The Trans 25: A Salute to Transgender Activist Part 1

Gloria Allen Photo from Mama Gloria (2020) Profiles from Wikipedia

Each day the transgender community is faced with bias and, in some cases, life-threatening violence. As anti-transgender legislation sweeps across the country, we thought we would take a moment to shine a spotlight on our brothers, sisters and gender non-conforming family. PrideIndex proudly presents part one of our two-part series, The Trans 25. 

Kylar Broadus

Kylar William Broadus is an American attorney, entrepreneur, and trans rights activist. He founded the Trans People of Color Coalition in 2010. In 2012, he became the first trans person to testify in front of the United States Senate when he spoke in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He was a long-time professor of business law and workplace discrimination at Lincoln University, a historically black college.

He was present next to President Obama during the signing of a 2014 executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. 

In 2019, he was awarded the Trans Trailblazer Award by the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles.

Kortney Ryan Ziegler

Kortney Ryan Ziegler is an American entrepreneur, filmmaker, visual artist, blogger, writer, and scholar based in Oakland, California. His artistic and academic work focuses on queer/trans issues, body image, racialized sexualities, gender, performance, and black queer theory.

From 2003 to 2006, Ziegler maintained a popular black queer feminist blog, Blac (k) ademic. The blog tackled topics such as gender and sexuality from a young black queer academic perspective, eventually becoming one of the top blogs in the feminist blogsphere. 

Ziegler endured much controversy due to his radical stance that positioned the experiences of women of color as the locus of his feminist analysis. Ziegler shut down the blog due to the many negative comments he was receiving. Blac (k) ademic received the award for Best Topical Blog in the first annual Black Weblog Awards in 2006. It relaunched in November 2012 and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award and a Transguy Community Award. 

Marquise Vilson 

Video Still from No Ordinary Man (2020)

Marquise Vilson is an actor and activist of trans masculine experience. Marquise will be seen this spring in the new series TOM SWIFT in the regular role of Isaac, a trans, pansexual badass who is Tom’s bodyguard and right-hand man.

Marquise was introduced to TV audiences when he guest-starred in the critically acclaimed episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU that addressed the issues faced by transgender military service members. He made his New York stage debut Off-Broadway as Beta in MCC Theatre’s CHARM and his feature film debut as Leon in Peter Hedges’ BEN IS BACK, opposite Lucas Hedges, starring Julia Roberts. T.V. credits include, A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, BULL, THE BLACKLIST, Netflix’s TALES OF THE CITY starring Elliot Page and BLINDSPOT. Film Credits include: THE KITCHEN, starring Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish, BEN IS BACK starring Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, and the upcoming B-BOY BLUES starring Brandee Evans and Ledisi.

Tiq Milan 

Tiq Milan (born July 14 in Buffalo, New York) is an American writer, public speaker, activist, and strategic media consultant. He is currently a national spokesperson for GLAAD and the former senior media strategist of national news at GLAAD. Prior to his current roles, he was a mentor and teacher at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, an LGBTQ youth nonprofit organization in NYC. His advocacy, LGBTQ activism, and journalism has been recognized nationally.

Through his work at GLAAD, Milan has trained national transgender advocates like CeCe McDonald, Geena Rocero, and participants of MTV’s “Laverne Cox Presents: The T-Word to develop messaging and best practices for crafting their stories and maximizing impact. He has also strategized with national news media outlets about fair and accurate reporting on transgender people. 

Miles Aaron McKennan

Miles Aaron McKenna is an American vlogger, actor, and LGBTQIA+ advocate. McKenna is a trans man and is among YouTube’s most prominent trans creators with over one million subscribers. His videos incorporate comedic skits and often include commentary on gender identity and other LGBTQ issues. Through his videos, McKenna documented his coming out and his transition, including the effects of hormone replacement therapy and top surgery.

Kye Alums 

© Associated Press

Kye Allums is a former college basketball player for the George Washington University women’s team who is 2010 came out as a trans man, becoming the first openly transgender NCAA Division I college athlete. Allums is a transgender advocate, public speaker, artist, and mentor to LGBT youth.

Chris Mossier 

Chris Mosier is an American transgender advocate and triathlete. He started his athletic career before transitioning, started his transition in 2010, and in 2015 earned a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men’s team for the 2016 World Championship, making him the first known out trans athlete to join a U.S. national team different from his sex at birth. 

In 2020 Mosier became the first openly transgender male athlete to ever compete in an Olympic trial alongside other men; however, he was unable to finish the race due to injury. 

Tracee McDaniel 

Tracee McDaniel is a Trans Human Rights Advocate motivated by a strong desire to ensure that all Trans and Gender Nonconforming people receive equity, justice, civil and human rights protections.

In 2007, she participated in the march to Washington, DC, and lobbied the United States Congress to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and increased HIV/AIDS funding. Later that year, she founded the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc., an agency designed to empower the Trans and Gender non-conforming community. She has served on the Atlanta Police Department’s TLGBQI Advisory Board and Working Group on Prostitution after a local firm tried to ban Trans people from Midtown. 

Tracee received a RESOLUTION from the Georgia House of Representatives, commending her for receiving the Yellow Rose Nikki T. Randall Servant Leadership Award.

In 2013 she published Transitions-Memoirs of a Transsexual Woman, which follows her unordinary life growing up Trans in the South and eventually in 1990 escaping to Los Angeles, CA, to save her life from a domestically violent intimate partner relationship.

Currently, she serves on the Trans Housing Atlanta Program Board of Directors, Center for Civil and Human Rights TLGB Advisory Board, and Atlanta’s TLGBQI Advisory Council. She shared with PrideIndex what it means to “show up and participate for equality.”

Aiden Kay

Aidan Key is known for the Gender Odyssey Conference. Aiden is an educator, author, speaker, and community organizer. As a transgender man active in LGBT rights, Key’s ground-breaking work includes developing policies and procedures for the equality of transgender children in schools grades K-12, comprising challenging topics such as gender-neutral bathrooms, transgender students’ athletic participation (including locker rooms), privacy and disclosure of transgender status, and name and gender changes.

Brian Michael Smith 

Instagram Photo

Brian Michael Smith is an American actor known for ground-breaking performances on television and advocacy for trans representation in media. His role as Toine Wilkins, a transgender police officer, in Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar, (OWN), launched him into a series of high-profile roles including political strategist Pierce Williams in Showtime’s The L Word: Generation Q (2019) cast. Smith became the first out Black trans man in a series regular role on network television when he was cast as firefighter Paul Strickland in FOX’s 9-1-1: Lone Star (2020). Other appearances include NBC’s Chicago P.D., HBO’s Girls, and Showtime’s thriller Homeland.

Gloria Allen 

Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen, now in her 70s, blazed a trail for trans people like few Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen blazed a trail for trans people like few others before her. Born in 1945, she grew up amid the celebrated Black “sissy” balls on Chicago’s South Side and transitioned after high school with the love and support of the women in her family – her mother Alma, a former showgirl and Jet centerfold who taught her about makeup, and her grandmother Mildred, a seamstress who designed clothes for her. Gloria overcame traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community. Most famously, she pioneered a charm school for young transgender people that served as inspiration for the hit play Charm. Now in her 70s, Gloria is aging with joy and grace at a time when Black transgender women in America face escalating violence and make up the majority of transgender people killed each year. Source: Mama Gloria (2020)

Phillip M. Cunningham 

(c) 2018 Tony Webster

Phillipe M. Cunningham is a former city council member for Minneapolis Ward 4 and the first transgender man of color to be elected to public office in the United States. Cunningham won the council position in the 2017 Minneapolis City Council election and lost it in the 2021 election.

In his early career, Cunningham worked as a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools on the South Side of Chicago. Prior to his election to public office, Cunningham served on the City of Minneapolis’ Youth Violence Prevention Executive Committee and as a senior policy aide for former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.