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Texas transgender activist, 11, named Time Kid of the Year finalist

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Texas transgender activist, 11, named Time Kid of the Year finalist

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Kai Shapley, an 11-year-old transgender girl from Texas, is in the spotlight again after being named a Time Kid of the Year finalist. Kai, an elementary school student, first made national headlines in April when she testified about trans rights before the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee.

After being named one of five finalists for Kid of the Year, Kai and her mother, Kimberly Shapley, spoke to NBC affiliate KXAN of Austin about the motivation behind Kai’s activism.

“I started my activism because I thought it was unfair the way they were treating us,” Kai said. “We’ve seen a lot of this happening many times in history, and it’s just history repeating itself over and over again. It’s terrible, so I started talking, because I wanted that it stops.

Texas is one of more than 30 states that considered legislation targeting transgender youth last year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Texas alone has considered more than 50 such bills, according to the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Texas. It was one such bill — a measure that sought to criminalize the provision or assistance of gender-affirming health care to minors — that led Kai to testify last spring.

“It makes me sad that some politicians are using trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist,” she said at the time. “God made me, God loves me for who I am, and God doesn’t make mistakes.”

The measurement did not pass. However, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation in October that restricts transgender students’ participation in school sports, which went into effect on Tuesday.

The Shapley family has moved three times over the past few years and now live in Austin because “it’s the safest place” for Kai, Kimberly Shapley told KXAN.

The Shapleys anticipate that they will have to continue to fight bills that target transgender youth, and that’s great for Kai.

“I am a bold, strong, independent little woman,” Kai said, “and I will keep fighting for as long as it takes.”

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Texas transgender activist, 11, named Time Kid of the Year finalist

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