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Roberts won numerous awards for her work including a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD, the Phillips Brooks House Association's Robert Coles "Call of Service" Award, the HRC John Walzel Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, Outstanding Blog at the GLAAD Media Awards, Roberts received the Susan J Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement from the National LGBTQ Task Force, The Advocate's Women of the Year, Houston GLBT Political Caucus Lifetime Achievement Award, named one of "8 Houston Women to Watch on Social Media" by Houstonia and was Pride Houston Honorary Grand Marshal in 2019.
Monica Roberts was a journalist, activist, advocate and storyteller who broke barriers and opened doors to conversations about trans lives. She created national awareness of Black trans people by honoring their memory, legacy and accomplishments in her blog TransGriot and became a source for national L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organizations and news outlets.
She began her activism in 1998 at a time when coverage of transgender issues by the mainstream media was scant and often offensive. In addition, trans issues were often excluded by the LGB community because it believed that adding trans issues to LGB legislation would doom success.
Roberts identified herself as a storyteller and historian, known as a "Griot" in west Africa. She began writing TransGriot in 2004 as a newspaper column for The Letter, a Louisville-based LGBT newspaper. Acutely aware of the racial and gender discrimination impacting the trans community including the high risk of violence faced by trans women of color and frustrated by the lack of online resources focused on issues that mattered to black trans people and other trans people of color she founded the TransGriot blog in 2006.
Amid a rise in violence against transgender women Roberts began to compile statistics on the rate of violence and challenged law enforcement to work with the transgender community to investigate the murders rather than blaming the victims. She combed through police reports and matched the person's chosen name to the report to avoid misgendering the person and preventing friends of the deceased knowledge of the death in a timely manner, delaying the investigation and the possibility of justice. Whenever a murder occurred, she wrote a tribute to the victim and attended as many of the victim's funerals as possible. She challenged media outlets to become competent in accurate coverage setting the example through her blog.
She lived in Louisville, Kentucky for most of the 2000s, served on the board of the Fairness Campaign, organized the Transsistahs-Transbrothas Conference, and served on the board of Southern Comfort. She returned to Houston in 2010, where she continued to work nationally as a founding member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, was a leader of the Transgender People of Color Coalition and the Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit.
She lobbied for Trans people to be included as a protected class in the James Byrd Hate Crimes Act and fought to see HERO Houston Equal Rights Ordinance pass only for it to be repealed in 2015. She tracked small trial cases, met with local elected officials, attended City Council meetings, maintained a vigilant online presence and also wrote for Ebony.com, HuffPost, The Advocate and other publications.
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"LGBTQ rights are international human rights, we trans people exist. We are part of the diverse mosaic of human life and we will not be dehumanized or disrespected by friend, foe, frenemy or my governor."