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11-year-old transgender girl is a finalist for TIME’s ‘Kid of the Year’

Story at a glance

  • An 11-year-old transgender girl and activist from Texas is a finalist for TIME and Nickelodeon’s 2021 ‘Kid of the Year’ award.
  • A video clip of Shappley’s testimony before a Texas Senate committee where she argued against the passage of two anti-LGBTQ+ bills went viral last year.
  • Shappley is one of 20 finalists for the award, which honors young leaders making strides in areas like social justice, science and education.

An 11-year-old transgender girl from Texas is a finalist for TIME and Nickelodeon’s second annual “Kid of the Year” distinction.

Kai Shappley, a resident of Austin, Texas, is one of 20 finalists for the award, which honors young leaders making strides in areas like social justice, science and education, according to a news release.

Shappley in April testified before a Texas Senate committee to argue against the passage of two bills that sought to restrict access to gender-affirming care for minors, asserting that Texas lawmakers “have been attacking me since Pre-k.”

“I love ballet, math, science, and geology,” she told the committee in April. “I spend my free time with my cats, chickens, FaceTiming my friends, and dreaming of when I finally get to meet Dolly Parton. I do not like spending my free time asking adults to make good choices.”


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“It makes me sad that some politicians use trans kids like me to get votes from people who hate me just because I exist,” she said. “God made me. God loves me for who I am. And God does not make mistakes.”

A video of Shappley’s testimony went viral soon after it was posted online.

While the bills in question did not pass, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott later signed into law a bill barring trans students from participating on school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

States in 2021 introduced a “record-shattering” number of anti-LGBTQ+ policies in what the Human Rights Campaign has called the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ legislative attacks.

Even when legislation fails to pass, LGBTQ+ individuals can still be negatively affected, and a recent Trevor Project report found that more than two thirds of LGBTQ+ youth said their mental health had deteriorated because of efforts to limit the rights of transgender and nonbinary individuals.

“Being the mother of a transgender child who’s consistently under attack, being her mom has made me a better person,” Shappley’s mother, Kimberly, said in a recent interview with NBC-affiliate KXAN-TV. “It’s made me a better Christian. It’s made me a better neighbor. It’s made me a better friend. It’s made me a better mom to all of my kids.”

“Kai was born with this strength. This isn’t anything that she was taught. It’s just who she is. It’s why she was able to transition at a young early age,” she said.

“I’m a bold and strong, independent little lady,” Kai Shappley told KXAN, “and I will keep fighting for as long as I need to.”


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