Wednesday, March 1, 2023

I Love A Success Story - Rebekah Bruesehoff (Now 16 Years Old)

'Trans people go to dances and find joy and are whole': A mom's viral photos of her daughter send a powerful message

Jaime Bruesehoff recently shared
side-by-side photos of her daughter
 Rebekah, one at age 10 and one at 16

I wrote about Rebecca in 2020 as a "Success Story"

Rebekah Bruesehoff may only be 16 years old, but she's spent almost half her life publicly fighting for her rights as a transgender person.

It's why her supportive, activist mom Jamie took a moment this week to tweet a joyous photo of Rebekah in a green gown and holding white flowers, primped and ready to attend a high school dance — an update to one that went viral in 2017, of Rebekah at a rally holding a sign that read, cheekily, "I'm the scary transgender person the media warned you about." That image appears alongside the new one.

"There's this juxtaposition," Jamie tells Yahoo Life, referring both to the two photos and her daughter's life. "The photo from six years ago popped up in my memories, and I was struck: It feels so long ago and like it was just yesterday." When the photo came up, she explains, she was at a nail salon with Rebekah, who was getting a manicure before her sophomore cotillion. Sharing both photos, Jamie explains, felt like an opportunity to show a more well-rounded view of her teen, who plays field hockey and loves musical theater. 

"She's spent six years fighting publicly — but she's also just a teen going to a fun dance," she says. "That's so much of what the Twitter thread was about… that trans people go to dances and find joy and are whole people, and that trans people are more than just their fights for rights and for life."

The original photo of Rebekah, then 10, holding the sign inspired by a story she had found online, was snapped just before a protest in Jersey City, N.J., over the Trump administration rescinding federal support for transgender students. The tween was asked to speak in front of the crowd of 200, which she agreed to, and then her mom posted the image to Facebook, where it "went crazy viral." 

Looking back now, says Jamie, "It's certainly not what any of us had planned. But it was really powerful was to see her use her voice and say, 'I deserve a safe school.' But even more impactful for her was she heard the voice of the other people… trans kids who were not supported, trans adults… it was the first time, at 10 years old, that she realized how good she had it and how much work we had to do."


Rebekah's glowing spirit, her mom says, has powerfully influenced the entire family — including her "super-supportive" brothers, ages 8 and 13, and her father, a Lutheran pastor who, Jaime says, "preaches the gospel … that calls for us to work towards justice." She adds that "he preaches the message of inclusion and of celebration of LGBTQ+ people."

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