Maria Munir told President Barack Obama something the 20-year-old had not revealed to anyone, including family. During a question and answer session with young people in London, the York University student came out as non-binary.
‘I’m about to do something terrifying, which is I’m coming out to you as a non-binary person,’ Munir said, according to the BBC. ‘It means that I don’t fit because I’m from a Pakistani-Muslim background which inevitably has complications.’
The Watford resident, who is running for office, wanted to know what Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron could do ‘to go benefit what’s been accepted as the LGBTQ rights movement,’ specifically when laws like HB2 are being passed in North Carolina.
The president praised Munir for the ‘steps you have already taken to speak out about your own experience and then to try to create a social movement to change laws.’
He added Prime Minister Cameron was ‘way ahead of the curve on LGBT issues, relative to a lot of world leaders around the world and even here in the UK.’
While admitting there was little he could do to change North Carolina’s new law, because of the rules of US governance, the president noted the LGBTI movement has seen strides few imagined.
‘It doesn’t feel fast enough for you,’ Obama said. ‘And that’s good. You shouldn’t feel satisfied. You should keep pushing, but I think the trend lines are good on this.’
In an interview afterwards, Munir was asked about coming out in such a public way.
‘It was something the President said about acting crazy – that if you need to get a social issue across sometimes you need to act a little crazy,’ Munir said to the BBC.
‘At that moment I felt my pulse intensify and thought that I’ve been sitting on this issue for such a long time,’ Munir continued. ‘I haven’t come out to my parents, (I’m sorry mum and dad) I just thought, it anyone in the world is going to accept me for who I am it should be the President of the United States.’
As for the reception at home, Munir thinks the family will come around.
‘I apologize to my parents because they mean the world to me, but I know that they will accept me when they see how much of a change I can have throughout the world.’
Below is a clip of the conversation: