Who was Jahaira DeAlto? Tributes pour in after death of activist

Bruno Cooke May 3, 2021

Tributes to trans activist and speaker Jahaira DeAlto have poured in on Facebook and Instagram following the announcement of her death earlier today. Who was Jahaira DeAlto? Let’s take a look at her life, work and legacy.

Jahaira’s Mission: Activism and advocacy

Jahaira M DeAlto was an advocate for trans rights and trans visibility. She also advocated more broadly in areas of race, gender and sexuality.

DeAlto began her own transition aged 16, and made it her mission to “normalise” the transgender experience for cisgendered people.

“The more we humanise ourselves for those who don’t think they’ve encountered a transgender person”, Freedom Massachussetts quotes her as saying, “the more we’re able to remove the stigma and fear.”

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Education and early activism

DeAlto first picketed in Boston, MA in 1995. 

Later, in 1998, she started speaking at different cities’ Transgender Day Of Remembrance events. These included New York, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Chicago.

During a 25 year career she has spoken at hundreds of events, notably the Ryan White National Youth Conference in Chicago and Shades Of Color in Boston.

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Jahaira DeAlto’s death was announced on 2 May

Facebook user Robert Harold Dinkins shared an enigmatic post eight hours ago. In the post, he wrote that he had “no idea what to do or how to feel”.

He later followed it up with the news of the death of Jahaira M DeAlto, whom he describes as a “friend to many”.

Other users have also confirmed the news. However, further details on Dealto’s death are scarce at the time of writing.

Im in tears on tears. Jahaira M. DeAlto RIP you loved me like a son and always treated me that way. Near or far you were there. I will miss you so deeply

Posted by Michael A. Gomez on Sunday, May 2, 2021
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RIP Jahaira: Tributes pour in via Facebook and Instagram

Social media users and followers of Jahaira DeAlto’s advocacy work have expressed their shock and sadness at the news.

On Jahaira’s most recent Instagram post (below), users have written that they are in “total shock”. Others have left their condolences.

Illustrating the suddenness and unexpectedness of Jahaira’s death, her last social media update was just one day ago.

Bruno is a postgraduate student studying global journalism, with research interests in the intersection of the media, storytelling, culture and politics. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Packs Light and Forge Press, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com. He is a Student Ambassador for Tortoise Media, a big fan of Freddie Mercury and a novelist – his debut novel, Reveries, is available on Amazon.