No one is free unless Black transgender people are free.

Black trans women in America, in particular, have a life expectancy of 35 years of age, but even the most socially progressive in many communities across the U.S. fail to fight for trans equity and safety.

Living in the intersection where blackness and trans-identities meet can result in marginalization and even death. For Dee Dee Chamblee, activist and founder of Le Gender Inc., which is an advocacy organization for Black transwomen, the struggle is more than a fight for freedom. It is a fight for survival of the body and spirit.

Recognized as one of President Obama’s nine “Champions of Courage,” Dee Dee has been a vocal transgender activist and leader, with over 25 years of grassroots organizing that has helped shape and transform transgender awareness in the community of Atlanta.

In the profile below, Dee Dee tells us why she has committed her life to the fight for the rights of transgender women to not only exist, but to thrive and survive. And we at CASSIUS are grateful for her work and witness. This Black History Month, we want the world to get to know Dee Dee Chamblee—a leader who is owed collective gratitude that is long overdue.