Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the largest LGBT events in the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of costumed revelers to the city each year.
There’s even a rumor Cher will be a headliner this year.
But for a group of trans and gender-nonconforming teens, the 40th annual Mardi Gras on February 13 is special for a different reason: They’re getting their own float for the very first time.
The New South Wales Trans Youth Alliance is still small—it was just established as a Facebook group four months ago—but it’s off to a promising start: The group was launched by psychologist Kath Power last year, after she and her husband joined their trans son and four of his friends on a Mardi Gras float organized by Sydney’s Gender Center.
Seeing how happy it made the kids, some of whom lack support from their families, Power decided they should have their own float.
“The photos I’ve got of the kids, [you see] the laughter on their face, the love,” Power told Buzzfeed. “You’re marginalized, and now you’re getting cheered.”
The teens are in the process of designing their float, and plan to march with banners with messages like, “Trans And Proud” and “Gender Freedom.” They’ve also designed their own logo: A pink, white, and blue illustration of a hamburger that they’ve playfully dubbed the “transburger.” (Pink, white and blue are the colors of the trans flag.)
For Australia’s LGBT community as a whole, and the trans community in particular, there’s plenty to celebrate: The same week in December that the Australian government legalized same-sex marriage it also overturned a law requiring teens to get permission from a court before they could begin hormone replacement therapy, even if they had parental consent.
But it’s been a tough year, as well: The campaign against marriage equality saw hateful rhetoric directed at the LGBT community, including ads claiming marriage equality would cause gender confusion among kids. (Unsurprisingly, there was a dramatic spike in LGBT people seeking mental health services during the national postal survey.)
Felix, an 18-year-old trans man who plans to march with the Trans Youth Alliance, says the anti-equality campaign had a negative impact on him and many of his friends. The Mardi Gras float helps teens like him reclaim their sense of pride.
“I’m marching because it’s a celebration for who I am, and… to show I support everyone around me,” he told Buzzfeed. “You get to really be proud of yourself for this one day of the year, and everyone can be a part of it.”