A Disney family member is speaking publicly about their gender identity for the first time in hopes of encouraging others to take a stance against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education ― or “Don’t Say Gay” ― law.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sunday, Charlee Corra Disney said they came out as transgender about four years ago. Though they acknowledged that being born into a famous family afforded them some privilege, they said they spent much of their adolescence and early adulthood struggling to embrace their truth.
“I had very few openly gay role models,” said the 30-year-old, a high school biology and environmental science teacher who uses the pronouns “they/them.” “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.”
“I feel like I don’t do very much to help,” they added. “I don’t call senators or take action. I felt like I could be doing more.”
Charlee’s great-grandfather, Roy O. Disney, was the older brother of Walt Disney. The Illinois-born siblings co-founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio ― which grew into the global entertainment conglomerate known today as the Walt Disney Company ― in 1923.
Later, Charlee criticized Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which was signed by the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, last month and largely forbids instruction on sexuality and gender identity in most elementary school classrooms.
Disney, one of the Sunshine State’s largest employers, has inadvertently found itself at the center of a political firestorm related to the legislation. The entertainment company faced major backlash from fans and employees for its initial reticence in pushing back against the bill.
Since then, Disney has condemned the law and vowed to get it repealed. Last week, Charlee’s parents, Roy P. and Sherri Disney, vowed to match up to $500,000 in donations to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek and the company as a whole have now come under fire from right-wing conservative groups that accuse Disney of attempting to “indoctrinate” children.
In their chat with the Los Angeles Times, Charlee pointed to the disproportionate rates of depression and anxiety among LGBTQ youth.
“Then to put something like this law on top of that?” they added. “They can’t learn about their community and their history at school, or play sports or use the bathroom they want to use?”