Jessica Zyrie

At the time I met Monica Roberts I didn’t realize how much of a privilege it was to have her in my life. I had been living stealth until about a month before meeting her. She was one of the first examples of black trans excellence I was honored to share space with in such a crucial time in my life. For Monica to be one of the first black trans faces that I saw after publicizing my identity to the world, set the bar extremely high. Her tall, unapologetic stature filled each space she occupied with grace, passion, and a strong sense of self assurance. I remember being in awe watching her recite trans history within a blink of an eye or her witty responses to anyone attempting to deny our existence. She had a quickness unlike any other. As I began to understand the depth of her existence, I was amazed. To realize the amount of work she accomplished, while maintaining a sense of humility around people who had yet to find their path, but still understanding her value was powerful. She navigated the world as if she were more than human. Every time I turned around she was fighting for equity and equality on one end or supporting people with an unwavering manner on the other. I always saw her ready to face any challenge the day may bring. Though she was not always fairly compensated or even appreciated, I never saw her lose hope. She continued to be a trailblazer even through some of the most difficult times. She had the ability to shine a light on issues that were usually not covered, or correct those that were covered incorrectly with ease. Her tireless devotion, all the while having the ability to provide roses to people while they are still living is something I will forever be inspired by. To know that she was proud of me is something that will stay in my heart forever. She called me the next top supermodel, constantly believing in my journey even at times when I struggled to believe it myself. Her affirming messages, her pride when discussing my work, and nods of approval were something I did not realize motivated me until she was no longer here. I will miss the warmth she brought to this world. I will miss the comfort of her presence. I am motivated to be a part of continuing her legacy.