Kai Shappley: A Trans Girl Growing Up In Texas | Emmy-Winning Documentary | them.


[light bulb humming] [traffic whooshing] – So tell me more about school. What about the people in your class,
are they nice? …for no reason. – What’d they say? Then another girl, she just shouts out, “Kai’s a boy!” And I say, “No!” And I yell right back at her
when I say it. – You did?
– Mm-hmm. – Good for you. – So she can’t even use
the nurse’s office? – Yeah. But your friends stick up for you, right? – Mm-hmm.
– That’s good. I’m glad you have friends. Now we wait. You think we need one more coat of this? – No, that looks pretty good. – We might could do another coat. – Yeah.
– No, it’s fine. – What–[laughs] Okay. [soft serene music] – My earliest memories of Kai
from the very beginning was this child just acted very different than my other boys. – Miss Ashlynn, you know what
the best thing I can do to cats is? I’m not just a cat lover,
but I can make the cats love me. – [soft laugh] – [laughs] The kind of baby that Kai was was very similar to my daughter. All the little pieces
were there very early. I just–I didn’t know
what it was that I was looking at. – Hey, mama,
I’m gonna buy a garden bow for you. When you wore it–
when you have it on your hair, you water s–um, on it, and it turns into a plant,
a plant bow, and it grows flowers
when you put water on it. I wish I could have that bow.
Mom? – By 2 1/2, 3 years old,
everything was very feminine. By 3 1/2, Kai was saying, “You know I’m a girl, Mommy.
You know I’m a girl.” – The Bible is for everyone to know to be kind and loving and caring. – Isn’t that my T-shirt? – Yes, I’m using it as a dress
for sleeping. – [shouts] – Well–that’s my T-shirt.
– Watch out! – I’m going to sleep in it as a dress. – Hey, Mommy.
Mommy. – Come on, Kai, let’s get your hair done
and get to church. – Okay. [suction pops] These Stikbots are so crazy. – Can you pull your messy bun out? You want to just wear ’em down?
You want down pigtails like this? You know, Mama is really good boy-Mom. You deserve a way better girl-Mom.
[chuckles] And Corey didn’t never want
her hair fixed like this. She wasn’t as girly as you are. – Well now she might be. – Now she might be. – We just don’t know.
– We just don’t know. Where’s your Bible?
– I have it. My pink Bible. I have two Bible–
I have three Bibles. Isn’t that amazing? I have three Bibles. – What’s your favorite book in the Bible? – Esther. – What’s your favorite book in the Bible?
– Esther. – [chuckles] Why?
– E-S-T-H-E-R. – Why is Esther your favorite? – ‘Caus–um, there’s loads of things. Her pretty necklace.
She became queen. Because of her story.
Because she helped people. And…
let’s see, that’s basically it. [gentle music] – Okay, Kai, Kaleb, who’s praying? – You.
– It’s not my turn. – Yes, it is. – Yes, we will. We ask that you– It’s hard when
people that I’ve known and served with in church for many years who, uh, know that I love the Lord to suddenly–
because my daughter was born transgender– they suddenly think that I’ve, you know, allowed Satan to take over my family. Um, so I guess it’s just
being watchful to see which side of civil rights history
my church is gonna be on. I think that that’s something
that I have to be mindful of as well. [pensive music] When Kai was born, I was leading
a ministry at Lakewood Church, leading Bible study every Saturday night, attending church and
serving as a prayer partner every Sunday. I was a straight-ticket Republican,
a Tea Partyer. My beliefs about the LGBTQ community
were that, you know, we needed to help them see the truth to save them from going to Hell. I remember even thinking
before Kai was three that I think this kid might be gay. And I thought that that could not happen and that would not happen. We started praying fervently. Prayers turned into
Googling “conversion therapy” and how can we implement
these techniques at home to make Kai not be like this. Putting her in time-out
for acting like a girl, putting her in time-out
for stealing girl toys, spanking her–
really spanking her every time she would say,
“You know I’m a girl.” No matter what the consequences,
she’s persisting in the fact that you should already know
she’s a girl. When Kai was about four years old, she prayed to go home and be with Jesus
and never come back. – Father God, Jesus’ name, help my friends and family be kind, be good, love each other and– encourage and love. Amen. – My kid was praying to die. All of the information and data
that I had read about transgender children having
a 41% risk of attempting suicide came flooding back, and I realized that I had a four-year-old
that was begging the Lord to let her die. I had a four-year-old who
would rather go be with Jesus forever than stay here and have to
live as a boy one more day. Is that good? – No, I want that–I want that. – I know you do, but everybody does. – These orange things are fish eggs. I don’t know why I like them. – [laughs]
They’re pretty good? – The–they’re–
they’re the best touch on it. – They are?
– Mm-hmm. – Mom, where are the wipeys? – Sleepovers are not a good idea.
– Mama– – Um, where are the wipeys? Mom, where are the wipeys? – Just go wash your hands, please. – Ooh.
– Ah-ah. – Well… We’ll really have to… I don’t know.
I don’t think sleepovers are a good idea. – Okay. – We’ll talk to Miss Gladys
when I get back. [chuckles] [kisses] All right. – Literally my love is so strong for cats that I make them love me so much that sometimes they even follow me. I’m gonna raise thousands of cats, fill up my whole house with kitty cats. – Tell me about your school. – Well… [sighs] They do do something
mean to me sometimes. – Who?
– The school. So, Miss Walker, the principal, um, her boss says I cannot use
the women’s bathroom. So I have to use a bathroom, that, um, just to make me feel good,
they put two girls to go with me. And that still doesn’t help because, um, I sometimes have accidents because, um, the door locks when it closes. And people, um, they–they just
put a magnet to keep the door open. That doesn’t work. People keep stealing magnets
for their teachers. And I’m like, “Holy Jesus.” And then they do nothing about it,
and so I have accidents a lot. Some of us that that happens to us, um, we have accidents. – And how do you feel
when you have that accident? – I feel embarrassed. – This shouldn’t happen.
– And it wasn’t my fault. It was the principal’s boss’s fault,
not mine. ‘Cause other girls get to go to women–
the girls’ bathroom. And I don’t get to.
– Mm-hmm. – And I’m a girl, so I should
go to the girls’ bathroom. [soft ambient music] – Just minutes ago, the Texas House
voted for a so-called “bathroom bill.” – The bill would require
students to the use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender
on their birth certificate. – It’s not a controversial bill
and it doesn’t impact our economy, so we just want to get it right. And it’s just Texas values. You deserve your privacy.
You deserve your dignity. You deserve your comfort and your safety when you go to the ladies’ room
or the locker room or the girls’ bathroom. – [distant] Amen! [clock ticking] – In the beginning,
we were gonna be stealth. No one was gonna need
to ever know that Kai was trans. And it actually went pretty well
at the school. I felt confident. [sighs] And then the “bathroom bill”
chatter started. And then the superintendent
notified Kai’s school that that is not the way it would happen. And then I get the phone call
from the school saying, “Kai will have to use the boys’ restroom.” – We need a law that protects
the privacy of our children in our public schools. – I need to know that
I can have the same expectation of privacy no matter where I am
in the state of Texas. – It’s just common sense
and common decency. We don’t want men
in women’s ladies rooms. This had nothing to do with equal rights. – I got the phone call from the school early in the morning on a Thursday. By the evening the same day, I was sitting at Fox News
doing an interview. By the next Tuesday,
just a few days later, I was speaking at a press conference
in Austin. To the LGBTQ community, I want to say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every time that
I plucked a Bible verse out of context and I hurt you with it. I was a hateful reflection
of a loving God. Please forgive me. [paper rustles] [exhales] This is the face of
a transgender child in Texas. And I want you
to look at this little girl, my little girl. Do we as a state really
want to force her into a men’s bathroom? [camera shutter clicks] Kai is the strongest-willed person
I have ever known. I don’t think any one thing
could have broken me. If Kai wasn’t
such a strong-willed little kid, I would have broken her. Me being broken put me together better. But if I had succeeded
in breaking my daughter, the statistics say that
it wouldn’t have turned out well for her. …it was more than amazing. It was gorgeous. [soft laugh]
It was amazing. It was the best thing
that happened to me so far in my life. [soft ambient music]

100 thoughts on “Kai Shappley: A Trans Girl Growing Up In Texas | Emmy-Winning Documentary | them.”

  1. Y'all saying she should use the men's bathroom but you realize that's dangerous for trans kids right? If she went into the men's bathroom she could be raped because she passes as a female. If I saw her in the bathroom with me I'd be uncomfortable. I wouldn't want a girl in the men's bathroom. She's a girl and should be able to use the girls bathroom.

  2. If it's real. This is a prime case study for nature versus nurture. I do believe in God yet some how is seems people think God made a mistake.
    P.S. God certainly knew what He was doing giving us the greatest president we've ever had!

  3. I don't really care if I get criticized by this but I'm a Christian and I can tell that the people in this documentary are Christians making a simple mistake that can be easily fixed if they would look at it the right way. I say and quote Genisis 5:2 He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them “human.” The Bible doesn't say that he created them Male and Female and transgender. In this verse, God made people, a specific way so that you would be different. the parenting method I would go within this type of situation would be to tell their child that he is a boy and God loves him the way He made him. Out of all people I would expect Christians to Understand that the most.

  4. Hearing how strong willed she was and how she never wanted to give up it just broke me I started crying just looking at how hard her life is as trans and I really appreciate people who accept her she looks so kind and I dont see any problem shes so AMAZING and strong in a cruel world like this one.

  5. I have to say this documentary truly opened my eyes mind and heart. What a beautiful soul this little girl has. If I were her Mama I would have made the same decision. I wish nothing but the best for this little girl and her family

  6. Did this woman actually pray for Donald Trump? Seriously? That's insane. How about thanking God for a wonderful day of life, to ask for forgiveness, thanking Him for things He's given us, how to please Him better,…I'm shocked about this Donald Trump thing…wow, unreal.

  7. I personally feel like they should make bathrooms for transgender people because u have mean people out there who don’t let them use the opposite bathroom so I think they should make a transgender bathroom with a sign of the girl and the boy

  8. I literally cried through this whole video because it breaks my heart how mean and closed minded some people in this world are.

  9. No matter how you change the out side. Your inner body will never change.meaning he well never have kids nor have periods etc. So u still never well be a full female.despite all the money surgery hormones. YOU WAS BORN A BOY/GIRL THATS WHO YOU MENT TO BE GOD DOESN'T MAKE MISTAKES.

    At the same time the kids are horrible for treating him like that. But why his parents keep him in a Christian School anyway 🤔. All I'm do is pray for the ABC GANG

  10. Somebody explain to me why transgenders change their names to Kai or Jay, or both? Is there a significance to those names?

  11. When she said I'm a girl and I should go to the girls bathroom… I started to feel an understanding of how that must feel.

  12. I want to find their parents and make sure they are punished for this horrific child abuse and perverted crime against humanity.

  13. I’m just saying, don’t hate me for saying this but… I dont think it’s uh to good of an idea to be trans this young.

  14. God gave her a beautiful trans daughter.. because she’s the “truth” she wanted the LGBTQ community to see .. this story is just speechless . 💔🖤

  15. She is the cutest!! I want to help her fill her house up with cats too! Lol that would so be me. Little girl I know you aren't probably going to read this but…
    You have a wonderful mother. And mom if you are reading this know you are a good mother to her.
    And to you my dear, you will become an amazing wonderful woman. You are already amazing and wonderful. You handle the hurtful comments and actions with grace. You are very special. Cannot wait to see you grow and make your own YouTube videos!

  16. Spanking her everytime she said she was a girl? Ew that’s gross I can’t believe I heard such a thing why can you let your children live and be happy

  17. This is just sick.
    The parents have destroyed this boy's future by burdening him with a preventable mental illness.

  18. Me is 13 and I can’t even come
    Out of the closet to my parents as trans and bii
    Me is soo nervous to come out to them

  19. I really feel like we need more compassion and love for all humanity! Some people are different and instead of hating them how about loving them. I believe it’s a test to see if we will love someone who is different. If you are a true believer in God following Jesus the Bible says do not judge and love God and you neighbor. More love less hate is what the world needs!!!

  20. I think that we are all Human First and that 's all that matters in the End, I think that we are being tested for our unconditional love and we are failing

  21. God love everyone no matter who they are God has a special spot for KY and will always love her and her mother for owning up to what her mistake was

  22. 1 like = 1 more transgender to be allowed to use the bathroom of there choice . so she should be allowed to use the girls restroom. right !? who agrees with me !

  23. “It was more than amazing. It was… gorgeous.” That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. What a lovely little girl.

  24. You have a well-behaved beautiful child and I hope the world is kind to her. So much we dont understand but just because we don't understand doesn't make it wrong. She is amazing

  25. Kai is such a sweet, innocent, young lady. She deserves the whole world. Kai is so beautiful and I'm so happy for her to be part of the LGBTQ+ community. We get to have her as part of our family, part of our community! 😊🥰

  26. When she said that the school said she would have to use the male bathroom i screamed “SHE IS A GIRL NOT A BOY SHE IS A GIRLLLL”

  27. This mom is so brave admitting her wrong doings and also showing her beliefs and being honest that she wasn’t okay with this in the beginning 😭 what an amazing mom to choose to be so supportive and understanding

  28. they say jazz jennings is the youngest to be diagnosed to be ‘transgender’ but actually when i was 2 years old i went to the bathroom and cut my hair all the way to my scalp and told my mom i was a boy and i’m almost 14. and i was diagnosed at 3

  29. Her mom felt bad that her child was praying to die but basically it is the mom's fault since she was the one shaming her kid for being a girl.

  30. All little kids are pretty much the same they can use the same bathroom in grade school they don't know I don't care you just going pee just saying

  31. This hit me in the feels that I never knew I had. I'm fighting the tears as I type. I'm very conflicted with how I feel. 4 Years ago, I would have been on the protesting train with them, but I'm no longer with women. I'm not hateful, have absolutely NO negative thoughts or feelings for the LGBTQ community that I used to be a part of. So before I would have wanted to be a part of Kai's journey, but now all I can do is send my prayers to the situation.

  32. she’s lucky because she’s trans and get to be out and her family is accepting i will forever be jealous hope she has a wonderful and happy life

  33. How she prayed to die instead of living another day as the wrong gender is so true. As a transmale, I can relate. I would rather die then live another day as a woman. It's sad but true. Bless her heart, and bless all the other transgender folks out there.

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