Ballroom legend and trans activist Carmen Xtravaganza has died. She was 62.
The news was confirmed by the House of Xtravaganza’s Instagram page on Friday.
“Throughout the 1980s, Carmen reigned on the runways as one of the House of Xtravaganza's 'impossible beauties.' Her presence and talent left an indelible mark on the House Ballroom scene,” the post reads.
The post added, “Her contribution to the community and artistry will forever be remembered.”
Carmen was featured in the groundbreaking 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning, which showcased New York’s ballroom scene and the queer experiences surrounding it. "Except that voice is still there," she famously says at one point in the film while discussing her transition. In May 1988, she covered the Village Voice for a story titled "Venus Envy: The Drag Balls of Harlem."
“Her openness and bravery helped pave the way for others, leaving an enduring legacy of acceptance and love,” the House of Xtravaganza said.
Carmen had been House Mother several times. She was recognized in 1999 with an induction into the Ballroom Hall of Fame.
“Today, we extend our deepest condolences to all who loved her. As we hold her memory close to our hearts, her famous quote, "... but that voice is still there," takes on new meaning, serving as a reminder that Carmen's spirit will live on through the love and memories she left behind. Rest in power, dear Carmen. You will be missed, but your spirit will continue to inspire,” her House wrote.
The House of Xtravaganza emerged in the early 1980s ballroom scene as a Latinx house.
Carmen was born in Spain in 1961 and moved to New York in the late 1970s. She began medically transitioning when she was 16 and living in Washington, D.C., Out reports.
"As far back as I can remember my dad always knew from when I was a small child I was always effeminate," she told TransGriot in 2013. "[My dad] explained it to me much later after I had already transitioned."
Carmen eventually moved back to Spain for some time and worked in the fashion and nightlife industries before returning to the U.S.
In September 2022, a GoFundMe was set up to help with cancer-treatment costs.
Last month, Carmen wrote on Facebook that she had stage 4 cancer, Out reports, "My message is my departure coming soon as I was noticed by my oncology [doctor]."
"The chemotherapy I was taking has not worked. My message is enjoy life. Love family, be forgiven, humble, and love god over all things. I want to thank you all for being part of my journey in life. Carmen Xtravaganza."