When Monica Roberts died unexpectedly in 2021, the Black trans journalist behind TransGriot left a gap in the world wider than most and it takes more than one person to fill it. As a longtime Texas LGBTQ+ activist, Roberts was a force both in media and politics, speaking and organizing nationwide, leading and agitating for change (and inclusion of BIPOC, trans women in particular). What Roberts did exceptionally well others didn't was to document the violence against trans and nonbinary people. If our reporters saw a Facebook or Reddit post about a trans person's death, instead of calling that city's police or coroner, The Advocate often called Monica Roberts first. Even during the pandemic, she was almost always "first on the scene" (albeit virtually at times) when a trans person was attacked. She found their friends, frequently via word of mouth, and verified the pronouns and chosen names that police and even birth family members often butchered.
Raquel Willis, former executive editor of Out magazine, has the public profile Roberts did -- combined with a public acceptance level that formerly only straight, cis, white women have achieved. From the Out100 to Fast Company's Queer 50 and The Root's 100 Most Influential African-Americans, Willis has received accolades for her work as a writer and media strategist -- but in many ways, she become one of the country's foremost thought leaders on gender, race, and intersectionality. In 2023, St. Martin's Press will publish her debut memoir, tentatively titled I Believe in Our Power.
Sue Kerr, who, like Roberts before her, won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog for her incredibly inclusive Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog, leaned even farther into pushing forward trans issues as well as documenting trans lives (and deaths). And as a disabled advocacy journalist, Kerr also helped found a nonprofit organization called Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities, which uses systemic support to act as a wider advocate for trans people as well.
This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 People Of The Year issue, which is out on newsstands Nov. 1. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.