Kai Shappley: A Trans Girl Growing Up In Texas | Webby Award & People’s Choice Award Winner | them.


[light bulb humming] [traffic whooshing] – So tell me more about school. What about the people in your class,
are they nice? …for no reason. – What’d they say? Then another girl, she just shouts out, “Kai’s a boy!” And I say, “No!” And I yell right back at her
when I say it. – You did?
– Mm-hmm. – Good for you. – So she can’t even use
the nurse’s office? – Yeah. But your friends stick up for you, right? – Mm-hmm.
– That’s good. I’m glad you have friends. Now we wait. You think we need one more coat of this? – No, that looks pretty good. – We might could do another coat. – Yeah.
– No, it’s fine. – What–[laughs] Okay. [soft serene music] – My earliest memories of Kai
from the very beginning was this child just acted very different than my other boys. – Miss Ashlynn, you know what
the best thing I can do to cats is? I’m not just a cat lover,
but I can make the cats love me. – [soft laugh] – [laughs] The kind of baby that Kai was was very similar to my daughter. All the little pieces
were there very early. I just–I didn’t know
what it was that I was looking at. – Hey, mama,
I’m gonna buy a garden bow for you. When you wore it–
when you have it on your hair, you water s–um, on it, and it turns into a plant,
a plant bow, and it grows flowers
when you put water on it. I wish I could have that bow.
Mom? – By 2 1/2, 3 years old,
everything was very feminine. By 3 1/2, Kai was saying, “You know I’m a girl, Mommy.
You know I’m a girl.” – The Bible is for everyone to know to be kind and loving and caring. – Isn’t that my T-shirt? – Yes, I’m using it as a dress
for sleeping. – [shouts] – Well–that’s my T-shirt.
– Watch out! – I’m going to sleep in it as a dress. – Hey, Mommy.
Mommy. – Come on, Kai, let’s get your hair done
and get to church. – Okay. [suction pops] These Stikbots are so crazy. – Can you pull your messy bun out? You want to just wear ’em down?
You want down pigtails like this? You know, Mama is really good boy-Mom. You deserve a way better girl-Mom.
[chuckles] And Corey didn’t never want
her hair fixed like this. She wasn’t as girly as you are. – Well now she might be. – Now she might be. – We just don’t know.
– We just don’t know. Where’s your Bible?
– I have it. My pink Bible. I have two Bible–
I have three Bibles. Isn’t that amazing? I have three Bibles. – What’s your favorite book in the Bible? – Esther. – What’s your favorite book in the Bible?
– Esther. – [chuckles] Why?
– E-S-T-H-E-R. – Why is Esther your favorite? – ‘Caus–um, there’s loads of things. Her pretty necklace.
She became queen. Because of her story.
Because she helped people. And…
let’s see, that’s basically it. [gentle music] – Okay, Kai, Kaleb, who’s praying? – You.
– It’s not my turn. – Yes, it is. – Yes, we will. We ask that you– It’s hard when
people that I’ve known and served with in church for many years who, uh, know that I love the Lord to suddenly–
because my daughter was born transgender– they suddenly think that I’ve, you know, allowed Satan to take over my family. Um, so I guess it’s just
being watchful to see which side of civil rights history
my church is gonna be on. I think that that’s something
that I have to be mindful of as well. [pensive music] When Kai was born, I was leading
a ministry at Lakewood Church, leading Bible study every Saturday night, attending church and
serving as a prayer partner every Sunday. I was a straight-ticket Republican,
a Tea Partyer. My beliefs about the LGBTQ community
were that, you know, we needed to help them see the truth to save them from going to Hell. I remember even thinking
before Kai was three that I think this kid might be gay. And I thought that that could not happen and that would not happen. We started praying fervently. Prayers turned into
Googling “conversion therapy” and how can we implement
these techniques at home to make Kai not be like this. Putting her in time-out
for acting like a girl, putting her in time-out
for stealing girl toys, spanking her–
really spanking her every time she would say,
“You know I’m a girl.” No matter what the consequences,
she’s persisting in the fact that you should already know
she’s a girl. When Kai was about four years old, she prayed to go home and be with Jesus
and never come back. – Father God, Jesus’ name, help my friends and family be kind, be good, love each other and– encourage and love. Amen. – My kid was praying to die. All of the information and data
that I had read about transgender children having
a 41% risk of attempting suicide came flooding back, and I realized that I had a four-year-old
that was begging the Lord to let her die. I had a four-year-old who
would rather go be with Jesus forever than stay here and have to
live as a boy one more day. Is that good? – No, I want that–I want that. – I know you do, but everybody does. – These orange things are fish eggs. I don’t know why I like them. – [laughs]
They’re pretty good? – The–they’re–
they’re the best touch on it. – They are?
– Mm-hmm. – Mom, where are the wipeys? – Sleepovers are not a good idea.
– Mama– – Um, where are the wipeys? Mom, where are the wipeys? – Just go wash your hands, please. – Ooh.
– Ah-ah. – Well… We’ll really have to… I don’t know.
I don’t think sleepovers are a good idea. – Okay. – We’ll talk to Miss Gladys
when I get back. [chuckles] [kisses] All right. – Literally my love is so strong for cats that I make them love me so much that sometimes they even follow me. I’m gonna raise thousands of cats, fill up my whole house with kitty cats. – Tell me about your school. – Well… [sighs] They do do something
mean to me sometimes. – Who?
– The school. So, Miss Walker, the principal, um, her boss says I cannot use
the women’s bathroom. So I have to use a bathroom, that, um, just to make me feel good,
they put two girls to go with me. And that still doesn’t help because, um, I sometimes have accidents because, um, the door locks when it closes. And people, um, they–they just
put a magnet to keep the door open. That doesn’t work. People keep stealing magnets
for their teachers. And I’m like, “Holy Jesus.” And then they do nothing about it,
and so I have accidents a lot. Some of us that that happens to us, um, we have accidents. – And how do you feel
when you have that accident? – I feel embarrassed. – This shouldn’t happen.
– And it wasn’t my fault. It was the principal’s boss’s fault,
not mine. ‘Cause other girls get to go to women–
the girls’ bathroom. And I don’t get to.
– Mm-hmm. – And I’m a girl, so I should
go to the girls’ bathroom. [soft ambient music] – Just minutes ago, the Texas House
voted for a so-called “bathroom bill.” – The bill would require
students to the use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender
on their birth certificate. – It’s not a controversial bill
and it doesn’t impact our economy, so we just want to get it right. And it’s just Texas values. You deserve your privacy.
You deserve your dignity. You deserve your comfort and your safety when you go to the ladies’ room
or the locker room or the girls’ bathroom. – [distant] Amen! [clock ticking] – In the beginning,
we were gonna be stealth. No one was gonna need
to ever know that Kai was trans. And it actually went pretty well
at the school. I felt confident. [sighs] And then the “bathroom bill”
chatter started. And then the superintendent
notified Kai’s school that that is not the way it would happen. And then I get the phone call
from the school saying, “Kai will have to use the boys’ restroom.” – We need a law that protects
the privacy of our children in our public schools. – I need to know that
I can have the same expectation of privacy no matter where I am
in the state of Texas. – It’s just common sense
and common decency. We don’t want men
in women’s ladies rooms. This had nothing to do with equal rights. – I got the phone call from the school early in the morning on a Thursday. By the evening the same day, I was sitting at Fox News
doing an interview. By the next Tuesday,
just a few days later, I was speaking at a press conference
in Austin. To the LGBTQ community, I want to say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every time that
I plucked a Bible verse out of context and I hurt you with it. I was a hateful reflection
of a loving God. Please forgive me. [paper rustles] [exhales] This is the face of
a transgender child in Texas. And I want you
to look at this little girl, my little girl. Do we as a state really
want to force her into a men’s bathroom? [camera shutter clicks] Kai is the strongest-willed person
I have ever known. I don’t think any one thing
could have broken me. If Kai wasn’t
such a strong-willed little kid, I would have broken her. Me being broken put me together better. But if I had succeeded
in breaking my daughter, the statistics say that
it wouldn’t have turned out well for her. …it was more than amazing. It was gorgeous. [soft laugh]
It was amazing. It was the best thing
that happened to me so far in my life. [soft ambient music]

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. She clearly loves cats alot. And she seems like a pretty responsible child. Fostering cats or kittens could be really good and fun for her.

  2. I don't understand how people at school know which gender Kai is. I do NOT support transgender individuals, but I also do not support bullying. I wonder if an absent father has something to do with this…

  3. well i think this little kid is very brave, and if he feels so comfortable at being a little girl i think thats what she should be. i wish her and her mum the very best in the future. God bless.

  4. What are you going to do if she changes her mind when she gets older???🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸☮️☮️☮️

  5. Stop promoting child abuse.
    The age of consent as a legal issue is there for a reason. That child needs therapy and all youre doing is promoting gender stereotypes.

    Whats wrong with a feninine boy?
    Why didnt this child get help with acceoting that they are a boy who likes girlie things?

    You people are sick. This is an experimebt nobody knows the outcome of.

  6. An old soul, amazing little Girl. She will make her way. Supported by a loving mom who took the way God gave her. We always get the Kids who let us grow. Please never give up… No matter what comes next!

  7. This little girl is so wise. And I’m so happy to see a mother so open to learning and teaching others. Great story!

  8. This story is so inspiring. She is extremely lucky to have such an amazing mother! I am rooting for you all!

    I really appreciate the mother trying. She was really REALLY TRYING. I know it must have been hard for her to accept this, but it is so encouraging to hear that she is trying to change her mindset.

  9. What a beautiful, strong willed young girl. I’m so proud of her for standing so strong and so grateful her mother has accepted her for who she really is. God bless this beautiful family.

  10. This 'mother' needs to catch a high velocity round to the temple. And this boy is not a 'trans girl growing up…' you can't be 'trans' until you are an adult, it is impossible to grow up trans.

  11. I told my kids they can be what they want i will support them but society will not be the same. They must choose what is their priority

  12. I have a 15 year old trans son I couldn't be more proud of or Love more. There's too many people in this world that have heard the information that's out there on LGBTQ + issues yet they still choose to remain ignorant to it even though the statistics for suicide with trans(LGBTQ+)people is so high but the ignorant people in the world still make comments like they did to my son & i one day that he didn't deserve to be in this world I've never wanted to hurt someone so bad in my life my son's life doesn't affect anyone elses so stop acting like it does and leave him be my son is depressed ,suicidal and on top of that deals with body dysmorphia & gender dysphoria and it's thanks to a world that won't let them just be him he didn't ask to be transgender who would when all you get is hateful things said and done to you all the time to his face and behind his back and surprisingly enough a lot of it said by grown adults it's shameful trans people are people that were born in the wrong body my son has a male brain and a female body this happened back in the womb it's not stuff that's made up read up on it read the medical reports the scientific data that a lot of doctors and specialists have written papers on this very thing sorry for babbling but if more people don't speak up our World's never going to change and it's going to remain this hateful racist bigoted world that I'm sure none of us want to live in

  13. This is really sad. That little boy didn't have a chance. What has this world come to where children are given the responsibility of changing their gender? His parents have been treating him like a little girl since birth, so of course he's confused. Adults can choose to identify as whomever they please. But a decision that cumbersome should never be left up to a child his age. I am sick and tired of the whole transgender agenda. There was a time when people knew their gender. They knew they were either male or female, boy or girl- regardless of their preference. But now since the LGBT community has come out with all these different pronouns and gender identities, people are confused as heck and are walking on eggshells trying to be politically correct. Sorry, but I don't care if no one agrees with me.

  14. When I real the title, I really thought she went through surgery to change her gender.. so much for a child.

  15. ok but why did the mom hit and punish her wtf she made her child pray to die.

    but anyways this girl ended up so precious and it’s clear she definitely was meant to be a girl she is so adorable bro🥺🥺 “i’m a girl and i should get to go to the girls bathroom” this’s so freaking cute, i love this so much. it sucks how trans people have to live in this shame, especially THIS YOUNG. this poor girl, born with the mind and spirit of a girl stuck in the wrong body at birth. all this trauma she has been through. she is so so strong and she seems very talkative and smart and advanced for her age, i pray she has an amazing life.

    i could honestly not even picture her growing up as a boy.

  16. This is absolutely disgusting. I would never let my Biological daughter sit and put nail varnish on at that age!!, nevermind my son at that age!! The stupid mother is who has put this into her son is who is to blame here. That kid is not allowed to just be a kid. He should be outside playing in the fresh air. I am quoting the mother to her son " You are girly " . Sick.
    This is Satanic, dressed up as Normal practice by the sick media.

  17. This type of situation needs to be FIRST treated for what it really is, a mental illness. It seems insane to me that a parent would rather make the radical, irreversible decision to "transition" a niaeve, innocent child, than to first at least try psychological therapy for a few years.

  18. What a courageous young lady and her mom. I love that you stand up for your daughter as well as God so fiercely. I love Kai's love for God… I pray that she stands strong and helps to educate us Christians about the true and limitless love of Jesus. God bless you and your whole family – this is not an easy road for any of you.

  19. This is fantastic…What a lovely little girl. Please know that it is Self ID that has caused all these problems for the trans community. Before, a doctor would have to certify that you were trans. Religious nutjobs will accept a doctors word usually. When any pervert can claim to be female to get into a womens toilet, it doesnt help ANYONE.

  20. Maybe the need their own bathroom and they should not be allowed in either bathroom . They weaponize children to push their twisted agendas.

  21. God Bless you and your family especially Kai. Not everyone is the same, we are dealt certain cards that we have to do the best we can with. Your support is the most important thing for her. Shes beautiful and just be proud. Much Love and hugs!

  22. I know its hard but try not to worry so much and just let her be who she is. Like its just the norm. That's bs about her bathroom. Just stay strong. Hugs!

  23. That poor kid! Hopefully there will be fewer intolerant parents. Glad she turned around. The heat part was when mom said "If Kai wasn't so strong willed I would have broken her" Maybe Mike Pence will see this amazing girl

  24. She's so cute and you can see that as an adult she will do great things and i just love that her mother is so supportive of her.. I love her, shes like the most gorgeous and the cutest jar of positivity! 😆💞💫

  25. I can't stand all of the comments about how great this mom is.
    She hit her child over and over for "acting like a girl" until the child prayed to die…

  26. Wow I seeing these awful judgemental comments. Like they say you got nothing nice to say then it's best to keep yo month shut. 😊😊🙏🙏

  27. He will probably suicide when he gets older , thanks to mom. Give me one hour with the mom and I'll beat her up like a husband should for putting this boy in a sad and destructive life.

  28. She's like six why does it matter if shes using the girls bathroom!! She's not a danger she's a CHILD. And very clearly a GIRL. It's a danger for her to go to the boys bathroom, that's not where she belongs. And she's so precious.pretty and kind. Her soul just resonates with me so strongly

  29. It is so hard to see this little human suffer! I hope many conservative people see this video and understand that there is nothing wrong about it to be your true self and that character values and behaving have nothing to do with your sexuality. What an amazing little girl I wish her all the best!

  30. I don't really think a child is truly capable of knowing anything about dysphoria
    A lot of kids say they want to be the opposite gender
    It's better to wait till you're old enough to really understand this type of thing

  31. I honestly dont know what to think or say about this. I am a progressive thinker and I feel that this little person is an old soul as we all are. All I can say is that I believe in love and respect. I believe there is a reason for everything. Sending positive vibes, meditation and peace to little Kai and family. Thank you for sharing your journey.

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