Transgender Law Center today mourns the death of Monica Roberts, a long-time movement leader, elder, activist, and journalist who has done groundbreaking work for our communities for decades. News of Monica Roberts’ passing was broken yesterday in statements posted by her close friend and activist Dee Dee Watters and the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.

“The passing of Monica Roberts is beyond devastating. Before Transgender Law Center even existed, Monica Roberts was fighting for our rights and lives from the streets to the halls of Washington D.C. often without recognition or support,” said Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center. “She relentlessly documented the murders of Black trans women and honored and celebrated their lives long before the media or our movements paid attention. Trans people and all LGBTQ people will forever be in her debt.”

“Monica Roberts changed the world,” said Mariah Moore, National Organizer at Transgender Law Center. “Her advocacy and activism on behalf of trans Texans and trans people nationally was tireless, and her journalism brought the crisis of violence against Black trans women and femmes into the light where it could no longer be ignored. Monica, in your memory we will continue the fight for the lives and liberation Black trans women and Black trans femmes and in your name we will win.”

“I am still in total disbelief that my audacious sister, Monica Roberts, passed away earlier this week. Monica was a Black trans blogger, a historian, and a trailblazing journalist. She tirelessly called on our leaders both inside and outside the movement to do more and ensured the stories of Black trans people are documented. My heart is broken. Rest in power Monica,” said Cecilia Chung, Director of Evaluation and Strategic Initiatives at Transgender Law Center.

Monica Roberts received a special recognition award for her groundbreaking journalism through her blog TransGriot at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards. In 2020, she was awarded the Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement at Creating Change. Other honors she has received include the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award, the Robert Coles Call of Service Award, and the Barbara Jordan Breaking Barriers Award. As a lifelong a human rights activist, Monica’s advocacy on behalf of trans Texans, and trans people, nationally impacted law and policy.

What will last beyond the memory of accolades she’s received is the culture she helped shift. She is a big reason why the media industry has begun reporting on trans murders, though seldom in respectful ways. The impact of her work lives on in the hearts of every trans person today who gets to live in our truth because of her labor. She saw the value of trans lives before so many would. Her leadership and mentorship of young trans people shaped generations and ensures that her tremendous legacy that will never be forgotten.