Monica Roberts, trailblazing trans rights reporter, has died

Her reporting changed the way trans people were represented in the media

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Monica Roberts, a Black transgender news reporter who was the first reporter to cover “trans people with sensitivity and empathy,” has passed away in Houston, Texas.

Roberts died at the age of 58, according to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

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“Frankly, I got tired of Black trans women being disrespected by the media,” the trailblazing reporter told CNN in November 2019. Much of the coverage of trans people used phrases like “man in women’s clothing,” Roberts said.

On her blog, TransGriot, Roberts used her platform to report on transgender victims who received little or no press. She never misgendered her subjects and she told their stories the way she believed they would have wanted them told.

With Roberts’s guidance and influence, things in media slowly began to change. And although Roberts never had the opportunity to cover the recent killing of Felycya Harris, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman who was found shot to death in Augusta, Georgia, and the 31st known trans person killed in 2020 according to Blavity, her advocacy for trans lives led major national outlets to cover her death.

Whether it was an accomplishment or a horrible tragedy, Roberts’s reporting, which began in 2006, paved the way for mainstream and local media to follow in her footsteps.

Kimberly White/Getty Images for GLAAD

TransGriot went on to be recognized for its influence at the GLAAD awards in 2016.

“The power of a blog, I’ve learned, to shape events is mighty,” as she accepted the Special Recognition Award.” It’s even more potent when you walk the walk and back your words up with deeds.” 

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As an activist, Roberts worked with the Houston Police Department on solving LGBTQ+ related cases, according to KTRK, a CNN affiliate.

Officer Josephine Jones, LGBTQIA liaison for the Houston Police Department, called Roberts a “true warrior” and “because of her commitment and willingness to work with us, today we have a stronger bond in the community,” Jones wrote in a statement.

“I stand with you all, now and always,” the officer added.

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