She’s one of the most well-known transgender activists on the planet, but Raquel Willis is just getting started.
Willis, who tells Glamour she sees herself as a journalist, activist, and storyteller, has made her mark in every one of these fields, making a name for herself by fighting for the rights of people on the margins who deserve a seat at the table.
One of the best examples of this was the 2017 Women’s March, where she was chosen to speak to the crowd. During her speech Willis began to call for marchers to ensure the inclusion of every woman in the movement, saying in part, “As we commit to build this movement of resistance and liberation, no one can be an afterthought anymore.”
The crowd didn’t get to hear the rest of her speech, though. Willis’s mic was cut, and organizers moved on to the next speaker. The moment, as Willis recounts in her new book, The Risk It Takes to Bloom, was a reminder of what she was fighting for.
“I gleaned whatever lessons I could from the experience: that I needed to look more critically at the movements of which I was a part, that I needed to ensure that I wasn’t relying too heavily on anyone else to platform my voice,” she writes.
Her memoir, which comes out on Tuesday, begins with this story, demonstrating the power of Willis’s voice and the resonance of her message. Willis celebrates both the journey she has taken and the progress she has made in finding her true self, while writing a defiant call to action to make things even better for those who come after.
She tells Glamour that this work is for everyone.
“Our values have to be infused in whatever we do,” she says. “It’s not quite enough to necessarily see yourself as an activist. You’ve got to figure out what the particular gifts are that you want to lean into to move towards collective liberation. I think it’s more than a title. I do believe that we live in a time where maybe the titles matter more to folks than what their actual interests and passions are. That might be a little spicy, but I stand beside it.”