Every day in February we will feature a Black transcestor, a Black TGNC elder, or a local Black TGNC person. Black trans history is Black history.
Frances Thompson was a Black trans woman and former slave, who fought in the Memphis Riots of 1866. She was also the first Black trans woman to testify before a congressional committee. She and 5 other Black women testified about being attacked and raped by white folx during the riots. Back then, Black women were not legally allowed to testify for their rights, especially relating to gender, so this was a rare opportunity. During their testimonies, Thompson and the other women not only expressed their outrage and demands to be humanized, they also argued for their status as citizens. Furthermore, they discussed the intersecting political dimensions of men asserting power over women and white supremacy demanding Black subordination. These testimonies were instrumental in the Reconstruction Era (1863-1877).
About a decade later, however, Thompson was outed as trans in a newspaper, and her testimony of being raped was discredited because she was not seen as a woman. As is the history and beast of white supremacy, white folx then used this information to ignite more hate towards Black folx. Furthermore, in her speech, “The Holy Presence of Frances Thompson,” Sultana Isham presents the question: “Could this have sparked the multi-generational curse of violence against Black trans lives from White and Black people?” Isham then spells it out for folx: white folx literally used transphobia to divide Black folx and delegitimize the Black experience under white supremacy. Black trans history is Black history. Black trans history is necessary in understanding the pillars of and how to dismantle white supremacy. Let us #NeverForget Frances Thompson: a bad ass Black trans woman who fought for Black rights and trans rights until the end.
Monica Roberts, AKA the TransGriot (Gree-oh), was a Black trans woman born on May 4, 1962 in Houston, TX. Roberts was an incredible journalist and advocate of trans history and current affairs, specifically focusing on Black trans narratives. In 2006, she launched her blog TransGriot, which was the first news outlet that humanized trans folx in a way that had never been done prior and appropriately covered trans issues, including reporting on the murders of trans folx. Roberts was rightfully fed up with the misgendering and deadnaming of murdered trans folx in police reports and news outlets, stating that “When you deliberately misgender a victim, then you’re delaying justice for that trans person who has been murdered.” Which is why it was so monumental that she took the time to investigate a trans person’s real name, pronouns, story, and any friends/family who would want to know of their untimely death.
Furthermore Roberts’ vital work helped other trans folx find their own voice and birthed several leaders, writers and artists within the community. Also, Roberts’ documentation of Black trancestors and Black TGNC elders was beyond helpful in starting our search for Black TGNC folx to highlight every day of this month. Let us #NeverForget Monica Roberts’ substantial influence on and contribution to trans story-telling and documentation.
Alexander John Goodrum, a Black trans man, initiated many of SAGA’s programs and many national trans orgs programs. Goodrum was born and raised in Chicago, where he started TQ organizing in 1980, then moved to San Francisco, and then finally to Tucson in 1996. Here, he founded TGNet Arizona; was a board member on the Tucson Commission on GLBT Issues and the Funding Exchange’s OUT Fund; and was instrumental in Tucson including gender identity on our non-discrimination law in 1999. And because of Goodrum, SAGA has become the only trans-led org in Arizona to provide trans comprehension trainings, which originates from Goodrum’s “Gender Identity 101: A Transgender Primer.” Let us #NeverForget Alexander John Goodrum’s significant role in Tucson’s TQ history!
Sylvester, Queen of Disco, was born on September 6th, 1947 in Los Angeles, CA. He was a huge trailblazer for gender nonconforming expression in mainstream media. She was very open about her gender fluid identity, though did not have that specific terminology at the time. When speaking to folks who questioned her “timeliness” of openly expressing herself, he would famously reply that folks would just have to catch up! In the beginning of his career, he regularly opened for big-name acts and ended up outshining stars like David Bowie and Billy Preston.
In the 80s, Sylvester’s recording of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s dance music chart! Which is when Syvester, and this song, became an icon for queer freedom and liberation as she traveled internationally on tours. Along with his culture-shifting music career, Sylvester was also a huge advocate for folks who live with HIV/AIDS. Let us #NeverForget Sylvester’s powerful singing and activist voice for the TQ community!
Tyrell Blacquemoss is one of our own local community members. “I'm an artist, teacher, and doula. I teach people to dream with their ancestors. I assist folks with birthing themselves, their projects, and their children. I work in the borderlands of gender, ways of knowing, and lost tribes.” Learn more about Tyrell at www.causereign.com
- All in One Printer
- CashApp: $TyrellBlacquemoss
- Venmo: @blachemarie
Mary Jones was a Black trans woman and sex worker who lived in New York City. In the summer of 1836 Jones was arrested for stealing $99 (about $2,600 worth today) from a white man named Robert Haslem. In fact, she was known for pickpocketing her white clients - hell yea! Get those reparations! During her arrest, the police searched her and found out she was trans. White media started freaking out and fliers were being spread, labeling her “The Man-Monster.” White men who slept with her hurried to come up with nonsensical and obvi transphobic reasons as to “how they ended up there.” As Mey writes in an article for AutoStradddle: “either men in the 1830s were exceptionally clueless about women’s bodies or they would take any excuse they could find to explain why they were having sex with a trans woman. Or probably both.”
Before this trial, Jones was part of a Black community that knew about and accepted her transness. In court, she states: “I have always attended parties among the people of my own Colour dressed in this way — and in New Orleans I always dressed in this way.” However, as one may suspect, the court disregarded her story. So after enduring a humiliating and violent trial, Jones was charged with Grand Larceny and sentenced to five years in prison. Let us #NeverForget Mary Jones’ wittiness, grandeur, and powerful voice in court.
Carlett Angialee Brown was a Black trans woman and U.S. Navy veteran. In the 1950s she discovered that she was intersex and forced to be assigned male at birth. After this discovery, doctors insisted that Brown undergo surgery to remove her internal female sex organs, putting the “blame” on them for her “mental illness” of claiming to be a woman. Brown stood up for herself and said no to those transmisogynistic and intersexphobic doctors, and instead told them that she wanted gender affirmation surgery.
At the time, she did not know of any doctors in the U.S. providing GAS, so she started reaching out to doctors in Europe. They all replied that she would be required to give up her U.S. citizenship status and obtain citizenship in X European country before being able to receive GAS. Brown was positively determined to do so, as long as it meant being in the body she knew she was meant to be in. Word got out about Brown’s plans and she was featured in JET magazine’s Jun 18, 1953 edition (pg 24-25). Unfortunately, just a few months before her trip to Europe, Brown was arrested for cross-dressing, as well as ordered to pay the $1,200 of tax money (equivalent to almost $13,000 today) she owed to the government. This definitely delayed the trip and there’s not much on her after this piece of her story. Let us #NeverForget and honor this transcestor’s story and the currently felt impact of her bravery for going public about her gender journey.
Wilmer Broadnax, aka Little Axe, was a Black trans man born on Dec 28, 1916 in Houston, TX. He got his nickname Little Axe partly because his big brother was called Big Axe and partly because he was short. Broadnax was a gospel singer, a high tenor, and lived his life and famous career without disclosing his trans identity. It wasn’t until after his death in 1992 when the public heard that he was trans.
Broadnax seemed to have a really incredible career as a gospel singer. In the mid-40s he and his brother moved to Southern California to advance their singing careers. They recorded with many famous gospel groups like The Golden Echoes and went on tour with them. Broadnax became famous for his “wailing,” which can be heard on the 1949 recording of “When Mother’s Gone.” By the 1950s Broadnax was performing with the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, which was one of the most famous, and high paid, gospel group in gospel quartet history. He even appeared on the cover of a book with the rest of the Spirit of Memphis Quartet: Happy In Service Of Lord: African-American Sacred Vocal Harmony. In the early 60s, Broadnax led his own quartet called called Little Axe and the Golden Voices. Let us #NeverForget that a huge contributor to gospel quartet history was a Black trans man who was able to live in stealth with the support of his family.
Lucy Hicks Anderson was a Black trans woman born in 1886 in Waddy, Kentucky. She is known for starting her own brothel in Oxnard, CA and created a great reputation for herself through her award-winning cooking and fancy dinner parties for wealthy folx, which made it a little easier to run her brothel. Apparently once when she was arrested for selling booze (prohibition era), she was bailed out by the town’s leading banker because he wanted her to cook for his dinner party that evening! In 1944 Anderson married Reuben Anderson, a retired soldier, and they had a happy first year of marriage.
Then everything changed for Anderson in 1945 when there was an outbreak of venereal disease in the Navy, which was traced back to Anderson’s brothel. A doctor examined all the women working there and persisted to examine Anderson as well. Being transphobic, the doctor outed her to the public. This created a tumultuous decade of charges of perjury for “lying” on her marriage license (because only men and women could marry and they didn’t see her as a woman) and fraud for receiving money as the wife of a soldier. However, through all of this bullshit, she bravely claimed: “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman.” Let us #NeverForget Anderson’s strength in defending her gender identity and right to marry in U.S. court.
Kristen Godfrey (she/they) is one of our local community members.“Socialist organizer and social worker living on occupied Tohono O'odham land and land that has been redlined and gentrified to exclude Black people. I am currently organizing to build a socialist organization in Tucson and working on prioritizing affirming housing for queer and trans people.” Support Kristen via Venmo: @Kristen-Godfrey-1
Lady Java is a Black trans woman who was born and raised in New Orleans in 1943. After graduating highschool, Java went into hat-making and fashion design, which served her well in her nightclub career in LA. She moved to LA around 1965 and started working at Red Foxx’s club (rumors have it she also dated Foxx at some point), where she sang, danced, and designed her whole wardrobe. She was a hit! Everybody loved her! She even shared the stage with celebs like James Brown, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, and Rudy Ray Moore (aka Dolemite).
However, soon after, police cracked down on Foxx’s club, invoking LAPD Rule No. 9, which stated that, “No entertainment shall be conducted in which any performer impoersonates by means of costume or dress a person of the opposite sex.” LAPD threatened to shut down Foxx’s club and arrest Red Foxx unless he fired Java, which he ended up doing. Rightfully outraged, Java took a stance against LAPD Rule No. 9, arguing that it was unconstitutional that there be a law such as this that inherently affects her right to work. So in 1967 she started collabing with the ACLU to bring Rule No. 9 to court. This first attempt was denied, but then in 1969 she lobbied the CA Supreme Court and won! Rule No. 9 was officially thrown out. During these years she also staged protests and rallies, bringing the LGBTQ+ community together.
Java is alive today and working with Pose star Hailie Sahar who will play Java in an upcoming biopic that will tell Java’s story (Sahar will also be an Executive Producer). Java gives Sahar her blessings and is looking forward to the release of this biopic that will ensure that we #NeverForget Lady Java’s pivotal contributions to trans rights!
Crystal LaBeija was a Black trans woman who founded the first House of the ballroom scene, the legendary House of LaBeija, with Harlem drag queen Lottie in 1972. They also presented the first annual House of LaBeija Ball. Though LaBeija was one of the few people of color to win a Queen of the Ball title at one of the white organized balls, she was fed up with being a part of drag pageants that clearly discriminated against Black and Brown folx. Therefore creating the House of LaBeija was in response to the anti-Blackness that LaBeija faced in the white organized balls, which she boldly contested in the 1968 documentary The Queen. Recorded in The Queen, LaBeija is famously quoted: “I have a right to show my color, darling,” she snaps. “I am beautiful and I know I’m beautiful.” Furthermore, as Elyssa Goodman writes for a them. article, even though balls are dated back to at least the mid-1800s, PoC who attended the balls were expected to whiten their faces until the 1960s when the first ball for Black queens was held by Marcel Christian in 1962.
The House of LaBeija was monumental in creating chosen family structures for Black and Brown TQ folx that are in place today. Other houses, such as the legendary House of Xtravaganza and House of Ninja, quickly developed soon after. The House of LaBeija lives on with Mother Kia LaBeija. Let us #NeverForget the decades of unparalleled support Black and Brown LGBTQ+ folx have received and passed on because of Crystal LaBeija’s creation of her legendary House of LaBeija.
Dr. Marisa Richmond is a Black trans woman who was born and raised in Nashville, TN. She left home to receive her AB from Harvard University (1980), followed by an MA from University of California, Berkeley (1985), and then a PhD from George Washington University (1992). She then moved back to Nashville in 1992, taught at Tennessee State University, took a break, and then started teaching at Middle Tennessee State University as an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of History and Women's and Gender Studies Program where she still teaches. Much of Dr. Richmond’s studies focuses on the history of discrimination and the challenges of integration into the U.S. for different groups of people. However, she also teaches the history of Africa, modern Europe, and world civilization.
Dr. Richmond has a long history of fighting for trans liberation locally in her hometown and nationally. She has worked with the Transgender Advocacy Network, GLSEN of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville chapter of Planned Parenthood, and was a board member on the NCTE. In fact, in 2016, the NCTE awarded Dr. Richmond with the Julie Johnson Founder’s Award. Also in 2016, she was appointed to Nashville’s Metro Human Relations Commission, making her the first trans person appointed to a local government position in TN. It is clear that Dr. Richmond has a love for her hometown and that the folx in Nashville are affectionate towards her as well. She brought the fight for trans rights decades ago to a complexly changing city. For example, in 2003 Dr. Richmond founded and worked as the President of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC). She still works with the TTPC to lobby and educate Senators and Representatives on state and federal levels. Though she is clear about her equal dedication to working with local school boards and public officials as well. There’s so much more on Dr. Richmond and I hope you will indulge to check out other links! Let us #NeverForget Dr. Richmond’s passion for history and energy for creating much-needed change.
Amelio Robles was a Black Latinx trans man born on Nov. 3, 1889 in Xochipala, Guerrero. Ávila was a key leader in the Mexican Revolution. Though it was not until long after the Mexican Revolution (1970) that the military finally officially recognized him as a veterano (male veteran) and not a veterana (female veteran). This made Ávila the first officially recognized trans soldier in Mexican military history! In battle, Ávila was known to shoot his pistol with his right hand while holding his cigar in the left. With his friends, his family, and somewhat the military behind him, Ávila lived openly as a man until his death at age 95, threatening anyone who misgendered him with a pistol! In fact, out of the numerous times he drew his pistol to signal his sincerity, he did end up actually shooting at a group of soldiers who assaulted him after discovering he was trans. Ávila killed two men and was sent to prison in Chilpancigo. Let us #NeverForget Amelio Robles Ávila’s bravery and unapologetic attitude in standing up for his true self!
A. Dionne Stallworth is a bisexual Black woman who is quoted in a 2009 article that she prefers the term gender variant over transgender. However, in later sources she is referred to, and refers to herself, as transgender. I am unsure what she prefers today. Anyways, Stallworth was born in Dumfries, VA in Feb, 1959 and currently lives in central NY. In her childhood, she was a self-proclaimed band geek, whose favorites were to play the trumpet and baritone horn. She was also a kid that always spoke up about things that didn’t seem right, which totally makes sense based on her reputation today!
Also in her youth, Stallworth noticed that she began developing physical features during puberty that are “expected” of girls, such as large hips and breasts. Later on, after her parents died, she learned that she was born intersex, but her dad told the doctors to assign her male at birth. In an interaction with the doctor that told her she was intersex, he expressed his perplexity about her hormone levels and sexual functions, exclaiming, “I don’t know what that means.” To which she quickly replied, “I do: It means it’s time to start the transition to the Dianna Prince stage of my life.”
Stallworth went on to become known for her tremendous work in the TGNC community, focusing on mental health, homelessness, and folx of color. She was one of the original founding members of GenderPAC, former officer and board member of the PA Mental Health Consumers’ Association, founder of the first org in Philly concerning trans youth of color, one of the founding members and OG co-chair of the Transgender Health Action Coalition Philly chapter, and so much more! On top of all that Stallworth has been listed in the 2014 Trans 100 and received the Charlene J. Arcila Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Check out these links to learn more about her personal life, including that she’s known for making some bomb ass cheesecake and Southern fried catfish! Yum! Let us #NeverForget Stallworth’s tireless work and unapologetic spirit.
Charlene Arcila was a Black trans woman, born on Jan 2, 1963 in Jacksonville, MS. She then moved to Philly, PA in 1990 where she lived the rest of her life. Arcila worked for The Philadelphia AIDS Consortium for 20 yrs and during that time she founded the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, now called the Philadelphia Trans-Wellness Conference (PTWC) in 2000. The PTWC is also now the largest global conference for TGNC and intersex folx. And after Arcila passed in 2015, the PTWC started giving out a Charlene Arcila Pioneer Award. For financial reasons, the PTWC moved under the wing of the Mazzoni Center, a Philly healthcare provider that focuses on LGBTQ+ folx, and which Arcila became a board member for.
Another thing that Arcila is known for is fighting against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Authority (SEPTA), which used to require that all commuter passes have an M/F sticker. Arcila was not allowed to obtain an F sticker, but she was also denied service presenting her computer pass with an M sticker. In one instance, the bus driver even demanded that she pay two more dollars. Rightfully fed up, she worked with the Equality Advocates of Philadelphia to file a complaint with the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission in 2007. This was the first public stance against PA’s gender stickers. Her case was drawn out over 6 years! Finally in 2013 SEPTA officially removed the stickers. Meanwhile, her public courage led to the Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE), formed in 2009. RAGE was a grassroots campaign of LGBTQ+ folx that consistently pressured SEPTA to remove their gender stickers, collected testimonials of how the gender stickers negatively affected folx, and circulated a petition against the gender stickers. Arcila joined them and fought in the forefront with other trans women such as Jaci Adams, Sheila Colson-Pope, and Andrea Harrington. Let us #NeverForget Charlene Arcila’s powerful voice and incredible ability to bring folx together, locally, nationally, and internationally to fight for trans rights!
Shekinah (they/them) is a local community member. “I am a singer, songwriter, dancer, DJ, creator, dreamer, and radical lover. Similar to me, my work is in the process of transitioning. I reverence my old work as necessary and beautiful, but I am no longer that person. I continue to shift in a way that my blackness, transness, and spiritual growth deeply inform. Follow me for the journey:”
Shekinah is also the founder of Tucson Reparations: "a black and queer led organization that fundraises and redistributes to the black community in Tucson. We are thought up by us , made possible by us, and made to solely to benefit us." You may donate to TR via PayPal or Venmo: @Tucson-Reparations
You can follow them on Instagram: @shekinah.official, “Shekinah” on all music platforms (Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6zdx13rEy94gGxOvzduLqD…and Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/shekinah/1479923882 ) and support via Venmo: @shekinah-camille and Paypal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/ShekinahSoluna
Jim McHarris was a Black trans man who was born in Meridian, MS in 1924. His parents died early on, so he became a foster kid. Though he left that home in his mid-teens to live his life in stealth. He lived in many midwest cities such as Memphis and Chicago. During his nomadic life-style he worked as a short order cook, cab driver, gas station attendant, auto mechanic, shipyard worker, and preacher. He’s also known to be a “ladies man.” Monica Roberts writes that McHiarris had a “distaste for all things feminine except dating the ladies.”
In 1953, he thought he may settle down in Kosciusko, MS. There, he bumped into an old friend named Bishop Smiley Jones, who promised to keep his gender history secret. However, in 1954 McHarris was pulled over by police and after an invasive pat down, it became public knowledge in the small town of Kosciusko that McHarris was designated female at birth. McHarris argued, "I ain't done nothing wrong and I ain't breaking no laws." Ofcourse, he wasn’t given any sympathy and he had to choose between paying a $100 fine or doing 30 days in jail.
After he was released from prison, McHarris moved again to start over and try to live his life in stealth again. It is said he moved to Jackson, MS. To read more about Jim McHarris, Roberts’ claims that you may find more on him in EBONY’s Nov 1954 issue and in the books Black Love, Black Resistance and The Transgender Studies Reader by Susan Stryker. He also appears in C. Riley Snorton’s book Black on Both Sides. Let us #NeverForget Jim McHarris’ courage and determination in living his truth.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, was born on August 24th (a Virgo! ), 1945 in NYC. Her middle initial “P” stands for “pay it no mind,” which was part of Marsha’s catch phrase pointed towards anyone who scrutinized her gender. Through that phrase, she defiantly demanded that cis people stop bothering with trying to police her and everyone else’s gender.
Devastatingly, Marsha’s fierce life on earth was cut all too short. May she #RestInPower. In 1992, Marsha was murdered. Police said she committed suicide by drowning herself in the river, but her friends and other local LGBTQ neighbors, testified otherwise. Like the patterns of police brutality and the anti-Black “justice” system today, police were not convicted and Marsha did not get justice (#AbolishThePolice). In her all too short 46 years, Marsha paved the way for Trans and Queer liberation. She and Sylvia Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). STAR was one of the organizing avenues in which Marsha demanded an end to police brutality and raidings of queer bars. She was also an AIDS activist with ACT Up. Let us #NeverForget Marsha P. Johnson’s abundant dedication to helping trans youth, sex workers, and poor and incarcerated TQs.
The Lady Chablis was a Black trans woman born on March 11th, 1957 in Quincy, FL. She is known for her spectacular performances, always bringing in a full house. She was 15 years old when got her first gig at The Foxx Trot, which was a gay bar in Tallahassee, FL. A year later she legally changed her name to The Lady Chablis, based on the name her mom was going to name her sister, but unfortunately she had a miscarriage. She got her mom’s blessing to change her name, though she also writes about the abuse she experienced as a child from her mom and step dad for being trans...
Lady Chablis continued to perform at various clubs, and ended up making Club One her primary spot in Savannah, GA. She was their first entertainer when they opened up in 1988. Though she did pave the way for drag performance in Savannah, it unfortunately was because people mistook her for being a drag queen. Being called a drag queen hurt her and she hoped that people would be more educated on the matter after her 1996 autobiography “Hiding My Candy” was released (written by Theodore Bouloukos).
On another note, Lady Chablis became increasingly popular starting in 1994 when John Berendt wrote a book titled Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that featured her. Then in 1997, Clint Eastwood picked up the book to direct an adapted movie, to which Lady Chablis insisted that she play herself. Eastwood agreed and Lady Chablis became the first trans actor to play a trans woman in mainstream American film. So many people loved and admired her! Let us #NeverForget The Lady Chablis’ exuberant personality and wit.
Stevie Rose (they/them) is a local "Black, queer poet and singer/songwriter blossoming on occupied Tohono O’odham land that is learning to use their art as an expansive sanctuary for their own nakedness and unfolding. They are currently focused on watering their roots and transitioning their art into a place where opposing truths can hold each other. Whether spittin' spoken word or intertwining their poetry with the intricacies of Neo Soul, Rose’s goal for their various mediums is to conjure rebirth and Black liberation. While their earlier singles can be found on all music platforms, you can follow them at @iam.stevierose on Instagram for updates on future performances and projects that display their evolving work.”
Support Stevie via Venmo: @PrinceRose and Paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Louis Mitchell is a self-proclaimed “intentional man,” a pansexual Black trans man, who was born on Aug 15, 1960 in West Covina, CA. Ever since adulthood Rev. Mitchell’s work has focused on mental health, recovery, and the Black church. He also started educating people on HIV/AIDS for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in the 80s. He became part of a community of queer Black people early on, thinking he was a cis lesbian, but realized later into his adulthood that he’s a man.
Reflecting a few years into his physical transition, Rev. Mitchell tells Daisy Hernández from Color Lines Magazine: “‘More than a trans man, I’m a Black man,’ Mitchell says. ‘I’d be in intensive care by the time they realized I was a trans man’” (2008). He is referring to his heightened experience of DWB, of which he says he didn’t experience as intensely when being clocked as a woman. On a more positive note, Rev. Mitchell also shared with Hernández: “As someone who came of age in the lesbian community and has feminist politics, Mitchell jokes with Black boys who talk about ‘fags’ and refer to women as ‘bitches.’ He pulls the teenagers aside and uses a bit of reverse psychology, telling them that it’s okay if they’re gay. When the teens protest that they’re not, Mitchell says, ‘You have no respect for women, and you’re fixated on gay men. What am I supposed to think?’” lolol
Anyways, in 2001 Rev. Mitchell moved to Massachusetts in 2001 with his wife, Krysia, where they still live. He is known for numerous things such as being the co-founder and E.D. for Transfaith™ and founding member of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries’ Trans-Saints. His story can also be found in 3 documentaries: Still Black: A Portrait of Black Transmen (2008); Gender Journeys: More than a Pronoun (2016); and More than T (2017). Let us #NeverForget Reverend Louis Mitchell’s commitment to the marginalized, his way with words, and his humor.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a Black trans woman, born on the South Side of Chicago on October 25th (a Scorpio! ), 1940. After being kicked out of her parents’ home, she began to engage in survival sex work and side hustles. After moving to New York City, Griffin-Gracy began to participate in drag shows where she formed a community with other ‘gurls.’ She is known for her role in the Stonewall Riots, and fought alongside leaders Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
For years following Stonewall, Griffin-Gracy fought against police brutality and fought for prison abolition; all while building community and supporting her chosen family. Griffin-Gracey is also the former Executive Director of the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), which seeks to end the abuse of trans women of color in prisons and detention centers. After TGIJP, Miss Major moved to Little Rock, Arkansas where she founded the House of GG. The House of GG, also referred to as the Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat & Historical Center, is a collective that focuses on creating transformative spaces that nurture the leadership of Transgender Women of Color living in the U.S. South. Check out Miss Major’s website to learn more: https://missmajor.net/. Let us #NeverForget this revolutionary legend!
Marcelle Y. Cook-Daniels was a Black trans man born on March 1, 1960 in Washington DC. He then moved to Vallejo, California in 1996 where he lived out the rest of his life until 2000. There’s not much information on Cook-Daniels, though he is mentioned in many articles and blog posts, including a post by Monica Roberts. Based on what I could find on the internet, Roberts has the most extensive recording of Cook-Daniels’ life. Cook-Daniels was a computer programmer/analyst for the IRS and Norcal Mutual Insurance. He was also in the middle of obtaining his masters in computer science from Golden Gate University.
Cook-Daniels met his 17 year-long partner Loree Cook-Daniels in 1983, and they had a son named Kai Cook-Daniels. Marcelle and Loree were both very active in the LGBTQ+ community together. In fact, they were part of forming the True Spirit Conference for TGNC folx and their SOFFAs (Significant Others, Family, Friends, And…). Cook-Daniels also provided many presentations on being trans at various conferences such as the 1998 “Butch-FTM: Building Coalitions Through Dialogue” conference, the 1999 Creating Change Conference in Oakland, and of course, at a handful of True Spirit Conferences. Furthermore, he was involved with COLAGE (Children of Lesians and Gays Everywhere), Trangsgender Aging Network, and The American Boyz (Maryland based trans masc group). More on Cook-Daniels may be found in the books “Love Makes A Family” and “Looking Queer: Body Image and Identity in Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Communities,” as well as “In The Family Magazine.” Let us #NeverForget Marcelle Y. Cook-Daniels’ kind heart and dedication to the trans community.
Ava Betty Brown was described by the Chicago Daily Defender in 1957 as “a Chicago version of the Christine Jorgensen story” in its article entitled “Double-Sexed Defendant.” The article detailed Brown’s arrest for wearing women’s clothing, the police’s subsequent examination of her body, and the police charging her with female impersonation. In court, Brown testified that she was “double-sexed” and announced her plans to travel to Denmark to correct her condition. Brown further added, “Everything I own is in the name of Betty Brown. . . .If I am a man, I don’t know it.” Her attorney argued that her arrest was unconstitutional as it infringed upon her rights as a private citizen and urged that the police were “picking” on her. Unfortunately, the jury ultimately found Brown guilty of female impersonation and fined her $100. The Daily Defender also published her home address in further violation of her privacy. Brown would later detail continued police harassment and attacks but also fought back by filing an official complaint with the Police Internal Inspections Division. Let us #NeverForget Ava Betty Brown for fighting for the rights of trans people while facing ever-present state-sanctioned, anti-Black violence and racism.
- "Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity" by C. Riley Snorton
Sharon Davis, as Monica Roberts defends on her blog page, TransGriot, was the first Black trans person to publish a book on a Black trans person’s medical transition. Davis’ book, A Finer Specimen of Womanhood: A Transsexual Speaks Out, was published in 1986. “The aim of my story is to provide courage and offer hope to those human beings caught in bodies their souls cannot accommodate,” Davis explained. Unfortunately, Davis’ book is very hard to obtain because it is no longer being printed. In fact, the only place we could find it was on Amazon for $125. Luckily, the next best thing by which to catch a glimpse of Davis’ story is by reading an article on Davis in Jet magazine’s issue dated October 10, 1983. Let us #NeverForget pioneer, Sharon Davis, for being the first trans person of color to share her transition story.
Kylar W. Broadus, a nationally renowned activist, writer, lawyer, professor and public speaker, was working in corporate America in the 1990s but was fired after coming out as trans. That experience ignited his passion to fight for laws that protect others from this experience. As a lawyer, Broadus has focused on LGBTQ law and specifically transgender rights. He has worked as Operations Officer at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project, Senior Counsel at the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Counsel at the Human Rights Campaign. In 2010, Broadus founded the Trans People of Color Coalition – the only national organization dedicated to the civil rights of transgender people of color – where he currently serves as Director. Broadus has also taught workplace discrimination at Lincoln University and he has conducted many trainings and continuing legal education programs. In addition, Broadus has helped draft legislation and was the first openly transgender person to testify before the United States Senate in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). He has served on several boards, task forces and commissions. Not surprisingly, Broadus has received numerous awards for his work and has been recognized in countless publications. Let us #NeverForget the contributions of Kylar W. Broadus and the many ways he has fought for our community.
Georgia Black was born in 1906 and was a wife, mother and beloved citizen of Sanford, FL. There she ran a boarding house, did domestic work and acted as a caregiver for many of the wealthy families in Sanford. She was a devout church-going woman and leader of the local Women’s Missionary Society. Black was married twice and, after the passing of both of her husbands, she reportedly had several boyfriends. With her first husband, she adopted and raised a child that had been abandoned.
In June 1951, Black passed away. During the subsequent autopsy, the medical examiner discovered thatBlack had male genitalia. As you probably guessed, the doctor disclosed his findings and, then, a criminal investigation into Black was launched. Not surprisingly, no evidence of criminal activity was found and the investigation was closed. Georgia’s story made front page news in the Sanford Herald but the Herald ceased
publishing the story after a local pastor complained about it. Interestingly enough, the pastor wasn’t the only one upset about Black’s posthumous treatment. People from Sanford were apparently irate and spoke up against the outing. Even one wealthy person that Black worked for defiantly declared, “I don’t care what Georgia Black was. She nursed members of our family through birth, sickness and death. She was one of the best citizens in town.” Ebony Magazine further reported that when Black died, the sidewalks of the town that once barred Jackie Robinson from its stadium were lined with black and white mourners who were rubbing elbows, bowing heads and shedding genuine tears. Let us #NeverForget Georgia Black, how she was so cherished by her community and how she united her community in her death.
- Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton