Rebecca Juro, trans activist and journalist, dies at 59
Voices from LGBTQ media and other community leaders reacted with shock and dismay to news of the death of Rebecca Juro, an uncompromising transgender activist, print journalist and internet radio host, on December 17.
Juro, who was 59, died of lung cancer following a recurrence of the disease. Born in New York, she spent her youth living alternately with her mother in New Jersey and her father in Manhattan, and lived in both places as an adult. Since 2016, she lived in Philadelphia.
Juro became a trans woman in 1997 at the age of 35, and over the decades since, has become one of the most recognizable voices in LGBTQ media. Media she contributed to included Gay City News, The Advocate, MSNBC.com, The Huffington Post, South Florida Gay News, Windy City Times, The Bilerico Project, and LGBTQ Nation.
In 2006, Juro started âThe Rebecca Juro Show,â an internet radio show that was an early example of how the web and later podcasting would help diversify voices from mainstream media.
Reacting to the news of Juro’s death, Bil Browning, his editor at Bilerico and LGBTQ Nation, wrote on Facebook: âThe world has lost a warrior today. I find myself without words big enough to say about the woman who refused to shut up.
Browning went on to echo a phrase Juro has used over and over again to characterize his work: âWhile your voice may not be heard anymore, Rebecca Juro, thanks in part to your inspiration and determination, the T is not silent. “
Juro’s death was announced on Facebook by his brother Steve Juro, who wrote: âSad newsâ¦ my sister Rebecca Juro passed away last night. She has lived a difficult and multifaceted life that has taken her down a number of different paths. She was a writer, an ardent defender of trans issues, a companion of my mother, a punk rocker (groupie Joan Jett, see photo), and many other thingsâ¦. She would always fight for what she believed. She was battling lung cancer, thought she was beating him, but it took it. She will be missed and always remembered.
Dawn Ennis, a transgender journalist who was Juro’s pair and friend, wrote simply, âHeartbrokenâ¦ No words.
Diego Miguel Sanchez, a trans man who leads advocacy, policy and partnerships at PFLAG and previously was senior policy adviser to Congressman Barney Frank, wrote on Facebook: âBecky, stay in power and thank you for being a great sister, leader, friend, and fierce fighter in all the fields that matter. We miss you and your legacy lives on.
Cathy Renna, communications director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, told Gay City News: âShe was a great journalist and as a trans journalist she was a trailblazer. Rebecca was never afraid of anyone or anything and asked the tough questions to hold us all accountable. I received her questions several times, but I respected her more after an interview. She also educated so many of us about the trans community in a shameless way that wasn’t as common as it is today. It’s a loss for our community and the LGBTQ media.
In an article on LGBTQ Nation In January this year, Juro, noting that this is the first time Democrats have controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress since 2010, wrote of the urgency to protect the rights of trans-Americans and to reverse the tide of ‘attacks, both physical and political, on their safety and dignity.
âAt the age of 58, I reached the point in my life when the transgender friends and allies that I have fought with and worked with are starting to die,â she wrote. âWhenever this happens, I remind myself of the truth that I have less time in front of me than behind me. If it is the same with our heads of government, I wish I could enjoy the same civil rights and equal treatment under the law in my country as cisgender Americans before I die, no matter how many people there are. ‘years that I have left.
There is no guarantee, Juro reminded his readers, that Democrats have more than two years before the midterms of 2022 to make changes at the federal level.
In a 2016 interview with Dese’Rae L. Stage for livethroughthis.org, Juro recalled the attraction she found in punk music and drugs as a teenager living with her father on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When she was 18, she left her father’s apartment to move into an ORS where she paid $ 90 in rent per week.
During this time, she said, she didn’t feel safe saying the words âI’m a girl. There was nothing else, no social acceptance, no internet, none of that.
She continued, “I felt like the way to deal with this was to fix myself, to masculinize myself.”
As a young adult, Juro said: âI discovered Joan Jett. Joan Jett was a big deal for me, because I was still grappling with the transgender issue. Although, of course, I didn’t know how to call him transgender at the time.
At the end of 2014, Juro, writing shortly after the death of Leslie Feinberg, explained in Avocado how Feinberg’s 1996 book “Transgender Warriors” “Saved My Life”.
Just months after Feinberg’s book came out, Juro, who “had no idea how to start living the life I wanted”, attempted to kill himself by rolling over the side of a bridge. Realizing that she didn’t really want to die, Juro ran away at the last minute and was in a Barnes & Noble a few hours later, where she ran into “Transgender Warriors”.
Reading this book led to an email correspondence with Feinberg, who encouraged Juro to reach out to the transgender community and continue writing. Within months, âBecky’s List,â a regular e-mail outlet featuring Juro’s writings on transgender life and politics, was born.
“When I tell people today that reading ‘Transgender Warriors’ saved my life, many seem to think I am speaking metaphorically, but I am not,” Juro wrote in The Advocate. “If I hadn’t discovered this book when I made it, I don’t know how long I could have gone on without hope, without understanding that who and what I am matters and deserves to be honored and respected . “