Trans Youth Prom Is Planned Near U.S. Capitol

TRANS YOUTH UNION: As local, state and federal legislators continue to debate and, in some instances, reshape transgender rights, the first prom for transgender youth is being held Monday in front of the U.S. Capitol.

More than 200 people, including trans youth, parents and trans adults, are expected at the event. Invited through community-based organizations and individual outreach, Trans Youth Prom attendees will not pay any fees. Meant as an act of solidarity, the prom has attracted the support of donors, activists and creative leaders. Celebrities such as Elliot Page, Lilly Wachowski, Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande were said to have pitched in. Trans Youth Prom attendees from 18 U.S. states are having their travel expenses covered and each has received a $100 stipend for their outfits. Although fashion is often a key form of self-expression for trans youth, they routinely struggle to find clothes that fit properly. In addition, the prom will be mostly unbranded to keep the focus on the kids rather than the brands, according to a spokesperson.

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Last year, the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, a think tank that conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, released a study that estimated there are 1.6 million transgender people aged 13 and older in the U.S. That information was based on health survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2017 to 2020 as well as statistical modeling. The Williams Institute found the percentage of adults who identify as transgender had remained steady at 0.6 percent since its last report in 2017, but there had been a sharp rise in transgender people ages 13 to 24.

Conceptualized and organized by trans youth organizers Daniel Trujillo, Libby Gonzales, Grayson McFerrin-Hogan and Hobbes Chukumba, the Trans Youth Prom is “a youth-led project to recenter the humanity, childhood and joy of young people, who have spent their lives just fighting to exist,” a spokesperson said. Lawyer and transgender activist Chase Strangio, and the activist, actress and drag performer who is known as “Peppermint” also were involved.

Organizers were motivated by the hundreds of “anti-trans bills” submitted by state legislators that could impact transgender kids’ participation in sports, gender-affirming care and access to bathrooms, according to the spokesperson. The multimillion-dollar fundraising taking place by activists opposed to transgender rights that is being used to “advance misinformed and dangerous narratives about trans people, particularly trans youth,” was another incentive, they said.

Organizers cited a survey by the Trevor Project that noted 86 percent of trans or nonbinary youth reported negative effects on their mental health stemming from the political debate around trans issues, and nearly half had seriously considered suicide in the past year. But reports have also shown that this is preventable, as suicidal rates — both considerations and attempts — dropped dramatically for youth who received support by adults.

Attendees at this one-time event can have portraits taken by Lia Clay Miller.

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