A Mississippi transgender teen who missed her graduation because of dress code rules got to have an alternative celebration Monday with more than 100 others at a first-of-its-kind trans prom in Washington, D.C.
“Today we are here, united, doing what’s right, and stronger than ever before,” the teen, who has been identified only as L.B., said in a speech at the Trans Youth Prom, according to ABC News. “Together one by one, state by state, vote by vote, we can construct a better world. Transgender youth have always been here, and rest assured we are here to stay.”
L.B. had planned to wear a white dress and heeled shoes to her graduation from Harrison Central High School last weekend. But school officials consider her male, and the dress code for males called for black suits. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and its Mississippi affiliate, she filed suit against the school district, seeking an injunction that would allow her to graduate in her dress, but a judge denied her request, and she opted out of the ceremony.
But she had her chance to celebrate at the Trans Youth Prom, organized by four trans young people — Daniel Trujillo, 15; Libby Gonzales, 13; Grayson McFerrin-Hogan, 12; and Hobbes Chukumba, 16. Drag performer Stormie Daie emceed the event, while trans DJ Nico Craig provided music. It was held on the National Mall.
“Trans Prom is a celebration of affirming love and support. It is trans joy in full display,” Trujillo said during the event. “We are proud. We are visible. We will not be erased. And we courageously stand here today in defiance of those who say we are too young to know who we are.”
Nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the nation this year, and many have passed, with the bulk of them specifically targeting trans youth. Nearly 20 states have enacted bans on gender-affirming health care for trans minors, with sponsors of such legislation contending that young people aren’t mature enough to make decisions about these procedures, even though they do so in consultation with doctors and parents or guardians.
Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, gave a shout-out to trans resilience in addressing the attendees. “If they try to take away our health care, we will get each other health care. If they try to take away our books, we will make our books available,” Strangio said, according to ABC. “And if they to cut off our history by cutting us off from ourselves, from our elders or from our youth, we will tell our stories over and over again.”