December 7, 1960 – May 12, 2020
Originally from North Carolina, Redford resident and trailblazing activist Aimee Stephens was fired from her job as a funeral director in Garden City in 2013 when she revealed she was transgender and would be living as a woman. She filed suit against her employer but did not live to witness the Supreme Court decision that her firing violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Stephens was survived by her wife Donna.
New York Times, May 12, 2020
Between The Lines, May 18, 2020 [online only]
September 15, 1948 – May 20, 1977
Billie Jean Truitt was born in Detroit worked as a hotel clerk. Truitt was, in the terminology of the 1970s, a “post-op transsexual” when she took her own life in her Detroit apartment at age 28. She was survived by her fiancé Art Walker.
Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1977
September 16, 1954 – February 23. 2019
Jeri Shupe of Pontiac grew up in Taylor and graduated with the class of 1972 from Taylor High School. She worked variously as a ballroom dance instructor, a law office manager, and a licensed cosmetologist. Shupe was active in the Flint-area group Transgender Connect and in 2016, according to her obituary, transitioned from male to female. Her life partner Diane Morin survived her.
Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home
October 26, 1942 – January 15, 2018
Traverse City resident Gwen Sanford grew up in Grand Rapids, studied at Grand Rapids Junior College and Valparasio Technical Institute, and served as a trooper and diving instructor with the Michigan State Police from 1966 to 1992. After retiring, the former Glenn transitioned to Gwen and later served on the board of Friends North. Sanford was survived by her wife Carol Larson and three children.
Traverse City Record-Eagle, January 21, 2018
September 4, 1993 – June 11, 2019
Grand Rapids resident Alice Joy Anderson was born in Holland. Anderson’s creativity drew her to mythology, literature, music, architecture, history, and photography, and a passion for LEGO building blocks. Her studies took her to India and Iceland. At age 16, Anderson entered Hope College, where she worked as a set carpenter in the Theater Department and earned her B.A. in studio art in 2016.
Holland Sentinel, June 21, 2019
July 27, 1932 – July 18, 2017
Nancy Ledins was born in Cleveland, Ohio as William Griglak, was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1959, and served as an assistant rector at St. Anthony parish in Detroit in the early 1960s. After leaving the priesthood to marry a nun, William transitioned to Nancy in 1979 and was obliged to divorce. In her last years, Rev. Ledins resumed ministering with a congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Charlotte Observer, July 22, 2017
Nancy S. Ledins profile at LGBT Religious Archives Network
December 1841 – September 5, 1898
Born in Nova Scotia, Sarah Emma Edmonds began presenting herself as Frank Thompson at age 15. Thompson moved to Flint in the 1860s and was considered “quite a lady’s man.” After serving as a male nurse in Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry the Civil War, Edmonds resumed living as a woman. Her memoir Nurse and Spy in the Union Army became a best seller.
No known obituary
December 8, 1998 – February 16, 2019
Dani Som, also known as Dani Sommerville, was born in Southfield and was a 2017 graduate of Berkley High School. He received a Spirit of Detroit Award in 2015 for achievement and leadership, including his involvement in music and theater, as well as extensive volunteer work. As an out young trans man, Som was active with Affirmations and FtM Detroit. Months after moving to Oregon, he took his own life.
Between The Lines, April 11, 2019
January 11, 1953 – December 26, 1995
Cappisene Ford, known to most in the gay community as Ms. L.T.D. (for La Twiggy Darling), began to entertain in the 1970s at the Escape, My Fair Lady, and other Detroit bars. She later went on to perform in Paris and Hong Kong. From 1979 to 1980 she served as Records Officer for the Michigan Organization for Human Rights. She died from AIDS-related complications at age 42.
No known obituary
October 22, 1987 – January 10, 2013
Ciara La’Shae White was musically inclined at a young age, playing clarinet and bass clarinet in the concert and marching bands at Ruddiman Middle School in Detroit and taking part in the marching band, as well as junior ROTC, at Mackenzie High School. She was a beloved member of the LGBT community and the Ruth Ellis Center.
Stinson Funeral Home