Earlier this week Kai Bogert and his mom Yolanda made headlines when she retracted Kai’s original birth announcement in the local newspaper with the correction that Kai is their son, not their daughter to support his transition. 19-year old Kai identifies as transgender and, after receiving amazing understanding and support from his own family, wants to extend that understanding and support to other LBGTQIA+ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Asexual) teens all over the world.
The site, Sproggets.com, was started in response to the tremendous outpouring of support that the Bogert family unexpectedly received after their story went viral all over the internet. Despite impressive worldwide progress in recent years the idea of transgender identity, representation and understanding is still relatively new and foreign to a lot of people. Many who have never dealt with non-cisgender identities feel confused about how to address a person who is either transgendered or non-gender conforming, the simple answer is if someone says they’re male, address them as such regardless of what they look like to you and the same rule applies to transgender women. When asked by Examiner if there’s been any significant changes in their lives Yolanda Bogert said that “You can say that Kai and I are a bit surprised by the reaction – nothing much has changed in our lives except the pronouns. Though, he does hope that in sharing his story, that others like him might feel less alone on their journey.”
Kai’s compassion is evident in both his words and his actions, his goal is to provide resources and support to LBGTQIA+ teens who may not have the kind of support he has from his family and statistics from transequality.org show that many do not. One in five transgendered people in the US alone are refused tenancy in homes and apartments, more than one in ten have been evicted for their gender identity. LBGTQIA+ youth who have been kicked out of their parents homes make up 1.6 million of the homeless population in the US, with one in three turned away from shelters and other resources because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Yolanda herself has some words of advice for other parents of LBGTQIA+ children in the face of these daunting numbers. She stated “Myself, I would like to encourage parents to initiate a conversation with their own sproggets – to reassure them that no matter what, they too will be cherished and celebrated, just as they are.” With members of the LBGTQIA+ community still facing devastating homelessness numbers and employment discrimination, they also face the highest suicide rate of any minority group. Kai is working to enact real change that can help stop these tragic and preventable deaths where it matters most- in schools.
Sproggets.com includes this email, which anyone can send to their local schools and colleges encouraging them to formally recognize LBGTQIA+ students as well as the bullying they’re more often than not victims of. LBQTQIA+ students are disproportionately represented in relation to the bullying, suicidal ideation as well as the sexual and physical violence they are victims of. Most schools feel they’re too unequipped or undereducated to properly implement the kind of representation and education needed to integrate equality into their student bodies, Kai and Yolanda have tackled this issue as well. The email ends by offering their assistance in building programs that provide meaningful support, understanding and life saving resources to LBGTQIA+ students.