With harmful legislation currently advancing or introduced in states like Tennessee, Arizona, Idaho, Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, and many more, TRUTH Council member Dexter Komakaru speaks out about the impact of these bills on trans youth, and the power of his autonomy and activism. TRUTH, a collaborative project between GSA Network and Transgender Law Center, launched in 2014 to uplift the voices of transgender and gender nonconforming young people who were at the frontlines of trans liberation, and shift narratives about our lives and experiences.
Reflecting on these anti-trans bills and legislation is a usual thing for me to do as a trans young person and activist, as this is all a part of an ignorant system I work to undo. While I’m not affected by too many anti-trans bills as I’m no longer under eighteen or in school, I still feel frustrated as a newly trans adult hearing of these proposed bills, locally or nationwide. For example, as someone who’s now eighteen and coming to my first year on testosterone, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the privilege I have now to be able to be on hormones. I’ve found that there’s a newfound sense of autonomy and control over my body and can medically do with it what was denied to me by the households I lived in. I feel so privileged to be able to be where I am now, it’s a peace of mind and comfort that I had been struggling to reach for over four years as a trans youth living under guardians and households who refused to let me have freedom with my body and transition more than just socially. I truly feel blessed to now be able to experience my body as it feels best to me.
There are currently legislators in Ohio who have already announced their plans to co-sponsor a bill that would penalize doctors who provide any youth under eighteen years old with medical care related to their gender identity. This harmful legislation directly targets the healthcare and the physical and emotional safety of trans youth in Ohio, and it would have affected me receiving even something like therapy when I was a minor. These bills and many like them are being proposed nationwide and directly work to target trans and gender-nonconforming people and stoke fear. They spread anti-trans beliefs among the public when there are actual trans health issues like equal medical access and trans-friendly healthcare that should be addressed.
Reflecting on what bills do impact me, as I work to legally change my name and gender marker to reaffirm my gender identity, it’s annoying to find out that Ohio is one of the TWO (along with Tennessee, of course) US states that doesn’t allow for gender marker changes on birth certificates, so I’m out of luck there until that changes. Until then, it’s just something I’ll have to work towards.
Dexter Komakaru is an 18-year-old artist, activist and public speaker from Columbus, Ohio. As an LGBT+ youth of color, Dexter has been doing grassroots activism, youth advocacy, and community outreach work since he was 15. He’s been featured in The Columbus Dispatch and on 10TV News, as well as his artwork being featured in PRIZM Magazine and winning a Silver Key in the 2019 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
He balances his advocacy work with maintaining a full-time job as well as running his own business as a freelance Illustrator and Digital Artist under the name DXTROSE. He works with several local and nationwide organizations, including Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Mozaic, and The GSA Network. He currently serves his second year on the National Trans Youth Council (TRUTH), as well as Kaleidoscope’s Community Advisory Board.
Transgender youth are under attack and we need everyone to #ShowUp4TransYouth, now. Now in its fifth year, TRUTH has more than 60 past and present members from over 25 states. TRUTH’s annual day of action, GSA Day 4 Gender Justice, is November 13, 2020. Follow and support our work via ourtranstruth.org and on social media via @ourtranstruth.