Vanessa Warri is a transgender Nigerian-American researcher, strategist, and advocate, committed to the liberation, empowerment, and safety of Black transgender women, and marginalized communities existing at various intersections of oppression. Born the only child of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, Vanessa constantly found herself torn between what she was being taught and what she felt and in 2004 she ran away from home at the age of 14. From foster care to homelessness on the streets of San Francisco, Vanessa faced challenges that helped educate her about the harsh realities disproportionately affecting Queer and Trans people of color. These experiences informed the development of her personal mission: to heal fractured and forgotten communities by advocating for their needs and conducting research to inform public policies that improve quality of life for disenfranchised communities. For 11 years she has provided empowerment based direct services and education for transgender communities and LGBTQQIA+ youth. As a research associate with the UCSF Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, she focuses on health-based intervention development designed to facilitate behavior change toward health care engagement. Vanessa is also involved in collaboration with Gays & Lesbians Living in Transgender Society Inc. in New York, supporting with advocacy against SESTA/FOSTA, and developing national rapid responses to anticipate and address the challenges and dangers this legislation will have on transgender women of color. Vanessa hopes to be able to support younger transgender women of color in their educational attainments by creating initiatives that center transgender women in research about them.

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