10-year-old Kai Shappley testified against a Texas state proposal to ban trans youth from accessing gender-affirming care.

By Maressa Brown
April 19, 2021
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An image of people holding trans rights flags.
Credit: Getty Images.

A fourth-grader from Texas has earned national applause for speaking out on the dangers of legislation that could ban medical care for trans youth. This week, 10-year-old trans activist and actor Kai Shappley testified in front of the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs, telling lawmakers that "bullying is bad" and noting, "I do not like spending my free time asking adults to make good choices."

Shappley explained she that she loves ballet, math, science, and geology and spends her free time with her cats, chickens, FaceTiming with her friends, and dreaming of meeting Dolly Parton.

Kai Shappley shared that she has been having to explain herself since she was 3 or 4 years old. "Texas legislators have been attacking me since pre-K," she shared, noting that she "immediately" feels angry when she hears about bills that target trans youth because it has been "very scary and overwhelming" for her.

The fourth-grader continued, "It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist. God made me, God loves me for who I am and God does not make mistakes."

Shappley also thanked legislators who are "sticking up for" kids like her. "By the time I'm in college, you will be celebrated in the history books," said the 10-year-old.

The testimonial was in response to the legislature's consideration of a bill that would redefine child abuse to include administering, supplying or consenting to provide puberty suppression drugs, hormone replacement therapy, or surgical or medical procedures to anyone under 18 "for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment," reports NBC News.

Other bills on the table in the Lone Star State would target medical providers, as well as a trans sports ban and a religious exemption bill that could allow emergency room staff to refuse to treat LGBTQ patients.

This is far from the first time Shappley has stepped into the spotlight to lend her powerful voice to trans justice and visibility. In 2018, the ACLU curated a series of three short films, one of which the then-6-year-old appeared in talking about being banned from the girls' bathroom.

And at 9, she starred in Netflix's The Baby-Sitters' Club series as a young trans child named Bailey. At the time, Shappley told the Houston Chronicle, "I'm super happy they used a trans person to be a trans character. We get lots of messages from moms and trans kids telling us how much it means to them."

And no doubt Shappley's recent testimonial means so much to other parents, trans kids, and everyone fighting in Texas and across the country.