Meet the Founder

By: JP Davis

Jane VanMeter is the founder of Trans Safe Action Fund, a group running national ads that are shifting the conversation surrounding trans people towards acceptance. 

Q: Tell us about you and your organization, Trans Safe Action Fund. 

Jane: I am Jane VanMeter, and I am the founder of Trans Safe Action Fund, an organization whose goal is, as the name says, to make transgender people safe. Trans people are facing an increased number of physical attacks, cultural backlash, and, more recently, a legislative frenzy. We need to bring a new message and have new solutions so we can help protect transgender men and women in our society and so they, too, can achieve the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

Q: You mentioned that Trans Safe’s goal is to protect trans people across the nation. What brought your attention to this issue?

Jane: As a trans woman, I quickly became aware of the increasing deadly violence against trans people about 4 years ago. Even to this day, one of my inspirations to see this through was a young lady by the name of Bee Love Slater, who was burned to death tied in her car in Clewiston, Florida. I spoke to a newspaper reporter about her tragic death, and I was warned not to come to the area. “They don’t really like you down here,” the reporter said.

The sources vary on just how many trans people are murdered per year. The Human Watch Campaign has counted over the past few years an average of 35 murders a year and 260 some over the last 10 years, but according to some, such as Forbes, the numbers could be even higher. For some trans people, their deaths come from something most of us take for granted; something as simple as flirting has led to a trans person being gunned down. It’s frightening, and I just want the same rights to walk down the street and exist as everyone else.

Q: You mentioned being targeted politically as well. What attacks are you facing, and have you been able to blunt those with the organization?

Jane: As we are being targeted in the streets, we’ve also been targeted in statehouses across the country. Over the last two years, there has been a flood of legislation against us. In Kentucky, where Trans Safe was founded, we have been very successful at blunting attacks against trans people. 

But we need allies in this fight who show their support through donations. Because of systemic inequality, trans people are often unable to secure professional jobs. Imagine that being you led you not to have a significant income. It’s imperative that supporters donate to trans well-being because, right now, the dollars are not flowing into the trans community.

Q: Was there a moment for you politically when you felt this was too much?

Jane: For me, personally, the straw that broke the camel’s back and got me involved politically was the narrative that was being told about trans people. I’m in the film business and have been a writer and producer for films and political ads, so I know what goes into this. And I saw on TV this political ad by a Republican candidate for governor in Kentucky that depicted trans people by using photos of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag ensemble. That portrayal inspired me to do something. 

We have no problem with drag performances, and we have fought for drag performers in the legislative arena because we know that if we protect drag performances, transgender people are safer, but drag performers in costume are not how transgender men and women live their everyday lives. We want equal treatment – not something more or less than what you already enjoy. Equal.

So, those three things – the violence and threats, cultural backlash, and legislative attacks lead me to start the Trans Safe Action Fund.

Q: It seems bizarre in 2024 to be having a conversation about equal treatment, but here we are. How are you pushing back in the political arena dominated by Republicans in Kentucky?

Jane: It’s very important to have a different strategy. Trans Safe Action Fund agrees with some commonsense legislation and conversations. For instance, medical interventions for minors. We at Trans Safe believe trans kids need protection, and different attitudes can help that. What is imperative is to support children with mental health care.

Getting surgery or hormones will not make them any safer. And could hurt other children who only think they are transgender. Even the Scandinavian countries of Finland and Denmark have banned puberty blockers. 

Q: So an area of overlap with Republicans on the issue?

Jane: The difference between trans the Trans Safe position on underage medical intervention and the far-right position is intent. The far-right groups only want to stop children who are transgender from transitioning. The reason they want to have a ban on minors is they want to buy time, hoping when the child gets to 18, they have outgrown it and no longer want to transition. Personally, for me and Trans Safe, I want 18-year-olds to have medical care, physical and mental health access to give them a chance at a safe transition, if that’s what they decide to do. We’re not recruiting. We are here to provide a safe space. 

I don’t believe that children would be any safer with medical treatment. They will be bullied and picked on if they have hormones or puberty blockers. Their safety and mental well-being will best be served by having safe places for trans youth to go. Good programs and good mental health care are what is best. It’s not about stopping; it is about protecting, and we need a change of thought more so than a medically permanent change as a minor.

Q: Nonbiological women participating in women’s sports seems to be a hot-button issue that many are using as a rallying cry. What’s your position?

Jane: Another thing that Trans Safe believes is that we can’t gain rights at the expense of others rights. There is a discrepancy between the physical characteristics of the men and women.  Biological men have larger hearts, a greater lung capacity, and denser bone mass. No, the answer is not about competing with cis women but how we can create sporting participation for transgender.  

We don’t have an answer for every hot-button issue. But what I do know is that this discussion starts with mutual understanding and equal footing. For us to engage in this dialogue is to recognize that we are not a threat to you, your way of life, or your kids. We have no desire for anything beyond our protection and a safe place in this world.

I would love for your readers to join me in the discussion at