The right to be who you are



When you were eight did you know what you wanted to do when you were older? Most importantly, did you know who you are? Most of us couldn’t answer that question, I know I couldn’t. When I was eight I was involved in after school programs, playing with my friends and making sure I was doing good in school.

Meet Bella. Isabella Burgos is eight-years old and a firecracker. Meeting her for the first time you know that she is going places. Bella loves the colour pink, she loves school and, most importantly, her family. Over the last month Bella has faced some harsh criticism for being who she is – a girl. But why would someone criticize for her that? For being a girl?

When Isabella was born, she was born a boy. This past summer she decided that she would no longer be a boy, but what she believed in her heart that she is – a girl. She returned to school a girl and soon after she was at the end of harsh words that came from an adult. Yes, an adult. It started over the use of the washroom. Identifying herself as a girl, Bella began using the girls bathroom until the mother of a fellow classmate found out – when she took it upon herself to approach Bella and scold her for using the girls bathroom. But then it quickly escalated to much more than that – she was criticized for being a girl and not what she was born as. Not only did the adult go after Bella, she took it further and went after her brothers and then her parents.

Bella is now forced to use the gender neutral bathroom at school and Bella, her parents and the other party, along with the school, are now in a battle over human rights. Bella’s right to be who she is.

Being transgendered is not a choice, it is who you are. It is just like being gay – you did not wake up one day and decide that you were going to start living your life as a gay person. You’ve known all of your life who you are and who you identify yourself as… you just decided to make it public and share your life story with others. This is what Bella has done – she is telling the world who she really is and that she and her family do not have an issue with it.

Bella’s story has touched my heart. When I heard this story, I cried. For a girl of her age to go through this, it is incredible. She wasn’t scared to come out and tell the world that she was a girl, but now one person is probably making her confused. Nobody has the right to make her feel that way, nobody. I was lucky enough to live my young life without judgement and the freedom to be who I wanted to be and the freedom to make my own decisions… why does she have to go through that with hate following her around? It’s not fair.

This is bullying and it needs to stop. This is a hate crime and it needs to stop. I am not writing this blog entry to try to get you to change your mind on your opinions or beliefs. I am simply asking you to stand up for this injustice and treat Bella as an equal. It is our human right to be treated equal and live a life with dignity and respect. It is our human right to be free of discrimination and it doesn’t matter what your gender is, what colour your skin is, what religion you follow…. we all have human rights and want to be treated equally and fairly.

I commend Bella for standing up for her rights, for herself and what she believes in. I met her on Saturday and she is just like any other eight-year old girl – bouncy, full of life and filled with curiosity. She put a smile on my face and touched my heart. I commend her parents and her siblings for standing next to her, protecting her, supporting her… like her dad said, “It is our job to keep our children safe and that is what we’re doing.”

Bella, you’re a trailblazer and you’re going to go far in this world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.