A group of students at Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy in Texas secretly raised enough money to help the teen legally change his name.
Andrew Bernabee is unlikely to ever forget his 18th birthday or his amazing group of friends who surprised him with what is definitely the greatest birthday gift of all time. When the trans teen showed up to school on his big day to be led into a music room while being filmed on camera, he didn't have the faintest idea about what was in store for him. A group of hero students at Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy in Texas had been secretly raising enough money to help Andrew legally change his name after transition and as you can imagine, the birthday boy was left speechless by the incredibly sweet gesture.
In a TikTok video of the epic birthday surprise, Andrew is seen walking into a music room with a friend. Stepping into the room, the newly-turned legal adult is serenaded with an enthusiastic rendition of "Happy Birthday." Before he has a chance to gather his thoughts and process everything happening in the room, his friend twirls him around, telling him that they "kind of have a present" for him. "So like, since you're like a legal adult, we kinda raised enough money for you to change your name," she tells her visibly-baffled friend.
Utterly shocked by his friends' gift, Andrew drops to the floor sobbing. The video that was initially shared on the teen's TikTok profile, went viral in next to no time and soon found its way to other social media platforms including Twitter. Twitter's generally cold, hard heart melted into a puddle of mush watching Andi's sweet birthday surprise and netizens celebrated the heartwarming show of solidarity by his friends. Twitter user guillotine stan wrote: I try to avoid watching videos on Twitter cause they’re usually not worth the time. I don’t know why this one caught my eye but I decided to watch it. 30 seconds in I was like meh it’s cute but whatever. By the end, I was crying. I feel you, guillotine stan. I feel you.
To the people who were involved in this video: pic.twitter.com/XHUlibhvLl— 🎀push (@Pushiean2RBLX) February 8, 2020
I IMMEDIATELY STARTED TO CRY I- pic.twitter.com/se9fNlBScD— TIME (@TIMEinst) February 8, 2020
WHEN THEY SAID “we raised money for you to change your name” MY JAW DROPPED AND I STARTED TO CRY IMMEDIATELY THERE ARE GOOD SOULS OUT THERE pic.twitter.com/bDepeSc0Fi— #icanteven (@love_eccentrix) February 8, 2020
When they saw their friends singing happy birthday : 😊🥺🥰🤗— Rubi. (@gingerandtea) February 8, 2020
When they got their present: pic.twitter.com/A8qQRaOKVw
February 8, 2020
Speaking to PinkNews, Andrew revealed that he "had absolutely no clue" what his friends had been up to. "They’ve been planning it for a month and I’m surprised none of them slipped up or even hinted at it happening," he said. The Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy student praised the institution for being "a really safe place for people in the LGBTQ+ community," adding that all his "teachers and fellow students have been so supportive of me ever since I came out."
Happy birthday to you Andi and I hope everything in your life is all that you hope for cause this right here, is everything. pic.twitter.com/v7RmthIelW— ☆ ℬ𝓇𝒾𝒶𝓃𝓃𝒶☆ (@bri_anna_smith) February 8, 2020
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME I’M— pic.twitter.com/aIrDphKqeP— ✨Scarlet✨Danny Elfman Stan Account (@DismalBabyHands) February 8, 2020
My face when they revealed they raised money for his name change pic.twitter.com/hY5NQVuMOq— Elena Maybe 🎮 (@Ya_Girl_Akira) February 8, 2020
Meanwhile, some Twitter users didn't seem to get the significance of Andrew's birthday gift as they questioned why he would need money to change his name. According to The National Center for Transgender Equality, to obtain a legal name change in the teen's home state of Texas, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. Metro reports this process cost around $300 Andrew had been planning to get a job and save a small amount every month to save up for the same.
This is one of those things where instead of feeling happy, I just viscerally hate the system that forces transitioning to cost money, even for something like a name change.— 🧛 Transgender (n.): one who transgends🏴☠️ (@FakeEstrusFlask) February 8, 2020
He's a trans boy and now that he's 18 he's allowed to change his legal name to the name he chose, instead of his deadname (the typically girly name he was born with)— Julia (@juwryyyyyyyia) February 8, 2020
I hope this helps
"I was trying to raise the money on my own so they thought it would be nice to surprise me on my birthday with the money they raised," he said. "Their support means the world to me. I’m incredibly lucky to have friends like them who love and support me this much. I did not expect the video to blow up this much. To be honest I just thought it was something neat to post on TikTok but then the view/like count kept growing and caught me completely off guard. To be viral for something like this is the best thing ever," the teen added.