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Trans rights advocate and journalist Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts (1962–2020), transgender rights advocate who founded TransGriot blog

by Linnea Crowther

Monica Roberts was a transgender rights advocate who was the founding editor of TransGriot, a blog focusing on trans women of color and the issues that concern them.

Remembering trans lives lost

Roberts founded TransGriot in 2006, breaking new ground for the trans community. The “griot” in the blog’s name is a West African term meaning “storyteller.” TransGriot became a beacon to the trans community and particularly to Black trans women. Roberts, who began her own transition in the mid-1990s, was the first to provide nationwide coverage of homicides against trans women of color. She combed news reports to find murder victims who may have been misgendered – for example, a police report describing a “man in women’s clothing” – and when she connected the dots to find a murder of a trans woman, Roberts would provide respectful coverage on TransGriot, including the victim’s preferred name and pronouns. Years later, national media began doing this reporting and covering the high homicide rate against trans people. Roberts was a cofounder of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, dedicated toward protecting and extending the rights of transgender people.

Roberts on her activism

“Our rights movement is like a relay race. The torch got handed to me at a certain point and when it’s time for me to pass it on, I’m just going to turn around and hand that torch back to the next generation for y’all to advance—and then hand it to the trans kids behind you. Our goal is to never let the flame go out.” —from an interview with the Daily Beast


Tributes to Monica Roberts

Full obituary: CNN

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