A Democratic congresswoman shared an emotional story on Tuesday of her child’s decision to embrace their nonconforming gender identity while calling for support of the Equality Act.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the legislation, Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington revealed that her child came out as gender-nonconforming this past year.
“I didn’t intend to say this today but – excuse me,” Jayapal said, taking a long, emotional pause. “My beautiful now 22-year-old child told me last year that they were gender non-conforming.”
The Equality Act, which aims to halt discrimination based on gender identity, sex and sexual orientation, would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity to protect against discrimination or segregation based on those categories.
While wiping away tears, Jayapal said during the hearing that over the last year she’s come to “understand from a deeply personal mother’s perspective” what her child’s “newfound freedom is like” from what she called a “heavy burden of conflict in their own being.”
“From a mother’s perspective, I came to understand what their newfound freedom – it is the only way I can describe what has happened to my beautiful child – what their newfound freedom to wear a dress, to rid themselves of some conformist stereotype of who they are, to be able to express who they are at their real core,” she continued.
“The only thought I wake up with everyday is: my child is free. My child is free to be who they are,” she said. “And in that freedom comes a responsibility for us as legislators to protect that freedom, to be who they are,” she added.