Monica Roberts, Pioneering Transgender Journalist and Founder of TransGriot, Dies
Kimberly White / Getty Images for GLAAD
Pioneering journalist Monica Roberts, whose influential blog TransGriot covers the murders of trans women along with other news items relevant to the trans community, has died, according to multiple sources on social media and news outlets.
The award-winning Roberts was an inspiration to many LGBTQ activists, activists and journalists, who shared their sadness and shock on Twitter and Facebook on Thursday evening.
In a Facebook post, the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition wrote: “It is with great sadness that the BTAC family received the news that Monica Roberts, our sister, aunt and friend, has passed away. We should have a well-crafted post on this, but for now we just need to notify the public and start processing our grief and loss. Please keep Monica's soul, friends and family in your prayers so that they can all find comfort and peace during this time of separation. We love you Monica. Fly high, angel. "
Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, said in a statement: “Monica Roberts was an icon and a groundbreaking voice for transgender rights, both in her home state of Texas and across the country. We are deeply saddened by her death and extend our deep condolences to her friends, family and loved ones. Monica has been a fierce leader for decades, shedding light on the injustice of transgender people, especially black transgender women. It leaves a strong and vital legacy - one that every LGBTQ person and ally should work on to honor and advance. Rest in power, Monica, and thank you. "
In Monica Roberts mission to identify transgender homicide victims
In a profile of her life and work published by The Daily Beast last year, Roberts told Samantha Allen that she started TransGriot because she was "fed up" with transmission victims being "disregarded in death" because of them ill-treated by police officers and the media.
"You've walked the police wire [copy] far too many times," Roberts said of local news outlets. "And while there are some police departments that are sensitive to our community, there are others that are breeding grounds for transphobia and homophobia."
Misgendering also has a more practical impact, she said - it unnecessarily delayed and undermined the investigation into the victim's death.
"We know the first 48 hours of any homicide investigation are critical to whether the person gets justice," said Roberts. "So if you deliberately mislead a victim, you are delaying justice for this trans person who was murdered."
The news of Roberts' death came days after news of the most recent known murder of a trans person - Felycya Harris in Augusta, Georgia - bringing this year's total number of trans murders to 31, which is almost the highest number in 2017 so far, there are still three months to 2020.
"When you think of the people we are losing to anti-trans violence," Roberts told The Daily Beast, "these are people who - who knows - could have been the next person to be elected to public office or had the next big deal. " Idea, or maybe the cure for cancer, if they had just had the opportunity to live their life - or just got the chance to find love and get married and have a family. These are losses not just for our community, but for our society as a whole. "
As Allen reported, Roberts was born in a separate hospital in Texas in 1962 to a mother who worked as a teacher and a father who worked as a DJ. Her school was not completely desegregated until 1984. Her father, Roberts, said Allen, "led a strike on the radio station" to ensure that black people can work not only as DJs but also in sales and management positions. "I'm from a long line of hell-conjurers," she said with a laugh.
Roberts spoke movingly about her relationship with her parents and her acceptance of her transition. At Christmas dinner in 1996, after Roberts had been taking hormones for two years, her mother joked, “Well, as a kid, people used to say you looked like me. Now you really look like me. "
Roberts worked as an airline gate agent for 14 years and then - after Louisville, Kentucky - became a journalist and activist. She was a founding member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, a columnist for the Louisville-based GLBT newspaper The Letter, and started TransGriot in 2006. The homepage is titled, “A proud, unapologetic black trans woman who tells the truth and tells power you discuss the world. "
The mission statement is: “The mission of the TransGriot blog is to become the griot of our community. I will introduce you to and talk about your African trans brothers and sisters in the diaspora, reclaim and document our chocolate-flavored trans history, tell the truth to power, comment on and educate you on the things that affect our trans community from an Afrocentric perspective general things going on around me and in the communities I am a member of. "
Returning to her hometown of Houston, Texas in 2010, Roberts has had advances in both trans rights, equality, and trans rights over the past decade, alongside the violence she reported and Trump's anti-trans-legislative animus cultural representation seen administration.
Robert's numerous awards included a GLAAD award, the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award and the Robert Coles Call of Service Award. the Barbara Jordan Breaking Barriers Award and the Susan J Hyde Award 2020 for longevity in motion. Her last post, October 1, focused on NFL picks in the fourth week of the current season.
In a moving obituary, Outsports editor-in-chief Dawn Ennis recalled both Roberts' activism and friendship - and (she was also a sports fan) her ardent support for the Houston Texans and Astros.
TransGriot's Monica Roberts: "Stonewall inspires me to keep fighting for trans equity"
In another interview with the Daily Beast last year on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Roberts said of this author, “Although we've come a long way since 1969, electing people to public office and being cultural influencers, we still have a lot of work to do . Trans people's rights are not secure. We have had SCOTUS cases for and against us since 1969. Black trans women are still being viciously attacked and murdered. The churches, right-wing media, and right-wing politicians are still pushing for anti-TBLGQ (transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer) rhetoric for political gain. We cannot rest until the entire community has full justice. "
Over the next 50 years, Roberts hopes that “more TBLGQ people will be elected to public office, especially those of TBLGQ color. The Equal Opportunities Act was passed. Trans rights are unconditionally recognized as human rights in society and law. Our children can grow up and focus on making their big dreams come true, rather than battling bullies. Our churches should stop hitting TBLGQ people in the Bible. Trans people are allowed to compete in athletics like anyone else. As in other industrialized nations, transmedical procedures are covered by general health care. "
Those who oppose trans equality, Allen said to Allen, “We didn't realize that we were going to fight you the same way when you have a group of people who have to fight tooth and nail to be like that as they are and just hard to exist when you try to suppress us. They find that we were a lot harder to erase than they thought. "
Roberts saw her own life and work on a vital and sustainable continuum.
"I happened to be born around the time I had to be born to set the table for the progress we're making," Roberts told Allen. “Our rights movement is like a relay race. The torch was given to me at some point, and when it is time for me to pass it on, I will just turn around and give this torch back to the next generation so you can move forward - and then pass it on to the transkids behind you. "
"Our goal," Roberts told The Daily Beast, "is never to let the flame go out."
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