Now 17, Marcelas Owens opened up about her "reinvention process" in a March 18 interview with CNN to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Obamacare's signing. Owens, who lives in Seattle with her grandmother and two sisters, said she still gets asked about her role in the historic moment every year when the March 23 anniversary approaches.
In 2010, Owens had been selected by her senator, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), to stand next to the president when he signed his signature health care law three years after her mother died. Prior to her death in 2007, Tiffany Owens had delayed getting treatment for pulmonary hypertension because she was uninsured, The New York Times reported.
A now-famous White House photograph captured Owens's moment with Obama for posterity.
The teen, who said she understands why people are curious about the 11-year-old in the photo, hopes people will embrace her now as they did the "Obamacare kid" in 2010.
She debuted her authentic self in a series of Instagram posts, with the hashtags #transgirl and #transgender.
"I like it that I can be called the Obamacare kid," she told CNN. "But in some ways I wish I could look past the Obamacare kid and become Marcelas and people would have the same reaction to me that they had with the Obamacare kid."
She said she began to question her gender identity at a young age, realizing she liked wearing her grandmother's make-up and her sister's clothes. In fifth grade, she wrote a class paper on a transgender woman, and realized she related to the woman's struggle.
"She was saying that when she was little she always identified more with girls," Owens told CNN. "I started realizing that I did the same."
Owens said the first person she came out to was her grandmother, Gina, who raised her and her two sisters.
Gina shared her reaction to her granddaughter's announcement in a Facebook post cited by CNN and The Advocate.
"I am so happy that SHE has trusted our relationship enough where SHE felt more comfortable sharing with me first," she wrote in the Facebook post. "I LOVE YOU AND YOUR COURAGE IN LIFE, MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW. Walk your journey in love & light."
The Huffington Post has reached out to Owens for further comment.
So proud to see you continuing to live an authentic life, Marcelas!