Monica Roberts, a Houston-area transgender journalist and activist, has died at the age of 58, Click2Houston reported on October 8. According to the outlet, the Harris County Medical Examiner confirmed her death, although details about the exact date and cause of death have not been released at this time.
Roberts was best known as the founder of the blog TransGriot, which became a staple of the trans community since its creation in 2006. Her website is described as “A proud unapologetic Black trans woman speaking truth to power and discussing the world around her since 2006.” Through her blog, Roberts won multiple awards for her contributions to the trans community, especially Black trans women, Click2Houston wrote.
Roberts was born in Houston in 1962, according to the outlet, and attended Jones High School before graduating from the University of Houston in 1984.
Roberts Has Covered Numerous Issues as a Journalist, Especially Since Starting TransGriot as a Column
Roberts received several awards for her work as an activist and reporter, including the Susan J Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement at Creating Change in 2019 and outstanding blog for TransGriot at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2018, according to Advocate. In 2020, she became one of the outlet’s Women of the Year.
She began her blog TransGriot over 15 years ago with the aim of covering trans issues, she told Out, mostly because “nobody else was doing it.” At the time, she told the outlet:
My blog is of vital importance, not just to me but to this entire community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into some trans millennial who tells me that my blog inspired them to do this or inspired them to do that. At least five people have told me that reading my blog posts is what kept them from committing suicide. So every time I sit down and start writing a post, I keep that in mind — that what I’m writing may inspire someone who does not want to persevere.
Through her blog, Roberts would work to identify murder victims in local news and report on transgender murder victims, who were often being misgendered in news reports. “I got tired of them being disrespected in death,” she told the Daily Beast. She also spoke about the issues with transgender people being misgendered in death. She said because many don’t know each other’s legal names, friends of a transgender murder victim may not know about their death until a few days have passed.
“We know for a fact that the first 48 hours are critical in any murder investigation in whether the person gets justice,” Roberts said. “So when you deliberately misgender a victim, then you’re delaying justice for that trans person who has been murdered.”
As Click2Houston reported, in addition to her blog TransGriot, Roberts wrote for the Bilerico Project, Ebony.com, The Huffington Post and Advocate, to name a few.
Many People Posted Tributes to Roberts & Praised Her Work as an Activist
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
After news of Roberts’ death broke online, many people took to Twitter and other social media platforms to pay their respects to the journalist and thank her for her contributions. Writer and activist Raquel Willis wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Monica Roberts was a dear friend, trailblazer and a tireless advocate for Trans-rights. She was founding editor of #TransGriot, the nation’s first blog focusing on issues pertaining to trans women, particularly of color. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/kIAr68Qe3A
— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) October 8, 2020
Imara Jones, the creator of TransLash media, wrote: “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.”
Monica Roberts is a pillar of our organization and has been a part of our family from our beginning. Her passing is devastating news. Please keep Monica's soul, friends and family in your prayers that they all may find comfort and peace. We love you Monica. Fly high, angel. pic.twitter.com/sgru9jOEUW
— Black Transwomen (@BlackTranswomen) October 8, 2020
Journalist and writer Kate Sosin shared: “There has never been anyone like Monica Roberts, @TransGriot, for trans people & reporting. My work is possible because of her, and she always picked up the phone for me/ all who had questions or wanted advice. I can’t imagine a world without her.”
Monica Roberts' death is a monumental loss for the entire LGBTQ community. She was a powerful voice for trans people, using her platform to speak out against discrimination and violence. She will be missed by the countless people whose lives she changed for the better. https://t.co/P5MHOB5FcF
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 8, 2020