TransYouth Family Allies (TYFA) emerged from online discussions about the unmet needs of trans and gender-variant youth and their families. In late August 2006, a coalition of parents gathered at the TransKids Family online message board affiliated with Trans Ohio. They discussed “a PAC for trans children,” citing concerns that established national organizations either focused on rights for adults or for non-trans youth. Within days, a TransKidsPAC message board was created, and its mission statement laid out clear goals for serving this underserved population. Using the name TransKids Family Coalition, organizers held their first online conference and first phone conference in September 2006, through a partnership with the trans arm of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PPFLAG-TNET). That same month, Founding member Kim Pearson and her son Shawn joined Jenn Burleton to make the organization’s first media appearance that included a trans youth and parent, discussing the new organization on GenderTalk Radio. Later that month, they made their first in-person appearance at the 2006 TransFaith Conference.
By October, the organization was developing as a program of PFLAG-TNET, and they began fundraising through merchandise sales. Co-founders Kim Pearson, Shannon Garcia, and Amy G. created and passed out literature at their first official appearance, and these three founders donated all the money for incorporation and filing for non-profit status. In November 2006, the founders set out a series of ambitious short- and long-term goals, including incorporating under the TYFA name in December 2006 and filing for a separate 501(c)3, designing a website and securing toll free phone service. Representatives appeared at PFLAG and Transgender Day of Remembrance events.
TYFA celebrated its official founding on January 1, 2007. TYFA did its first school in-service appearance that month. In February they appeared at their first educational seminar at San Diego State University and appeared at the True Colors conference in March. TYFA appeared in its first national news coverage that month as part of an ABC 20/20 special on transgender youth. TYFA also presented at the University of Wisconsin Conference on Gender, and the Trans-Health Conference in Philadelphia. In April, the organization was officially incorporated and the website launched. Shortly after its first annual board meeting and elections, Jenn Burleton left the organization, and current Executive Director Kim Pearson assumed those responsibilities. Throughout the summer of 2007, TYFA continued sharing its message around the country via in-service days in Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana, Ohio, Washington, and Arizona. TYFA made presentations at GPAC Youth Leadership Days, LA Pride, PFLAG Indy, The CAG Conference, Trans Unity 8, PFLAG, Gender Odyssey, several Transgender Day of Remembrance events, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). In 2007 TYFA provided direct services to 15 families, did 6 school in-service trainings, 9 conferences, 6 PFLAG Chapters, 8 ally venues, and visiting a total of 29 venues in 14 states. In October 2007, TYFA was reminded of the importance of our work when Ian Benson, a young trans man and son of a TYFA Board Member, took his own life at the age of 16. TYFA’s Ian Benson Project is named in his honor and focuses on suicide prevention among trans and gender-variant youth. TYFA’s Amethyst Ribbons symbolize this important work, and the development of our Hope Chest training program was undertaken to give help and hope to other trans youth and their families facing depression, bullying or other problems that may increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts.
In February 2008, TYFA announced the first phase of its new communications project with the unveiling of a new logo, updated name, and new mission and vision statements. This was quickly followed by new communications materials, including our brochure “Understanding Through Education.” TYFA relaunched its website, greatly expanding the news, resources, and media sections. In 2012, TYFA restructured its board and leadership, with Kim Pearson taking the role of Training Director, focus on our direct outreach. In 2013, the TYFA site was updated again to meet the needs of visitors using mobile devices.
We are very proud of the reputation we have built and the alliances we have with organizations including the Philadelphia TransHealth Conference; Childrens Hospital Los Angeles; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Learning Rights; Gender Odyssey Family Conference; TransOhio; Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund; Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); Lambda Legal; and ACLU.
While TYFA relies on its board’s historical perspective, experience and guidance on matters of policy and practice related to transgender issues, the true direction of TYFA will always be defined by the children and families we serve.
To learn more, please contact us.