At StoryCorps, we have a fierce commitment to raising up the voices of those we rarely hear from. In the LGBTQ community, those are often the voices of trans women of color.

So in this episode, we’ll hear from those who have frequently been the first to stand up for equality — but are typically the last to be recognized for their contributions.

Our first story comes from 72-year-old Felicia “Flames” Elizondo, who as a teenager, found her way to the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, where she met other LGBTQ people for the first time. She came to StoryCorps to talk about hanging out at Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, the site of a lesser-known turning point in the fight for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s.


Our second story features Alexis Martinez, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side. She sat down for StoryCorps with her daughter, Lesley Martinez Etherly, to remember what it was like to come out as transgender — and how their relationship has evolved over time.


Next, we’ll hear from the family of Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old transgender woman who was killed in 2008.


Angie’s family recorded two interviews at StoryCorps to remember her: one between her sister and niece, and another between her mother and brother.


Lastly, we’ll hear from Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a trans elder who’s been fighting to protect people in her community for close to six decades. At 78 years old, Miss Major sat down with her good friend Jay Toole at StoryCorps in New York City.

In front of Miss Major's home in Oakland CA. 8/17/2013

Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Middle photo: Felicia “Flames” Elizondo at StoryCorps in San Francisco, CA in 2014. By Yosmay del Mazo.
Middle photo: Alexis Martinez and Lesley Martinez Etherly at StoryCorps in Chicago, IL in 2013. By Yasmina Guerda.
Middle photo: Angie Zapata. Courtesy of Maria Zapata.
Middle left photo: Ashley Zapata and Jessica Murguia at StoryCorps in Brighton, CO in 2018. By Liyna Anwar.
Middle right photo: Maria Zapata and Gonzalo Zapata at StoryCorps in Brighton, CO in 2018. By Liyna Anwar.
Bottom photo: Miss Major and Jay Toole in Oakland, CA in 2013. By Syd London.

Released on July 16, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Overture” by Patrick Wolf from the album Sundark and Riverlight
“Foreign Ghosts” by Matt Stevens
“Filing Away” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Black Band of Water” by Snake Oil
“Vittoro” by  Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut