A Vision For a Path Forward: How the Four Trans Teen Organizers of Trans Prom Are Fighting for the Future of Their Community

by Jose Soto

Earlier this year, four trailblazing transgender teenagers came together to organize Trans Prom, an opportunity for transgender and non-binary teenagers to convene in celebration of their own joy, beauty and resilience. On May 22, 2023, over 50 trans and non-binary teens from all over the country gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to celebrate a coming-of-age ritual through a queer lens. During a grueling and vile legislative season that saw an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ state bills being introduced, many of them directly attacking trans and non-binary youth, the need for this event couldn’t be more apparent.

Despite being from different parts of the country, all four teens felt that an event like Trans Prom was urgent. They were feeling frustrated and angered by the ongoing legislative attacks brought on by right-wing extremist politicians and their intent to undermining their well-being and livelihood. Consequently, the teens, with the help from their parents, many of whom are part of our Parents For Transgender Equality Council, began to conceptualize a way to honor trans youth experiences while also combating the discriminatory state bills directly targeting them.

“It was a way for us to tell legislators, “You can’t get rid of us. You’re trying to, so we’re going to have a dance party. And right in front of you,’” said 15-year-old Daniel Trujillo, one of the organizers of Trans Prom. “They’re trying to take away our joy, so we decided to show it off. It was not just prom; it was a mindset, it was a way of thinking. We wanted all the trans teens that were there to experience what it's like to be in a completely supportive environment, to experience what they deserve.”

You can’t get rid of us. You’re trying to, so we’re going to have a dance party. And right in front of you.”

Daniel Trujillo, Teen Organizer of Trans Prom

Meet Daniel Trujillo

Pronouns: he/him
Favorite book or musical album:
Kid A and In Rainbows by Radiohead
Hobby or activity:
Playing the guitar and drawing
The one thing Daniel is most excited about for the future:
Growing as a musician, going to college and exploring a new city.

Hobbes Chukumba, Libby Gonzalez and Grayson McFerrin, along with Daniel, also helped organize Trans Prom. All four were awarded the Trailblazer Award during our 2023 National Dinner for their incredible work and advocacy.

“After those two events, it was just surreal,” said 17-year-old Hobbes. “To see the impact of all the work, it didn’t officially hit until I was back in New Jersey and I was thinking about it. The largest thing that stuck to me was the impact that we made in the community itself, the connections that we made with the trans youth community as whole. There were discussions around what we accomplished. Being part of Trans Prom and then HRC’s National Dinner was absolutely phenomenal, but it was also amazing to work with fabulous people.”

Meet Grayson McFerrin

Pronouns: They/them
Favorite book or music album:
1989 by Taylor Swift
Hobbies or activity:
The one thing Grayson is more excited about for the future:
Having a career in activism and acting

Libby, who is 13-years-old, described both experiences as “dreams.”

“I just kept thinking that I was dreaming,” said Libby. “After so much dreadful news about our community, it was amazing to finally have celebration. Seeing all the notifications that people were sending and all the thankful messages, it was just amazing. It made me so happy that we did what we did. It felt incredibly hard to do so under such awful legislation, but the results were amazing.”

2023 saw an unprecedented spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative attacks in state houses, with more than 570+ anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced, 75 of which were signed into law, many of which eliminated the access to age-appropriate gender-affirming care. Despite being supported by every major medical association in the country, a coordinated push led by anti-LGBTQ+ groups and legislators have not only stripped many of their rights to life-saving care, but emboldened and stoked many to spread vile vitriol and discriminatory rhetoric.

Still, the four trans teenagers say they want the entire community, especially young trans and non-binary folks, to remember that the fight for LGBTQ+ equality has been in dark places before and has triumphed again and again.

Meet Libby Gonzales

Pronouns: She/Her

Favorite albums: Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande, Beatopia by Beabadoobee, or Evermore by Taylor Swift

Hobbies: Practicing improv or drawing clothes designs

The one thing Libby is most excited about for the future: Studying fashion design

“It's important that we do that because eventually, if we don’t give up, we’ll get the rights that we deserve,” said 12-year-old Grayson.”If we want to get them, we have to fight for them. My message to other trans teens that want to join this fight is to do it. No matter how small or how big your efforts are, they will still make an impact.”

My message to other trans teens that want to join this fight is to do it. No matter how small or how big your efforts are, they will still make an impact.”

Grayson McFerrin, Teen Organizer Of Trans Prom

“This whole experience has made me realize that we can find joy in these dark places that we’re in,” said Libby. “Legislators are trying to take this away from us, but they can’t really do that. After this experience, we just want to try harder so that every trans kid feels like we did at the prom.”

For Hobbes, being in celebratory moments like Trans Prom keeps him “aware about what exactly I'm fighting for.”

“To see how all the kids were being themselves, to be able to express themselves, it makes me want to continue to fight so that they can [be themselves] all the time as they should be able to do,” said Hobbes.

Meet Hobbes Chukumba

Pronouns: He/Him
Favorite book or musical album:
Dog Days by Cosmo’s Demos
Hobby or activity:
Making/playing music
What Hobbes is most excited about for the future:
Entering college and getting an official professional education in technology

While the teens aimed to celebrate their trans joy and experiences and at the same time send a message of defiance to legislators, they also want everyone to know that they are people as well — people with hopes and dreams.

“We’re something to be celebrated, we’re not something to be feared,” said Libby. “We’re beautiful, we’re powerful. We’re people.”

They also want to encourage other young trans folks to seek out friends and build community, much like they did.

“I want young trans folks, young LGBTQ+ folks to build connections,” said Hobbes. “We’re all throughout the nation. Just find people, find people to collaborate with toward a common goal. You can certainly get the message across and you can make an impact.”

As the four think ahead to their future, and about how hard the road ahead may be, they are reminding themselves and others about how resilient and triumphant the young trans community has been already.

“As difficult as it can be to have these difficult conversations, we have to remember that we’ve had them before,” said Daniel. “To know that in the past there’s been a lot of ups, we’ve had a lot of wins. We have to use that to create a vision for a path forward.”

Watch The Trans Prom Organizers Receive The Trailblazer Award At HRC's National Dinner: