For much of the last year the narrative surrounding the transgender community in Texas has been about the so-called "bathroom bill" in the state legislature. On Wednesday, tweets from President Donald Trump only added to the feeling of marginalization within the community.
Ethan Avanzino does not speak for every transgender person in Texas, but on Wednesday he was confident that he adequately summed up the reaction to Trump's declaration that the United States military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption" of having transgender service members in the armed forces.
"It's one thing to have your local legislators tell you that you don't deserve to be here, but when the president of your country is saying you don't deserve to be here, that's really disheartening," Avanzino said.
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Avanzino was born female, but he said by age three he knew that wasn't who he truly was.
"When I was three I asked my mom if I could be a boy," he recalled.
Avanzino, 25, is living proudly and openly as a transgender gay man. He wants to be a role-model — and a visible one — for young kids struggling with their gender identity. He said in Texas that responsibility has never been more important.
"My story should be the trans narrative going forward. Unfortunately, it is not," he said. "My narrative is of acceptance, love and grace, and 'I may not understand your journey, but I still love you as a person,' that should be the narrative."
Trump tweeted Wednesday that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military "in any capacity," saying they would cause "tremendous medical costs and disruption."
Transgender people have been able to serve openly in the military since June 2016, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended a ban.
Trump had tweeted at the time, during the presidential campaign, that he would fight for the LGBT community.
Avanzino said the fight for equality and tolerance in Texas is far from over. He used a biblical quote to describe his feelings toward those who would seek to further the misconceptions about transgender men and women in the name of fiscal responsibility or public safety.
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do," he said.