Disney Plus, Disney’s highly anticipated streaming service, has signed up more than 10 million subscribers since launching. By comparison, HBO Now took nearly three years to reach half that number. Some of the new content being featured is the activism of a 12-year-old transgender girl as part of the new Marvel unscripted series Hero Project, which profiles young individuals who are trying to make a difference in their communities.
Hero Project‘s episode “Mighty Rebekah” introduces Rebekah Bruesehoff, a transgender girl from New Jersey who transitioned at the age of eight. Bruesehoff was born male but now identifies as a girl with the support of her parents.
The episode follows Bruesehoff’s path toward activism, which began around the time the group Garden State Equality started agitating for statewide guidelines regarding transgender kids in schools.
Marvel says about this project:
Being able to live authentically allowed Rebekah to blossom. Her father noted that the joy she had kept hidden “spilled out all over the place.” Rebekah’s joy was noticed by the people in her church community, too.
When protections for transgender children in schools were rescinded, a local LGBTQ equality group sought to establish new protections. Rebekah’s mother Jamie was asked to speak at a rally – and so was Rebekah, who was 10 years old at the time. She proved that in front of a crowd, she was a natural and persuasive force!
At the same rally, Rebekah was saddened to find that not everyone’s stories were as positive as hers. Upon learning that transgender people of all ages were being bullied, she sought to make a change. Since that first rally, Rebekah has spoken in front of her state assembly and met with other kids who are transgender to share her story. “I think that I am helping others and I want to continue.”
Meanwhile, at Marvel HQ, Marvel staffers Steve Wacker and Alanna Smith started crafting Rebekah’s comic. Earlier, they drew comparisons with other Marvel characters that had strong, supportive families, like Peter Parker and Aunt May and the Fantastic Four.
Sana Amanat pointed out that like Rebekah, Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel also worked to find her identity as a teenage girl living in New Jersey. Wacker and Smith noted Rebekah’s heroic efforts to help others find their confidence – but also said, “she’d be so much fun to bring to a comic book with her pink hair and great fashion sense”! In the story, Rebekah helps her fellow kids at an LGBTQ community center recover after the center is vandalized, showing them that they can only become stronger by being themselves.
When it came time to initiate Rebekah into Marvel’s Hero Project, there were lots of surprises in store. Rebekah started a book drive at a local book store to donate books about LGBTQ issues to schools. During the book drive, Rebekah got a video call from another young transgender activist, Jazz Jennings, one of her idols, who said that there was a surprise waiting for her in the back of the store. Her mother was there and read the initiation letter inviting Rebekah into Marvel’s Hero Project. Rebekah also found her next surprise behind a big rainbow flag: the mythical Marvel box containing her very own Marvel comic! As she read through the story, she said her favorite part was a panel that “showed that LGBTQ kids are the same as other kids.”
Marvel’s Hero Project is also making a donation in the amount of $10,000 to The Trevor Project in recognition of their work to support LGBTQ youth in crisis. To take a look inside the comic that was made for Rebekah by Marvel creators Marc Sumerak and artists Ramon Bachs (pencils and inks) and Chris Sotomayor (colors), you can see the first issue of the comic, MARVEL’S HERO PROJECT SEASON 1: MIGHTY REBEKAH (2019) #1, where it can be read for free on Marvel’s website.
If you want to learn more about Rebekah and her work, visit http://www.mightyrebekah.com.
What do you think of this unique project?