Sasha Fleischman, Agender California Teen, Speaks Out After Having Skirt Set On Fire On Bus

The agender California teen who was severely burned in an alleged hate crime last month is speaking out about the experience for the first time after being released from the hospital in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Eighteen-year-old Sasha Fleischman, who was hospitalized for three weeks after suffering second and third-degree burns, told CBS San Francisco they plans to return to his high school on Dec. 2. As for 16-year-old suspect Richard Thomas’ claim that he set the victim’s skirt on fire merely as a prank, Fleischman said, “You should really know better than to light someone’s clothing on fire.”

They added, “I think you should be able to realize that’s not just a funny prank … I don’t want to be too harsh because people do dumb things. I’m going to keep wearing the skirt … It’s a big part of who I am.”

Still, Fleischman told NBC Bay Area they felt it was a “big responsibility” to be a public representative of the whole nonbinary gender community: “I’m not used to being in the public eye … I hope to be able to inform people about the whole spectrum.ä

Richard Thomas, the 16-year-old suspect in the case, was arrested Nov. 5 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and mayhem. Thomas is currently being charged as an adult in the case, but Sasha’s father Karl Fleischman says he and his family hope prosecutors will consider moving the case to juvenile court.

“A 16-year-old is not fully formed yet, and it doesn’t seem right for someone that young to be tried as an adult,” Karl Fleischman told SF Gate. “One thing I want to be clear about is that I don’t know all the evidence and the background in the case that the district attorney does, and ultimately it is not our call to make. But just philosophically, that’s what I feel, depending on what else we learn in the future, and Sasha has said they feel the same way.”

Karl Fleischman also penned a blog for HuffPost Gay Voices, in which he noted, “Sasha feels comfortable wearing a skirt. It’s part of their style. They also frequently sport a necktie and vest. Sasha likes the look, and frankly, so do I. It makes me smile to see Sasha being Sasha.”