Fiona Doyle, Human Interest Reporter

After her untimely death, Monica Roberts is commemorated for her dedication to the black trans community. In her blog, TransGriot, she honors and advocates for black trans women and victims of hate crimes by publicly shedding light on their hardships.

At the time and years after Roberts created her blog, coverage of transgender issues by mainstream media was still sparse (and/or) disrespectful. It wasn’t uncommon for the media to misgender or deadname, which is the use of someone’s birth or former name of a transgender or nonbinary person without consent, which can be extremely dissmissive and rude towards the person´s identity.

As stated in an article by GLAAD  in 2015, a black trans woman, Lamia, was killed in a shooting in her hometown in Virginia. After the inaccurate and ill-mannered press coverage which followed her death, Roberts decided to speak out in a blog post:

“As you probably guessed when it comes to media people covering the murders of our sisters, it came with another heaping helping of disrespect. She was not only misgendered in the Scott Daugherty Virginian-Pilot article, her past arrest record was injected into the story.” wrote Roberts several days after Lamia’s death on TransGriot. 

Unfortunately, the disrespect highlighted in the situation of Lamia’s death was not uncommon towards the trans community, which was influential towards Roberts’s decision to create TransGriot. 

Along with her blog, Roberts was also known for her diligent work in helping identify trans murder victims to prevent misgendering; which often makes it harder to solve the crime. 

“I got tired of them being disrespected in death,” stated Roberts in an interview with the Daily Beast

Before the era of Roberts´s blog and advocacy began, she worked for Continental Airlines as a desk agent, and began transitioning in the early 1990´s. 

After receiving harassment from her coworkers and supervisors, Roberts moved to Louisville, Ky, where she held multiple jobs before returning to Houston and beginning her career as a journalist, blogger, and trans advocate. 

“The ferocity, authenticity and passion she brought to our movement was unmatched and her legacy will live on for decades to come,” stated Ricardo Martinez the CEO of statewide LGBTQ group Equality Texas in an NBC News article. He described Roberts as a, “fearless, unapologetic Black trans woman who fought courageously for everyone’s human rights.”

As a result of Monica Roberts’ hard work and dedication, TransGriot received the GLAAD Media Award in 2018 and the Susan J Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement at Creating Change in 2019. She also wrote for numerous other news sources including the Huffington Post and The Advocate. 

On October 1st, Roberts made a blog post about her NFL picks, which ended up being her last TransGriot publication, as she unexpectedly passed away 4 days later at age 58 in her hometown in Texas. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences later reported her death was caused by blood clots found in her lungs, and suffered from heart disease as an underlying condition. She will be greatly missed by her friends, family, supporters, and members of the black trans community. 

“We’re often asked to strip ourselves of our trans identity,” explained Willis, a black trans activist and a friend of Monica Roberts. “What was pioneering about her approach was she was unabashedly trans in her writing and her reporting. There are just so many people who have benefited from her work and her career who may not even know it yet.”