Serena Freewomyn

Better Know a Contributor: Monica Roberts

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | June 29, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Monica Roberts

Editor's Note: You've seen Steven Colbert's "Better Know a Lobbyist," but our version is so much gayer! Each weekend, we spotlight a different TBP contributor. In case you've missed any of our previous interviews, I've got links at the end of the post.

This week the focus is on Monica Roberts. Monica, aka the TransGriot, is a native Texan, and a trailblazing leader in the transgender community who now resides in Louisville, KY. Monica's an advocate with a special emphasis on getting African-American transpeople and other voices of color more involved in empowering themselves, educating the GLBT community about the issues people of color face, and shedding light about the struggles of GLBT people in Africa, Jamaica and across the Diaspora. Monica transitioned in 1994 and is a founding member of NTAC, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition.

I really enjoyed talking to Monica about her love of history and our shared appreciation for the WNBA. Follow me after the jump to find out which wimmin have inspired her the most, as well as her favorite way to pamper herself.

1. How'd you get involved with TBP?
I was invited to join by Bil and Becky Juro in January.

2. What was your coming out experience like?
Interesting to say the least. I transitioned during my airline days in 1994 in the middle of Houston Intercontinental Airport.

3. What book has had the most impact on your life?
Tough question, since I read constantly, my tastes are eclectic, and it's hard to say one influenced me. I've taken life lessons from many of Dr. King's essays on civil rights. As a Christian I read the Bible and try to live by its more enlightened principles. I've read 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' by Alex Haley. I love history. I loved Susan L. Taylor's ESSENCE magazine columns and her book 'In the Spirit.'

But if I had to choose one, I'd say 'A Testament of Hope,' which is a collection of Dr. King's speeches and essays edited by James Washington.

4. Who are some of your s/heroes, and why?
My mom is definitely one. She raised me and my brother as toddlers while graduating cum laude with a history degree. Ironically she was pregnant with my sister while earning her masters. She's also a fashionista. Mom's one reason I love history and shoes so much, along with my late godmother Pearl C. Suel, who wrote the African-American history curriculum for the Houston Independent School District.

My dad, who as a media professional, taught me to never accept anything that I read, see, or hear at first glance. I also got my love of R&B and jazz music from him.

Dr. King and Nelson Mandela for leading freedom movements here and in South Africa.

The late Rep. Barbara Jordan, for her championship debate skills and her reasoned, uncompromising ethical approach to politics. The ethical aspect is something I feel is sorely lacking in GLBT politics.

Gov. Ann Richards, for being the quintessential Texas woman. Tough, funny, eloquent, smart and surviving and thriving, despite all obstacles being placed in her path.

Illusionist Tommie Ross, who is smart, elegant, talented and shoots a mean game of pool. She was an early role model for me when I was honing my femme presentation.

Former ABC news anchor Carole Simpson, who tells it like it is and looked good doing it.

Tyra Banks, for evolving into the powerful sistah and role model she is today.

The talented women of the WNBA, who taught me that being over six feet tall is not a curse, but a blessing. They emphatically make the point that women come in all shapes and sizes.

5. If you could go anywhere in the world in any time period, where would it

Africa, during the height of the Mali and Songhay empires. These empires had great universities which taught math and science to the Egyptians and Greeks. It would be nice to actually see some of that history.

6. What's your favorite way to pamper yourself?
Head to my fave nail shop, novel in hand and get a maincure and pedicure.

Check out previous interviews with TBP Contributors:
Alex Blaze
Don Sherfick
Sara Whitman
Brent Hartinger
Jessica Hoffman
Cathy Renna
Waymon Hudson
Kate Clinton
Bruce Parker
Jerame Davis
Mercedes Allen

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I so agree about the tall women! at 5'10", I always loved being tall but now it's fashionable.

who knew.

thank you for sharing. I'd like to know, though, what is your favorite late night snack?

It's either Blue Bell homemade vanilla or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. ;)

I had better fill in what Serena left out about my esteemed bridesmaid.

Blue Bell is not safe anywhere near Monica Roberts, that is for certain! I will also point out that she is a fine DJ and MC, a hell of a speaker, a great lobbyist, educator, and advocate at all levels, a fine driver and road trip compadre, and is even safe to be used around pets and children. However, she is not safe to be used near fire, flames, bigots, or Religious Reichers, and she cannot drive a stick. However, that last part can be remedied. She doesn't know it yet, but she will be learning to ride a motorcycle before long.

........and she is one damned good friend.

I met AirMonica in 1999 on my first ever Lobby Days and I was totally impressed with her knowledge and enthusiasm. She looks at things in life so much like me that at times I feel were are twin sisters, born 10 years apart and with two mothers. I cannot wait for the time she will be in town later this year to attend an event. We plan on going to a WNBA game. Too bad the Atlanta Dream has the worst record in WNBA history.


The Dream are an expansion team. There not supposed to be competitive right out the gate. Keep the faith and give them a few years and hopefully they'll get it together. My Comets were fortunate enough through a series of events to build the first WNBA dynasty.

Polar, that was bridesmaid/DJ

I will also point out that she is a fine DJ and MC, a hell of a speaker, a great lobbyist, educator, and advocate at all levels, a fine driver and road trip compadre, and is even safe to be used around pets and children

Well, I tried to plan a road trip with Monica, but the damn DNCC...

And safe around "pets and children?" That's not what I heard! If so, I want the TBP invitation back! We can't have those kind of people stinking up the place! We're supposed to be degenerates and whoremongers, right? :)

Monica is also the closest contributor to Indy that I've never met. (hint, hint! nudge, nudge! wink, wink!)

Monica: I was so disappointed when you said that you won't be coming to Colorado in August, but I am looking forward so much to actually meeting you in person in November.
I so much enjoy our e-mail and phone conversations. Your friendship is regarded very much as a blessing.

I think everyone knows this but I'll say it anyhow.

You're a special lady.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 30, 2008 11:35 AM

It remains an honor Monica

Yes, Bil, that's true - she is very safe around kids and pets. In fact, she watches our pets when we're away. My little lesbian kitty loves her. As for the parrots, she has the finger they love to bite.

Guess I have to do some maint on her car, so she can make it to Indy to visit you sometime. Her back bumper's about to fall off, don't want to leave Volvo litter on I-65.

And, yes, that was dj/bridesmaid. You bet. If you need a DJ, she's your girl. She has the ultimate classic soul and R&B collection.

I get the hint, Bil. ;)

Besides, I'm overdue for a road trip anyway. I can hit the outlet malls in Seymour and Columbus on my way back to Da Ville.

*blinks eyes innocently*

What? :)

You should come visit while Waymon is here in mid-July! We'll see if we can't round up some of the others that live in Indy too...

Is Waymon and Andrew flying back or driving back to Florida?

I think they're camping thru TN and KY on their way to IN. No jokes from the peanut gallery! So they'd be driving home from here.

I transitioned during my airline days in 1994 in the middle of Houston Intercontinental Airport.

I think there's a story there....