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Meet the Trans Activist Holding D.C.'s Feet to the Fire

EMMELIA TALARICO

One activist making incredible strides in our nation’s capital is 30-year-old Emmelia Augusta Smith Ruiz Talarico, one of The Advocate's Champions of Pride. 

As the director of NoJusticeNoPride.org, a collective of organizers and activist fighting to liberate queer and trans people, Talarico and their staff work endless hours to ensure its success — all without a dime of government dollars. 

The organization also runs a safe house in D.C. for young trans women of color and sex workers, offering food, housing, counseling, and emotional support that includes a leadership development program for those eager to learn. After the 2016 election, it became clear to Talarico and other non-binary trans folks like them that they would have to fend for themselves. 

“I knew when Trump was elected, things would get bad for us,” Talarico proclaims. “I feared that trans folks, particularly Black and Brown folks, two-spirits, trans migrants & refugees, trans communities who are marginalized by greater society for other reasons than just being trans, would be left attacked and removed from the larger movement of resistance, and unprotected and unsupported. The work No Justice No Pride does is often built around immediate needs and when we started doing more rapid response work that was grounded in mutual aid, we were hoping to set examples and standards for what type of community we wanted to be apart of and building. We wanted to encourage other groups and activists that this is the bar of support we should be setting for each other when our communities are under attack.” 

Recently, Talarico helped to raise $40,000 for the organization. All of that money goes directly to the needs of Black and Brown trans sex workers struggling with housing security. The staunch activist credits that accomplishment to the “amazing Black and Brown women and non-binary folks” who they work with every day. 

“I've been organizing since I was 19,” they add. “I think it's fair to say those of us who have been doing this work that long should put in a little extra to make sure the younger folks coming into the movement for the first time have a stable footing.” 

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