Transformations KC is providing important resources for trans youth, family education


The Dolls Are Thriving: A National Virtual Summit on Women of Color of Trans Experience in Leadership, Advocacy, and Mentorship. // Courtesy of Transformations KC

Started back in 2009 by Michigan-based therapist and activist Rachel Crandall-Crocker, International Transgender Day of Visibility occurs on March 31. The day aims to highlight the accomplishments and triumphs of the transgender community, as a balance to the somberness of the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The celebration is organized nationally by Trans Student Educational Resources.

A study by Travers et. al. via the Trans PULSE Project in Ontario showed that housing, food security, self-esteem, mental and physical health, and overall satisfaction with life are all positively impacted if parents are supportive of their transgender child. 

Ahead of Trans Day of Visibility this year, The Pitch spoke with an organization focused on helping young transgender people thrive in our region. Transformations KC, founded by Merrique Jenson, has been helping young people since 2016.

Black and Brown transgender kids are more likely to experience violence and harassment from family, peers, romantic partners, and law enforcement. They are more likely to be houseless, and statistically have higher rates of self-harm and suicide than their cisgender peers

Recently, Transformations KC has intentionally shifted its focus to center support services toward Black and Brown transgender girls and trans and nonbinary youth in survival mode in the Midwest and Ozark regions.


Joelle Bayaa Uzuri, Monica DeJesus Anaya, Joss Barton, and Merrique Jenson. // Courtesy of Merrique Jenson

Vice-Chair of the Board of Transformations KC, Kelly Nou, knows first hand the challenges that are faced by a person who has intersecting marginalized identities. 

Nou’s tight-knit Cambodian-American family was everything to her growing up in Kansas City. She is on better terms than she once was with them, but for a long period, there was a complete disconnect.

“A lot of parents and families are really strong-minded people, like really stick to their guns,” Nou says. “My parents were like that—I was shamed, mocked, and bullied within my family. But I stood up for who I am. I let them know, ‘It’s not going to change, this is me.'”

When asked what influence she hoped Transformations could have on the parents of transgender and GNC teens, Nou said familial acceptance and understanding have a direct correlation to trans people living a longer life.

“Latino and Black communities are not particularly fond of people that fall outside their vision of what kids should be like,” says Transformations KC Co-Board Chair, JD Bezares.

As a Puerto Rican trans-man, Bezares feels it is important to engage with those communities directly. He feels the organization needs to refocus towards members of the trans-BIPOC youth community, because they are most at risk of marginalization.

As a member of The Union—a social group from transgender men sharing a workout program at City Gym—Bezares was already mentoring FTM folks, and was a natural fit for the board at Transformations KC.


Merrique Jenson leading an exercise during a retreat. // Courtesy of Merrique Jenson

Transformations KC work has welcomed the community to the table so that those with lived experiences can inform the public and public policy regarding issues like how the police react to trans folks, sex work, housing security, medical access, employment, and much more.

Upcoming plans for Transformations KC include increasing membership across the region and the development of a micro-grant program, to be awarded to young trans people and Midwest BIPOC grassroots organizations.

The group plans to continue their Dolls Are Thriving virtual summits for trans women of color. Details around that event can be found soon on the summit homepage.

If you are a parent in the metro or Ozark area who feels like they are lost, confused, or simply puzzled by what is happening with your trans or GNC family member, Transformations KC encourages you to reach out and take full advantage of the resources.

Transformations runs off of the love and support of financial contributions from KC. If you believe in this work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation via their site.

Register for their upcoming virtual Trans Day of Visibility event, “What’s at Stake in Trans Communities?”A Virtual Conversation with Women of Color Leaders, Youth of Color & Statewide Perspectives on Anti-Trans Youth Legislation in Our Regions, held on March 30 at 7 p.m.

Categories: Culture