Monday, June 10, 2013

Trans Pioneer JoAnn Roberts Dies

joann_nu2.jpgI was shocked and saddened to read the TG Forum and Chrysalis posts from Angela Gardner and Dallas Denny announcing the June 7 death of one of the pioneers in the trans community in JoAnn Roberts at age 65 due to lung cancer.

JoAnn Roberts was one of the five founders of the Pennsylvania based Renaissance Transgender Education Assn., the ill-fated GenderPac, and served on the boards of IFGE and AEGIS in which she was the board chair from 1992-1996.

She also was one of the persons who helped give us a major boost in the founding and formation of NTAC in 1999.

She was an early trans political activist and major leader during the renaissance of trans activism in the early 90's.  She authored the Bill of Gender Rights in December 1990 that was subsequently expanded into the International Bill of Gender Rights at the 1993 and subsequent ICTLEP conferences.

JoAnn appeared on many television shows to discuss our issues including the Donahue talk show and served as the founding owner/publisher of TGForum.

'Cousin JoAnn' as I affectionately referred to her as in addition to publishing 'Art and Illusion-A Guide To Crossdressing' also published a 'Who’s Who of the TG Community' and was the driving force for The Second International Congress on Crossdressing, Sex and Gender hosted by Renaissance in suburban Philadelphia in 1997.

joann02I met JoAnn during the 1999 Southern Comfort Conference.  I have fond memories of sitting outside the Buckhead area hotel that used to host SCC with her, Polar, Pam Geddes and Dawn Wilson drinking a 21 year old bottle of scotch while discussing a wide range of subjects.  

Our conversation was interrupted when the chartered bus arrived from an SCC convention excursion to an Atlanta club called the Chamber.  The persons on the bus began stumbling off of it in various stages of inebriation and hilariously and unsteadily attempted to negotiate in their 5 inch heels the distance from the spot where the bus was parked to the hotel's front door..

She had wound down her interaction with the trans community in recent years to spend more time with her family and work on her beloved model train set when she was diagnosed with cancer in February.  

She'd undergone chemotherapy treatment that appeared to successfully halt the cancer spread in her lungs and liver.  Radiation treatments were begun to deal with a tumor on her spine but were halted last week when it was determined that the tumor there had spread and she opted for hospice care where she passed away on June 7.

There is a Facebook page that has been set up to commemorate her life and in which people who knew JoAnn can pay their respects.  But I'm sad to report that one of the early leaders in the American trans community and a trans community pioneer has moved on.
Rest in peace JoAnn, you will be missed. 

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