Florida and Texas remain two of the most populous states in the nation. Many trans people and trans kids live there. They should not have their rights stripped away from them. These proposals restrict LGBTQ+ people from learning how to be themselves. As a gender fluid person and a member of the trans community, I am a very happy person because I was able to learn to be myself.
NEW YORK CITY, United States ꟷ At six years old, my mom took me to my first kid-friendly drag show. I wore a brown wig and a plaid dress. We went to the comedy performance “Walking Children in Nature” by TaMMie Brown in New York City.
As we made our way through the restaurant and down the stairs at the venue, we came to a stage where we ate and watched the show. Although I froze the whole night, sitting underneath a vent blowing cold air, I enjoyed the performance a lot. I felt happy amidst the large group that gathered. The audience included mostly adults and one teenager. I was the only kid, but TaMMie kept everything age appropriate. After the drag show, I met TaMMie and took some pictures.
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Today, at 15 years old, I identify as gender fluid, and I work hard to live a balanced life. I feel especially concerned about the amount of anti-trans legislation proposed in the United States; I don’t think people realize how serious it is. [According to the Trans Legislation Tracker, 47 states proposed 489 bills in 2023 alone. Of those, 14 bills came out of Florida and 57 from Texas. Some of them include legislation outlawing drag performances.]
Florida and Texas remain two of the most populous states in the nation. Many trans people and trans kids live there. They should not have their rights stripped away from them. These proposals restrict LGBTQ+ people from learning how to be themselves. As a gender fluid person and a member of the trans community, I am a very happy person because I was able to learn to be myself. Sadly, other kids won’t get to experience the things I did.
Two years after seeing TaMMie Brown’s drag show, at eight years old, I walked in my first NYC Pride Parade. I remember feeling very excited. My parents thought I would get bored in minutes and want to stop. “You aren’t going to go the whole way,” they said. “If you want to go, just tell us.” I proved them wrong and danced the entire parade route.
The experience felt surreal. Filled with excitement, I felt seen and noticed. When we got on the train that morning, people wearing pride accessories were everywhere. We got off at our stop and found our spot in the parade, waiting for hours in the sun for the parade to start. I made a sign for my mom while we waited. The parade went a really long way, straight through the village and passed the Stonewall Inn. [Stonewall is a gay bar and national historical landmark where the 1969 riots took place which launched the gay rights movement.]
The streets were packed with people, traffic, movement, and colorful things. Occasionally, I saw anti-LGBTQ+ protesters on corners holding signs. Big floats pulled by trucks mixed with smaller floats and individual groups of people marching and playing instruments. Around 23rd Street we passed the performance area, and all along the way, restaurants flew pride flags.
I felt so happy that day, and I am grateful because I know not everyone gets to have this experience. Everyone should, but some have unsupportive parents or don’t live in a place like New York. For kids like me, going to a pride parade is a big thing. It opens your mind. I felt nothing negative. Neither pride parades nor drag queen story hours hurt anyone.
I always struggled with my identity and experimented with labels. I tried non-binary and gender queer. When I settled on gender fluid, it felt like the definition matched how I feel in my gender. I still question my gender today, so this is an ongoing process.
Being able to explore my identity helped me a lot. It helped me learn about myself and who I am inside; and made me more comfortable. I don’t fall into the typical gender stereotype of a man or a woman and I like being gender fluid which means “all.” I fluctuate from man to girl, from neither to both, and in between. At one point, I stopped doing drag because, eventually, I felt like it wasn’t drag anymore. It was just me being me.
People should have the opportunity to explore this way as long as it’s not hurting anyone. To the young people who have not had the experiences I had, it’s important to learn not everyone in the world will be supportive of you. It’s not okay, but it is reality. If you feel a certain way, learn to express it, but if you need to be less obvious about it right now to be safe, that’s okay too.
Some kids live in a household where people do not support them or worse, would hurt them. For those kids, you may have to wait until you are a little older to start expressing yourself fully, but in the meantime, it’s okay to internally learn who you are. If you feel uncertain where your parents stand, you might ask questions like, “What do you think about this person who is gay or that person who is trans?” Feel them out but stay safe expressing your identity.
Many of the anti-trans bills remain unconstitutional and very dangerous. The backers of these bills want to get rid of trans people altogether.
[On Thursday, March 2, 2023, Tennessee became the first state to explicitly ban drag shows in public spaces. It prohibits “adult cabaret performances” where minors could watch. It defines those as “adult-oriented performances” that include “male or female impersonators.” The language leaves a lot of room for interpretation and potential abuse on trans people. Some argue that the ban could negatively impact pride parades and events, where many young people from the LGBTQ+ community finally find a sense of belonging and safety.]
We need to stand up and fight these immoral and disgusting bills. [Change.org features numerous petitions people can sign, and the ACLU features one specifically for trans youth. The National Center for Transgender Equality also features an action center with multiple methods for activism. For people struggling in their journey or who need community, the Trans Lifeline offers incredible peer-to-peer support.
Just as I take on my own advocacy efforts, I continue to be creative. I am most excited today about my clothing store Be Amazing NYC. [Desmond serves as the designer behind the fashion line, set to relaunch around the end of April 2023. Be Amazing NYC offers an affirming shopping experience for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. The line will be fully available online.]
Read more stories in the Sex & Gender category from Orato World Media.
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