Portsmouth, VA

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I’m Nyonna. I’m an advocate, a peer educator, a motivational speaker, and a transgender woman. I was raised by my grandmother in Portsmouth with my siblings, one of whom was also a trans woman. My sister was tragically killed in a hate crime in 2000. Losing her still affects me and motivates me to work for better lives for trans people.


When I was younger, I lived on the edge and found myself incarcerated. I was placed in a men’s prison where I was dehumanized, insulted, and oppressed. When I was released in 2013, I was homeless and needed a job. I know first-hand how hard it is as a trans person to find housing and employment. These basic parts of life are unstable for so many trans people. I wanted to do what I could to turn my life around, but not being protected made that struggle so much harder. Having jobs makes us part of the community and having homes keeps us safe. At the end of the day, that’s all any of us really want.


I currently work for Minority AIDS Support Services (MASS) as a community navigator. I’ve dedicated myself to helping others like me improve their lives. I want the best for my community. I’ve been through a lot in my life and I know other trans people have too. People will continue to be hurt if things don’t change, so we need good examples set by legislation. This is why I support nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations for transgender people.