Kelsey Waits is a PhD student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs studying LGBTQIA+ legislation. She is a mother of two amazing children, the youngest of whom is transgender, and she is a leading advocate in Minnesota for transgender rights.
Kelsey is a former School Board Chair and serves on the Board of Directors for OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. She has also founded a non-profit, Transparent Alliance, which seeks to support parents and caregivers of transgender children as they become their child’s first ally.
Kelsey’s advocacy work is both scholarly and political. She has advocated for transgender rights at the national, state, and local levels. Kelsey is also currently completing a study on suicidality among transgender and gender diverse youth in Minnesota.
In 2021, Kelsey’s transgender child was outed in an effort to prevent her re-election. In an effort to shine a light on the daily discrimination many in the LGBTQ+ community experience, Kelsey and her family chose to share their story with CNN, becoming one the 100 most engaged with stories of 2021.
Due to the anti-LGBTQ+ harassment that Kelsey and her family experienced, they have since moved to a farm where they have been focused on healing and creating broader systemic change, by sharing their story, opening hearts, and changing minds.
In 2022, Kelsey was chosen as a finalist by LGBTQ Nation for their Hero of the Year: Hero Protecting Children Award. She has also been featured in the Uncommon Heroes Project.
Kelsey believes in the power of human connection, using her privilege to advocate for others, and creating a world in which we all are welcome, loved, and valued for who we are.