"My shirt says, 'Protect trans kids,'" said Katie Jenifer. "It's why I get up every day and why I went through the three years of law school which was really tough, but especially a 45-year-old mom with kids at home."
Jenifer attended law school at North Carolina Central University because she knew the world wouldn't love her 13-year-old transgender daughter Madison like she does.
So, she earned a law degree anticipating she'd have to fight for her daughter's right to be herself. This comes after North Carolina lawmakers introduced a measure banning transgender girls and women from competing in sports not based off the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Newly-introduced North Carolina bill would ban transgender girls from competing in female sports
"How sad and what a shame--and shame on us for having that atmosphere where it's OK to attack these kids," said Jenifer.
"I don't even think my mom knows this, but in school, in first grade, people wouldn't address me as my preferred pronouns. They'd call me 'it,'" said Madison.
The Orange County teen silently grapples with the struggles of growing up trans. Fortunately, she's accepted as both a cheerleader and softball player by her peers. As she heads to high school next year, her mother wants her to have the option of playing sports.
"It's not just words on a paper. These are real lives that are going to be impacted," said Jenifer.
Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls' sports teams in public high schools.
Bills in Idaho and Mississippi have become law, while others are being debated in several more state legislatures.
A bill sponsor acknowledged he knew of no controversies in North Carolina when a transgender girl or woman had joined a team or competed in a sport designated for women. But Rep. Mark Brody, a Union County Republican, argued it was important to be proactive.
"I do not want to wait until biological females are pushed out of female sports, and all of their records are broken, scholarships lost and benefits of excelling are diminishing before this is addressed," Brody said.
There's no authoritative count of how many transgender athletes have competed recently in high school or college sports. Neither the NCAA nor most state high school athletic associations collect that data; in the states that do collect it, the numbers are minimal: No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.