I remember the day I took my drivers test so vividly. My heart was pounding as I was nervous I wouldn’t pass. I got into the car and the instructor was friendly, instantly making me feel better. After successfully completing the hardest part of my test, I started to make small talk with my instructor. But when I mentioned I did advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, I shared that I identify as transgender. Instantly the subject shifted from small talk with a new acquaintance to extremely personal questions. Here was an adult asking about my medical transition and even questioning whether I was making the right choices at 16 years old.
Just because a person identifies as trans does not mean they should be subjected to interrogation. Straight and cisgender people are not asked personal and invasive questions by strangers. What makes anyone, let alone a perfect stranger think it is okay to ask LGBTQ+ people invasive questions?
Through my advocacy I have made it my mission to educate people onwhoI am and notwhatI am. I tell people I just finished high school. I am trying to pursue more modeling and acting. I am outgoing and friendly. I recently committed to USC and I have aspirations of being a business owner one day. Instead of focusing on one aspect of identity such as being transgender I give people the full picture. Being transgender does not come up often in my day-to-day life. Yes, it is a part of my identity, but it is not the only thing that should be talked about. For me, being transgender is one of the least interesting parts about me. It should not be the sole topic brought up in conversation. I want to be known for more than my gender.
In my freshman year of high school, I helped to launch The GenderCool project as a founding “Champion.” It is a national storytelling campaign to show who trans kids are and not what they are. Through the GenderCool project, I have been featured on national television multiple times and have spoken at some of the biggest companies in the world. The organization is actively helping to change the media narrative about trans people. Oftentimes we see extremely negative stories or stories that only focus on someone's trans identity. GenderCool does the opposite of this and focuses on positive stories and who transgender kids are. GenderCool Champions are teenagers who happen to identify as transgender.But that is just one part of us. We are students, musicians, future politicians, actors, singers, and so much more.
Having a platform with The GenderCool Project and being a former Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador has allowed me to voice the need for safer and more positive environments for LGBTQ+ people. Many times we have no choice but to be the teacher or the advocate for LGBTQ+ topics. While you might know a person who identifies as LGBTQ+, there are many people that don’t or are not familiar with the LGBTQ+ community. As a result, their education might come from social media sources that can send harmful and false messages. Creating organizations such as the GenderCool Project is an amazing start to change the conversation about LGBTQ+ people and more specifically trans people. However, more needs to be done. Schools should teach kids about the LGBTQ+ community and how LGBTQ+ people should be treated. Instead of the internet shaping people's beliefs, we should educate kids on who LGBTQ+ are. Education is the most powerful tool in creating more acceptance for and less stereotyping about the LGBTQ+ community.
Recently I wrote a book titledA Kids Book About Being Transgenderto help educate kids on what it means to be transgender. I tell my story and how freeing it was for me to come out and be myself. For me, being myself means buying the clothes I want, sitting with the people I love, and presenting myself in the way I prefer. Being trans happens is a part of who I am, but it is just one small part of me. Trans and other LGBTQ+ people are so much more than how they identify.
So how can we change how we treat trans people as a society? It is simple:education. Teaching people what questions are and aren’t okay to ask. Putting resources such as lesson plans or books in schools to create more universal acceptance. Creating media sources that have accurate and educational information for when people do have questions.
All people deserve to have a fulfilling childhood and life. Letallkids be kids and don't make them answer invasive questions at a young age. Be supportive and remember that trans people are people too.