An 11-year-old Texas transgender activist and her family are fleeing the state.
Pearland native and Austin resident Kai Shappley, who has been making headlines since 2016 for advocating for herself and other trans children, announced on July 4 that her family was moving because of safety concerns.
“My mom sold our home and everything that doesn’t fit in our car because the state I was born in is not safe for trans kids,” Kai posted in a Tweet. “Anyways… Happy Independence Day to those who get to celebrate that.”
After the Tweet went viral, Kai thanked her supporters and shared a fundraiser for her family’s moving costs. “Thank y’all for your kind words and encouragement. Because so many are asking how to help my family, we started a GoFundMe. We appreciate y’all,” she wrote.
Over $39,000 of the Shappley’s $65,000 goal has been raised so far.
Kai’s mom, Kimberly Shappley, says she will use the funds to get Kai and her 9-year-old cisgender brother, Kaleb, into “a safe state.”
Following the record number of anti-trans billed filed by conservative legislators last year, Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services in February to conduct child-abuse investigations into parents who provide gender-affirming care to their trans children.
In addition to the discrimination Kai and her mother face, Kai’s brother regularly expresses his fear that he will be taken away by State agents. He is also concerned about the damage that his sister would suffer if she were forced to de-transition.
“When states target trans kids, their parents, and their doctors, there is collateral damage,” Kimberly said. “So I’m looking for a new state where my daughter will be allowed to be a kid, and my youngest son will no longer have to worry about being taken from me or his sister.”
Kai was honored in February as one of TIME magazine’s ‘Kid of the Year’ finalists. She is the subject of the Emmy Award-winning film Trans in America: Texas Strong, as well as several popular streaming documentaries. A few months after she portrayed Bailey in Netflix’s 2020 reboot of The Baby-Sitters Club, Shappley was at the Texas Capitol urging lawmakers to vote against several bills aimed at banning gender-affirming treatments for trans children. One of her testimonies went viral and she garnered thousands of followers across her social media, where she continues advocating for trans rights. She was most recently featured in Vogue.