The 6th Annual Trans Girls Rock Awards Honor Local LGBTQIA+ Trailblazers

Trans Girls Rock Awards: Celebrating Resilience, Trailblazers, and Unity in the Memphis LGBTQIA+ Community

Trans Girls Rock, conceived by the visionary Kyra Cassadine, a formidable force within the Memphis LGBTQIA+ community and a dedicated Headliners Memphis Board Member, is a celebration of the incredible work, advocacy, and resilience of the trans community, particularly our black and brown trans siblings. 

Headliners Memphis has proudly hosted this event since 2017, spotlighting the remarkable contributions of the Trans and Nonbinary community right here in our city. By honoring these legends, we aim to inspire others who identify as Trans or Nonbinary, showing them that success and thriving are not just possibilities but realities.

Celebrate this year’s honorees, listed at the bottom of the post.

Headliner Memphis co-directors, Daniel Thompson and DeMarcus Jones (left to right)

As co-directors, DeMarcus Jones and Daniel Thompson ensure a transparent and community-driven nomination and selection process. The community nominates outstanding candidates, utilizing a form crafted by the Headliners Memphis Community Advisory Board (CAB). A dedicated nominations committee, typically consisting of 5-7 CAB members, votes on the winners, maintaining the integrity of the awards.

Now in its sixth year, Trans Girls Rock continues to evolve, showcasing Trans leadership and advocacy in Memphis. The event is a testament that, regardless of background, systemic barriers, or gender identity, success is achievable. Our past winners include sex workers, executive directors, entrepreneurs, and advocates—all united by the belief in their gifts, a willingness to challenge norms, and a spirit of resilience.

Beyond the awards and swag, what truly moves us as directors is witnessing the diverse and beautifully dressed crowd enjoying themselves in a safe space. In a country where harsh legislation targets our community, especially our trans siblings, Trans Girls Rock stands as a sanctuary for the Memphis LGBTQIA+.

Among the remarkable recipients, Monica Lusk, named Trans Person of the Year, is a shining example. An entrepreneur, advocate, and pageant title holder, Monica’s love for the community is evident through her selfless volunteering for numerous LGBTQ+ organizations, working tirelessly without seeking recognition.

Renae Taylor, our Living Legend recipient, is a true advocate and gatekeeper. As the 2023 Living Legend Award recipient and program manager at WeCareTN, Renae has dedicated decades to advocacy, recently honored as a keynote speaker at the Black Trans Advocacy Conference. Renae envisions an equitable future for all black and brown individuals with multiple identities to thrive, making it an absolute honor to present her with this award.

Trans Girls Rock is more than an event; it’s a celebration of resilience, a tribute to trailblazers, and a beacon of hope for the entire Memphis LGBTQIA+ community. We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of Monica, Renae, and all those who make our community vibrant and strong.

Congrats to all the honorees for this year’s Trans Girls Rock!

Trans Girls Rock 2023 honorees below…

Living Legend – Renae Taylor

Brooke Morgan Advocate Award – Anivia Kelly
Visionary Award – Dewayne Murrell
Most Affirming – Jenna On Fire Productions
Trans Person of the Year – Monica Lusk

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All images courtesy of Headliners 901