GIRLS WHO SHINE: Rebekah Bruesehoff, Teen Activist
GIRLS WHO SHINE is a recurring series on YAYOMG! where we’re spotlighting passionate young entrepreneurs, activists, innovators, and other girls who shine bright in a big way!
Our GIRLS WHO SHINE series continues today with a girl whose passion and pride has literally changed the world – teen activist, Rebekah Bruesehoff!
Rebekah shines bright as a teen activist, spreading hope and making change within the LGBTQ+ community. Rebekah is transgender, which means that when she was born, everyone thought she was a boy, but she deeply knows herself to be a girl. Surrounded by a super supportive family, Rebekah changed her name, her pronouns, and shared her most authentic with the world. The joy she felt inspired her to share her story to help other transgender youth and other kids within the LQBTQ+ community.
At just 14 years old, Rebekah’s work as an activist and advocate has already made a huge impact. She has spoken at rallies, started her own inclusive book drive, and even testified in front of the New Jersey state legislature in support of a policy to have LGBTQ+ history taught in schools. (And it was a success!) Most recently, Rebekah collaborated with GenderCool to co-author a book called A Kids Book About Being Inclusive. When she’s not busy channeling her energy into activism, Rebekah loves reading, playing field hockey, and just enjoying teen life to the fullest.
Get to know Rebekah Bruesehoff as she dishes on what it’s like to be a teen activist, how YOU can be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, and more!
Get to Know Rebekah Bruesehoff:
- Tell us a little bit about YOU!
REBEKAH BRUESEHOFF: I’m a 14 year old transgender youth activist. I’m a straight A student, a National Junior Honor Society member, and a self-proclaimed nerd. I love school. I play clarinet in the school band and sing in the chorus. I love watching and performing in musicals. I play field hockey. I love to read and write. I also love to bake and watch cooking shows.
- How did you first discover your passion for activism? What is it like being a teen activist?
REBEKAH: I first spoke at a rally to support transgender students when I was 10 years old. It was empowering to share my story, but at that rally I also heard from transgender people who weren’t accepted in their homes, schools, or communities. It was really hard. That’s where I found my passion for activism. I wanted to do my part and use my voice to make the world a better place for all kids.
It’s exciting and rewarding to be a teen activist, but it can also be really hard to juggle school and typical teen stuff with my work. Sometimes I wish this work didn’t have to be done, but I can’t imagine not using my voice for change.
- You’ve used your voice and platform to help shake up the status quo, shape trans-affirming policies, and empower other kids in the LGBTQ+ community. What would you say is your proudest moment/achievement so far?
REBEKAH: Most recently, I co-authored a book and I’m really excited about that. A Kids Book About Being Inclusive helps kids and families learn how they can make their communities more inclusive right now. I think that by teaching kids to be inclusive in small ways, we equip them to be inclusive in bigger ways as they get older.
I’m also just really proud of people I’ve been able to positively impact, that I’ve been able to give LGBTQ+ youth hope for the future. When I was first coming out people like Jazz Jennings did that for me, and I’m so happy I can pay it forward by being a role model for others.
- What is the number one thing you wish the world understood about transgender youth? How can other kids be supportive allies?
REBEKAH: I want the world to know that transgender youth are just like other kids. We’re not scary!
You can be a supportive ally by celebrating each other’s differences and remembering there’s a million different ways to be a girl, a boy, or a human! I also think that little things like sharing your pronouns are a powerful way to let others know you’re an ally. It’s also really important to speak up when people say things that are wrong or hurtful to LGBTQ+ people. Your voice matters!
- When you’re not busy changing the world, what do you like to do for fun?
REBEKAH: I love to bake. I like to ride my bike and go for hikes in the woods. I also love to read and write. I love hanging out with my friends, and I love to laugh.
- We hear you love books! What are a few of your favorite reads?
REBEKAH: Oh, that’s so hard. I recently read The Poet X and that was so good. I loved The Book Thief and The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali. I also love fantasy novels like The Hazelwood.
- This is how I shine bright…
REBEKAH: By sharing my story and being myself – online, at school, and in my community – I make space for other girls to show up in all their uniqueness!
- My bigest dream is…
REBEKAH: My biggest dream is to write a lot of books!
- The women who inspire me are…
REBEKAH: My mom, Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sarah McBride are just a few.
- The advice I want to share with other girls…
REBEKAH: Be you. By being yourself, you make the world a richer and more beautiful place. Don’t make yourself small to make others more comfortable. We need all of you!
Get to know the other amazing entrepreneurs, activists, and changemakers in our GIRLS WHO SHINE series!