It all started at a funeral in Ohio for transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, whose death made headlines after her suicide note was discovered on Tumblr. A reporter covering the story made a connection with a transgender girl in the crowd named Zay, and began to tell her story—one of hope, love, and support.
In the short film by Meg Vogel for the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Raising Zay,” the transgender girl says, “I felt like I was trapped in a cage a million miles away and there was no way to get out.”
Over time, her parents realized their child’s interest in wearing dressing wasn’t a phase and began to research transgender issues, eventually coming across a TEDx talk on pubertal suppression. When Zay’s parents told her she could push pause on male puberty, it was a game changer.
“I felt like somebody came with a key and opened the cage and said you’re free to go,” she says.
Today, according to Zay’s mom, “She’s found her place, and she’s a thriving, beautiful young lady now.”
The short film won second place in the short form category of the World Press Photo Foundation’s 2016 press photography contest. Watch the film below.