EBONY.com Spotlights African American Trans Trailblazers

Today Ebony.com, the online companion to the iconic monthly magazine that focuses on the African-American community, spotlights the contributions of transgender men and women to American history and Black heritage.

In “A Look at African-American Trans Trailblazers,” blogger and trans advocate Monica Roberts goes into detail about transgender African American pioneers that have paved the way for others to live authentically.

“Though February has passed, there is never a bad time to get reacquainted with African American history makers- the events that shaped our lives, our heroes and ‘sheroes,’” Roberts writes. “Over the last few years we've been paying closer attention to the accomplishments of Black gay and lesbian people such as Bayard Rustin. But there is another group of African Americans who have shaped our people's history: transgender people.”

The “transgriot” (a term based off the word ‘griot,’ a West African historian who can recite hundreds of years of history from memory, and also the title of Roberts’ blog) goes on to point out that transgender African Americans have been active contributors to history, even though they have often been overlooked.  This is no recent development, explains Roberts. Their presence and contributions can be traced back through the centuries. The story of Lucy Hicks Anderson, a trans woman born in 1886 in Waddy, KY is a prime example. Anderson lived life openly as a woman, married a man and later defended her gender identity in court when she was prosecuted for perjury. Transgender African Americans also actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by organizing sit-ins and protests.

Acknowledging both the trans people we’ve lost and present-day pioneers like Kylar Broadus, Kye Allums and Janet Mock, Roberts hopes to see even more Black trans history made in the future.

GLAAD worked closely with both Monica Roberts and EBONY.com to place this article. We thank Monica Roberts for taking the time to write the piece and we commend EBONY.com for elevating the voices and stories of African American transgender people.