In honor of Black History Month, the TransFamily Alliance is amplifying the stories and experiences of Black trans history makers.

Since President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, Black Americans have continued to advocate for acknowledgement and recognition of their struggles and accomplishments throughout history.

What the history books lack are the inspiring stories of Black trans Americans, as they’ve carved the way for future generations of gender-expansive youth. Their stories are just as important as those which are better-known, perhaps moreso. The more their stories are shared, the wider their legacy and message will reach.  

Here are just a few of the many gifted and brave black trans Americans who have broken through historic barriers and stood up for their rights to live authentically.

Transgender rights activist Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) was one of the first people to fight back against the police and for her civil rights during the infamous Stonewall Riots in 1969. Marsha told the judge during a court case that the P. in her name stood for “Pay it No Mind,” which became her trademark. Marsha took part in Andy Warhol’s ladies and gentlemen’ series of photographs and in the flamboyant theatrical troupe, Hot Peaches. She along with Sylvia Rivera founded STAR House, one of the first organizations to support transgender and non-gender confirming youth in NYC by providing food, clothing, and housing.

Learn more about Marsha!

A veteran of the historic Stonewall Riots in 1969 and a survivor of Attica State Prison, a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy (1940-  ) is formerly the long-time executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Gender-Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), which advocates for Trans women of color in and outside of prison. Known lovingly as “Mama” to many in her community, Miss Major has received countless awards over her more than 50 years of legendary social justice and activism. 

Learn more about Miss Major!

Lucy Hicks Anderson (1886-1954) was an Oxnard, California socialite, chef, and prohibition-era entrepreneur. When she was outed in 1945, she famously said of the backlash, I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman. Lucy and her husband were ultimately prosecuted for perjury by signing their marriage certificate as having “no legal objections.” Both Lucy and her husband were also convicted of fraud for Lucy receiving her husband’s Army allotment checks as his wife, as their marriage contract had by then been voided. After their release they were banned from Oxnard, and resettled in Los Angeles to live out their days.

Learn more about Lucy!

Carter Brown is the Founder and National Director of Black Transmen, Inc., the first national nonprofit organization founded for the empowerment, equality, and advocacy of black transmen. Brown has advocated for racial and gender equality since 2011, with a focus on initiatives to end the many social challenges black trans people face. He spoke out after being fired in 2019 for being transgender. 

Learn more about Carter!

Attorney, long-time activist, public speaker, author, and professor, Kylar Broadus (1963-_), is known for his avant-garde work in the LGBTQ+ movements. He is the founder and director of the Trans People of Color Coalition, and in 2012, he was one of the thirteen trans delegates and the first Black transgender delegate to the Democratic National Convention

Learn more about Kylar!

Che Gossett is a Black non-binary femme award-winning writer and archivist. They have written extensively on Black and trans visibility and activism. Their writing has been published in Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, Death and Other Penalties: Continental Philosophers on Prisons and Capital Punishment, Transgender Studies Reader, The Scholar & Feminist Online, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Frieze.

Learn more about Che!

America’s first black transgender model, Norman appeared on the box of Clairol’s “Born Beautiful” dark auburn hair color in 1975.  She was subsequently outed in 1980 during a photo shoot for Essence magazine, and due to the social stigma at the time, her photos were not published and she was blacklisted from the modeling industry. 

Learn more about Tracey!

Known for ground-breaking performances on television and advocacy for trans representation in media, American actor, Brian Michael Smith, made history as the first out black trans man as a network TV series regular playing firefighter Paul Strickland on Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star (2020). You can watch him now in his current role as transgender police officer, Toine Wilkins, on the OWN network’s Queen Sugar.

Learn more about Brian!

Most notably known for her role as Sophia on Orange in the New Black, Laverne Cox (1972-  ) made history in the entertainment industry as the being the first openly transgender person to play a transgender series regular on US broadcast TV (Cameron on CBS’s Doubt), be nominated for an acting Emmy, and to appear on the covers of both Time and Cosmopolitan magazines.

Learn more about Laverne!

Sasha Alexander is a trans non-binary artist, abolitionist, organizer, facilitator, and healer. They founded Black Trans Media, committed to addressing the intersections of racism and transphobia by shifting and reframing the value and worth of black trans people, and they founded the hashtag #blacktranseverything. They were recently named The Root 100 Most Influential African Americans. 

Learn more about Sasha!

Janet Mock (1983-  ) is an American writer, television host, director, producer and trans rights activist. Her debut memoir, Redefining Realness, landed on the New York Times bestseller list. She’s a former editor for People magazine, and has been a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, Melissa Harris-Perry, The Colbert Report, The Nightly Show, and, in 2015, guest hosted Super Soul Sunday with Oprah.

Learn more about Janet!

PatricioPatManuel (1985- ) is an American professional boxer. In 2018, he became the first transgender boxer in the history of the U.S. to fight professionally. Manuel is a five-time U.S. female national amateur boxing champion. He fought his last fight as a woman in 2012 against Tiara Brown. His next bout was after he transitioned, where he took on Hugo Aguilar in 2018, and won by unanimous decision. Manuel went on to make his professional debut at a Golden Boy Promotions event in December 2018, scoring a four-round unanimous decision victory.

Learn more about Patricio!

In 2010, George Washington University basketball player, Kye Allums (1989-  ), made history as the first openly trans person to play NCAA Division I sports. Allums is a transgender advocate, public speaker, artist, and mentor to LGBTQ+ youth. In 2015, he was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.

Learn more about Kye!

Industry pioneer in the UFC, Fallon Fox (1975- ), was the first openly transgender mixed martial artist. She competed in the women’s featherweight division, where she’s won an amateur bout and two professional MMA bouts. The documentary Game Face provides an inside look into Fox’s life during the beginning of her MMA controversy.

Learn more about Fallon!

In January 2021, the first trans state senator and first Afro-Latino LGBTQ representative, Ritchie Torres (1988-  ), was sworn in as a member of US Congress, representing New York’s 15th district. Torres tirelessly advocates for trans rights, most notably opening the first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth in the Bronx, and securing funds for senior centers in all five NYC boroughs to serve LGBTQ residents. Most recently Torres introduced a measure in 2021 condemning anti-trans bills. 

Learn more about Ritchie!

Tori Cooper (1970-  ) became the first black trans woman to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS when she was appointed in 2021. Prior to that, Cooper was director of community engagement for the transgender justice initiative at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Learn more about Tori!

Andrea Jenkins (1961-  ) made history in 2017 as the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. Now serving as Council President, she is also a writer, performance artist, poet and transgender activist. Jenkins worked as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years before beginning work as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

Learn more about Andrea!

Black trans and nonbinary people contribute so much to society yet, continue to be excluded in the narrative of history. Let us continue to lift up stories of the Black trans community by listening, sharing, and caring.