A Tribute to Monica Roberts and Her Enduring Legacy

 

Born May 4, 1962 in Houston, Texas, Monica Roberts was a self-described “proud unapologetic Black trans woman speaking truth to power and discussing the world around her.” In 2006, she created the TransGriot blog which focused on issues affecting Black trans women and the lives of trans people of color.

Roberts was a visionary leader in the trans community, ringing the alarm on transgender issues and chronicling the complexity of trans people’s lives light-years ahead of most mainstream media outlets.

Her prolific work covered the spectrum of experiences, struggles, and triumphs of the trans community in the United States and earned her national respect and recognition, including a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD in 2016. Here is her acceptance speech.

“Griots in West African culture are oral historians who are able to tell up to five centuries of their people’s history from memory. One of the missions of TransGriot is to document our history: good, bad, and indifferent. And it has to be preserved for future generations to know about this.”

Monica passed away on October 5, 2020. Her legacy of preserving trans history and advocacy work to drive change lives on through her work and the storytellers, journalists, reporters, newsrooms, and activists influenced by her radical vision and action. 

Blavity premiered a tribute to Roberts from NEON x GLAAD's Black Legacy Series which taps current LGBTQ leaders to pay homage to groundbreaking historical figures in the movement. Raquel Willis, an award-winning Black transgender advocate, writer, and media strategist reflected on Monica Roberts as a "towering figure for journalism in the LGBTQ+ community" and as someone Raquel looked up to as a "fierce, unapologetic truthteller."

Roberts' award-winning blog TransGriot may be found here and will remain a place where people can revisit the work she did, challenging the media to better cover the transgender community by doing it herself.

She will be remembered by loved ones and community members alike as a tireless advocate who dedicated her life to the fight for justice.

In an interview Roberts did with Out Magazine last year, she said: "I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into some trans millennial who tells me that my blog inspired them to do this or inspired them to do that,” Roberts said. “At least five people have told me that reading my blog posts is what kept them from committing suicide. So every time I sit down and start writing a post, I keep that in mind — that what I’m writing may inspire someone who does not want to persevere.”

May she rest in power and know she continues to inspire us to preserve our history and persevere into the future where all trans people can be.