Outspoken transgender leader broke barriers

Jaci Adams. Credit: Facebook Jaci Adams. Credit: Facebook

Jaci Adams had your back.

Jaci (pronounced Jackie), an outspoken and animated transgender woman, had seen it all: She was an abused youth turned thug, druggie, hooker, and jailbird. But when she got out, “she used all her education from all that to help people so they wouldn’t wind up the same way,” Frannie Price said.

“It’s amazing when you think of this person and how she did this complete turnaround in her life,” said Price, executive director of Philly Pride Presents. “She didn’t use it to feel sorry for herself; she used it to make people aware.”

Adams had an uncanny ability to sense your insecurities or fear and would simply point her finger and wink.

“Don’t worry,” she’d say, “I got your back.”

Adams, who lived in West Philadelphia and was an active leader in the city’s LGBT community, died from cancer on Feb. 15. She was 56.

Memorial services for Adams, which were confirmed over the weekend, will be held on Friday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at The Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany at 330 S. 13th Street.

Adams, who was born in West Virginia but moved to Philadelphia when she was a child, was known for her ability to communicate with all classes, races and creeds.

“Knowing that you came from the street, knowing that you’re not white collar, and yet … you can command that type of respect that when you talked, people listen, is a gift,” Price said.

Ronda B. Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, knew Adams as a volunteer with the public-interest law firm, as well as an activist. She called Adams self-aware and courageous.

“Think about it,” Goldfein said. “Who among us can look deep into our souls, find whatever absolute truth there is, and make that your life. And not only make it your life, but make it your life’s work to help other people to do the same thing.”

Frannie called Adams, who carried the AIDS virus, a light.

“You know she really cared and she wasn’t bulls___ing you,” Price said.

Price said she’ll often look up.

“I know Jaci’s up there,” Price said. “And I know she’s got my back. If there is any spirit that can do anything for you, I know that Jaci’s got my back.”


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