A Legendary Diva, Celebrating Tracie Jada O’Brien

Dear Pride Family,

When we think of Pride we often invoke the images of our Stonewall forbears, people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie. However, it is vital for us to recognize those doing the work in our community right here in San Diego. 

Tracie Jada O’Brien is a survivor, an advocate, a history-maker… an icon. She beat the odds as a Black, trans street kid at the crossroads of Turk and Taylor Streets in the notoriously rough Tenderloin neighborhood of 1970s San Francisco. She endured the loss of a generation of LGBTQ+ people to the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and she saw the rise and fall of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA in the 1990s — all before some of us were born. 

In 2005, she participated in the first consultation forum for trans individuals with the Centers for Disease Control leading to greater representation for transgender people in policies and resources. By any measure, hers is a purpose-driven life. 

Miss Tracie has worked tirelessly to become an outstanding role model within – and a staunch advocate for – the transgender community. In addition to her work expanding access to transgender health services through Family Health Centers, she founded San Diego’s Transgender Day of Empowerment and the Tracie Jada O’Brien Student Scholarship Program which awards scholarships to transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse students in higher educational programs from or residing in San Diego County. 

In an interview with the University of Minnesota Tretter Transgender Oral History Project, she partially attributed her drive to her own feelings of disconnection and loneliness in her youth. “I am a woman of trans experience,” she said. “I was always trying to get to a place where I could feel ok.”

And, is there anything more relatable than wanting to feel OK? 

In a world where 83% of transgender youth feel unsafe in school because of their gender identity, Miss Tracie is making history now by empowering transgender youth to become leaders, today and tomorrow. 

This year we celebrate 20 years of the Transgender Day of Empowerment. We invite you to make some history of your own and support transgender youth by donating to the Tracie Jada O’Brien Student Scholarship Program and joining us for the Transgender Day of Empowerment.

With Pride,

Jen LaBarbera
Interim Co-Executive Director


About San Diego Pride

San Diego Pride raises funds primarily through festival ticket and beverage sales, and through sponsorships, and exhibitor fees. These funds support San Diego Pride’s community philanthropy which has distributed more than $2.5 million in advancement of its mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.