Houston

Monica Roberts, Legendary Voice For The Black Trans Community, Has Died

The groundbreaking Houston journalist paved the way for telling stories about issues impacting trans people of color.

Houston journalist Monica Roberts.

Monica Roberts, a national figure who created awareness in the media of issues impacting the trans community including the high risk of violence faced by trans women of color, died earlier this week.

Members of the LGBTQ community in Houston and around the country were in mourning over Roberts’ death, revealed on Facebook Thursday by her close friend, transgender advocate Dee Dee Waters.

Her cause of death was not immediately clear.

Houston elected officials and organizations from across the country remembered the transgender activist best known for her groundbreaking journalistic reporting on the blog TransGriot , dedicated to telling stories from the trans community — particularly among people of color in the community.

"Monica Roberts was a dear friend, trailblazer and a tireless advocate for Trans-rights," Houston congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.

Roberts founded TransGriot in 2006. Accepting an award from GLAAD in 2016, Roberts said her blog documented the history of her community from an “unapologetically Black perspective" and created national visibility about trans rights by modeling what accurate media coverage of the trans community looked like.

"LGBTQ rights are international human rights," Roberts said. "We trans people exist. We are part of the diverse mosaic of human life and we will not be dehumanized or disrespected by friend, foe, frenemy or my governor."

Roberts served many roles, including journalist, storyteller and activist.

"She was a self-described griot, which is an African term given to elders who dedicate their lives to learning and preserving the history of a tribe. And she's done exactly that," the Houston GLBT Political Caucus said in a statement. "For the last fourteen years, she has chronicled the stories of Black Trans people across the country in her blog, TransGriot, and for many years was the only one doing so."

A photo posted on Monica Roberts’s Facebook page.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Roberts had been making her mark as an advocate for years.

“From my time in the Texas Legislature until now as mayor, Monica walked every hall of government with professionalism, grace, and toughness to ensure transgender individuals and everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community would not be forgotten or overlooked," Turner said.

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, a former state senator, recalled Roberts as a fighter and a giant in the community.

"It was the honor of my life to fight alongside her, when in 2017 we pushed back against the transphobic bathroom bill in the Texas Senate," Garcia said. "She gave me strength during difficult moments in that fight, and she inspired me to be a better ally each and every day."

Her close friend Dee Dee Watters posted Friday on Facebook that memorial plans were underway, though details have not yet been announced.

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