Meet the Highland Park Teen Starring in ABC’s Our America: Who I’m Meant to Be

Chazzie Grosshandler is a rising high school senior using her voice to advocate for transgender and LGBTQIA+ rights.

Chazzie Grosshandler is a rising high school senior from Highland Park who’s doing all of the things kids her age do – going to prom, working out, babysitting, planning vacations for the summer and starting to get her college applications together. 

But unlike her peers, in between her busy schedule, Chazzie is traveling to the White House and speaking at corporations, conferences and black-tie galas across the country, as she is one of many national voices helping people understand who transgender and nonbinary people are.

Provided by The GenderCool Project

This Pride month, Chazzie, 17, who proudly identifies as transgender, shares her personal journey and what she wants the world to know about her generation in Our America: Who I’m Meant To Be, a 60-minute special hosted by Emmy® Award-winning ABC News correspondent, Gio Benitez.  The special – now streaming on ABC News Live and Hulu –  is the first time that six transgender teenagers share the joys and challenges of growing up as transgender on national television.

Speaking to the World

Provided by The GenderCool Project

“When I found out the word ‘transgender’, it was scary to me because I was so worried of the end result I would get,” Grosshandler says. “But when I told my parents ‘I am a girl’, they accepted me and loved me, and told me everything is going to be OK.  I know so many transgender peers don’t receive that love, and so I want to speak out about how important it is to love your child, friend or family member regardless of how they identify.”Chazzie, who was assigned male at birth but socially transitioned to female in fifth grade, says she loves being able to share her story as she lives her true authentic self.

“I think people are surprised to hear that being transgender is the least interesting thing about me. At the end of the day, I have so many passions and interests that are much more unique and special about me rather than just a label,” she says.


The GenderCool Project

The aspiring broadcast journalist who serves as the on-air anchor of her high school’s television network is also the inspiration behind  The GenderCool Project, a nonprofit co-founded by her parents and dear friend Gearah Goldstein five years ago, to replace misinformed opinions with positive, powerful experiences featuring transgender and nonbinary young people like Chazzie who are thriving.  

“We’re aimed at what we call the conflicted middle – allies in waiting who have never met a transgender person,” says Chazzie’s mom, Jen Grosshandler. “When folks have a chance to meet and spend time with these young people, they often come to the same conclusion – these kids are changing the world by talking about who they are as people. It’s just that simple.”

Provided by The GenderCool Project

Chazzie and these other young people – also called Champions – have led real change by testifying before the U.S. Senate, partnering with dozens of corporations to help bring inclusivity to the workplace and inform federal policies that ensure equal rights for transgender and nonbinary young people.

But in the wake of an increasing amount of legislative backlash trying to extinguish her fundamental human rights, Grosshandler simply asks for acceptance.

“Even if they don’t understand who we are – who we have always been – we need support,” says Grosshandler. “Something as small as using a person’s preferred name or pronoun really goes a long way.”Despite the hostility and ongoing debates regarding her rights, Chazzie says she will continue to fight for a better tomorrow.

“No matter what, I’m going to keep on speaking up about who transgender and people in the LGBTQIA+ community are and that we’ve always been here and we are here forever,” says Grosshandler. “We deserve the same respect as anyone else.”


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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.

1 COMMENT

  1. What an impressive young woman and what wonderful parents she has. I have no doubt that she will continue to bring change in this world.

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