Protect Trans Lives: These Trans Pioneers Are Taking Action
With violence against trans people surging, and a record number of attacks on trans rights, these advocates are demanding justice.
Photo By: Mila Jam poses in a jumpsuit that reads, "Stop killing us" at the 2020 Queer Liberation March for Black Lives & Against Police Brutality in NYC [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Miss Major Griffin-Gracy attends the Outfest 2016 Screening of "The Trans List" [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Jennicet Gutierrez attends the LA Pride Resist March in June 2017 [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Victoria Cruz attends 2017 Tribeca Film Festival 'The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson' in NYC [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Dominique Jackson attends The 2019 Met Gala [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Janet Mock attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Laverne Cox attends the 2020 American Music Awards [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Mia Yamamoto attends the Lambda Legal 2018 West Coast Liberty Awards [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Ericka Hart poses for the Chromat presentation during New York Fashion Week [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Kylar W. Broadus attends the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in 2017 [via Getty Images]
Photo By: Shiva Raichandani attends the Cannes Lions 2019 [via Getty Images]
Mila Jam is an NYC based pop music artist, songwriter, and transgender activist. In honor of 2021 Trans Day of Visibility, she released a music video for her song, "Pretty Ones." The singer captioned the video on Instagram, "We are all somebody inside. We are all pretty ones." Jam told LGBTQIA+ blog NewNowNext that often times, queer people have to work harder to earn their humanity. "Every day is a Trans Day of Visibility in my life," the popstar said to the blog.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy
Miss Major is a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and a survivor of the 1971 Attica State Prison riots. a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist. Her activism for transgender civil rights, stretching back 60 years, has intersected with the ongoing fight for racial justice and equality. Miss Major is a fierce advocate for trans women of color who have survived police brutality and men’s carceral facilities.
Jennicet Gutiérrez is a trans Latina organizer from México. She champions transgender rights and immigrant rights. She is one of the founding members of La Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and has devoted much of her life to supporting trans women detained for their immigration status. The activist was honored on the 2015 Out magazine's Out100 list.
Cruz, born in Puerto Rico, is a transgender rights activist who has dedicated her life to helping victims of LGBTQIA+ violence and sexual assault. During the Stonewall era, she organized alongside other trans trailblazers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and took part in the first Gay Pride march in New York City. Cruz started working with the Anti-Violence Project as domestic violence counselor in 1997. She received the 2012 National Crime Victim Service Award, given by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Model, actress, and activist Dominique Jackson is best known for her leading role of Elektra Abundance on the FX television series Pose. Before her rise to fame, she escaped persecution as a transgender woman in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago, experienced rejection from her own family, and lived without shelter for a period of time. Jackson has used her platform to bring awareness to the challenges trans women too often face. "I had to process my trauma and go through and every time someone told me I would never make it, it gave me fuel," she said in a recent interview with Maxine Williams, Facebook's Chief Diversity Officer.
Janet Mock is a writer, director, producer, and transgender rights activist. Mock made history for co-writing and co-directing the hit series Pose as the first trans women to have creative direction at a major content company. She was given the Sylvia Rivera Law Project's Activist Award in 2012. In an interview with The Guardian, she said, "I’d never seen a young trans woman who was thriving in the world – I was looking for that." According to The New York Times, GLAAD awarded her the 2020 Stephen F. Kolzak Award, named after casting director Stephen F. Kolzak and presented to an LGBTQ media professional who has paved ways for LGBTQIA+ acceptance in media.
Emmy-nominated actress, documentary film producer and well-known trans rights activist, Laverne Cox, has used her massive platform to advocate for her community. Known for her groundbreaking role of Sophia Burset, in the Netflix original series “Orange is The New Black,” she is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show.
Mia is a Japanese-American transgender woman and the first openly trans attorney in Los Angeles County. As a criminal defense attorney, Mia was appointed by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court to serve on the Judicial Council Task Forces on Jury Improvement and Fairness and Access in the Courts. The civil rights activist has emphasized the importance of standing in solidarity with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as hate crimes have increased. "The next step really is not necessarily rely upon police or punishment. It relies a great deal upon going out into the community. I know this is a cliché, but education, advocacy, all of that matters, as well as protest," Yamamoto told ABC 7 Los Angeles.
Ericka Hart, a racial justice and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate and sexuality educator, has devoted their life to fighting for civil rights. As a queer, non-binary Black person, who has also survived breast cancer, they have navigated the world at the intersection of several marginalized identities. The advocate told Glamour UK, "Self acceptance is not a linear path with a certificate at the end, it is an ongoing process that goes beyond the body that I am."
Kylar Williams Broadus
Kylar W. Broadus is a Black trans man that has been a pioneer in the LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement as an attorney, activist, and professor. Broadus founded the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) in 2010 to fill a gap in the private and non-profit sectors, according to GLAAD. In 2012, he became the first openly trans person to testify before the U.S. Senate in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. "You’re talking to a Black man who has seen separate and not equal,” Broadus recalled to The Washington Post. "I was born in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, and I’m still a Christian to this day. … But I don’t think we can deal away people’s human rights."
Bollywood dancer Shiva Raichandani is a non-binary performance artist who is dedicated to creating positive gender-diverse representation in mainstream media, addressing mental health stigmas, and using the performing arts to drive positive social change. Their work centered around challenging heteronormative narratives by raising awareness around gender fluidity in the arts.