'It's hard sometimes.' Trans teen seeks allies as anti-LGBTQ bills advance in North Carolina

Akilah Davis Image
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Trans teen seeks allies as anti-LGBTQ bills advance in North Carolina
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Across several states and North Carolina, a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills including those targeting transgender youth have been passed or filed, according to ACLU.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's still excitement in the air as Madison just wrapped up celebrations for her sweet 16th birthday.

Pure joy is written all over her face as she plays with her dogs, but sometimes things happen that steal her joy.

"People are trying to make me not who I am if that makes sense," said the teenager.

Madison is transgender and wants the public to know she is just like everyone else. She loves her family, friends and cheerleading just like other teen girls. The teen already knows what she wants to be when she grows up.

"I've recently been open to maybe being a therapist. There is a big need for trans therapists that can relate to their clients," she said.

She is in therapy too. Her mother, Katie Jenifer, told ABC11 this journey with her daughter has not been easy.

"When she socially transitioned when she was younger there was one incident after another where we needed a legal advocate in our corner," said Jenifer.

The family decided that a legal advocate would be Jenifer, who graduated from law school in 2020. She's now a practicing attorney who often lobbies at the North Carolina General Assembly fighting for trans rights.

"We want the same things for our kids that any other parents want. We want them to be happy, healthy, safe at school and out in the world," she said.

The teen is growing up in a world that she sometimes doesn't feel safe in.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, in the last few years states have advanced a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills including those targeting transgender youth. Currently, it's tracking 491 bills limiting the rights of the LGBTQ community across the country. Twelve of those bills are in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Support for Madison transcends generations in her family.

"There's nothing to be afraid of," said her maternal grandmother Katheryn Jenifer. "She's a person. She's a wonderful human being. I think it's important that you see that other generations feel the same way."

Bother her grandmother's admit it's been a learning curve.

"When she came out, she blossomed. She was dancing like a fairy. So thrilled with her hair and nails and dresses. It was like day and night," said her paternal grandmother Victory Davis.

Madison has been showing up as herself for several years now. She believes allies in her family and among her friends have helped.

"It's hard sometimes but I surrounded myself with people who make it not hard to be who I am," she said.

RELATED | Families flee states with anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ+ laws for Illinois where their rights are protected

The organization Campaign for Southern Equality, which works across the South to promote LGBTQ+ quality, says officials are prepared to help families find out-of-state care and provide them hundreds of dollars to cover travel or procedure costs if the bill passes.

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SEE ALSO | Elliot Page opens up about trans journey, relationship with mom in ABC Pride special