From the brick-throwers of Stonewall to the youth testifying about legislation that impacts them, the power of our movement is led by young people openly challenging gender roles and every other role set before us. It is important to remind ourselves of this as the trans community (and especially young trans people) continues to bear the weight of targeted legislations, hate crimes, and overall exclusion from activist circles. While our existence may not be valued or centered by everyone, it is important to remember that it was youth like us who first shook the ground our movement exists upon.
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson are two examples of this power. As a 17-year-old brown transgirl, Rivera worked alongside young people like Marsha P. Johnson, 24 at the time of Stonewall, to lead one of the most pivotal riots within our queer liberation movement. While organizing spaces often credit our ancestors for their tireless work and dedication, it is vital that we highlight Rivera’s age for one reason: trans youth have BEEN doing it and leading us.
This is still true today. Young trans people are in front of the cameras, inside the courtrooms, leading the marches, inserting ourselves in the circles that have not always centered us, but needed us.
We live at the intersections of a society that devalues youth and discredits gender exploration. Yet, we’re living. We’re making it.
Living as trans while young is not easy for all of us. We know that a lot of us struggle emotionally, mentally, etc. However, we also know that our realities of mental health and emotional health do not limit the potential we carry through our experiences.
As our current administration continues to target our people, we ask that our community takes the time necessary to remember, attacks on our bodies and existence are not new. We’ve always been the community pushing for change while being stepped over when others achieve.
And remember: we have also always been the leaders, the innovators, and the sources of power.
Young trans people are power. We are power. You are power.