Stella Keating is a 16-year-old trans high school student who simply wants to live in an America where it is not legal to discriminate against her or other trans individuals.
Trigger Warning: Transphobia
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ+ civil rights legislation aimed at making the United States more inclusive in a comprehensive and holistic manner. 16-year-old Stella Keating, a transgender high school student, was one of the few authentic voices to offer testimony in support of the proposed legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights legislation. Her testimony brought awareness to some of the concerns held by trans youth, one of the most marginalized communities across the country. Since Keating first testified, her speech has gone viral, LGBTQ+ Nation reports.
"Good morning. My name is Stella Keating and my pronouns are she/her," the teenager stated, beginning her testimony. "I am 16 years old, and I live in the state of Washington. I am a sophomore in high school and just got my driver’s license which was a great day!" She delivered her testimony remotely owing to the ongoing pandemic. She shared that while she had support from her family, friends, and immediate community, she required government support in order to ease her worries about discrimination as she grows up in the United States.
EQUALITY ACT 🇺🇸 〰️ "Love simplifies things when you get right down to it." – Joshua Johnson (he/him) 💛💚 Thank you Joshua & @TheWeekMSNBC for helping to replace opinions with experiences.🔎Learn more: https://t.co/K1xxrCoIFB #EqualityActNow #GenderCool https://t.co/F4POsPtqqa— The GenderCool Project (@GenderCool) March 21, 2021
She explained, "Right now, I live in a state where I have equal protection under the law. And as a high school sophomore, I’m starting to look at colleges. And all I can think about is this: less than half of the states in our country provide equal protection for me under the law." Keating asked what would happen if she went to college in a state that did not protect her. She said she "could be denied medical care or be evicted for simply being transgender in many states." "How is that even right?" The 16-year-old questioned. "How is that even American?"
WATCH 16-year old Stella Keating testify: “As a high-school sophomore, I’m starting to look at colleges. And all I can think about is this: less than half of the states in our country provide equal protection for me under the law... How is that even American?” pic.twitter.com/bkhCVObNlD— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) March 17, 2021
Keating added, "What if I’m offered a dream job in a state where I can be discriminated against? Even if my employer is supportive, I still have to live somewhere. Eat in restaurants. Have a doctor. And why am I having to worry about all of this at the age of 16?" The young woman has since received much praise from individuals across the country. Senator Patty Murray, sharing a video of her testimony on Twitter, posted, "I'm so proud of Tacoma's Stella Keating for speaking at the Judiciary hearing today about why the Senate must pass the Equality Act. As she says, Stella represents the hundreds of thousands of transgender youth in our nation—who all deserve equal protection under the law."
Moments after lawmakers and activists referred to trans girls as "biological males," 16-year-old Stella Keating testifies in support of the Equality Act on behalf of "hundreds of thousands of kids just like me."— Samantha Schmidt (@schmidtsam7) March 17, 2021
"Hi, I'm Stella, and I'm transgender," she said. https://t.co/xCJnFsFjOx
Others appreciated her courage and tenacity to speak in front of the Senate at such a young age. One Twitter user wrote, "Imagine being so brave, so steadfast and true, having such courage and integrity, as a teenager. You are an inspiration and a hero. Sending you light and love." Another added, "Well done, Stella... I'm a transgender woman who is married and has raised a family. We're just regular people wanting to live our happiest lives. Thanks for being so brave for all of us." The Equality Act passed in the House of Representatives in February. A vote is yet to take place in the Senate, where the bill's fate remains unclear.