DETROIT — Eight and a half years ago, Roz Keith was approached by her child, who was in eighth grade at the time and just shy of their 14th birthday.
“She told me that she was a he — that he identified as a boy and was transgender,” Keith said. “Then proceeded to tick off a list of things that they needed to do in order to transition, because they had been doing research for a few years, before they ever said anything to me.”
That is how Stand with Trans was born.
“I knew that I had to help my child,” Keith said.
Stand with Trans is an organization whose mission is to provide transgender youth and their families with the resources, support and community that they so desperately need and deserve.
Because of the incredible work Keith has done within the LGBTQ+ community, she is being celebrated by the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings as the second Pride Month Game Changers honoree.
The Tigers and Wings are celebrating Pride Month throughout June to honor and celebrate people throughout Detroit doing extraordinary work to ensure equality and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
Stand with Trans is deeply personal to Keith, and her commitment and passion to support trans youth is palpable. When Keith’s son, Hunter, came out, she immediately realized the lack of resources that were available for transgender youth. After a year of searching, Keith knew that something needed to be done and that there needed to be more support for other families going through similar situations.
“When we made the decision as a family to start telling our story publicly, other families started coming out of the woodwork,” Keith said. “Other parents were saying: ‘I can relate to what you’re going through’ and ‘your son reminds me of my son.’ There was just this outpouring of people who were in the same boat that we were in.”
It became abundantly clear that there was a lot that needed to be done regarding support and resources available to transgender youth and their families.
“Often, the most impactful organizations begin similar to that of Keith and her family — turning a personal moment into a movement that ignites positive change,” said Red Wings and Tigers director of community impact Kevin Brown. “Stand with Trans is helping fill a need in our community by providing tools and connectivity that create an environment where transgender youth feel supported.”
Keith and her family call the metro Detroit area home, so what better place to start?
“This is our home and we needed to really enhance what was out there and bring resources to these communities who were struggling and just didn’t have anyone to talk to,” Keith said.
At first, it was one support group in West Bloomfield, Mich., and then they added a second group. The need was bigger. Locations in Livonia, Farmington Hills and Macomb County opened.
“We just started growing in Southeast Michigan because trans people are everywhere and families with trans kids are everywhere, and we didn’t want people to have to travel too far to attend a group or to attend an event,” Keith said.
Stand with Trans provides a variety of groups and programming to help trans youth and their families. Support groups, virtual for the time being, allow transgender adolescents and teenagers, their families and non-binary young adults to find community and support.
“Ally Parents” is a group of parents across the country that have formed community because they have a transgender child. Ally Parents are available to help any trans or non-binary individual as well as fellow parents via text or call, providing a supportive and safe environment. Stand with Trans also provides resources for families and youth who are transitioning, including books, articles, therapists, medical doctors and more.
“The services provided by Stand with Trans are truly incredible,” Brown said. “Whether those efforts are targeted to trans youth, or their family members, Stand with Trans has created an entire support ecosystem. The Red Wings and Tigers are honored to celebrate Keith and the countless individuals and families this organization helps each day.”
Keith set out to create a community and provide the necessary resources for transgender youth and their families, and Stand with Trans has done just that.
“To help others,” Keith said about the organization’s ultimate goal. “Every time we touch a family, a young person, a parent or grandparent who all of a sudden realizes that they can do this, and they’ll get through it and they can help their child. That’s gold.
“There is nothing more gratifying than a parent saying this was so helpful, I’m so glad that I attended this group. Or for a youth who’s texting me for some advice and then gets back to me and says, ‘You know, I talked to my mom and it was perfect.’ Sometimes they just need to know that you’re hearing them and that you’re listening with compassion.”
So how can an individual help contribute to the cause?
“Be a better ally,” Keith said. “Learning how to be an ally is super important. Because even if you don’t know someone who’s trans right now, I guarantee that you’re going to discover that your neighbor, your cashier at your local grocery store, someone in your faith community, people at work, is transgender or has a transgender child. It’s really much more common, and you need to know how to support people, how to be there for them and how to be accepting.”
Keith expressed her gratitude being honored as part of the Game Changers Pride Month series. She also acknowledged how impactful such amplification is for organizations like Stand with Trans.
“It’s really great, we are really appreciative,” Keith said “The more people that know we’re out here, that they are not alone, that we have resources, and that this is all to be celebrated is really amazing. We are so grateful.”
For all the work that Keith, her family and Stand with Trans has done, the need continues to grow. You can visit standwithtrans.org and follow them on social media for more information on how to become a better ally.
“That’s the main thing. We are all human beings, and we need to be able to accept differences and just be open to possibilities,” Keith said.