News of Courtney-Evans’ death over the weekend led to an outpouring of online tributes across the country, and her passing comes on the heels of the deaths of two other Georgia LGBT luminaries—Atlanta drag icon Diamond Lil in August and Savannah drag legend Lady Chablis last month.
Cheryl Courtney-Evans has been the Executive Director of Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth, Incorporated since 2007. In April, 2009, Ms. Courtney-Evans participated with over 200 transgender individuals, sponsored by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), in Lobby Days on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress members for passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act with gender identity included as one of the protected groups, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The former was signed into law in 2010. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pioneer Award, issued by the Transfaith In Color Conference & the Freedom Center for Social Justice, of Charlotte, NC.
In her role with TILTT, the first transgender support & advocacy organization to serve both trans men and women in the area, she has assisted and advocated for a broad swath of Atlanta’s transgender community, and participates in numerous human rights efforts in the greater Atlanta area.
“Atlanta Pride joins the entire community in mourning the passing of Cheryl C. Courtney-Evans, longtime transgender activist, community leader, and our 2016 Atlanta Pride Grand Marshal,” read an Atlanta Pride Committee statement. “When we spoke with Cheryl last week, she was hoping to be out of the hospital in time to ride in her fancy convertible and kick off our Trans March from the stage. We will miss her physical presence but will celebrate her life both at the Trans March and Parade this weekend.”
A fixture at the center of numerous Atlanta trans issues
Southern Fried Queer Pride issued a statement following Courtney-Evans’s passing, saying, “Long time trailblazer, trans activist, and ‘a bitch for justice,’ Ms. Cheryl Courtney-Evans has passed away. Ms. Cheryl worked tirelessly locally to advance trans rights. She founded TILTT (transgender individuals living their truth) and worked with groups such as Solutions Not Punishment Coalition – SNaP Co. to make sure trans women and folx had space and protections. Our condolences go to her family and friends. Atlanta has lost a true icon.”
Trans activist Jamie Roberts of Trans Housing Atlanta wrote in a statement, “We owe so much to the efforts of Ms. Evans to build the Atlanta Trans Community to make it effectively meet the needs of the community in regards to supportive services, housing, and other endeavors. She was mentor to many of us and we’ll never forget her drive, her fierce spirit, and her love for the community. Please keep her and her memory in your thoughts and prayers this week as we reach another season of PRIDE. Certainly, Cheryl showed us how to be PROUD of ourselves.”