Nine presidential candidates gathered to debate LGBT+ issues at the CNN Equality Town Hall last week, but it was a nine-year-old transgender boy who went face-to-face with Elizabeth Warren and emerged as the true winner.
Jacob Lemay from Massachusetts was among the audience members invited to ask a question of the Democratic candidates.
The adorable elementary school student took the microphone to ask senator Elizabeth Warren an important question about safety in schools.
Speaking confidently, he introduced himself: “My name’s Jacob and I’m a nine-year-old transgender American,” followed by applause from the audience.
“What will you do in your first week as president to make sure that kids like me feel safer in schools? And what do you think schools need to do better to make sure that I don’t need to worry about anything but my homework?”
“Oh, I like that question, Jacob!” Elizabeth Warren replied, before answering with a scathing put down of secretary of education Betsy DeVos.
I will have a Secretary of Education who believes in public education, who believes in the value of every single one of our kids, and who will enforce our civil rights laws. #EqualityTownHall pic.twitter.com/KngSqm3Flo
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 11, 2019
Jacob’s mother, Mimi Lemay, told Out of her pride at seeing her son “so poised and ready to advocate for himself”.
“He has struggled with his own identity, with coming out to us and to himself,” she said. “He struggled to find his voice. Now that he has found it, and he can speak for so many kids.
“As a parent, that’s all I want for my child. The evening was so powerful for our whole family and I don’t think we’ll ever forget it.”
Jacob began expressing his gender identity from a very early age. At two and a half, he became increasingly morose and despondent, before telling his parents there had been a “mistake”.
“I am not a girl, I am a boy,” he said.
After visiting a therapist and a gender specialist, at the age of four his parents allowed him to transition in small steps – first with a haircut and a new name, and then wearing a Prince Charming costume on a trip to Disney World.
While Jacob remained in “semi-stealth” at school, his mother openly advocated on behalf of LGBT+ people. “This is our son’s community, and like any parents, we wanted him to inherit a better world,” she said.
When she was invited to ask a question at the CNN Equality Town Hall, she opted to let Jacob decide what to ask. To her surprise, he said he wanted to be the one to ask it.
And after answering his question, Elizabeth Warren made him a promise.
“I want to make sure that the person I think is the right secretary of education meets you and hears your story,” she said. “And then I want you to tell me if you think that’s the right person, and then we’ll make the deal. Does that sound good?”
We can’t wait to see who he picks.