October 9, 2020 at 10:41 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Monica Roberts, trailblazing Black transgender activist, dies at 58
Monica Roberts, speaks at a rally against transphobic violence at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Dallas on Jan. 16, 2020. (Photo courtesy of the National LGBTQ Task Force)

Monica Roberts, a trailblazing Black transgender activist and journalist, died this week at the age of 58.

Roberts’ friend, Dee Dee Waters, in a video she posted to her Facebook page on Thursday confirmed Roberts passed away early Oct. 6. Roberts’ family told local media outlets she died of natural causes.

“Monica was such an amazing person,” said Waters on Thursday in her Facebook video.

Roberts, 58, was born and raised in Houston.

Roberts was the founding editor of TransGriot, a blog that highlighted trans-specific issues. Roberts was also an outspoken activist who, among other things, sharply criticized the Trump administration’s transphobic policies and condemned violence against trans women of color.

The National LGBTQ Task Force in January honored Roberts at its annual Creating Change conference that took place in Dallas.

TransGriot in 2018 received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog. The organization two years earlier honored Roberts with its Special Recognition Award.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists on Sept. 28 announced Roberts had been named to its national board of directors.

“The passing of Monica Roberts is a tremendous loss,” said Ina Fried, the organization’s former vice president of print, in a statement. “Monica has been a tireless voice for the trans community, in particular the Black trans community. Countless stories, otherwise untold, were heard because of her strong, unwavering voice.”

The Trans Journalists Association also mourned Roberts.

“Today we are devastated to learn of the passing of Monica Roberts (@TransGriot), a pioneering trans journalist who dedicated her life to lifting the voices of Black trans lives,” said the organization in a tweet. “Her exemplary work as a reporter shows the necessity of trans people writing our own stories.”

The Harris County Democratic Party in Texas is among the other groups that have honored Roberts for her activism.

“This week, the LGBTQ+ community lost one of our fiercest voices in Monica Roberts, an activist who not only lifted up the stories of trans people and inspired generations of countless transgender and non-binary people but all those who knew her,” said Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey in a statement. “She was a mother, sister, aunt, friend, protector and voice for the voiceless.”

Equality Texas and the Victory Fund of which former Houston Mayor Annise Parker is president and CEO are among the other LGBTQ advocacy groups that mourned Roberts’ death.

“Monica Roberts was a dear friend, trailblazer and a tireless advocate for trans rights,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who represents Houston.

“Although she was known nationally, she never failed to lend her platform to support those in need,” added the Houston Democrat. “She was our shero.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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