms. He struggles to get through his giggles while recounting a story about his best friend accidentally using the girls’ bathroom once.

In addressing the push against transgender-inclusive bathroom policies, he responds just like any other 10-year-old might address a serious issue — with short answers and humor.

“So Ben, what do you think about the Texas [lieutenant] governor wanting to make you use the girls’ bathroom?” his mother asks on the drive back home from dinner.

Ben quickly responds: “One word: Bad.”

“If you could talk to him, what would you say?” she follows up.

He’s pensive for a few seconds before his lips slip into a sly smirk and he prepares to address the non-present lieutenant governor. “You’re mean!” he says loudly. Then he erupts into a fit of giggles.

Ben’s mom Ann is one of the parents who called out Dan Patrick for putting their children in danger with his potty obsession. I’ll be as blunt as I can about this: If Dan Patrick, who has admitted that he doesn’t actually know any transgender people, is not willing to meet with Ben Elder and tell him to his face why he cannot use the boys’ bathroom at his school, then Dan Patrick is a coward. So what’s it going to be, Dan? What are you afraid of?

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