Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sleep well, Jo Ann

Many people knew JoAnn Roberts.

Photo Courtesy Amanda Richards

She was one of the Founders of Renaissance.  She started Ladylike magazine.  She started and ran Beauty and the Beach.  Wrote many books.  Wrote the Gender Bill of Rights.  And so much more.  Her accomplishments for the TG community are endless.

I've been Lucky to have many mentors on this journey.  My first night out, I met Jone, who took me under her wing.  My "Big Sister" Mel... has been an amazing, plain-speaking friend and Mentor.  Amanda Richards has been amazing.  Tammyrae has cared enough to (deservedly) smack me around for wardrobe choices and has given invaluable advice.    And I was so very lucky to have had JoAnn.

I met her when I started writing for TG Forum, for which she was the publisher. We sat and talked a while, and she seemed genuinely interested in who I was and where my path would take me. I hung on her every Word, knowing I was learning from someone whose knowledge and heart were far superior to my own.

Over the years, we spoke many times. She was always so kind and caring. I wanted to do good by her- to make her proud.

A couple of years ago, I attended Beauty and the Beach, which she hosted.  Even busy as she was with the event, she found time to pull me aside and sit down with me.  She wanted to know how I was, how I felt, where my head was about this journey.  She cared.  She genuinely cared.

JoAnn introducing me at BatB

before the end of that conference, I felt physically and emotionally sick.  But I had committed to do my part for the Variety Show, and I would NOT let her down.  I stayed, and did a comedy routine.  JoAnn basked me in praise the rest of the night.  I was in heaven. 

Linda Lewis told me she'd heard JoAnn was sick.  I contacted Angela Gardner, who confirmed that JoAnn had terminal lung cancer.  I was at work at the time.  I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and cried as quietly as I could.

I spoke to JoAnn's wife Thursday. I gave her a message to pass on to JoAnn, and maybe She even got it before she passed.

I told her that I wouldn't be the person I am today if not for her unselfish guidance. And that I would honor her by passing in what she taught me. 

Its a small gesture. Its all I can do.

JoAnn's glory is that I am far from the only one who she helped.  Her heart was so large, her generosity so great, that she touched the lives of countless people all over the world.  The TG movement, our very lives, would not be where we are today if not for JoAnn Roberts.

There are many who knew her better than I, and who feel her loss more profoundly. Together we as a community remember her as a friend, a mentor, and a Sister.

Rest well, JoAnn. You've earned it, and we will never forget you.

May the four winds blow you safely home. 



  1. I didn't know her myself, but I am so sorry for your loss Sophie.

  2. Kim, Sophie -

    Losing JoAnn is a loss to all of us.... And she'll be missed.


  3. The good that she did will long live on. She is a good example of the power of the well written word. The things that she wrote and the times when they were penned provided affirmation to many.

  4. helpful advice is hardly a smack but hey we all live and learn. I too have fond memories of my early years when Joann was on the front line along with Angela and others. I found acceptance and warmth from others when I doubted any existed. Surely without "big sisters" we would all have a tougher time. I am glad to have done what i have done in the 80s, the 90s, the 00s, and the 10s; but how many of us make national news as Joann and Angela did way back. Boundaries get pushed, people evolve and today i talk a different talk, walk a different walk and continue to honor those that came before me with the same helpful words taught to me. Regardless of one's place on the spectrum of life, there is indeed room for all of us. I thank you Miss Sophie for the generous shout out and for your loving support. Be well my sister and may the goodness of life be yours.

  5. she certainly was a pioneer in the transgendered world. it took great courage in those days which weren't so long ago. she will be truly missed.