KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) -- An area family said they are fed up with threats and attacks against their transgender teenager. So, they’re leaving town and the state of Missouri.

This comes as the Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. More than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills have been signed into law in states across the country. Two of them were signed in Missouri.

The Jackson family has always lived in Missouri. They have roots in Kansas City and their family lives close by. But they said it’s time to move somewhere that their trans teen can thrive.

For almost a decade, Debi Jackson has been advocating for transgender youth. Debi is a mother of a trans teen.

"The first few years, we honestly thought, like so many others, that visibility was the key to change,” Debi Jackson said. “That if people just saw our kids, if they saw trans people, they would recognize their humanity. And that's all that we needed to move equality forward.”

Her child, Avery Jackson, just turned 16 years old. They have also spent years advocating for trans rights – testifying in state capitols and sharing their story.

"Avery's not just known here. They're known across the country and actually around the world,” Debi Jackson said. “That's one of the reasons it's really hard for them right now. Politicians love to use their image as the image of trans kids.”

At 9 years old, Avery Jackson was the first trans person to be on the cover of National Geographic in their Gender Revolution Issue.

"From that exposure, we have had so many threats and attacks that they're just, they're tired of it,” Debi Jackson said. “It’s time to get our kid away from that.”

She said Avery does not feel safe in their home anymore. So, the Jacksons are moving out of state. They aren't publicly sharing where they plan to move because they have received so many threats.

"If we can be somewhere where we don't have to actively go fight for their rights in the state legislature every single year, at least that will be some sort of relief,” Debi Jackson said.

As a parent and an advocate, moving isn't something Debi Jackson ever wanted to do. She said there is power in boots on the ground, but her child’s health will always be the most important.

"We're just ready to be somewhere where we don't have to think about this every single day,” Debi Jackson said. “If we have a chance to leave now, why would we not take that opportunity and get our child to a place of safety?”

She said she is angry and she’s ready for change.

“I'll keep the work going. But I think visibility is key to change," Debi Jackson said.

Their hope is to leave before the end of summer. Everything is packed and they are ready to sell the house. But, moving isn’t easy or cheap. There is a GoFundMe set up to help with moving expenses.

Gov. Mike Parson signed two bills targeting the rights of transgender people into law at the beginning of June. One bans gender-affirming care for minors and the other prohibits trans girls from playing on women’s sports teams.


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