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Boy who became the face of Katrina shares his transition from Charles to Arianna
The young boy who became the face of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts is sharing her story ten years after the tragedy and revealing she has transitioned into a woman.
Charles Evans was just 9-years-old when she was filmed inside the Superdome with thousands of other residents from New Orleans after the hurricane, making a simple plea to millions of Americans; ‘We just need some help out here!’
Evans has endured even more tragedy in the years since, and then this May made the decision to start taking hormones and transition from Charles to Arianna.
Evans, now 19-years-old, said she began to realize she was trapped in the wrong body in the years after Katrina as she and her great-grandmother Ophelia – who raised Evans after she was born to a drug-addicted mother – began to rebuild their lives.
In an interview with NBC, Evans discussed how the two women lived in Texas for a time before finally moving back to New Orleans and rebuilding their home.
Evans also made appearances on national talk shows and at the 2005 Emmy Awards.
Then, just two years later in 2007, Evans’ mother and cousin were killed in a drug-related murders.
Now a certified nurses assistant, Evans takes care of her great grandmother who has gone blind.
Despite never having much of a relationship with her own mother – whose death Evans calls ‘very dreadful’ – the young woman did manage to find another role model in the form of an investment banker who reached out after seeing her on television.
Wanda Felton not only provided financial support to Evans and her great grandmother, but also took the young girl on trips to places like Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont, Miami and Mexico.
‘She’s always said that she felt the need to do something bigger than just writing a check. She wanted to actually come down and get to know me personally,’ explained Evans.
‘Wanda doesn’t have any kids of her own, as time and years have went by, she considered me to be one of her own.’
As for her response to Evans’ decision to transition, Felton has been nothing but supportive said the young woman.
‘I think it was always apparent… I was never uncomfortable with it – it was just who he was,’ said Felton.
Evans said she began thinking about transitioning when she was in junior high school, and once she started to forge ahead with the hormone treatment decided to stay in the city despite the advice of others who warned her about how some residents might respond to her becoming a woman.
‘Everyone is not for me,” she said.
‘It’s like a different genre of music. There are folks who are against it and attack our kind.’
She then added; ‘In life, there are events that can either make you or break you, and Hurricane Katrina definitely did not break me. In so many ways it actually formed me into being the strong individual that I am today.’