An 11-year-old trans rights activist is a finalist for TIME Magazine’s Kid of the Year.
Kai Shappley garnered widespread attention last year when she spoke out against two anti-trans healthcare bills before the Texas Senate committee. Shappley, who was in the fourth grade at the time, told the committee that “When it comes to bills that target trans youth I immediately feel angry. It’s been very scary and overwhelming.”
She went on to add, “It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist.”
Both bills eventually failed in the legislature.
Shappley recently told TIME that she was “furious” beneath the composure she displayed. During her testimony, the magazine reports, “Lawmakers were avoiding her gaze … glancing at their watches, scrolling on their phones or doodling on papers.”
While the video of Shappley’s testimony went viral, putting her more clearly in the spotlight, TIME reports that she has been speaking out for trans rights for much of her life. She grew up watching her mother, Kimberly, speak out against a growing number of anti-trans bills that were cropping up throughout the state. While Shappley first began her own public testimony alongside her mother, she decided she was ready to speak on her own following the death of fellow trans rights activist, and her mentor, Monica Roberts.
Her appearance before the Texas Senate committee was her first solo testimony.
“Proud to be a finalist for TIME kid of the year,” Shappley posted on Instagram, ending with a quote from the article: “Activism matters to me because it is a way to show that we belong … It’s a way to show that we will fight for what is right. We won’t sit silent.”
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