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Angel Joy Flores is fighting for a world where young trans athletes can chase their dreams

Image of Angel Flores holding a Trans Rights Life Love Matters sign
Activist Angel Joy Flores

Chevrolet is matching donations to GLSEN up to $25,000.

GLSEN works to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

As an accomplished weightlifter and personal trainer, transgender athlete Angel Joy Flores understands how fitness can help others find their power.

“Sports and strength have carried me to where I am now,” Flores said. “Alongside my support systems and my family, I always knew that I could move, I could train, I could coach. Keeping myself in a sport has helped me stay on track.”

In addition to training private clients, she works at Liberation Barbell Club in Austin, Texas, a queer-friendly gym that encourages others along their physical journey: no matter their age, gender or body type.

Despite being a first place-winning triathlete, as a younger trans person, Flores hasn’t always felt so confident off the sports field. While appearing on the reality TV show Queer Eye, she said she was “built like a fridge” and struggled with presenting herself as a proud young trans woman.

While the show’s Fab 5 crew gave Flores a stunning makeover, the challenges facing trans kids will take more than just community support, Flores says, especially as more states pass laws to ban LGBTQ content from classrooms and keep trans students off of the sports field.

In order to support queer youth, we have to shift towards compassion and listening to what young people need in their personal journeys.

“We ask the wrong questions,” Flores said. “We spend our childhoods being asked what we will do, what path we’ll take. ‘What is your career?’ ‘What is your vocation?’ ‘What is your calling?'”

“In my activism, I’ve met people, young and old, who were never given permission to ask questions,” she continued, “Aged athletes who spent their lives chasing what they do and not a second finding themselves…. Bright students that have never been told that it’s okay to be unsure, that they’re not wrong in their confusion.”

We need to give people the space to listen to what their body and mind are telling them, Flores believes. So many people feel like they don’t belong, that there’s something wrong with them, she adds. Most simply have never had the space to speak their truth and say how they actually feel.

“We just need to leave kids alone. Let them speak and let them ask questions,” she says. “Tell them being confused is okay, and that life is a constantly changing path. Give them answers, and if you can’t give them, build community with somebody who can.”

Flores has felt inspired by trans athletes who have embraced their identities while committing to their goals. She says she hopes that queer people and allies can help young people and others learn how to confidently chase their dreams regardless of what others think.

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