Since the inception of the Transformation Project in 2019, we realized a few things. First, South Dakota is full of folks who are ready to surround transgender kids with love and support. You all showed up for us every time we asked - writing your legislators, donating your time, and/or educating yourself. We also realized we needed to be able to focus more on advocacy and activism. With a legislative session that saw bills threatening the well-being of our trans kids and endless energy put into fighting those bills, it was apparent that a 501(c)3 non-profit status just would not cut it. Thus, we created a 501(c)4 advocacy arm of the Transformation Project, the Transformation Project Advocacy Network (TPAN). The TPAN became official in November 2020. With a whole new board featuring individuals who are veterans to politics and newcomers figuring out how to use their voice, we’re ready to fill a space that is desperately needed in our state.
The legislative process often makes Transgender youth an issue, rather than understanding that they are making laws that affect real people. The Transformation Project Advocacy Network will share the stories of the transgender community in South Dakota. We want our elected officials to hear the stories of transgender individuals so that they can see them as real people that are an important part of the fabric of South Dakota, as opposed to being an “issue.” To do that, we will be reaching out to our legislators to form relationships with them so that they can hear these stories firsthand. We want to reach out proactively to these elected officials so that when they encounter legislation in Pierre, they will already understand the topics and will be equipped with the facts.
Throughout the legislative session in Pierre, the Transformation Project Advocacy Network will be working to influence policy in a way that protects the transgender community. We know that initially this will involve fighting legislations that targets the transgender community. We will work tirelessly to stop legislation that is discriminatory to this vulnerable community. Ultimately, our vision is to see legislation passed that will proactively protect the transgender community and show them that they are welcome in our state.
In addition to our work, we will be equipping the transgender community and their families to help empower them to be advocates. We know that we can have an even bigger influence if we can leverage these families from throughout the state, so we will be providing education, support, and resources to help strengthen the voice of the transgender community.
We know that we can’t do this alone, so we would love your help. Please reach out to us if you need resources or if you would like to volunteer your time or resources.
TPAN is here to represent the collective voices of the transgender community and their families. We are a strong team of advocates who listen to the stories of transgender individuals and fight for policy that represents them and protects them.
Susan Williams, Founder & Executive Director