We were shocked and saddened last night to learn of the death of Monica Katrice Roberts of Houston, Texas (May 4, 1962 – October 5, 2020). Details of her passing were initially sketchy, but apparently she died of natural causes. Houston television station ABC13 had this to say:
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) By Miya Shay. 9 October, 2020.
A day after news broke of Texas transgender rights advocate Monica Roberts’ death, Eyewitness News has learned that she died just outside of her apartment earlier this week.
An initial police report indicated she may have been hit by a car, but now, friends and family say she died of natural causes.
“A lot of family members are shocked and devastated to what has happened,” said Monica’s younger brother Kevin Roberts. “We’re just really trying to take it all in, it’s really been a shock.”
Roberts mother told ABC13 on Friday that she had not been feeling well in recent days. Her mother said Roberts had been short of breath, but brushed off serious health concerns. Family members had encouraged her to get a COVID-19 test, but are not certain if that happened.
Monica was a fierce advocate for trans rights and an inspiration to trans people both young and old. Her TransGriot blog, begun in 2006, and her dedication to her work made her a foundational voice for trans people of color. Within minutes of the announcement of her death by her friend Dee Dee Watters, the internet began to fill with lamentations and tributes.
Monica was given many awards for her work, including the International Foundation for Gender Education’s Trinity Award (2006), a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD (2016), Phillip Brooks House Association’s Robert Coles “Call of Service” Award (2017), and The Human Rights Campaign’s John Walzel Equality Award (also in 2017). TransGriot was named Outstanding Blog at the GLAAD Media Awards (2018) and The National LGBTQ Task Force’s Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement (2020). She was named one of eight Houston women to watch on social media by Houstonia (2018) and one of the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people” by Queerty (2020). (Wikipeia: Monica Roberts).
In 2015, Real Life Experiences, the nonprofit that produced Fantasia Fair, awarded Monica the Transgender Pioneer Award. She spent a week at the Fair, where she gave a keynote and impressed everyone in attendance with her dignity and dedication.
Monica was an inspiration to the entire trans community. She is gone, tragically and far too soon. Godspeed, Monica Roberts.