Acclaimed TransGriot Founder Monica Roberts, Who Fought For Trans Visibility In Media, Passes Away At 58
The groundbreaking journalist spent decades pushing for better coverage of Black trans people.
October 09, 2020 at 3:30 pm
Roberts was an award-winning journalist who spent decades fighting for better news coverage of Black trans people, often correcting news outlets that even now continue to misgender or deadname trans people. She spent years covering the killings of trans people and spoke passionately about the need for increased trans visibility in media.
"When you think about the people that we lose to anti-trans violence, these are folks that, who knows, could have been the next person to get elected to public office or had the next great business idea or maybe had the cure for cancer if they had just had the opportunity to live their lives -- or just simply gotten the chance to find love and get married and have a family," she said in a profile of her by The Daily Beast last year.
"Those are losses not only to our community but to society as a whole," she added.
Roberts became a journalist after years working as an airline gate agent. She eventually helped to found the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition and fight tirelessly for the rights of trans people.
"Our rights movement is like a relay race. The torch got handed to me at a certain point and when it's time for me to pass it on, I'm just going to turn around and hand that torch back to the next generation for y'all to advance--and then hand it to the trans kids behind you," she told The Daily Beast. "Our goal is to never let the flame go out."
There was an outpouring of grief online from towering figures in the trans community, who highlighted the impact of Roberts' work and her efforts to foster better, in-depth coverage of trans people.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called Roberts "an unstoppable advocate and a powerful voice, always speaking up for justice and uplifting the trans community," in an interview with The Advocate.
"Part of her advocacy was work creating her own media stories, and fighting to change and shape mainstream media’s coverage of trans people. She told the stories about Black trans people that weren’t told elsewhere," Ellis said.
"Her legacy will live on in all of the trans advocates she empowered through her own community work, and through her revolutionary TransGriot blog which preserves trans history and provides an in-depth portrait of the fierce, funny, brilliant, incisive woman who created it," she added.
Roberts started TransGriot in 2006 and has won numerous awards for her work. She told Out in 2019 that she was compelled to do her work not just for herself but for the community.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into some trans millennial who tells me that my blog inspired them to do this or inspired them to do that. At least five people have told me that reading my blog posts is what kept them from committing suicide. So every time I sit down and start writing a post, I keep that in mind — that what I’m writing may inspire someone who does not want to persevere,” Roberts said last year.
According to The Advocate, Roberts won the Human Rights Coalition's John Walzel Equality Award in 2017, the Susan J Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement at Creating Change last year and the outstanding blog award at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2018. The Advocate named her one of the Women Of The Year in May.