I was born and raised in Franklin, Wisconsin (2020 population 36,013). I think from a really young age, I always gravitated toward more feminine things. I loved playing with dolls when I was younger. I loved dressing up. Not that this stuff defines your gender, but I was always more pulled toward that. As I got older, I didn’t really feel comfortable as a boy.
I wasn’t too nervous to approach the topic with my family. I came out to my grandma first. From there, we told the rest of my family, and they were very supportive. My grandma and my grandpa were the first ones to come here from China when they were young. My grandma came via Hong Kong, and my grandfather came from the Canton area.
From a very young age, I loved dressing my dolls. I could pretend to be who I wanted to be while playing with them. I really wished I was able to wear the same clothes, but being a boy at the time, I felt like if I would wear them, it didn’t feel right. I loved playing games online that were all about dressing up, doing makeup, and stuff. It was always an outlet.
I got bullied a little bit in middle school for being too feminine. I transitioned the summer after eighth grade. Coming out didn’t really affect my friendships a lot, but being in a very conservative city there were definitely a good half of people who were very unsupportive. It’s a mostly white-populated area, and I’ve been through some racist bullying. People would make fake accounts on social media and message me stuff like telling me to kill myself or just calling me racist slurs or transphobic slurs mixed together.
The first thing I ever saw about being trans was a Gigi Gorgeous documentary on YouTube. I really loved her story and how she became her true self. Now I am doing Road to the Runway. It will be documenting our experience through the Slay Model Search 2022. Watching the Search you don’t really get to talk to us. I feel like this documentary is a great way to really get to know the people in the Search with additional interviews and film.
I’m hoping to get more into the modeling industry, but before modeling I always wanted to do track and field in college. Thankfully, I’m able to compete on the women’s track team this year. The WIAA has certain expectations that you need to meet like a year of hormone therapy. My coaches are very supportive and always want me to do my best, but I do have teammates who will say things about me behind my back. They’ll be like, “Why is Ayden competing? She shouldn’t even be competing.”
At first it hurt, but I feel like over time I just learned to ignore it, to a point. It’s become something I brush off now. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At first, it was something I would feel really bad about, but now I’m not going to let people determine what I do. I’m not doing it for them.
Editor note: At the time this was written Ayden was competing at a regional competition in Iowa and ultimately placed first in her event after placing second at state.
2022 Pride in Color
The Change-Maker: From his time with the City of Seattle to his new role at Promega, Christopher Peguero has always advocated for equitable change.
The Frontrunner: Fifteen-year-old transgender track star Ayden Yee will be profiled in Here-TV’s docu-series, Road to the Runway, premiering August 1.
The Pastor: Cameron Overton (he/him) is the executive pastor at Zao MKE Church and a Black transman called to build the church into an intersectional and queer liberated space committed to the liberation of all people.
The Ancestral Flame: Maria Paula Lujum is the Youth Programs Manager for Centro Hispano of Dane County.
The Educator: Stacy Clark is a Community Health and Equity champion whose mission is to provide services and education to others that he may not have had as a young, black, gay male.
The Good Foot: Al Poliarco is the force behind Barefoot Hands Bodywork
The Dynamo: Clyde Mayberry is the CEO & Founder of the first African American Performing Arts Center in Dane County.