Houston Matters

Why a former Houstonian left town seeking a more welcoming environment for her child

Kimberly Shappley is one of the women profiled in the upcoming Independent Lens documentary Mama Bears.


Still photo of mom and her transgender daughter in front of a church
Kelly West
Kimberly and Kai Shappley, featured in Mama Bears


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="https://embed.hpm.io/454495/454505" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

On Tuesday night at 9, the PBS series Independent Lens presents a documentary called Mama Bears.

It chronicles the stories of several mothers across the country who are fundamentalist, evangelical Christians who risk losing friends, family, and their faith communities by fiercely fighting for the rights of their LGBTQ+ children.

Part of the film focuses on the story of Kimberly Shappley and her transgender daughter, Kai, who lived in Pearland but eventually left Greater Houston – and later the state of Texas – to find a more welcoming environment.

The film details Shappley's journey coming to accept and support Kai and some of what her family endured before leaving Texas. Shappley grew up in a conservative Christian family, was an ordained minister, and led several ministries at her church.

In the audio above, she tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty what she thought about LGBTQ+ people before her experience with her own child.

Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on Houston Public Media Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews...

More Information

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

More Information