Transgender Youth Support Network to Close its Doors


TYSN, the Transgender Youth Support Network in Minneapolis announced today that it will cease operation on January 31st of 2015.

TYSN is a partnership of youth and community members working together to support trans youth in Minnesota and was founded in 2004 as a response to a series of violence targeting young trans-women of color. Their mission was to “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.”

Citing budget issues, possible undermining by the community, the sudden loss of adult board members and staff and an unstable transition from adult-led to a youth-led leadership organization, TYSN realized that they needed to put an end to what they referred to as a “harmful cycle-leaders working their hardest, and then burning out and failing to train new leaders.”

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As of July 4th, 2014, TYSN became a youth-led organization when the Director roles of the organization were turned over to 4 long time veterans, but were left vulnerable by the lack of training, overstretched staff and high turn-over. In the end, adults and youth were not sharing power within the organization which made the transition difficult.

A TYSN board member wrote, “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.”

TYSN was known for both local and national advocacy and it sought to address injustice, oppression and provide safe community spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

My name is Claire-Renee Kohner and in January of 2014, I came out as transgender. My family fully supports my transition and, along with the Minneapolis trans community, my transition has been extremely positive. My journey should be fun, so keep your arms and legs inside the cart, it's going to be a wild ride.

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