A Disney Heir Comes Out as Transgender

Family launches effort to fight 'Don't Say Gay' bill and similar efforts
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2022 6:41 PM CDT
A Disney Comes Out as Transgender
Disney cast member Nicholas Maldonado talks to a reporter while protesting his company's stance on LGBTQ issues and participating in an employee walkout at Walt Disney World in Florida on March 22.   (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

An heir to the Walt Disney Co. has come out as transgender, announcing a family effort to support LGBTQ rights and oppose new legislation that threatens them. Charlee Disney came out publicly last month at the Human Rights Campaign's annual gala after coming out privately four years ago, NBC News reports. Disney announced at the Los Angeles event that the family would match up to $250,000 in donations to the organization, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the US. Disney's mother, Sheri, told the Los Angeles Times that the Disneys were disappointed the company at first didn't oppose Florida's new "Don’t Say Gay" law, officially called the Parental Rights in Education Act.

Last week, Disney's father, Roy P. Disney, increased the match maximum to $500,000 last week; he's the grandson of the late Walt Disney. "Equality matters deeply to us," Roy P. Disney said in a statement, "especially because our child, Charlee, is transgender and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community." Charlee Disney, 30, a high school teacher, wants to fight the Florida law and similar measures but is new to political advocacy. "I feel like I don't do very much to help," Disney said. "I don't call senators or take action. I felt like I could be doing more."

Sheri Disney said she wasn't surprised by Charlee's revelation, per the Times; she remembers Charlee telling her at age 2 or 3, when they were shopping for girls' shoes, "But mom, I’m a boy on the inside." Charlee Disney said despite the family support, it's been a struggle at times. "I had very few openly gay role models," Disney said. “And I certainly didn’t have any trans or nonbinary role models. I didn't see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me." Their mother said the donation matching is intended to remind people of the support LGBTQ children need. "I have a trans kid, and I love my kid no matter what," she said. (Read more Walt Disney Co. stories.)

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