Meet 51 Kickass Women From The 2013 Trans 100

Namoli Brennet

Website: Namoli Brennet

  • Tucson-based musician, singer/songwriter, recording engineer and producer.
  • Has released ten full-length albums of “her own brand of moody and inspiring folk” since 2002
  • Plays an average of 120 shows across the United States each year.
via newtimeslo, photo by Alyson Krominga

via newtimeslo, photo by Alyson Krominga

“I know [my trans status] is kind of a quirky and interesting part of my story, but as a human being I’m interested in life, spirituality, meaning, social issues, justice, compassion…and these are the things I write about.”


Pauline Park

New York, NY


  • Co-founder or otherwise involved in the creation of The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, The Queens Pride House, Iban/Queer Koreans of New York, The Out People of Color Political Action Club, The Guillermo Vasquez Independent Democratic Club of Queens and the Transgender Health Initiative of New York.
  • On the coordinating committee leading the campaign for a transgender rights law in New York state.

“Only when the academy begins to foster public policy and activism in the United States and abroad that is a informed by feminist consciousness and that takes into account the insights of post-structuralist theory without being overly encumbered by institutional imperatives of publication for tenure and promotion can it make a significant contribution to the pursuit of a progressive vision of social justice and social change.”

Transgendering the Academy

Phyllis Frye

Houston, TX

Website: Transgender Legal

Read the world-changing groundbreaking 1970 documents of Phyllis Frye, as scanned and presented for you by Cristan Williams

Read her oral life history: Houston Library

  • The “grandmother of the Trans community.”
  • The first transgender judge appointed in Texas.
  • Winner of the Dan Bradley Award of 2001 from The Lavender Law and Creator of Change Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
  • Former military officer, high school ROTC commander and member of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets
  • Changed the Houston law against crossdressing in 1980, founded the Transgender Law Conference in 1991
  • Texas A&M has created a Diversity Award given in her name annually since 2009.

“I almost started crying, because I remembered 31 years ago, in that very same chamber, I was subject to arrest.”

– Phyllis Frye, on being appointed to a municipal bench by the mayor of Houston

Rebecca Kling

Chicago, IL

Website: Rebecca Kling

  • Artist and educator whose “multidisciplinary performances incorporate conversational storytelling, personal narrative, humor, movement, video projection, and more” and “explore gender and identity through solo pieces and educational workshops.”
  • Author of No Gender Left Behind.

“While other explorers are content to ignore cracks in the walls towering over the roads they travel, She peeks longingly through. She notices what most have become unaware of – the enchanting ponds, meandering streams, and mysterious forests. As She studies the boundless wilderness beyond the walls She begins to understand that the either/or roads represent just one way through the Land of Gender – not the only way.” 

– The Land of Gender

Reina Gossett

Brooklyn, NY

Website: the spirit was

  • Trans activist and artist
  • Membership director at Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
  • Former director of the Welfare Organizing Project at Queers For Economic Justice
  • Soros Justice Fellow at Critical Resistance 
  • Writing credits include The Scholar & Feminist Online and Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex

“I am really inspired by historical moments where people came together to hold ancestral & personal grief as a powerfully political act; make plain the connections between grief & state violence, diminishing circles of care, resource and isolation; resist silence & shame by honoring people who passed all the while deepening our own relationships and invested in our own living.”

– via The Politics of Gender Self-Determination: More Interviews with Captive Genders contributors

Rebecca Allison


  • American cardiologist
  • Chair of the American Medical Association’s Advisory Committee on LGBT Health.
  • Preisdent of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association from 2009-2011.

“We Who Should Know – who are labeled with this diagnosis – maintain that our identities are fixed from earliest life, and do not change despite the most intense and (sometimes) well intended efforts to modify identity through modifying behavior. Such efforts have consistently produced worsening unhappiness up to, and including, suicidal thoughts and actions. The identity is not what changes, and the identity is not disordered.”

– via Back on the Blog: The APA” June 2009


Ryka Aoki


  • Writer, performer & educator
  • Honored by the CA Sate Senate and RADAR’s 2010 Eli Coppola Chapbook Contest.
  • Head instructor of LGBT-empowerment-focused Supernova Martial Arts
  • Charter member of Transgender Advisory Committee for Asian Pacific Islanders for Human Rights (APHIR).
  • Appears in anthologies including Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (Seal Press), and Transfeminist Perspectives (Temple University).
  • Inaugural performer for San Francisco’s first ever Transgender Stage at San Francisco Pride 2005
  • Has performed and spoken at festivals and Prides and Conferences and Universities all over the country.
  • Published the book Seasonal Velocities with Trans-Genre Press.

“This is not a time to get even with the world or tear it down. This is a time to lead. For a world to work better for all of of us. The world needs you, in all your queer glory, to help it find its way. Own the system. Redefine the system. Guide the system. Whatever system you find yourself in. What you have worked for can be reapplied in whatever you pursue. Not in spite of being queer, or without thinking of being queer, but because of it.”

Cal Poly Pomona’s Lavender Graduation address

Ruby Corado

Washington DC


  • Founder of the Casa Ruby LGBT Center, a non-profit community center for LGBT queer people in Washington DC.
  • Advocate against discrimination and hate crimes for the past fifteen years.
  • Worked to ensure legal protections and policies for transgender people in Washington DC
photo via DC Trans Coalition Facebook © 2013, Shannon E. Wyss, All Rights Reserved

Rally For Trans Health Equality // photo via DC Trans Coalition Facebook © 2013, Shannon E. Wyss, All Rights Reserved

“This beautiful, wonderful, amazing person that I was becoming was not supposed to be out in public. And because I was bringing it out in public, people were very cruel. I would apply for jobs and they’d look at me funny from the moment I walked in the door. Really, when I was living as a gay person I had some benefits, because even when I was super gay, the moment I looked butch, that’s where it all stopped. But once I was becoming this gorgeous person, there was no turning back. I cannot be butch anymore. I am who I am. And that’s how I got involved as an activist.”

– via Metro Weekly 

Sadie Baker

  • “Survivor, (ex) sex worker, prison abolitionist, community organizer and anarchist agitator committed to building collective power, dreaming of a freer world, and challenging racism, ableism, (cis)sexism, and assimilation within and without the LGBTQ movement.” (via)
  • Worked with DC Trans Coalition, HIPS, Occupy Wall Street and The Broadway Youth Center in Chicago.

“This incident really highlights that just because someone might experience relative homophobia, they can still be transphobic, cissexist, racist, sexist, ableist. Just as trans guys can benefit from sexism, and a white trans woman is privileged by racism, LGBQ folks are often complicit in cissexism and transphobia. Trans people have specific needs and experiences that are different, and unless we talk about that, no one will understand us.”

– via The New Gay

Tracie O’Brien

San Francisco, CA

  • Co-founder of Transaction (San Diego’s first political, social & transgender group)
  • Works with the San Francisco Transgender Law Center
  • Former counselor and coordinator of Extend Services at Stepping Stone
  • Active with the The California Transgender Leadership Summit and The Center of Excellence for Transgender HIV Protection
  • Co-ordinator of Family Health Center’s Project S.T.A.R.

“[The African-American transgender community is] such a diverse and very often (forced) stealth community. As a whole I just wish everyone could feel that they are whole humans beings wonderfully and powerfully made. With this perhaps we as community could aspire to greatness.”

– via Transgriot

Susan Stryker

Tuscon, AZ

Website: LGBT Arizona 

“Hearken unto me, fellow creatures. I who have dwelt in a form unmatched with my desire, I whose flesh has become an assemblage of incongruous anatomical parts, I who achieve the similitude of a natural body only through an unnatural process, I offer you this warning: the Nature you bedevil me with is a lie. Do not trust it to protect you from what I represent, for it is a fabrication that cloaks the groundlessness of the privilege you seek to maintain for yourself at my expense. You are as constructed as me; the anarchic Womb has birthed us both. I call upon you to investigate your nature as I have been compelled to confront mine. I challenge you to risk abjection and flourish as well as have I. Heed my words, and you may well discover the seams and sutures in yourself.”

– “My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix” (1994)

Trisha Lee Holloway

Chicago, IL

Trudy Jackson

Phoenix, AZ

  • Pageant Director of the Miss Indian Transgender competition
  • Tobacco-program liaison for Native Health, which coordinates programs to prevent smoking-related health problems in urban Native American communities.
  • Member of the Arizona American Indian HIV Task Force, HIV Prevention Planning Group of Arizona, Central Arizona HIV Prevention Advocates and The National Native CPG Network
  • Works with LGBTQ Health Equity, Native American Outreach For AIDS Walk Phoenix and The Southwest American Indian Rainbow Gathering

photo via downtown devil (Evie Carpenter/DD)

“There are numerous issues that affect transgender people in their everyday life. One of the most challenging of these issues is gender identity. Some girls don’t know how to come out to their families, who reside on the reservations, about their lifestyles. When girls come to the city they are able to be themselves, instead of living in the closet. Another issue is employment. Since most girls are unable to be themselves in the work place, they have to find an alternate way of surviving in the city. Stigma is another issue affecting transgender women since the majority of the general population is not educated about transgenderism; they automatically assume they are “men in a dress.”

– via Women Who Kick Ass

Check out the entirety of the Trans 100 now posted on Buzzfeed and check out We Happy Trans just because! Also, if you are a magical being who has quotes we could include for the women on this list for whom there are no quotes, please email riese [at] autostraddle dot com.

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2877 articles for us.


  1. Fuck yes, First Nation members!!
    That, and Just Bree premiered at my school, at our feminist film festival, Citizen Jane (which all of you should attend at least once. All of the directors/writers have to be women). Kate Lykins, the director, is a classmate/friend of mine. It is so good. SO. GOOD.

  2. This is weird to realize, but I met Monika MHz at Geek Girl Con in Seattle last year, and she was the first openly trans person I’d ever met. Didn’t know she was so prominent in the community either. I’m learning new things every day! ;)

    • I’m not sure who you were, but I had a blast when I was there, and I’m glad I could make an impression… Hopefully a good one! :) Thanks for remembering our visit, and feel free to drop me a line any time!

  3. These. Women. Are. Amazing. This is inspiring!

    “I believe that Prides are superfluous. Because for me, we already are proud. We woke up this morning proud; we stepped out of our house this morning proud, but we don’t always go around this world powerful, and that’s what I’m here to do. I’m not here to let people know I’m proud. I’m here to remind people that I’m powerful.”

    brb making that my new life motto

  4. My author idol Sassafras Lowrey is on the longer list. I highly recommend her book “Roving Pack” about life as a queer, trans, puppy-loving crust punk living with other homeless kids in Portland.

  5. All of these women are so inspiring, but I am especially excited to see my friend, Katherine Cross, featured on this list – she is doing fantastic work, and I’m so glad to see it being recognized! Congratulations Katherine!

  6. Reese, Laneia etc:
    Don’t listen to those haters. I love reading about all forms of queerness. Please keep posting trans* stuff – I’ve learnt SO much. You make me and my slightly fucked-up gender identity feel included. Also this list is awesome and I wanna meet all the awesome people on it and have conversations about all the awesome things they do – I aspire to be like them.

    • Autostraddle has always been a site for queer women – there are plenty of places that are not open to trans or bisexual women, and you are welcome to read those instead. The specific focus on trans* stories is part of a special, but Autostraddle has always featured trans* content and been welcoming of trans* women. If you can’t deal with something not being focused on people just like you, that’s something you really ought to work on.

      And no, the cite is not going to feature an article about giving your boyfriend a blow job. Autostraddle celebrates “girl on girl culture” – that’s what brings us all here, whether we are lesbian, bi, or pan, and whether we are cis or trans*. We are all queer women, and this is a space for all of us.

      I’d also just like to leave a message for anyone who might comment on this subject in the future: if you would like to make a suggestion regarding the relative number of trans* specific vs. non-trans* specific articles, bring it up with the site’s administrators in a private message. Anything else it just rude.

      Before you disrespect someone’s identity, make fun of their genitals, or tell them they are not wanted here, think about how you would feel if someone said the same thing about lesbian content on a feminist website, or female content on a gaming or sports website. You would be hurt, just like the people you are attacking are being hurt. Please take a moment to think about the consequences of your actions.

      • Yeah, I was debating whether to say anything about carebear’s comment, especially now that it has been deleted, but here goes:

        I’m glad you brought up making fun of trans women’s genitals. From my perspective, it really hurts to have people make a joke out of my genitals. I hate that they’re attached to me and everything effect they have on my life, but even if I wanted to keep them, making fun of them would still be hurtful and inappropriate. In this context, the insult was especially hurtful since trans women’s genitals were being used as a contrast to “lesbian” content.

        Obviously, not everyone is okay with having a partner with a penis, and that’s totally fine. Nobody should have to interact with body parts they don’t want to interact with. Still, having your own distaste or disinterest in trans women’s genitals doesn’t make it okay for you to make a joke out of them. They’re not attached to you and they didn’t even feature in the article above, so leave them be.

  7. Thanks for featuring this list, Autostraddle! You are my favorite website! :)

    Also, since apparently, creeps have decided to swoop into this thread as well: seriously, do you have anything to say about this list of strong, brave, activist women beyond “Omg, there are trans people on this list! There are trans people on Autostraddle! Somewhere out there, trans people are existing and leading meaningful lives! Eww!”? I mean honestly– perhaps we could actually, you know, comment on the content of the article, rather than its mere presence? Or is the thought of disenfranchised people getting access to homeless shelters, HIV prevention, health care, and protection from violence simply too horrible to bear? Shame on you.

  8. I usually just ghost read and don’t say much, but I have to call Bullshit real quick. At the top of the site it does say “news, entertainment, OPINION and girl on girl culture” people should be able to state their opinion without having to email the ‘site administrator to state it..

    Talk about censoring our opinions, which is already done in the hetero world. Now, we (cis lesbians) can’t state our opinions on a “girl on girl culture” because it doesn’t show support for the articles topic. meh over it.

  9. When someone paints “faggot” on a school wall, it is removed or painted over because it creates a hateful environment and can hurt those in the community that falls under the attack of “opinion.” It is ridiculous to say that the suggestion of discouraging derogatory remarks toward a violently and emotionally targeted community of innocent people is some sort of facism. But that should be common sense.

    just as important, If you are going to say that Autostraddle is a “lesbian” website, then you admit that the articles are about lesbians. which is often true. They are about lesbians who make music, lesbians of color, lesbians who are politicians. What the hell is the difference when it is an article about a lesbian who is transgender??? It is commentary on the life of a queer woman, whether that commentary is on her home decor, her activism,OR her gender indentity/expression. Please move into the 21st century of compassion and solidarity,or don’t ever bother calling yourself any sort of humanist, activist or “open minded”.

  10. thank you to all the brilliant commenters on this post with your messages of inclusion and respect for all queer-lady-kind. we’re short-staffed in the modding department lately (we’re bringing on new mods soon though!) and i personally get so many anti-trans messages like this every day now — on tumblr and twitter mostly (a recent highlight was a girl on twitter suggesting we change our name to “autotrandle” … since our present name is so reflective of our content??!) — and y’all are just some brilliant fucking beams of light holding down the fort here against the commenters who are promoting discrimination and don’t understand the spirit of this ever-evolving community.

    anyhow, if anybody still needs to hear it: this is a feminist space and it’s a space for all women who love women. trans* and cis. all of ’em. that’s never gonna change.

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