The first Transgender Day of Visibility was held in 2009, and it is now celebrated around the world. It’s a day to support the trans community, to appreciate the courage it takes to stand firm in who you are, and to celebrate the existence and accomplishments of trans individuals.
On this TDoV, we would like to highlight a few of the amazing trans advocates here in Texas. The list is by no means exhaustive. So if we’ve missed an advocate that you love or are inspired by, tell us about them on our social media pages (with their permission about being public, of course).
Rocky Lane (he/him) — Rocky is a beloved community leader and public figure. He is a mentor at OutYouth for transgender wellness and the Board Chair for the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT). He has won two Rising Star Awards, first from the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition in 2019 and from the Human Rights Campaign in 2020. His next role will be as the Austin Public Safety Commissioner (pending).
Jamie Zapata (she/her) — In addition to being a volunteer Board Member with the Pride Center San Antonio and other non-profits, Jamie specializes in providing a safe and welcoming environment to serve the real estate needs of diverse individuals, including the LGBTQ+ community. She also advocates for equal and fair housing rights for LGBTQ+ people as the President of NAGLREP (National Association of LGBT+ Real Estate Professionals) San Antonio. To learn more about her real estate services, visit her Facebook business page: https://www.facebook.com/MissJamieZ/
Julien Gomez (they/them) — Julien has made a mark across Texas. They started as a Facilitator for Hatch Youth, a safe space where LGBTQIA youth come together for socializing and group activities at the Montrose Center in Houston before becoming the communications and marketing specialist for the Center. They are now the Digital Strategist with the Texas Democratic Party in Austin.
They are also a co-host for the Veer Queer podcast, all-inclusive podcast that centers the voices of queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC) across the South. You can find Veer Queer on Spectrucm South, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher — anywhere you can stream your podcasts from.
Leslie McMurry (she/her) — Leslie is the Transgender Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Resource Center in Dallas. In that role, she leads trainings to help educate a wide array of organizations, law enforcement, medical schools, law schools and others designed to lend a greater understanding of the LGBTQ community in general and transgender people specifically.
She has written pieces for the Dallas Voice for the past six years. She serves as Vice Chair of the Future Oriented Approach to Residential Development Board for the City of Coppell and frequently contributes to various city council and school board meetings.
She lives in Coppell with her wife Katie and their Border Collies Breezy, Patches, and Molly.
Landon Richie (he/him) — Landon is a Texas teen whose reach goes far beyond the state border. He came out as transgender at eleven years old, just before the start of 7th grade. He transitioned at school during his 8th grade year and became a young leader by starting his school’s GSA. Landon offered testimony during the 2017 Legislative Session, giving personal accounts of his life as a trans teen. Because of his visibility, he was chosen to be one of the original Champions of the GenderCool Project.
After years of continual advocacy, Landon is focused on existing at the moment, but he is still giving back to the community. He puts a face on the trans experience, sharing honest and accessible information about his transition and life on social media. You can join his 30,000+ followers on Instagram and Twitter.
Danielle (DJ) Healey (she/her) — DJ’s passion is advocating for LGBT people escaping persecution and suffering from discrimination. She is a legal powerhouse who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1985 with honors and Brown University in 1982. Throughout her legal career, she has supported Immigration Equality and RAICES by representing LGBT people in asylum cases and Lambda Legal by representing LGBT people in employment discrimination cases. She is also passionate in supporting Equality Texas in fighting the barrage of anti-trans legislation spewing out of Austin and promoting understanding of trans people by our families, friends, neighbors and communities.
Emmett Schelling (he/him) — Emmett Schelling is the Executive Director for the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), which is the largest statewide trans led and focused non-profit organization in Texas. TENT focuses on advocating for trans and gender expansive Texans though an educational lens with an emphasis on racial justice and with an intersectional approach.
Emmett also previously served as the president of the San Antonio Gender Association (SAGA) from 2016-2017. He has been featured as an issue area expert in media outlets statewide, nationally, and worldwide. He is often invited to speak with political leaders and their staff, medical professionals, legal professionals, social workers, college students, parents, as well as trans-identified students surrounding many different issues that are trans specific or intersect with the trans and nonbinary community. In his spare time he enjoys golfing, attending sporting events, and spending time with his family and friends.
Monica Roberts (she/her) — Monica Roberts is a force of nature. She is a trans historian, activist, and the founding editor of TransGriot, an award-winning blog that focuses on issues affecting transgender women of color. She was a founding member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, which began in 1999.
Monica is also persistent — having shown up at the Texas Capitol during every legislative session for the last 20 years to demand transgender equality. Earlier this year, she received the Susan J Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement from the National LGBTQ Task Force. She is not likely to slow down in the next twenty years.
Danielle Skidmore (she/her) — Danielle holds a lot of titles: engineer, business owner, former political candidate, Equality Texas board member, special needs parent, and out and proud transgender woman. From testifying at the Capitol during the 2017 legislative session to being interviewed by conservative radio host Steven Crowder, her approach to everything is to be open, authentic, and honest.
Continuing with that honest and open approach, Danielle and her Melissa, her ex-wife and best friend, performed the story “Beautifully Complicated: Love, Grief, Resilience” last year in Austin at BedPost Confessions. It is a story of transition through the lens of the people closest to the trans person.
Maximo “Mo” Cortez (he/him) — Mo is an intersex-bodied transgender man, who helped co-found The Houston Intersex Society (THIS) in 2012. THIS began as a social support group but over time became an organization that advocates for intersex people in Houston and across Texas. One area of focus is on protecting intersex children from being subjected to nonconsensual gender surgeries. In 2017, Mo was part of a coalition of advocates who introduced SB 1342, a bill that would have prevented such surgeries on minors.
For his tireless advocacy for marginalized communities, Mo was honored as the Grand Marshal of the Beaumont Pride Fest last year.