‘Obamacare Kid’ Comes Out as Transgender Teen

Marcelas Owens, now a 17-year-old living in Seattle, has long identified as female.

President Barack Obama signs the health-insurance-reform bill as 11-year old Marcelas Owens of Seattle looks on with Vice President Joe Biden on March 23, 2010, in the East Room of the White House.
President Barack Obama signs the health-insurance-reform bill as 11-year old Marcelas Owens of Seattle looks on with Vice President Joe Biden on March 23, 2010, in the East Room of the White House. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Who could forget the cherubic face of the little boy in a vest who stood by President Barack Obama as he signed his landmark Affordable Care Act into law nearly six years ago?

The child in the photo, Marcelas Owens, then an 11-year-old health care activist, has just turned 17 and has also recently come out as trans, according to a recent CNN profile. The outlet reports that Marcelas, though born male, has long identified as a female.

“I’m going through a reinvention process,” she says. “I’m growing into adulthood. I’m not the Obamacare kid anymore.”

Each March, Marcelas gets calls from the media to talk about her historic moment on March 23, 2010, and understands the curiosity.

“If I wasn’t me, I would like to know, where did he go?” she says.

The outlet also reports that she now wonders if people will still accept her.

“I like it that I can be called the Obamacare kid, 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 says.

The Seattle-based teen lives with her two younger sisters, Myanna, 12, and Monique, 13, and their grandmother Gina Owens, the first person she told about being transgender. Marcelas has lived with her grandmother and sisters since their mother Tiffany died at age 27 from pulmonary hypertension.

CNN reports that Marcelas’ mother died because she didn’t have health insurance. After she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2006, her illness caused her to miss days at work, which led to her losing her job. She was then denied Medicaid because she had earned too much money working the previous year.

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