Sam Taub

Sam Taub pic

December 18, 1999 – April 9, 2015

Sam Taub was a ninth grader at West Bloomfield High School who identified as trans and skated with the Darlings of Destruction Junior Roller Derby League in Roseville.  Taub struggled with anorexia and anxiety and took his own life at age fifteen.

The Advocate, April 16, 2015

Detroit Free Press, July 16, 2015

Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons

Jamie Phillips-Fox

Jamie Phillips-Fox pic

March 2, 1953 – June 7, 2006

Detroit native and Center Line resident Jamie Marie Phillips-Fox was a pioneering transgender volunteer and activist in South East Michigan.  With her future wife Michelle Fox-Phillips, she founded what was then known as Transgender Detroit.  Phillips-Fox was also involved in Crossroads, Transgender Michigan, Affirmations, and PFLAG Detroit.

Detroit News, June 10, 2006

Between The Lines, June 15, 2006

Jessie Makaila Shipps

Jessie Shpps pic

April 7, 1984 – June 23, 2015

Birmingham native Jessie Makaila Shipps was a decorated veteran the U.S. Air Force, serving from 2003 to 2014.  She was active in SPARTA, an organization for trans military members, and produced a number of YouTube videos documenting her gender transition.  Shipps and her spouse Leeanna resided in Hampton, Virginia with their daughter Grace.

The Advocate, June 24, 2015

Detroit News, July 5, 2015

Vicki Marlane

Vicki Marlane pic

September 5, 1934 – July 3, 2011

Minnesota native Vicki Marlane was among a troupe of female impersonators who performed at the Diplomat Lounge in Detroit in the early 1960s.  Born Donald Sterger, Marlane underwent gender affirmation surgery in San Francisco, where she continued to perform into her 70s.  She was subject of the 2009 documentary Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight.  She died from AIDS-related complications at age 76.

Bay Area Reporter, July 14, 2011

Vicki Marlane photographs and artifacts at the GLBT Historical Society

Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight on Vimeo

Coko Williams

Coko Williams pic

October 1, 1976 – April 3, 2012

Coko Williams, a 35-year-old transgender woman who sometimes worked as a hairstylist, was found shot to death in Detroit’s Palmer Park neighborhood.  After Fox 2 Detroit identified her as a “male prostitute” in its report of the crime, activists launched a protest against the station for being transphobic.  There was also no evidence that Williams engaged in sex work.

Between The Lines, April 5, 2012

Arlene Kish

Arlene Kish pic

October 12, 1950 – January 7, 2017

Business owner Arlene Kish attended Shafer High School in Southgate and studied marketing and advertising at Ferris State University.  A devoted transgender community organizer and activist, Kish served on the board of Affirmations.  As a conservative political independent, she often took flack for supporting Republican causes.

Heritage Newspapers, January 11, 2017

Marion Dunlap Whitman

April 17, 1927 – April 18, 1986

Raised as James Dunlap, Marion Dunlap Whitman worked as a sewing machine operator in the late 1950s and was one of numerous crossing-dressing African American Detroiters entrapped on the streets by undercover vice.  After serving 18 months in the State Prison of Southern Michigan, she moved to San Francisco.

Bay Area Reporter, May 15, 1986