Who Is Ashton Mota?
Ashton Mota is from Lowell, Massachusetts, and at 13 years old, Mota came out as trans to his mother Carmen. This conversation between a mother and son would begin a movement much larger than the two of them. At the root of it, Mota just wanted simple things: to be addressed by his preferred name, play on the boy’s basketball team, use the restroom and locker room safely, and to be his authentic self. But as a Black Dominican-American attending an elite, mostly white private school, this would prove to be a battle.
Fighting at the Intersection of Gender and Race
Despite facing compounded anti-Blackness and transphobia, Mota began down a road of fierce activism. One of his first times speaking publicly about his experience was at the spring conference for Massachusetts’ chapter of GLSEN. Seeing a need for deeper conversations and advocacy in his school, Mota became the founder and president of his schools’ Gay-Straight Alliance. He later would serve as a co-chair for the Northeast Region Safe Schools Program.
At just 14 years old Mota was named a Human Rights Campaign Youth Ambassador. As a Youth Ambassador, Mota shares his experience as a Black Latinx trans person to raise awareness about the most pressing concerns facing LGBTQ youth. In an interview with Sula Malina for the Human Rights Campaign, Mota was asked to share what inspired him to become a Youth Ambassador:
“What truly inspired me was an absence of representation of LGBTQ advocates of color in mainstream spaces. I believe that the LGBTQ community and our allies need to work together to bring more visibility and a voice to issues impacting LGBTQ youth in marginalized communities.”
In addition to his role with the Human Rights Campaign is Mota’s advocacy for “Yes on 3”. Mota became the face of the coalition which fought to protect transgender people from discrimination in public places such as restaurants, bars, stores, and health facilities. The citizens of Massachusetts voted to uphold the protections, marking a major victory for transgender people. Because Mota was unable to vote in the election, but the decision would still impact his quality of life, Mota began publicly speaking out and educating voters on the importance of upholding the protections.
Luckily for us, Ashton Mota’s story does not end here. Mota is committed to creating communities that demonstrate understanding and acceptance for LGBTQ youth. To watch Ashton Mota’s speech at the 2019 Human Rights Campaign Time to THRIVE conference click here.
References include the Human Rights Campaign, The Guardian, IntoMore.com, FreedomMassachusetts.org, and DoSomething.org.
Written by: Kamrie Risku