(CINCINNATI) — A Cincinnati LGBTQ organization received a blessing in the form of a celebrity retweet this week when late-night talk show host Seth Meyers urged his followers to support the organization’s fundraiser.
The co-founders of Transform, a donation-based organization that helps transgender children build wardrobes to fit their new gender identities, said they had raised about $30,000 as of Thursday evening, thanks to the late-night host’s acknowledgement.
“We are almost to $30,000 and honestly so close that I’m hoping we make it by the end of the day,” Tristan Vaught, one of the organization’s three co-founders, tweeted Thursday.
“This extends well beyond a few new clothes for a wardrobe. The reach is further than the moments that community is built in our tiny shop,” Vaught added in another post. “My life is being changed just observing the difference this is making in real time.”
Transform currently offers a free service to local transgender youth between ages 6 and 18 who recently began their transitions, but they’re raising money to help purchase a new space and expand to accommodate older clients as well.
Vaught said the current basement location is small and full of mold, dust and dirt, but he and his team works hard to make it feel like a safe space for their young clients. Vaught co-founded the organization with his friend, Ella Dastillung, and her mother, Nancy Dawson, when Dastillung’s younger sister came out as trans.
“You’re not only completely changing your wardrobe, but you’re also like a teenager and you’re changing your style constantly,” Dastillung told ABC News on Thursday. “It’s important to just have a space where everyone’s telling you ‘you look great,’ making you feel good about yourself and good about what you want to do with your look.”
The founders said their goal was to create a sanctuary where young people could pick out clothing to fit their new lifestyles in a comfortable and nonjudgmental place.
“We’ve kind of become a community center for these kids and their parents. They keep coming back, they want to stay and they want to hang out. I didn’t expect this at at all,” Vaught told ABC News. “We’ve always said we’re here to help you get started on your journey to be authentically you. But what we found is that really it’s about making that community.”
“I see these families and they want to support their kids, but they’re strapped for cash,” Vaught added. “It seems like the most simple thing right but for some people it’s miles away. And that’s why we also want to stay very accessible.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.