When trans journalist Ina Fried saw the increasingly unfair treatment of trans and non-binary youth, she wanted to find an impactful and joyful way to show up for them. As a result, #Letters4TransKids was launched: a campaign encouraging people on social media to post encouraging messages to trans and non-binary youth.
It soon became a movement as the letters started to come in by the boatload. Prominent queer figures including acting legend George Takei, pro-hockey player Kurtis Gabriel, Broadway star Javier Muñoz, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, advocate Judy Shepard, HRC’s Joni Madison, GLAAD’s own Sarah Kate Ellis and many others contributed to #Letters4TransKids, providing supportive words to know that there are people who are rooting for them and want to keep them safe.
Love the #Letters4TransKids people are sharing. So important to let trans youth know they are seen, accepted and loved. pic.twitter.com/IOEVMe74YW
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) April 19, 2022
(1/5) To #trans and #nonbinary children and their families: I am proud of you, and I want to let you know that you are perfect the way you are.
Thank you @inafried for coming up with #letters4transkids & I invite you all to write your own letters. pic.twitter.com/EqGUPnEhgD
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) April 14, 2022
This year, GLAAD is honored to give special recognition to Fried and #Letters4TransKids. We chatted with Fried about the inception and the journey of #Letters4TransKids.
When you learned that you were getting Special Recognition at the GLAAD Media Awards, what was your initial reaction?
I was thrilled because I knew it would mean that more people would learn about the project and hopefully join in with letters and videos of their own. That’s the great thing about #letters4transkids is that anyone can join in. All you have to do post a video or handwritten letter or typed note to any social media using the #letters4transkids.
How have you seen the LGBTQ+ landscape advance in the past 10 years?
It’s been such a time of incredible gains and at the same time painful losses. We’ve seen same-sex marriage made legal and a huge societal shift towards acceptance, inspired and led by the next generation. At the same time, with increased visibility has come a powerful backlash that has culminated in upticks in violence and waves of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ legislation that have made it harder for LGBTQ people and those who support them.
Was there a specific moment when you knew that you had to create the #Letters4TransKids campaign?
The inspiration came about two years ago when some of the first statewide anti-transgender legislation was being passed. It wasn’t till a year ago and a particularly cruel ban on gender-affirming care was passed that I was like we can’t wait a minute longer.
You don’t get lucky enough as a trans person to get to live long enough to see the way that trans and non-binary kids can thrive and then sit back and watch as their chance at happiness is being threatened. It’s not about left or right, it’s about right and wrong. And if we have come to a point where those words are seen as partisan, well that’s a bigger statement about our country’s status than mine as a journalist.
I launched the project in April 2022 from Vancouver, where I was supposed to be attending the TED conference. Instead, I came down with Covid and spent the first few days of the project sick at an AirBnB there. I only had about half an hour of energy at a time to respond to letters but it was so powerful to see them start coming in.
Is there one particular moment that has made a significant impact on you since the #Letter4TransKids launched?
We have gotten so many incredible letters, from entertainers and athletes to students and grandmothers.
Why do you think the GLAAD Media Awards is an important event for the LGBTQ community?
I think it is incredibly important to celebrate the milestones on the pathway to full equality and, all the more so, at a time when there is such a concerted attack.
The LGBTQ community is no stranger to being subject to legislative attacks and inequitable treatment. What keeps you focused and strong to fight the good fight?
For me it is all about protecting and empowering the next generation so they can be their incredible selves. I have seen how trans, nonbinary and queer youth are thriving when they have affirming homes and supportive communities. I have also witnessed over the last couple of years what happens when kids are forced to hide who they are and parents forced to uproot their families.
What do you think needs to be done to create even more progress and change in the queer community?
I think we all need to bring our full selves and our individual skills to fight for a world of greater equality for all, and that means fighting not just transphobia and homophobia, but also pushing for a sustainable future, racial equality and accessibility.
What does this GLAAD Media Award Special Recognition mean to you?
To me it is an affirmation that we need to center joy and happiness in addition to fighting against the hate being directed at the community.
Who is your LGBTQ hero/icon and why?
There are so many who have struggled from the gender bending pioneers like Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major that stood up at Stonewall (and Compton’s Cafeteria and other places) to the many people whose names we don’t know, some of whom never got to experience the chance to be their full selves.