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Brandy Rodriguez

Soyini Grey

Transgender activist Brandy Rodriguez has died.

Rodriguez was the founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Transgender Coalition. She also worked as a peer navigator at the Family Planning Association.

Rodriguez died Wednesday of unspecified health-related reasons.

Her colleagues at the Family Planning Association said while they come together to celebrate her life and impact, they could not deny missing her and the essence she brought to their workplace.

They considered her family, a big sister “whose fierce and unwavering fight for the rights of LGBTQIA in Trinidad and Tobago did not just inspire” but gave them focus.

According to the FPA, she led them into battle.

“To the rest of the country and the world, Brandy is known as a human rights advocate, particularly in her work to advance the rights of the LGBTQIA community,” they said.

Guardian Media interviewed Rodriguez in March.

She was one of several women featured for International Women’s Day. She spoke about her advocacy work in the last 20 years fighting for the human rights of members of the LGBTQIA community in Trinidad and Tobago, especially as the founder and president of the Trinidad and Tobago Transgender Coalition.

Rodriguez, who transitioned from male to female in 1999,said she used people’s curiosity about her gender to her advantage.

“When people victimise and stigmatise, you know, I build on that for my capacity,” she said.

“For me to be able to move and to also be comfortable with who I am, I take stigma and discrimination and I turn it right around.”

The NGO CAISO Sex and Gender Justice issued a statement from her director Angelique Nixon, hailing Rodriguez as their fallen comrade who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the vulnerable.

“We at CAISO honour her work and continue the struggle against stigma and discrimination that she fought courageously to end,” said Nixon.

“We celebrate the life and legacy of our sister and comrade Brandy Rodriguez, and we honour her passion and dedication to human rights and sex and gender justice.”

In July, Rodriguez received the 180th Commonwealth Points of Light Certificate signed by Queen Elizabeth II for her advocacy work.

The award is given to people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community. UK High Commissioner Harriet Cross paid tribute to her via her Twitter account, saying that she was incredibly sad to hear from Jason Jones that Rodriguez had died.

“Brandy was Trini royalty and I am proud to have known her,” she tweeted.