The Power In Conner’s Vote

Having recently turned 18, Conner is now a young transgender woman. Having extensively advocated for trans rights as a kid, Conner is now exercising her right to vote, helping to elect pro-equality candidates who will protect trans kids like the one she used to be.

Words by Jose Soto (he/him/his) Photography by Armando Gallardo (he/him/his)

Throughout the country, roughly 2,200 LGBTQ+ Americans become eligible to vote every day. Conner recently became one of them.

Having just turned 18, Conner, a young trans woman from Ohio, is excited about finally being able to vote and, in doing so, help dictate the country's future and that of her own life. As a trans kid, Conner advocated for trans rights and liberation throughout the majority of her childhood, testifying and speaking in front of legislators and lawmakers, some of which went on to have various negative implications on her life by pushing forward anti-trans legislation.

Originally from Ohio, Conner’s family moved to Minnesota, then to Florida. They left Florida and returned to Ohio to escape the growing anti-trans legislation that would impede on Conner’s access to medically appropriate and necessary gender-affirming care. Unfortunately, they would find out that Ohio, too, would take measures against gender-affirming care access in the state.

Having received the needed care, Conner is thriving as a young adult. She is vibrant, talkative, funny, and confident. She is enrolling in college courses and working at a local coffee shop, all while living her truth—a reality that is possible for all trans kids if and when their entrusted elected officials do not create legislative barriers for them.

I’m just a person. Being transgender is one tiny part of that.

On a brisk, windy Super Tuesday in Ohio, Conner and her parents drive toward the nearest voting station, set on voting for as many pro-equality candidates as possible across the ballot. The future fight is ahead in a swing state like Ohio, where Trump has seemingly remained popular even without incumbency.

In the county where Conner lives, many Republicans run unopposed. Still, Conner remains hopeful that Ohio and the rest of the country will vote against any political and legislative measures that undermine transgender individuals and their well-being.

After voting in the Ohio primaries, Conner returns to her parents’ house for dinner. While sharing a meal, they retrospectively look at her exceptional advocacy work as a young trans kid.

There is a wall adorned with family photos at the house, many depicting Conner and her parents in various political and social engagements. There’s a photo of young Conner with Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride whose trajectory as an openly transgender elected official has been historic and another with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Conner’s fearless advocacy as a trans kid has all been amassing to this juncture in her life where she can use both her voice and vote for change.

Tears accumulate in Conner’s mom’s eyes as they talk about all Conner has done to defend herself as a human being. That was the hardest part, Conner’s mom said, about watching her young daughter advocate for trans rights since she was a little girl.

“Once I realized that Conner identified as a girl, as a trans kid, I knew that the road ahead would be challenging,” she said. “But it’s been remarkable watching her defend herself and other trans kids. As a parent, it’s been so impressive watching her walk up to microphones and podiums and speak directly to politicians about the harm their bills can do. She grew into her own as a public speaker.”

“I grew up faster than I needed to have,” Conner says the next day, seated at the dining table and reminiscing about her childhood.

Having just gotten off work and back at her parents’ house, Conner recognizes that she wants to make more room for work, friends, college and studying. She says she’ll need to take a step back from advocacy work to do so. She says that, as a trans kid, she felt the need to ensure that the legislators and lawmakers pushing anti-trans bills forward heard directly from a trans kid. “I want to practice my right to vote to help elect pro-equality candidates into public office,” Conner said.

“I want today’s trans kids to know that there are people out there doing their part to make sure their futures are safe,” she exclaimed.

While she clings slightly to certain likings from a younger Conner, such as romance books, she’s also developing an interest in psychology and philosophy. She’s studying the pathos and ethos of advertising and shares that she appreciates the creative work of cinematographers. Conner is now thinking more frequently about not only her future but that of young trans kids.

“I know how it feels when the adults are trying to make your life hard as a trans kid, and I want to make sure that I’m doing what I can to keep them safe,” she said.

While her life of advocacy may be momentarily halted, she is doing her part by voting for “the right adults” who can protect trans kids like the one she used to be.

Get Involved