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Georgia Transgender Oral History Project: R

Roberts, Jamie

Interviewee: Jamie Roberts
Interviewer: Ashby Combahee
Date of interview: October 24, 2021

Interviewee: Jamie Roberts
Interviewer: Ashby Combahee
Date of interview: November 14, 2021

Biography:
Jamie Roberts (she/her) was born and raised as a male in Griffin, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia College and State University in 1994 with a B.S. in Psychology, and graduated in 1999 from the University of Georgia School of Law with a Juris Doctor. Jamie transitioned to female in the late nineties. She has been a Public Defender in the Coweta Judicial Circuit of Georgia, and is one of the founding members of the Trans Housing Atlanta Program (THAP). She has served as a board member for Georgia Equality, a statewide organization advancing fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Georgians. Her interests include history, videography, acting, and exploring sacred traditions, particularly as they relate to gender nonconformity.

Abstract, October 24, 2021
Jamie Roberts reflects on growing up in Griffin, GA, mentioning that she was born with a congenital heart defect and has been using a pacemaker since she was six years old. She recounts being raised in the 1970s-1980s in the Southern Baptist Church and talks about going through periods of agnosticism, atheism, and paganism. As an adult, Jamie became active in the Maetreum of Cybele in Palenville, NY, a Pagan revival movement that affirmed trans identity.  She eft this group in 2008 over disagreements. Jamie talks about growing into her gender identity while attending college, and shares experiences of navigating relationships and gender transition later at Georgia State University School of Law. She states that it was during her time in law school that she became knowledgeable aout transgender law, and that this experience helped her to contribute to various advocacy movements, starting with her participation in the Atlanta Gender Explorations support group with activist Erin Swenson. From there, Jamie went on to work with Georgia Legal Services Program and Central City AIDS Network. In 2005, Jamie and activist Dee Dee Chamblee organized LaGender, a trans advocacy nonprofit where Jamie helped train HIV peer counselors. Later, she collaborated with Tracee McDaniel and Cheryl Courtney-Evans to found the Trans Housing Atlanta Program. Throughout the interview, Jamie discusses additional activist efforts, including her time as board chair for Georgia Equality and Mega Family Project, and her involvement with Southern Comfort, a major transgender conference at which she gave presentation in the 2000s. 

Abstract, November 11, 2021
In a second interview, Jamie Roberts describes queer activism in the early 2000s, explaining how marriage equality mobilization in Atlanta became the platform for radical progressives to push for further change. According to Jamie, these efforts produced Queer Progressive Agenda (QPA), a group that included activists such as Deepil Gokhale and Lorraine Fontana, and that strived to place trans advocacy to the forefront of its mission. Jamie recalls a core group of leaders establishing QPA Base Camp, which sought to build a multiracial coalition within the queer community. Jamie goes on to discuss additional political efforts, describing her involvement in the Green Party in the 1990s, the Coweta County Democratic Party during the Obama administration, Occupy Atlanta in 2011, and the Democratic Party of Georgia during the Biden-Harris campaign. Circling back to trans advocacy, Jamie shares the story of Alice Johnston, and how the trans housing crisis led her to organize with activists Tracee McDaniel and Cheryl Courtney-Evans to build a community response  through the Trans Housing Atlanta Program. Throughout the interview, Jamie discusses her career, recalling losing her job as a public defender following ant-racist advocacy around the Troup County Drug Court and becoming involved with the film industry. At the time of recording, Jamie reported that she had recently returned to practice law at a criminal defense firm.  

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