Mariah Moore Is Fighting For Trans People In New Orleans

To read about the rest of the Culture Shifters, including TV executive Jasmyn Lawson and spiritual adviser Emilia Ortiz, return to the complete list. To put it simply, Mariah Moore’s compassion for trans women and their shared struggles radiates through her words and her actions. The New Orleans activist uses her political savvy and devotion to fellow community members to fight against anti-trans legislation. Whether it’s providing a meal and clothing to those in need or lobbying for congressional recognition on behalf of the transgender community, Moore has become one of the heroines of New Orleans. She says it takes empathy and a willingness to listen to bring effective change within a flawed socioeconomic system.

“Every day you wake up, you have choices to make: You can love your neighbors and community members. You can choose to lead with an open mind and heart. You can choose to be good to people,” Moore said in an interview. “Just by doing that, you can change the world and the quality of life for many people.”

Moore has been advocating for transgender people in New Orleans through several organizations. She is the organizing program associate at the Transgender Law Center. Housed at TLC is Black Trans Circles, which has allowed her to co-organize and create leadership development programs for Black trans women in the South. Through this program and others like it, Moore aims to teach other trans women how to heal, organize and develop internal community solutions. The community organizer also works with such operations as the “CANS Can’t Stand” campaign, which seeks to erase a 19th-century “crimes against nature” law in Louisiana. She serves on the city’s LGBTQ Task Force. She co-directs her organization, House of Tulip, with Milan Nicole Sherry, where they help transgender and gender-nonconforming residents find safe, affordable housing in Louisiana.

And in March, Moore announced her candidacy for New Orleans City Council. If she’s elected, she will become the council’s first transgender member. “I’m running because I know we can’t truly move forward if we aren’t all represented and we aren’t all allowed to have a voice,” she said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. I’ve experienceds leadership isn’t present for everyday, hardworking New Orleanians.”

In 2020, Moore was able to aid other trans women in maneuvering food insecurity, housing instability, and unemployment. The organizer collaborated with other trans activists to establish an emergency COVID Crisis Fund, raising $20,000 for at-risk sex workers and unhoused transgender people in Louisiana. Her own life stories inspire her to keep pushing for mutual aid and governmental protection for all.

Moore, 32, grew up poor in New Orleans’ 7th Ward and took any job to keep her afloat. A sex worker turned retail associate turned legal professional; she now serves as a beacon of hope for those from similar upbringings. Her day-to-day operations, no matter how big or small, are preventive measures to ensure younger trans women are brought up in a kinder, more viable world.

“I’m a former sex worker. I’m affected by anti-trans violence. I have navigated housing insecurity and food insecurity,” she said. “I’ve been turned down from jobs I was overly qualified for.” Navigating institutions devoid of compassion and understanding for trans women can be daunting. Without the necessary access to career opportunities or safe housing, these women quickly become the target of brutality by family members, police officers, and strangers. Her home state of Louisiana has seen several homicides of trans women over the past few years.

“When we look at 2016 and 2017, these were some of the deadliest years to be Black, trans, and femme in New Orleans. However, when our organizing efforts took off, you saw many more conversations being had, many more organizations stepping out, and a lot more community being gained around trans-led initiatives. Fortunately, we have successfully reduced the violence over the past three years, but to only reduce it is not enough.”

“The number I recall is 35. Black trans women have been statistically doomednot to make it past that agee,” she said. “But I want for myself, and other girls like me, to beat the odds.” So here’s Moore’s call to action: Do the work to continue making life easier for people in your community. “To see consistent change,” she said, “our organizing efforts must be broad and consistent. It will take calling out all the institutions and having all the uncomfortable conversations necessary to make the work worthwhile.”

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!