Renae Taylor

Saying Goodbye to a Legend

Monica Roberts was my friend. I met Monica through the Yahoo Groups in the late 90’s. The Group was called TransSistahs/TransBrothahs. It was an autonomous space for Black Trans folks to be themselves. I also met many other Black Trans folks from all over the country which I kept in touch with over the years. Monica and a few other Black Trans people organized the first Black trans conference which occurred in Kentucky.

I finally got an opportunity to meet Monica at BTAC Black Trans Advocacy Conference. Monica also celebrated her birthday at the conference jokingly naming it, “Cinco de Monica”. Monica gave the greatest hugs. I’m really going to miss her not being at the conference every year. She was always playing cards and whooping folks at dominoes letting them know she was the champ. She was a light and beacon for Black trans folks around the country and the world.

Monica was a super activist for the trans community, she especially went hard for the freedom of trans youth. Monica Roberts really loved Trans youth. Monica Roberts was very political and intentional in how she presented Black Trans folks in a positive light. Monica Roberts was a great woman and a historian of the culture of Black Trans Folks through her award winning blog. Monica’s blog was named Transgriot. Monica also chronicled the death of Black trans people which popular media ignored or misgendered when they tried to convene information about Black Trans  deaths. Monica was also a sought after speaker at college campuses around the country. Monica worked tirelessly to create change for trans people. Monica was very vocal and helped pass a non discretion ordinance in Houston. Monica Roberts was also the co founder of the National Transgender Advovacy Coalition which sought to advance transgender rights in the United States.

When I first saw the news of Monica’s passing I saw it on Facebook. My heart skipped a beat. I was hoping it wasn’t true. Later I got a phone call from a close friend trying to make sure I was ok. Monica Robert passed on October 6th, 2020. Monica Roberts was 58 years old. Such an major accomplishment for a Black Trans Women when the average life expectancy of a Black Trans woman is 35 years old due to intimate partner violence and institutional discrimination. I attended Monica’s homegoing in  Houston. Monica’s home going was jammed packed and not really a sad occasion, but a joyous occasion to remember a great woman.The Mayor of Houston declared October the 24 Monica Roberts Day. At first I started not to go because of Covid, But I needed to be able to say goodbye to my friend.

Monica will definitely be missed by many, especially her BTAC family. I know she is looking down at us and saying I need yall to get out there and give these transphobes hell! She made the world a little better for us and now it is our turn to uplift those who are coming behind us so they can do the same for the next generation of trans youth. We have work to do so get out there and represent.

I love you and miss you friend.

Renae Taylor