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Houston City Council Honors Monica Roberts’ Legacy

Mayor Turner’s October 24 and December 8 declarations show appreciation for the trans journalist-activist’s work..

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Two months after her passing, the late pioneering transgender journalist and activist Monica Roberts continues to make Houston history. 

Sylvester Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner declared October 24 as “Monica Katrice Roberts Day” after Roberts died of natural causes on October 8. And during a virtual City Council meeting on December 8, Turner proclaimed that day as “In Remembrance of Monica Roberts Day.”  

In addition to Turner, three council members—Abbie Kamin, Micheal Kubosh, and Carolyn Evans-Shabaaz—shared their appreciation for Roberts’ work. Kamin, a longtime LGBTQ ally who represents Houston’s District C, brought the proclamation forward and read the statement aloud during the meeting. 

Abbie Kamin

“The City of Houston is dedicated to celebrating individuals who have enriched our community with their many accomplishments. Monica Roberts was one such individual, who was deeply dedicated to lending her selfless service and many worthwhile endeavors to those in need,” Kamin said. “As a staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights, Monica remained a bold, outspoken voice on the issue of violence committed against transgender people, especially those in the Black community.”

Read the In Remembrance of Monica Roberts Day proclamation below: 

Statistics show that trans women of color are disproportionately at risk for anti-trans violence. At least 40 trans or gender-nonconforming people have been murdered in the U.S. this year, and a majority of the homicide victims have been Black and Latinx women. 

Dee Dee Watters

Roberts and fellow trans advocate Dee Dee Watters had been using Roberts’ award-winning blog Transgriot to provide accurate information about victims of fatal violence, who are often misgendered in police reports and media coverage. 

Watters accepted the proclamation on Roberts’ behalf and thanked Turner and Kamin for acknowledging her close friend’s work. “Thank you all so very much,” Watters said. “I really appreciate it. I’m sure Monica is just grinning from ear to ear.”

Kamin and Turner both expressed gratitude for Watters’ work and promised to continue supporting her in uplifting Houston’s trans community. 

“Thank you, Dee Dee, for working with our office on this effort to recognize Monica, and for the work you do for the Black trans community,” Kamin said. “I know this has not been an easy time as one of Monica’s best friends. You have shown extraordinary strength and resilience as you continue to ensure that Monica’s legacy lives on.” 

Turner said, “Dee Dee, you and Monica were very close. I know you will keep leading the way.” 

Roberts was an internationally recognized leader in the fight for trans rights, and her work was acknowledged through numerous local and national awards. Transgriot received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog in 2018. In January 2020, she was given the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement. Just weeks before her death, she received the Houston GLBT Political Caucus’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

The activist regularly visited City Hall to testify against anti-LGBTQ ordinances. She was a popular speaker at political rallies, and she gained respect among legislators in the State Capitol because she knew how to reach across the aisle.

Michael Kubosh

Republican At Large 3 Council Member Kubosh thanked Kamin for bringing the proclamation forward, and said he remembered Roberts as someone “who continued to promote the ideas that she believed in.”

“She was always very kind to me and others,” Kubosh said. “When I first heard that she had passed, I felt great sorrow inside. We certainly are going to miss her very much.”  

Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz

Council Member Evans-Shabaaz, a Democrat who represents District D, was Roberts’ friend for many years. “She always had a passion for helping others. She will be missed,” Evans-Shabaaz said.

Kamin said the “In Remembrance Monica Roberts” declaration should inspire Houstonians to keep Roberts’ work alive by continuing to push for equality and justice.

“My hope is that this proclamation will serve as a reminder to all of us to continue the work that Monica championed,” Kamin said, “and the basic moral principle that Black lives matter.”

Watch the December 8 City Council meeting here: https://houstontx.swagit.com/play/12092020-643 

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta is the managing editor of OutSmart magazine.

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