Philadelphia activist honored among "Out100"

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Saturday, December 9, 2023
Philadelphia activist honored among "Out100"
Philadelphia activist honored among "Out100"

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There are more than 18.4 million LGBTQ+ Americans, according to a Gallup poll analyzed by the Williams Institute.

Among those millions, a few dozen stand out as the most influential LGBTQ+ people in the country, named to Out Magazine's "Out100" list. One of those honorees, Naiymah Sanchez, lives right here in Philadelphia.

The city is not only where Sanchez grew up, it's where she makes a difference in the lives of countless people as a senior organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Philadelphia branch.

"Whether it's trans rights, immigrant rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, mass incarceration. All of that encompasses our community," she said.

For Sanchez, though, work isn't just work, it's life.

"At five o'clock, I don't put the pen down and stop typing at the computer. I'm trans 24/7," said Sanchez who is a transgender woman.

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It's important that she brings her lived experiences to her job because Sanchez knows firsthand how hard the journey can be.

"I utilize the privilege that I feel I have as an out and proud trans person to educate and advocate," she said.

But Sanchez never thought her work would bring her praise from a national publication. She was surprised when she received word that Out Magazine named her one of their 100 most influential LGBTQ+ people.

"I never thought about being rewarded for doing the work, because getting another day is the biggest reward I can get," she said.

Being one of the Out100 is a bright spot during a difficult time for many transgender people across the country.

SEE ALSO: How an "Out 100" honoree in Philadelphia uses her role with the ACLU to help others

Out 100 honoree in Philadelphia uses her role to help others

"We're seeing legislative initiatives that attempt to roll back the protections," she said.

Yet Sanchez remains determined, having already overcome so many personal obstacles.

"Being a person who was formerly incarcerated, someone who is a survivor of sexual assault, and someone who used to be unhoused, when it comes to doing this work, I bring all of that experience into that room," she said.

The challenges that once anchored her now elevate her-- the same way she seeks to uplift others.

"Everything that we do, it brings value to the world," she said.

You can see Naiymah Sanchez' story, and many others, in the "Out100" hour-long special. It's available wherever you stream. And it airs Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m. on 6abc.