February 6, 2024 • Web

Cecilia Gentili, ¡Presente!

We are devastated to learn of the death of Cecilia Gentili. Cecilia was a force—a tireless advocate for trans people, immigrants, sex workers and drug users,incarcerated people and those living under occupation in Palestine. Cecilia was a brilliant poet, performer and memoirist whose words we are blessed to still have. Above all, she was committed to ensuring that all people, in particular trans people, could not only survive but thrive. Through this commitment she cultivated a wide, expansive, loving community. Her influence reverberates through New York City and beyond.

Cecilia’s legacy persists in the trans health services programs she developed and ran at Apicha Community Health Center in New York City, the laws adopting gender identity or expression as a protected category she helped pass as policy director at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the coalition she built through her founding of Decrim NY, a decriminalization advocacy group for sex workers which successfully ended the criminalization of the “walking while trans” law in New York State that led to the incarceration of trans women of color. Most importantly, she lives on through the countless queer and trans people she mentored and supported over decades.

Cecilia sat for an interview in 2017 with the NYC Trans Oral History Project, which we excerpted in our first magazine issue, where she spoke about her childhood and transition under the Argentinian military dictatorship. You can read the full interview here. She was also an expert we turned to for an intergenerational panel on the history and present of trans survival in 2022.

Her loss is already painfully felt. But her life and legacy continues in those of the trans people, sex workers, immigrants and drug users she nurtured, kept out of jail, and kept alive. Cecilia Gentili ¡presente!