Trailblazing trans journalist Monica Roberts has passed away at the age of 58. Translashmedia creator and producer Imara Jones first broke the news on Twitter, writing: “I’m shocked at the sudden loss [of Roberts].”
I’m shocked at the sudden loss of @TransGriot. For trans journalists she was a pioneer and an essential North Star. I know so many of us will be deeply saddened by her passing. #BlackTransLivesMatter @TransJA @translashmedia https://t.co/z0mkeDfsYT
— imarajones (@imarajones) October 8, 2020
In 2006, Roberts created the seminal blog, TransGriot, which provided news and commentary from a trans woman of color perspective. She was given a special recognition for her work on TransGriot at the 2016 GLAAD Gala in San Francisco.
Accepting the honor from future Pose star Angelica Ross, Roberts spoke about amplifying the voices of those who have been unheard.
When the blogosphere exploded in the early 2000s, she says, “trans-oriented blogs addressing the issues germane to the trans community existed, but [none] were discussing issues important to trans people of color. Neither were they discussing trans issues and the news of the day from our perspective.”
“While what I write at TransGriot is focused on and for black trans people, over time those posts have also touched people around the world… It has also grown beyond its original mission to talk about the issues that affect all LGBTQ people,” Roberts remarked.
Transgriot also received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog in 2018 and was nominated four other times.
“The loss of Monica Roberts is devastating. She was an unstoppable advocate and a powerful voice, always speaking up for justice and uplifting the trans community,” said GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis. “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. 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.”
News of her passing spread on social media, with tributes pouring out, including former Out Executive Editor Raquel Willis, who wrote how Roberts was “such a powerful force for Black trans journalism and I was honored to feature her expertise in last year’s #TransObituariesProject. Her work and brilliance live on through us.”
Roberts, who was based in Houston, was also a co-founder of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition in 1999 and was remembered as a “leader” and “elder” by the Transgender Law Center.
“For trans journalists, she was a pioneer and an essential North Star. I know so many of us will be deeply saddened by her passing,” Jones wrote at the news of Roberts’ passing. Her cause of death has not been announced.
Rest in power.
UPDATE: Houston’s ABC13 reports that Roberts was the victim of a hit-and-run, and that the incident “happened late Monday night at an apartment complex in southwest Houston. Police believe she was taking out the trash when she was hit. Investigators have not identified a suspect or a vehicle in the case.”
Saddened to hear the news that Ms. Monica Roberts (@TransGriot) passed this week. She was such a powerful force for Black trans journalism and I was honored to feature her expertise in last year's #TransObituariesProject. Her work and brilliance live on through us. #RestInPower pic.twitter.com/FfiYhhj1Co
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) October 8, 2020
Monica Roberts held us down — the first to defend, to celebrate, to amplify. I would not be where I am without Her — a big sister who told it like it was, who centered Black trans lives, brilliance & history unapologetically. Rest well sis. Thank you. https://t.co/pXVRiTcSoQ pic.twitter.com/Gqsvw8ujlK
— Janet Mock ‼️VOTE‼️ (@janetmock) October 8, 2020
In mainstream media? As I sit and watch articles pop up about her life’s work and her passionate writings I am annoyed that we don’t give people their flowers while they are here. I can think of a few trans journalists who deserve bigger platforms and I hope we can amplify them
— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) October 9, 2020
I am gutted by the news of @TransGriot’s passing. Monica Roberts was a light for everyone involved in the fight for trans justice, a warm spirit with a bawdy sense of humor and merciless intolerance for bullshit. She was an tower amongst us and will be profoundly missed. pic.twitter.com/Y1Izk5XsK1
— Jen Richards (@SmartAssJen) October 8, 2020