KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A recent wave of incidents targeting the LGBTQIA+ community has local organizations working harder than ever to lift up that community's experiences.
Merrique Jenson, the founder of Transformations Kansas City, is working to shine a spotlight on transgender communities of color, and introduced KSHB 41 to Jordan Burns and Alex Salazar.
"Being Black and a trans person of color is really difficult," Jordan Burns said.
Burns has overcome a lot.
"I’ve been having some run-ins with my mom, I got kicked out a couple times, so I had to go into youth homelessness a couple times in my life up until I was 18," he said. "I think it’s really difficult, it shouldn’t happen at all. I feel like they’re my family, they should support me for who I am, and they should see this is how I want to be, as me."
That lack of family acceptance is not uncommon — the Trevor Project reports fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
Additional data on the state of LGBTQIA+ youth from that organization can be viewed here.
"It’s heartbreaking, all I can do at this time is support him in any way I can, and that includes reinforcing how wonderful he is, how resilient he is and how strong he is," Alex Salazar, who is a mentor for Jordan at Transformations KC, said.
"Transformations did a lot for me, it taught me so many ways of being a trans person in my community," Burns said.
Burns is now interning at the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, taking steps towards his future.
And fresh off celebrating Pride month, Transformations KC says they are proud of him and their entire community.
"Having agency over oneself," Salazar said. "It really has to do with just being able to stand in community with others."