Cherno Biko, 24, New York City
The life expectancy of a transgender woman of color is just 35 years. Cherno Biko wants to change that.
Cherno (who prefers the pronouns them, their and they) quit their job at 22-years-old and exchanged the 9-to-5 for a life as a full-time, transgender activist. In that role, Cherno travels the country speaking about transgender women of color, especially those that have been murdered and subsequently have had their lives mischaracterized by the some media coverage.
Most recently, Cherno's much-lauded workshop, May We Share Your Umbrella?: How to Create Space for Folks Like Us, discussed the "silent T" within LGBT. Most recently Cherno was named the Co-Chair of the Young Women's Advisory Council for the city of New York. In that role, Cherno will help address disparities that affect young women and girls.
This diversity and inclusion work sparks both passion and solutions. "When I walk into a room I want to bring all of me," says the activist. "All of me" means being the child of a Senegalese father and a Black American mother who is from the South. "My parents are very unapologetically Black—they always ingrained in me the history of our people."
Cherno is also clear on the necessity of the work. "I am not in love with activism," says Cherno. "We shouldn't have to declare that Black lives matter, but it remains necessary. It's important for me to remember that the life I save could indeed be my own."
DEFINE YOURSELF IN THREE HASHTAGS: #BlackLivesMatter #BlackGirlMagic #MrsBikoWorldTour
WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR AGENDA? I hope it's love. I want love to manifest in my life—in every way possible.