June M. LaTrobea Chicago trans icon known for her activismhas passed away. She turned 81 on June 1.
Being an advocate for the trans community, LaTrobe participated in many events (such as protests) and often took decisive action.
Among the organizations she was involved with were the now-defunct Illinois Gender Advocates, Lakeview Action Coalition and the Center on Halsted (where she was a trans community liaison). However, LaTrobe left the Center in 2012 after five years as a liaison, spurred by that organization's acceptance of a $250 donation from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for a Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event, Windy City Tines reported in 2012. In resigning, she stated, "I can not be a part of putting money above principle."
HRC had historically incurred the anger of transgender people, who felt the organization excludes transgender communities. In 2007, the controversy came to a head when HRC backed a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that did not include trans protections.
LaTrobe started her transition in 2005, but had ties to the trans community for decades.
"It's been an interesting life," she told Windy City Times in 2013 in an interview that also detailed her then-successful battle against cancer. "I did not play with dolls as a kids, and don't remember having any interest. I [also] never tried on his mom's clothes. I went to high school, then started working, and then went to the Air Force. I was [stationed first in] West Berlin, and it was in Berlin where I had a romantic experience with a trans female. The experience was not a big deal.
"After that [experience], I slipped into a quasi-normal life, though I always had an interest in the trans community in the back of my mind, so to speak."
After her third divorce in the early 2000s, she took to the Internet for information on the trans community. She also met other transgender Chicagoans.
Tributes poured in from social media in reaction to LaTrobe's passing. On social media, fellow activist Rick Garcia posted, "Rest In Peace June M. LaTrobe, my friend, my ally. You were strong, proud and fierce. Thank you for allowing me to be with you to the end. As we talked about there is no end. We have a powerful advocate on the other side. My tears are not just sadness but tears of joy that I knew you and admired you and fought with you. Thank you,sister. Relax! You deserve it."
LGBTQ+ reporter Kate Sosin wrote, "I don't have many words for what losing Aunt June M. LaTrobe means. I would not be me if I had not met her. I think she was the best of all of us."
Windy City Times will update this as more information becomes available.