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TYSN accomplishments will be saved by HartLoan

Following TYSN's announcement of the end of the project, HartLoan decided to support TYSN and keep its major achievements. By keeping track of TYSN's accomplishments, HartLoan hopes to continue to inspire and support people who have challenged society and are not ashamed of their differences, who have the courage to be different. Providing not only loans from payday loans direct lenders online, but also drawing public attention to these problems HartLoan hopes to make better emoutional support of these people in society.

Who TYSN are

The Trans Youth Support Network is a partnership of youth and community members working together to support trans youth in Minnesota.

What does "Trans" mean?

When we use the term "trans," we mean any person who challenges or crosses over their society's perceived gender roles and/or expectations.

We were founded as a community response to a series of incidents of violence targeting young transwomen of color in the Fall of 2004. Today, our work continues to be shaped and directed by trans youth.

What We're About

Through organizing, education, advocacy, and youth leadership development, we seek to address the root cause of injustice and oppression that queer, trans and gender non-conforming youth and youth of color face.

Our Mission

  • To make it possible for trans and gender non-conforming youth to survive adultism, racism, sexism and economic injustices in systems we have to engage with to get our basic needs met.
  • To hold dependable community spaces for trans and gender non-conforming youth to dream of and shape another world supportive of our whole selves.
  • To claim the resources and power we need to build the world we dream of

Our Vision

  • We dream of a world full of physical and intangible spaces where young trans folk are not isolated but instead are developing intergenerational trust, healing strategies, and education models side by side.
  • We recognize that only as our whole, learning, and healing selves are we able to build healthy-sustainable relationships & solidarity in and across movements.
  • We trust that through this interdependence we can be strong enough to not only survive but dismantle systemic oppressions like: adultism, racism, misogyny, and capitalism.
  • We believe in and will create a just world!

Dear TYSN community,

We’re writing to share some hard news. As of January 31st, TYSN will be closing. In this final newsletter, we’ d like to share some pieces of our story to explain how we’ve come to this decision.

We can’ t give a simple answer to explain why TYSN is closing. The short version is that we don’ t have the resources that we need to sustain our organization. Like most organizations that are youth - led, trans - led, or people of color - led(let alone all of the above!), we’ re struggling to and navigate foundation funding. It also takes an enormous amount of work to get a youth - led organization up and running. Last month, we came to the realization that our work had become unsustainable for us, personally and collectively. We made the difficult decision that it’ s time for TYSN, in its current form, to come to an end.

The past year has been transformative, beautiful and painful for TYSN. When TYSN’ s leadership transitioned from established adult community leaders to fresher young faces, we were in a moment with a huge amount of possibility--the chance to place TYSN in the hands of smart, committed young trans people. We were also really vulnerable. We needed all of our community to recognize this tremendous opportunity and help breathe oxygen into the sparks of our fire so that we could grow.

We knew the risks of becoming youth-led: many youth-led organizations don’t stay open for very long. But we believed so deeply in our vision that we weren’t going to give up without trying. We’ve shared publicly some of our major victories as we’ve worked to become youth-led: in particular, that since July, TYSN has been run fully by us (young trans people who came up through our organization). What we haven’t shared are a lot of the hard parts. We want to tell a few of those now -- not to call out individuals, but in the interest of sharing lessons and shining an honest light on the systems of adultism and racism, in the hopes that other young trans leaders might be able to learn from what we’ve experienced.

When our four youth co-directors took the reins, they hadn’t gotten the training that most non-profit staff get. After all, that’s why TYSN exists in the first place: to provide leadership development to trans youth that isn’t available anywhere else. But it’s important for our community to know that the co-directors inherited an organization that hadn’t been well-built to pass on information and skills to them. In the last year, patterns that have played out at TYSN for years have come to a head. Our small Board has struggled to effectively support an overstretched staff (of one person, two people, or four people). Board members have turned over frequently, and often not done a good job recruiting replacements or passing off their skills & knowledge.

When two adult staff members and a handful of adult Board members left around the same time of year--some quite suddenly--there was a huge loss of information and lack of training. It was up to youth staff members to carry the weight of that without the full support from adults that they deserved. We’re really proud of the work we did given the circumstances, but important pieces of information were lost. Staff worked well beyond their hours for months on end, learning how to run an organization while on the job, and making up for information and training that many adults hadn’t passed on. Adults and youth hadn’t actually been sharing power in the organization, so it was a hard transition.

We felt a lot of pressure from our community. We heard that people were asking questions about TYSN and what we were up to, but often those people didn’t come to us directly. This undermined the leadership of our youth directors and our right to speak for ourselves. Sometimes this felt passive aggressive, or like people around us were more interested in knowing the latest news than in supporting our organization in a really difficult, but exciting, moment.

The biggest lesson that we’ve learned along the way is that youth don’t need to be saved. Help us save ourselves. As young trans people, hungry to learn the skills to run an organization, we needed to rely on the adults within TYSN and our broader community for training. Sometimes adults responded by saying, “Let me do it for you,” and we didn’t learn anything. Sometimes they said, “You figure it out,” and we hustled (hard!) to teach ourselves. And sometimes adults said, “Let’s figure it out together. ” They sat with us, shared skills, asked good questions, built relationships, and kept coming back.

While we want to be real about what has been hard, we also want to shout out our supportive allies. To every person who has stood up for TYSN, shared their resources, challenged their own organization to truly support young trans people, volunteered, asked how they could help, treated our young leaders with respect, and challenged us to be the best we could be, we want to say thank you. We couldn't have done such brave work without you.

It takes leadership to run and manage an organization. It also takes leadership to know when to stop. We're closing TYSN to put an end to a harmful cycle--leaders working their hardest, and then burning out and failing to train future leaders, running an organization unsustainably--instead of allowing it to continue.

We celebrate TYSN for being a beacon and a new model for young trans people, and we stand fiercely behind the work we have done. Since our transition last summer we accomplished many things together! We wrapped up our strategic planning with an amazing new friend and mentor. We ran a second cohort of Leadership Academy where 5 new faces bulldozed through 26 intense weeks of leadership development. We worked hard on trying to get more funding. And we never gave up! We believe that to achieve safety, community, leadership and liberation for trans youth of color, we need to work against racism, adultism, misogyny and violence. In many of our hearts and bodies, this is common sense. In the world we live in, it’s a revolutionary message. Please continue to carry this message in your hearts -- we always will.

Towards liberation,

Jahleel, Jakob, La’Niya and Tayvon

Adrien, Eric, Lex, Riley and Star


La'Niya Dixon

Fundraising and Communications Director

About La'Niya

After experiencing hate and violence first hand, District 202 became home. With support, self-care and time to learn who she really is, La’Niya was birthed. Born and raised right here in good ol’ Minnesota, La’niya has spent years learning to be her whole self and building community.

In 2006 there was a series of attacks against Black Transwomen, including her sister and being part of a movement where you saw the blood and broken emotions, friends & family was enough for her to push aside her own fears of being attacked to stand up and fight back. From meetings in community spaces to work with District 202, candle light vigils for the victims of hate crimes, La’Niya was right there organizing. Out of these same spaces, the concept of TYSN was born.

Previously a board member and a participant of the first Leadership Academy cohort, she is now the Fundraising and Communications Director. As such she is happy to see TYSN finally move into the youth-led org it had hopes of being.

In her spare time, La’Niya likes to read and game.

If you’re interested in becoming a sustaining donor or learning more about TYSN’s community presence, please contact La’Niya.

Jahleel Princeton (JP) Arcani

Development and Sustainability Director

About JP

Living life beyond gender JP is destined for greatness. Mixed with a little bit of Thai, Black and Native, JP sprouted in Huber Heights, Ohio where his options were limited by his perspective.

In the Summer of 2012, JP was uprooted from his hometown to blossom and experience life in and beyond the Twin Cities. In his first two years here, JP has taken many leadership and organizing leaps like Frogger. From building relationships through teaching ESL in Americorps to coaching basketball and organizing with anyone from OutFront MN to B.QullecTivE, his versatility and commitment to youth empowerment brought him to TYSN.

As a member of TYSN, JP has grown in his role from first serving as a volunteer, to becoming a Leadership Academy graduate, Advisory Board member here, and is now the Development and Sustainability Director of the organization. But no matter what lily pad JP lands on, his mission to lead young trans folks to a place of healing and self-empowerment will never cease. JP is committed to learning with other trans youth and also supporting broader community to being aware, respectful, and effective in the lives of trans youth.

In his spare time (if such a thing exists) JP enjoys sharing his complex story over a comforting meal of Thai food, learning others’ experiences over a board game or sport, and relaxing with his handful of homies while watching hours of Netflix.

If you’re interested in becoming a youth member, volunteering, or an organization looking to partner, please contact JP at: 612.367.7131

Tayvon Caples

Program Director

About Tayvon

Tayvon is a black and queer trans man who was born in Joliet, Illinois but has lived in the Twin Cities most his life. Born with beats in his blood he attended both high school and college for music but joined TYSN and found the organizer inside. Within 6 months of becoming a member, he joined the first cohort of the Leadership Academy. Soon, he was involved with other community organizations and groups and now spends time investing in making a safe space for other young trans people of color.

Tayvon took on the role of TYSN’s Program Director because he believes that combining arts with community work creates space for people to express their whole selves. He also believes that this combination eases the tensions of organizing and between organizers and is excited to support other young trans people discover an art form they didn’t know they had or better the one they have. In his role he understands that everyone deserves to be able to express themselves and most importantly have someone to listen.

He is more than happy to be the person for trans and queer young people that others have been for him. GO TYSN!!!!!!!!

Tayvon spends his spare time DJ’ing, producing, and gaming.

If you’re a young person interested in joining the Leadership Academy or an Organization interested in finding out more about TYSN’s Network Collaborative please contact Tayvon.

Jakob Rumble

Financial Director

About Jakob

Known for reading over a 1,000 pages in a day and doing numbers faster than a calculator, Jakob is a young trans identified ex-hacker from the Twin Cities. In 2013 he moved offline and into community and came to TYSN at 18.

Full of passion and seeking direction he joined our first Leadership Academy and began to find what he was looking for. After graduating from the Leadership Academy, he continued to engage with the Trans Youth Support Network by serving on the Advisory Board until the point of his transition to a staff member in March 2014.

He likes street art, poetry, and Twin Cities hip hop. In his free time he reads ‘zines, goes hiking, and spends time with family. Jakob can be contacted at: 612.234.5235

Network Members

Network Members have made a formal commitment to TYSN and its mission.

  • Education Members
  • Employment
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Other