An estimated 45,000 people turned out for the Pride Parade in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood Sunday.
Among them was an 8-year-old transgender girl and her family, who are fighting to educate people about what it’s like to grow up transgender.
Marilyn Morrison has a lot of energy. Like most 8-year-olds, she plays with her friends and she loves animals. But she has something to say.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
"I want people to understand that I'm just a normal kid," said Marilyn.
And she doesn't mind spelling it out for you.
"M-A-R-I-L-Y-N," she said, spelling out her name. She still likes the sound of it.
"It makes me feel like I am myself, I'm my true self now," said Marilyn.
Because until recently, Marilyn was known as Madden, a boy.
"In our home and family life, she has been called Marilyn for almost a year and at school she went back as her true self and she's known as Marilyn and the she that she is," said her mother Chelsa Morrison.
On Sunday, Marilyn walked in the Pride Parade with the group Equality Texas, with her family there supporting her.
“This is our child we’re talking about,” said Marilyn’s father Andrew Morrison. "Whether it's boy or girl, tall or short, whatever the difference is, she's our child."
On this day, in this place, Marilyn was a superstar. But it's not always easy growing up transgender.
"I have a bully at school who she said her whole family was freaking out about me turning into a girl and I was like, 'why?'" said Marilyn.
The bathroom debate poses new challenges. With an injunction blocking federal guidelines, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD is in a wait-and-see phase.
"She's been using the girl's restroom,” said Andrew Morrison. “And how many issues have there been? Zero."
Still, some days it's hard to go back to school.
"I feel like if I go back there and give them more love and support that I can change their heart. I can make them accept me," said Marilyn.
To Marilyn's parents, this is nothing new.
"We've known for many, many years," said Andrew Morrison.
"When she started asking questions of when her body was going to change to be like a woman, what she was, and started telling us she was a girl," Chelsa Morrison added.
After research and therapy, the family firmly believes this is not a phase.
"These kids know exactly who they are because they were born that way," said Chelsa Morrison.
And at least for today, Marilyn is flying high, building a thick skin and a strong community.
"They'll build a shield around me," she said of her friends and family.
Something to rely on for the long road ahead.