Ermiya Fanaeian was huddled with three dozen others at the Fashion Place mall in Salt Lake City, Utah during a reported active shooter incident Sunday. She tweeted she was terrified. Parkland activist David Hogg tweeted back. As did many others, fearing for her safety and sending strength.
Fanaeian, 18, is the co-founder of the Utah chapter of the student-led gun safety and gun violence prevention group borne out of the Parkland school shooting in February of 2018, called March for Our Lives. The sad irony was not lost on her and others; that she, a gun control activist, should find herself frozen with fear during an active shooter scene.
“This should NEVER happen!”
Fanaeian is a young trans person of color and an LGBT activist. She is asked to speak at events and sought out for her opinion and ideas.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Fanaeian Was at the Mall Sunday Afternoon When Shots Rang Out & She Like Many Others, Huddled in Fear as an Active Shooting Scene Was Underway
“I am currently hiding as the police look for the shooter. I am in the mall. I am terrified!! This should NEVER happen!”
A gun control advocacy group March for Our Lives Utah tweeted, “Only 10 months ago, one of our cofounders @ErmiyaFanaeian was leading the largest demonstration in Utah history. Now she is one of the hundreds trapped inside another American mall turned war zone, terrified and waiting for answers.”
Two hours later, she tweeted that she was safe at home.
“Thank you to everyone who has sent me there support. I am now at home safe❤️. I didn’t know if I was going to make it out alive, it is not ok that this continuously happens.”
David Hogg and others reached out via Twitter to send their support.
2. Fanaeian is a Co-Founder of March For Our Lives Utah, the Student-Led Movement for Gun Violence Prevention
“3.24.18 8,000 Of you marched for our lives. My generation will move mountains, hills, and valleys. We’re calling out the abdication of our politicians. Take a good long look America. We’re your future leaders.”
She and other student activists worked with the ACLU ahead of the March for Our Lives last year.
She has challenged politicians, including Mia Love when she quoted the Haitian-American Congresswoman, the first black female Republican elected to the House:
“‘Most importantly we must listen carefully to our students as they express the real problems they face.’ Remember when I held up your quote in the pouring rain Congresswoman? 4 months later and you still have yet to even MEET with me!!! Btw we support the 2nd amendment.”
3. A Trans Woman of Color, She is an LGBTQ Activist Who Says She’s ‘Resisting by Existing’
In a short documentary film by Jalmy Lee, Fanaeian talks about coming out and her activism and explains what she means when she says she’s “resisting by existing.”.
“I mean that people don’t want me to exist. People fear the idea of trans people actually being human beings in our society. The more they realize that trans people exist, the angrier they get. In order for me to really live as myself, I have to go against all their anger, go against all of their fear …and by doing so, I’m resisting,” she explained in a short film about the young activist. “I’m resisting simple by existing …because they don’t want me to exist.”
She says she expresses her identity through her advocacy work adding she found the right time to come out: during a rally when she was asked to speak. She said she announced that she was a trans woman of color before an audience … who cheered.
“I remember everybody clapping and screaming and going insane over it.”
4. Fanaeian Meets With Local & State Leaders, Runs Trainings, Makes Speeches, & Has a Modeling Career
Fanaeian said that she was signed as a model and was just coming out at around the same time.
“I signed my first modeling contract while I was coming out so I had to come out before cameras. I had to come out in the industry.” She was 16 she wrote when she was contacted by her agent about getting hired for Utah Fashion Week.
Fanaeian was part of an ACLU and Utah Pride training program for school communities called ‘Creating Safety for Gender Diverse Youth In Schools’ and ran training programs.
And she knows how to network and earn and spend political capital smartly. She has relationships with Salt Lake City movers and was the my keynote speaker at the Racially Just Utah-RJU Youth leadership conference. She’s just turned 18.
5. Fanaeian Attends the University of Utah & is President of the College Democrats of Utah
On her Facebook, Fanaeian says she was a recruitment coordinator for the Ben McAdams For Congress campaign, is president of the College Democrats of Utah and is studying pre-law at the University of Utah. She’s received myriad accolades for her activism, advocacy and volunteer work.
“What an absolute honor for @MayorBenMcAdams to award me with the Local Hero Award. Thank you, Mayor, for honoring my political activism work with this award! Thank you to the Director of The Mayor’s Office of Diversity for presenting me with the award today,” she tweeted when bestowed with the ‘Local Hero Award.'”