Rebekah Bruesehoff & Corey Rae | 2021 MAKERS Conference Finale
Rebekah Bruesehoff, author, activist and one of the young voices of the GenderCool Project, is interviewed by Corey Rae, activist, model and storyteller, about the power of positive trans representation and allyship through action and storytelling.
COREY RAE: Hi, everyone. Thank you for having me back on the MAKERS stage. I am so excited to be here at this conference. So much so, that it's actually my fourth time here. I really love my MAKERS family and I also really love the GenderCool project. This is something that I wish I had accessible to me when I was younger. And as you can see from the video, there are so many young future leaders of the world involved, one of whom is Rebekah Bruesehoff. She is absolutely amazing. So Rebecca. Hello, how are you? It's nice to meet you.
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Hi, I'm good. Nice to meet you, too.
COREY RAE: Well for those of us who aren't familiar with GenderCool, can you tell us a little bit about what it is and how it's created a sense of community?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yeah. So GenderCool is a national storytelling campaign that focuses on who we are and not what we are. That really creates a really positive environment. And I feel this community with my fellow GenderCool Champions who are the driving force of GenderCool.
COREY RAE: Well, what does it mean to you to be a GenderCool Champion?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Being a GenderCool Champion is amazing. I think to me it means it's giving me a different audience to share my story to. I'm reaching people that I never would have reached otherwise. And that is so cool to me.
COREY RAE: Yeah, how has your life changed since getting involved with the GenderCool project?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: I've met some really, really amazing people. And I've had so much fun while doing it. I've also had this sense of not being alone because I'm doing it with kids who are just like me. And that really makes me feel safe. I think it's also made me pretty busy
COREY RAE: I am sure it has. And speaking of other kids and people you surround yourself with, I know you love to play sports. It's something I wasn't so great at in school. And when I transitioned, it was a long time ago in high school. And teams and all that was going to be a big controversy and I kind of put myself out of it. So I love that you can be you and play sports. And you've recently spoken out about-- in support of transgender rights in sports. So why is this important to you? And what really inspired you to use your voice and tell your story?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: This is so important to me because I would believe that everyone deserves access to be part of their school community. And that means being in sports. I've been playing field hockey for five years. And I've had a really positive experience with teammates and coaches. It's just been really amazing for me. And I want everyone to know that trans kids are just like their teammates in sports. Because I don't think that's what the media is telling us right now. I think that y'all should know that trans kids just want to play sports. We want to have fun. And we want to make community while doing it.
COREY RAE: Right it's about inclusion--
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yeah.
COREY RAE: Which is a perfect segue. I have your book here. It's phenomenal.
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Oh my gosh.
COREY RAE: Congratulations.
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Thank you.
COREY RAE: So in addition to being an activist, a student, an athlete, influencer, activist-- I think I said activist twice, but here it is --and a GenderCool Champion, you're also now an author, which is incredible. So can you tell me a little bit about this? What made you want to write a book? And what do you hope kids take away from reading this book?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yes, 100%. So writing a book was really cool for me because I've always wanted to write a book. I just love to write in general. But specifically, this book, it's so important because when I was younger, if I had this book, it would have made my community so much more embracing of me. And I think I would have known more about how to accept myself in a way that I wouldn't have otherwise. I think it's really important because we are putting these difficult topics to a level that kids can understand, because we know they're ready for these conversations.
And I think from this book, I want kids to know that by being inclusive in small ways they can make a big difference in their community. And they can carry this out to the rest of their life.
COREY RAE: Yeah, absolutely. I wish I had a book like this when I was going through it, because at the time there was nothing. You know, there wasn't even Instagram. So there was no sort of way for children to understand themselves, but as well as have adults understand us. And I think--
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: It creates this sense of--
COREY RAE: --difficult--
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: --safety, yeah.
COREY RAE: Yes. Exactly. And you're right. In quotation, "difficult" is true. It's not that difficult to grasp. I think we just got to come around to it. Do you think you'll write more books?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: I really hope so. I want to write a chapter book, fiction, and maybe even a memoir.
COREY RAE: Cool. Same. So you're also the inspiration behind a Marvel superhero, Mighty Rebekah. What is Mighty Rebekah's mission and how does she raise awareness for LGBTQ youth?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yes. So Mighty Rebekah was created while I was a part of the Marvel Hero Project. She has her own comic book and everything. But what she really focuses on is representation in media, in books, in everything. And that's really powerful to me, because when I see myself in people all around me, it helps me feel more safe. And it allows me to thrive as myself.
COREY RAE: Love that. Well, our audience today includes people from around the country who are working to make their own companies more inclusive every single day. And you eventually will be entering the workforce in a few years. So do you have any advice for these people on how to take action and really open up their doors to the next generation?
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: I think the most important thing to do is to listen to and lift up voices of people who are different from you. I think that by making our workforce more diverse and inclusive, it becomes stronger. Because we have people from all different backgrounds providing their different perspective onto all sorts of things. It just makes us stronger. Yeah, our diversity makes us stronger.
COREY RAE: You know, I heard you had a few questions for me as well. I would love to answer some of them.
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yeah. So before, you were talking about when you were growing up there weren't really organizations like GenderCool. And where did you find these support systems? And why are places like GenderCool so important?
COREY RAE: Totally. I mean, like yourself I had a supportive family. I also expressed my femininity from a super young age. But there were no real support systems. It took a long time to even find a therapist who would like see a trans teenager or kid. So the long answer short is there was nothing really that I could put my hands on that could surround me with support besides my family and my friends.
And, yeah, I mean, I wish I really had something like GenderCool because again, no one and to this day, we still don't vastly talk about inclusion. And I think how we do that is start with younger generations. And the younger generations influence the older generations and then also the younger generations. So, yeah, that's why it's important that we have things such as this to really create awareness.
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yeah, and I'm so grateful for people like you who are doing this work so that I can have access to this. Also, when was the first time that you felt seen as your true self? And how did that impact you in the rest of your life?
COREY RAE: I think the first time I felt really, truly seen was when I won prom queen, right? Like I had just transitioned in front of my entire school. No one knew what transgender was back then. They kind of thought it was, like, is that another word for gay? And I was like, no, no, no. I'm not going to explain it to you. Just deal with it.
And I think when I was voted prom queen, which is this popularity contest so to speak, I was like, wow, my peers really do support me and like me and want the best for me. And it was that movie moment that I'd always kind of dreamed I could have had. So hopefully my-- generations to come will get to be inspired by that story. It was so nice to meet you. And I'm looking forward to watching how your career blossoms. Thanks for being here with me.
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: Yes, thank you so much. It was great to meet you, too.
COREY RAE: Yeah. Bye, everyone at MAKERS. See you next time.