International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is an annual awareness day “dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of transgender and gender nonconforming people while raising awareness of the work that still needs to be done to achieve trans justice.”
From a teen who inspired millions on TikTok to a young girl whose mission to create a more loving world became a superhero legend, here are five times media profiled remarkable young trans people:
1. Zaya Wade teaches her family how to be advocates for the trans community
Retired NBA legend Dwyane Wade explained on ABC’s Good Morning America how his trans daughter Zaya has shown their family how to advocate for the rights of the trans community. Since Wade began discussing Zaya’s gender identity in February, the family has become a groundbreaking example of how to love and support trans kids in the Black community.
During the February 18 interview, Wade explained that when it comes to affirming his daughter’s gender identity, “this is no game to us. We're about protecting her heart, we’re about protecting her joy, and to do that, we have to support them.”
2. Andi Bernabe inspires millions on TikTok after his friends help fund his legal name change
Andi Bernabe’s story went viral after his classmates surprised him by raising around $300 for his 18th birthday in order to pay for fees needed to legally change his name in Texas. In a TikTok documenting the surprise, Bernabe was overcome with joy after his friends handed him an envelope with the funds.
In an interview with Teen Vogue, Bernabe encouraged other trans youth in their journeys:
“For other trans kids out there, your time will come,” Andi says. “Your time will come to shine and finally be your true self. If you’re not surrounded by good people now, you will be because there’s a lot of sources everywhere. There [are] communities in real life and apps that connect people to help out LGBTQ kids and that’s really cool. Things take time. When you’re in a safe place, that’s all that matters.”
3. The Dawson family opens Transform Cincy, a safe space for trans youth to find an authentic wardrobe
On NBC’s Today show, Nancy Dawson explained how her daughter Phoebe, who is transgender, inspired her to open Transform Cincy, a nonprofit that provides free clothing to trans and gender-nonconforming youth, giving them a supportive environment to find clothes that align with their gender identity.
During the March 3 segment, Dawson noted that she has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She said that Transform Cincy will be “one of my legacies, along with my children.” Her daughter Phoebe added that her mother “wants to keep going with Transform. And I'm just so proud of her.”
4. Mighty Rebekah inspires Marvel’s first trans superhero
Rebekah Bruesehoff is a transgender girl whose advocacy inspired Marvel’s first ever trans superhero, Mighty Rebekah. In response to parts of the Trump administration’s rollback of trans rights, she became an outspoken voice for her community, giving speeches and even testifying in front of the New Jersey legislature.
ABC’s Nightline profiled Rebekah’s journey to becoming part of Marvel’s Hero Project, a Disney+ docuseries “featuring kids who've created remarkable and profound change in their communities and environments across the U.S.” During the February 14 segment, she explained, “Every transgender kid deserves the support that I get, and that's why I'm here.”
5. Jacob Lemay’s family demonstrates the importance of trans youth having access to gender-affirming health care
Fourth grader Jacob Lemay socially transitioned when he was 5 years old and has since become a beacon for the acceptance of trans youth. Jacob’s mother chronicled his transition in the memoir What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation, and in October, he asked then-presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) how she would support trans youth in schools.
In a profile on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Jacob’s parents described their family’s path to embracing his gender identity. His father noted the importance of trans youth having access to gender-affirming medical care, saying, “He’s becoming educated on what future choices he'll need to make. And that's one of the reasons why he is, you know, taking a puberty blocker so that we know he's had years to think this through.”
These stories about the vibrant and successful lives of trans youth when they are affirmed by their families and communities come at a time when state legislatures have introduced an unprecedented onslaught of anti-trans bills. On the eve of TDOV, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed two of those anti-trans bills into law, preventing trans girls and women from competing in girls’ sports and banning transgender Idahoans from updating the gender listed on their state-issued birth certificates. Idaho is the first state to enact anti-trans legislation in 2020.
Right-wing media outlets often dominate reporting on trans issues and earn high Facebook engagement on stories that attack trans youth. Accordingly, it is vital that mainstream media outlets report on both the struggles and successes of the trans community with respect and accuracy.