During a March 30 ceremony at Rogers Park’s Mayne Stage, activists from across the country were recognized for their advocacy of the trans community. Among the honorees at the second annual Trans 100—cofounded by WeHappyTrans.com creator and Reader People Issue subject Jen Richards—ten were locals. Trans MMA pro Fallon Fox was one of them; here are the other nine.
While working as a “showgirl” in clubs along Halsted Street, Davis witnessed LGBTQ youth flocking to Boystown from the south and west sides. She also became familiar with the peculiar public apathy toward these young people, many of whom were homeless. The experience drew her to mentorship, and three years ago she was hired as youth outreach coordinator at Center on Halsted, where the 28-year-old Columbia College alum helps implement trans advocacy and HIV prevention programs.
Laura Jane Grace
About her recent move to Chicago from Florida with her wife and young daughter, Against Me!’s frontwoman commented in a recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, “I like the city, could do without all of the snow.” For Grace, questions that aren’t about identity are few and far between: her ongoing high-profile transition (which inspired her punk band’s latest, Transgender Dysphoria Blues) has thrust her into the position of role model in a community that sorely needs more.
Riley D. Johnson
By day a DePaul University administrator, Johnson spends his free time consulting with nonprofit organizations and health-care providers on how best to serve the trans community. At this year’s Trans 100 event, Johnson presented the Referral Aggregator Database, a not-yet-launched web tool that sprung out of his involvement in last year’s Trans*H4CK transgender hackathon in Oakland. Combining provider information, referrals from community organizations, and patient reviews, RAD aims to be a Yelp for trans-centric health care.
At Loyola University, where the 32-year-old also works as a teaching assistant, Jourian is pursuing his PhD in higher education with a vision for improving access and experience for trans students, staff, and faculty. To that end, he organizes awareness training and educational programming at the school and conducts research to advocate for policy and curriculum changes.
The 24-year-old Edgewater resident provides trans people free legal services as a member of the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois and runs a pen-pal effort to connect trans prisoners in Illinois to supportive people on the outside. She also oversees Invisible to Invincible, host of a monthly support group for trans Asian-American and Pacific Islanders.
Parker Marie Molloy
From her home office in Andersonville, the Advocate.com freelancer keeps a close watch on the trans beat, covering everything from transphobic lawmakers to pop culture’s portrayals of trans people, with a knack for finding the trans angle buried in big issues like immigration and military service.
Host of this year’s Trans 100 ceremony, the 33-year-old from Albany Park also was honored at this year’s event for her work as coordinator of TransWorks, the employment wing of the TransLife Center. When it opened last July in an Edgewater mansion that was once a Chicago House–run AIDS hospice, the center was touted as the country’s first housing facility to offer a full range of services for transgender people. It’s there that Ross facilitates employment workshops and career coaching for a population that frequently faces workplace discrimination.
The pink-haired Matrix codirector—raised in Beverly with brother and collaborator Andy—was a big contributor to the previously mentioned TransLife Center. Wachowski lives in Lakeview with her wife, Karin Winslow, and has said seeing the neighborhood’s adrift LGBT youth inspired her to get involved.
Z Jae Williams
Known as “Auntie Z” to her Lakeview clients, the 60-year-old created Youth Lounge, a twice-monthly “safe space” event at Broadway United Methodist Church that draws more than 60 people (90 percent LGBTQ; 55 percent homeless, according to the organization) for a meal, games, arts and crafts, and clothing giveaways.