Transgender activist and journalist Rebecca Juro, a former Advocate contributor, has died at age 59 due to complications from lung cancer.
Juro died December 17, her brother Steve Juro announced on Facebook.
"She was a writer, a strong advocate for Trans issues, a companion for my mother, a punk rocker (Joan Jett groupie, see picture) and many other things," her brother wrote. We weren't that close and we often saw things differently, but we were family and loved and accepted each other. She would always fight for what she believed. She was battling lung cancer, thought she was beating it, but then it took her. We will miss her and she will always be remembered."
A New York City native, Rebecca Juro came out as a trans woman in 1997, when she was 35, Gay City News reports. She had lived in Philadelphia since 2016. She contributed to publications including The Advocate, Gay City News, MSNBC.com, HuffPost, South Florida Gay News, Windy City Times, The Bilerico Project, and LGBTQ Nation. She also hosted an internet radio program, The Rebecca Juro Show, beginning in 2006. She was known for the mantra "the T is not silent."
Her coming-out came after she tried to kill herself by crashing the van she was driving over a bridge. "The passenger side mirror slammed into one of the girders, smashing it into the window and spraying me with chunks of safety glass," she wrote in The Advocate in 2014. "Instinctively, I grabbed the wheel and pulled away from the side of bridge, no more than a split second before the body of the van would have crashed into the side of the bridge as well."
Moments later, she wrote, "I came to realize I didn't want to die. I wanted to live, but on my terms, as the person I needed to be, as the woman I needed to learn how to present myself to the world as."
On her lunch break that day, she went to a bookstore and bought Leslie Feinberg's Transgender Warriors, the only book she could find about trans identity. She credited the book with saving her life. She began corresponding with Feinberg, who encouraged her to write. Through the work of Feinberg and other trans people, Juro learned she wasn't alone. She termed Feinberg a hero.
Juro's friends and colleagues consider her a hero as well. "I am heartbroken to learn of your passing, my friend, my fellow long-suffering Mets fan, and the greatest fan of Joan Jett there ever was," former Advocate news editor Dawn Ennis wrote on Facebook. "You live on in your outstanding writing and in our hearts. Look for our friend Monica Roberts, I am sure she'll show you around."
"Becky was blunt, never backed down from a fight, and wouldn't hesitate to call you right out when she disagreed with you," journalist John Becker wrote on the site. "She was also endlessly kind, funny as hell, and a tirelessly passionate advocate for trans equality. A true force of nature. It was an honor to work with and alongside Becky over the years and an even greater honor to call her a friend. She's gone way too soon, and she is already dearly missed."
"She was an excellent journalist, and as an out trans journalist, she was a pioneer," National LGBTQ Task Force communications director Cathy Renna told Gay City News. "Rebecca was never afraid of anyone or anything and asked the hard questions to hold us all accountable. I was on the receiving end of her questions several times but if anything respected her more after an interview. She also schooled so many of us about the trans community in an unapologetic way that was not nearly as common as it is today. It's a loss for our community and LGBTQ media."
"The world lost a warrior today," LGBTQ Nation editor Bil Browning commented on Facebook. "I find myself with no words big enough to say about the woman who refused to shut up. While your voice may not be heard anymore, Rebecca Juro, thanks in part to your inspiration and determination, the T is not silent."