New Executive director & leadership

We are thrilled to share that our organizational founder, Merrique Jenson, has accepted the role to guide our organization and our new regional focus forward.

Merrique has over 20+ years of experience organizing, training, and building inclusive programming for regional and national organizations. She is a sought-after national speaker and consultant on DEI issues. We embrace her leadership in our organization's movements for racial equity, trans-affirming care, and supporting trans and nonbinary young people.

We also have expanded our Board Chair positions to have two community leaders guiding our oversight and governance, JD Bezares & Hailee Bland-Walsh. They will be focused on our ongoing sustainability & success and we will be actively bringing on new board members to provide expertise and leadership early next year to help us build communities across our three-state region.

Transformations' New Vision & Regional Direction!


Transformations is excited about this change and we hope you are too. Please join us in support of our new vision and direction! Donations can be made here.

We're thrilled to embrace a new vision and direction for Transformations. As we remain committed to serving transgender, nonbinary, gender-expansive, and gender nonconforming (TGNC) young people, we’re explicitly centering transgender young women of color, and trans and nonbinary young people in survival mode and without traditional systems of support, in their experiences, resiliency, leadership, and wisdom. We’re also expanding our outreach to now include a three-state region, specifically focusing on Missouri, Kansas, and Ozark Mountain region in Northern Arkansas.

Transformations is innovative and brave in our vision for safer TGNC communities. We have always been committed to addressing the epidemic of violence and murders of Black and Brown trans women of color in Kansas City. During the past two years, we have focused specifically on moving from operating from our anti-oppression framework to being an anti-racist organization. Part of our anti-racist practice is leading our board and youth advisory team through training and accountability work led by Black women racial justice leaders. We have developed new policies and refocused our programming to center the most marginalized voices within trans youth communities, especially young trans girls of color.

We’ve also learned that when we offered resources to all TGNC young people, often those with the most family and community support and access used us first and often. When we opened up our group and offered programs to everyone with a general one size fits all model, youth who are used to being denied services and not affirmed by communities were least likely to show up or retain interest.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd last summer prompted us to move our programming online. More trans girls of color started to access our programs. Many shared virtual programs are safer and more preferred options than in person activities. Many young trans girls of color do not feel affirmed, supported or safe going to drop-in programs because they often don’t see women like themselves or those programs continue to harm these girls. When they go back to their communities, they often experience active harassment and violence at the intersections of citizenship, racism, misogyny, transphobia, classism, access to transportation, housing instability, neglect and lack of full family support.

Many transgender women of color learn about themselves online, including tips on transition and meeting other trans sisters. While self-awareness starts early, many are often not allowed to even start their transitional journey until later adolescent years because of outside barriers and the risk of violence. In Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas, many trans young women of color are still kicked out of their homes or disowned, have to maintain financial independence from family, navigate the street economy and survival sex work to stay alive, and are at much higher risk of experiencing violence from the child welfare and foster care systems, emergency shelters, first responders, law enforcement and the criminal injustice systems. As they are learning to thrive, they also need to save up enough money to have housing, food, and pay for expensive laser hair removal and electrolysis procedures, hair care and wigs, makeup and beauty supplies, clothes, as well as pay for medical and surgical gender-affirming procedures.

Therefore, we are launching a new chapter for Transformations in order to center the leadership, wisdom, and experiences of trans young women of color and trans young people in survival mode and without traditional systems of support. Our new programming will include a micro-grant cycle (grants up to 1k) to support these young people twice a year, as well as a general monthly emergency fund program. We will prioritize funding for these groups of trans and nonbinary youth seeking support with housing stability, educational and leadership development, gender-affirming medical costs and leading community programs.

We will also offer virtual workshops and training online, as well as be available as an organization to help other agencies build TGNC programs. With this new focus, we can expand our outreach to now include a three-state area, specifically focusing on the Ozark region and Midwest, i.e. Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. We will no longer operate drop-in groups, but instead hold quarterly pop-up field trips and gatherings that prioritize TGNC youth and are open to our larger TGNC community for connection, mentorship and support. We will continue to embrace using social media and our website as a hub for resources, and move viral educational content to Tik Tok to reach young people further, and use Instagram for deep-dive conversations. Our leadership will also prioritize the voices and wisdom of transgender women of color, and we will kick-off these new changes with a two-day virtual summit focused on Transgender Women of Color leaders and influencers on August 11-12, 2021.

We continue to depend on community financial support in order to serve TGNC youth. We need to raise funds for our micro grant programs, hiring staff, building multimedia content, while continuing to pay stipends to transgender people of color who help lead virtual content. This investment of funds allows us to prioritize virtual content that is free and accessible for young people across our region


Women of Color of Trans Experience in
Leadership, Advocacy, & Mentorship

A National Virtual Summit

Graphic Created by: Odd Fox, Inc. Model: Treshawn Seymour, a Kansas City Community Leader Photographer: Khalif Gillett

Save the Date
August 11-12, 2021


What is Transformations?

In 2016, Transformations was formed as a youth organization serving TGNC young people. Five advocacy frameworks and approaches to care informed our work: harm reduction, trauma informed care, anti-oppression, positive youth development and transformative justice. We are proud to have championed part of the culture change in the Greater Kansas City area to create more inclusive communities for trans and nonbinary youth.

When we initially formed, there were very few groups explicitly serving TGNC youth, without the presence of cisgender folks. We knew that trans and non-binary young people needed specific safer spaces to process their journey. So we formed two different drop-in groups: (a) a general drop-in group for all TGNC young people ages 12-18 years old, and (b) a transgender young women’s group ages 16-24 years old. We also had an informal guardian support space and formed a team of amazing TGNC adult advisors that helped lead our programming, as well as a board that now is composed of over half TGNC people of diverse identities.


Our programming focused on supporting young people with their gender transition and learning how to access support from other young people who were navigating similar issues, such as navigating school and legal documents, restroom and sports team access, coming out to family, starting hormones, dating and safer sex practices, and understanding surgical and medical affirming options.

Transformations is also proud to be a community leader and our leadership team has served as key consultants on TGNC issues. We’ve been generous with sharing our curriculum, program outlines and practices with other youth serving agencies looking to support TGNC young people. And now there are more programs than ever in the Greater Kansas City area that serve TGNC young people!


DUE TO COVID_19, Transformations KC current meets virtually with some outdoor socially-distanced offerings!  Check out our program calendar for details. Transformations meets twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month from 6-8pm. We meet at the Center for Spiritual Living, 1014 W 39th St, Kansas City, MO 64111. You do not need to register for Transformations. Just drop in!


Serving the trans, gender non-binary, and gender expansive youth of Kansas City is our passion. We partner with reStart and Synergy's Street Outreach Services and their advocates help provide transportation and chaperone TGNC youth who are in shelters, transitional living programs, and/or facing homelessness and housing displacement.

On a broad level, Transformations works from 5 core frameworks rooted from anti-oppression, trauma informed care, harm reduction, positive youth development and transformative justice. We often discuss and incorporate these concepts and ideas into our programming with the youth. We create quarterly program calendars with workshops that are TGNC youth informed and catered to their interests and publish these on our Facebook and Instagram.


A separate parent and guardian support group meets for adults who are caring for TGNC youth, within the same drop-in space and time that our confidential youth group meets.

The Guardian group is informal and brings together affirming adults and those seeking more support from their adult peers. This adult group organically formed as many of the youth's guardians were driving 30-45 minutes one way to bring their young folx to our space and needing a place to congregate and form their own community of support while their youth meet. Please reach out to us directly to learn more about this guardian group and the location of these meetings.



Transformations now meets virtually with some outdoor socially-distanced offerings! Please be sure to check out our Programs section for more information.


We take pride in creating engaging curriculum, providing nutritious meals and hosting intentional workshops for our youth! Here are examples of facilitation tools we use to create virtual and in-person spaces that are safe and affirming to young people.

Core Concepts

How We Approach Our Work, Treat Others and Do What We Do! 

Transformations operates from these 5 core frameworks. Check out our fun handout about these frameworks/approaches to care below.


Recognize the oppressions that exist in our society, largely based on an individual’s access to personal, institutional and societal power, and focuses on ending these oppressive practices through social justice.

  • Connects various forms of oppression and violence TGNC people experience to intimate relationships
  • Acknowledges privilege and power


Recognize the oppressions that exist in our society, largely based on an individual’s access to personal, institutional and societal power, and focuses on ending these oppressive practices through social justice.

  • Connects various forms of oppression and violence TGNC people experience to intimate relationships
  • Acknowledges privilege and power

Trauma Informed

An approach that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

  • All TGNC individuals are survivors of violence and trauma
  • Understands violent experiences as part of a larger spectrum of violence/systems of violence

Harm Reduction

A set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with behaviors traditionally viewed as “harmful” or “bad.”

  • A strength-based model that connects to the anti-violence movement
  • Safety planning and options
  • Individual decisions are accepted
  • No pre-defined outcomes
  • Importance of relationship building

Positive Youth Development

Describes any intentional efforts of other youth, adults, communities, government agencies and schools to provide opportunities for youth to enhance their interests, skills, and abilities.

  • Treat an individual as worthy and capable, even when the individual does not act or feel that way is unconditional positive regard.
  • Primarily focused on youth-led activities and leadership models
  • Peer-to-peer conversations and trainings
  • Adults are accountable to youth, their needs and experiences

Transformative Justice

A way of practicing alternative justice which acknowledges individual experiences and identities and works to actively resist the state's criminal injustice system.

  • Safety, healing, and agency for survivors
  • Accountability and transformation for people who harm
  • Community action, healing, and accountability
  • Transformation of the social conditions that perpetuate violence - systems of oppression and exploitation, domination, and state violence


Transformations Youth Organization has generously been funded by the following community grants and sponsorships: