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Young Texas transgender activist leaving state because it's 'not safe for trans kids'

Kai Shappley and her mother, Kimberly Shappley, have advocated for transgender children in Texas for years.

AUSTIN, Texas — An 11-year-old transgender girl from Texas who has advocated for others like herself for most of her life is leaving the state.

Kai Shappley and her mother, Kimberly Shappley, have been vocal in their activism for years, pushing against legislation that has targeted the Texas transgender community and transgender children in particular.

In April 2021, Kai Shappley told state lawmakers that she moved from Pearland, Texas, to Austin for a "more welcoming environment," as she urged them to reconsider a bill that would make gender-affirming care illegal for minors. In March 2022, she was present at an event proclaiming Austin a safe city for transgender families.

But it seems the Shappley family no longer feels safe in Texas, in Austin or otherwise. On July 4, Kai Shappley tweeted a photo of a garage sale sign with the caption, "My mom sold our home & everything that doesn't fit in our car because the state I was born in is not safe for trans kids. Anyways... happy Independence Day to everyone who gets to celebrate that."

On a GoFundMe page she created, Kimberly Shappley wrote that her goal is to get her daughter and her son, Kaleb, "out of Texas and into a safe state."

For her reasoning, she referenced a June Vogue article written about Kai Shappley, which discussed in part a February order from Gov. Greg Abbott, directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care for their transgender children. 

Kimberly Shappley wrote that "it's not just trans kids Texas is harming by scapegoating them for political purposes," saying that Kaleb regularly expresses fear that he will be taken from his mother by state agents and fear for the "irreparable damage he knows would be caused to his sister were she forced to de-transition."

"When states target trans kids, their parents, and their doctors, there is collateral damage – 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," Kimberly Shappley wrote.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler sent his support to the Shappley family on Friday, tweeting, "we all wish you happiness and safety. Someday, you'll be able to find both in Texas if you ever want to come back home. Your leadership has shown us all the way and it's up to us now to continue your fight."

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