Zeam Porter takes national stage

Zeam painted a mural on the show which portrayed his definition of beauty.

photo submitted by Zeam Porter

Zeam painted a mural on the show which portrayed his definition of beauty.

Brendan Barrow, Staff Writer

It is a dream for many people to meet celebrities whose work inspires them or embodies their ideas; even more so, meeting them on television can be incredibly self-affirming. For our school’s very own Zeam Porter ‘16, this became a reality when he got to meet Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic athlete and public figure who recently came out as transgender. Since then, she has become an important figure in helping to promote all-gender equality in America. Porter was invited for Jenner to interview him, as part of model and activist Geena Rocero’s digital series Beautiful as I Want to Be.

“You could tell she had a really good heart,” says Porter. “There’s a sense of community among trans people, and I wondered if Caitlyn would be like that, given all of her privileged identities. But immediately we hugged when we met each other.” The interview highlighted Porter’s amazing activist work, as well as featuring his artwork. He even got an opportunity to meet Matt Barnes, an NBA player for the Memphis Grizzlies.

While an amazing experience, TV can only capture so much. “TV and interviews can only capture part of you,” says Porter, “but either way people will perceive me that way – internet Zeam is different from real Zeam.”  Although imperfect, the interview is crucial in spreading awareness about all-gender equality. Trans people are incredibly underrepresented in the media, and hopefully stories like Porter’s and Jenner’s, as well as so many others, will begin to raise awareness for this crucial movement nationwide.

However, even here at this school, this story has a lot of resonance. “Compared to other schools, Blake is way ahead, and is amazingly progressive, with teachers that are beyond advocates,” Porter says, “but even we have a long ways to go. The trans identity is not really represented in the curriculum outside Gender Studies. But Blake is a leading force and I’m proud of them.” And that is the message to take home: we have done so much good, but we should strive to do more and continue to be leaders for change. This issue is not a simple one, but it is surely worth taking the time to understand just a little about what it means to be trans – because so many others fail to do that. 89  trans  people have died already this year from hate crimes, 41% of all trans people have attempted suicide, and still some claim that this movement is “just a fad.” And that makes continued allyship with this community more important than ever.

“Being trans is so complex, so don’t just think of me and Caitlyn Jenner,” says Porter. “I just want you all to care, to be there for me.” In this daunting task to gain equality for all genders, be the ally, be the leading force, and even if we can’t change the whole world, we can still work to make our own community the best it can be.