“You Don’t Like Me? I’m Gonna Throw a Party in Front of Your Office Window.”


On Monday, May 22nd, trans children and teenagers from across the country threw a prom on the National Mall, a youth-led public celebration of trans joy at a time when more and more states are adopting viciously anti-trans legislation. The Meteor’s Mik Bean spoke to Daniel Trujillo, 15, one of the event’s organizers, about the power a little party can have.

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Mik Bean: Of all the events you could think of to celebrate trans joy, what made you and your friends choose a prom? 

Daniel Trujillo: It stemmed from a lot of frustration me and other trans youth were feeling from continuously [having our existence debated]—and so publicly, too.

Me and Libby [Gonzales] were on a call one day, and we were real angry. I was driving back from our state capitol from having to testify [on anti-trans legislation], and we were like, “What do we want to do about this problem?” And we were saying that we need, like, a joyous event. That’s how it snowballed.

There’s a lot of anti-trans legislation targeting trans youth in school specifically. We chose prom to be a statement of what schools could be like if trans youth were protected instead of being politicized in this really brutal way.

I love that it’s a party, because the narrative that these transphobic legislators are telling is not a happy one. Are you hoping that holding this prom in a highly visible place like the National Mall will help change the conversation? 

A lot of the anti-trans legislators have kids and grandkids of their own. I hope they all have this realization that we’re all kids who are just going to a prom and having fun, and that they see our joy and the commonalities between us [and] their own kids. 

Part of me is kind of spiteful. It’s like: “Hey, you don’t like me, but guess what I’m gonna do? Throw a party right in front of your office window.”

I want the people [attending the event] to have this puzzle-click moment, this realization of: I have a lot of community here, and we might be in a really cruddy time right now, but it’s not always gonna be like that. And because we had one really joyous day, I know that the rest of my life can be just as joyous. My parents run a parent support group in Arizona, and there’s some younger children who go there who are, like, six, seven, eight years old, and some of them are gonna be at prom. I feel like it’s going to be really amazing for them to see this.

Photo by Kisha Bari

What is something all of us can do to make trans youth feel safe and joyful?

The main thing is to always listen to the youth. Create an affirming space by making sure that you’re respecting their names and pronouns. And if those ever change, then make it a space where that’s not a big deal. Be really outspoken about your support of trans youth. A lot of people don’t know about this movement against us.

Is there a moment you remember where someone did that for you?

Last year in the eighth grade, my history teacher at the start of class passed out a paper that asked: What’s your name? What’s your preferred name? Can I use this in front of your parents? What are your pronouns? Can I use these in front of your parents? Do you want to use this with the whole class or just privately? And even though this is the bare minimum, I was like, “This is so amazing. This is crazy. She’s my favorite teacher. I love her so much.” 

I love her, too. OK, back to the prom. What’s your number one dance song? 

We made a Spotify playlist. I put some absolute bangers on there: “Dancing Queen,” ‘cause that’s my song; “I Will Survive”—that’s gonna be so fun; “Heroes” by David Bowie. I put Elton John on here. I also got Prince’s “I will Die for You.” That one is for my mom.

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Bangers. Tell me about the outfit!

It is a black tuxedo with a white button-up shirt, and then a bowtie. We had to get it tailored because none of the clothes fit me right. But I got it tailored so the pants go above my ankle to show off my socks that say “Lord of the Strings.”

The prom steering committee from left to right, Grayson McFerrin, 12, Libby Gonzales, 13, Hobbes Chukumba, 16, and Daniel Trujillo. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

What is the story you want this prom to tell to trans youth about their futures? 

That they’re gonna be super happy. That they have a lot of community with them who’s willing to fight for them. They’ll see this community with older trans people and have this understanding that…they don’t need to be held to those statistics about [trans] life expectancy, you know? It’s really important for me to have seen myself as a 35-year-old, a 40-year-old, even a 60-year-old. I know that we don’t have to amount to those same statistics. We can change that narrative.

Trans youth and their families deserve the respect and dignity as any other family or person. We shouldn’t be used as political tools. 

The main thing that I would say is that we are heroes. We are beautiful. 

Mik Bean is a writer and editor living online. They cover local politics, legal drama, and anything queer.