GO Proudly Presents: 100 Women We Love, Class Of 2020

Aryah Lester

Photo Courtesy of Aryah Lester.

“The greatest reward within my work and advocacy is the ability to create opportunities and ‘stepping stones’ for other women with history similar to my own,” says Aryah Lester, Deputy Director of the Transgender Strategy Center. “With each new success I attain, I look to uplift another Black woman of trans experience to rise in her own path.” That mission is why Lester founded Trans-Miami, Miami’s first transgender organization while continuing to run the National Alliance of Transgender Advocates and Leaders (NATAL), her networking organization. The nationally-awarded author, speaker, and educator is also a current member of a number of advisory boards, including that of the Florida Chapter of STARR, the nation’s first transgender organization, founded by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, and the Unity Coalition (UC|CU), an organization that advances equality and fairness for the LatinX/Hispanic and Indigenous LGBTQ+ community through education, leadership, and awareness. As someone striving every day to make a change in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond, Lester sees firsthand what needs to be done to create not only an equal but an equitable queer community. And as someone with all that knowledge, her best advice is to consider how the past can affect the future and to make sure all voices are being uplifted. “I believe our LGBT communities would benefit from surveying the general success we’ve had in the past decade,” Lester tells GO. “and looking at the disparities still faced by black and brown women of trans experience, sex workers, and incarcerated populations.” —IL

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