At a Los Angeles City Hall ceremony held today in recognition of International Women’s Day, Gia Banks, a trans woman activist, was among the more than one dozen women honored for the difference they have made in their community. She was the only and first trans woman so honored.
Banks’ honor was sponsored by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson who presented her with a “Pioneer Woman of the Year” Award for the City of Los Angeles’ 10th Council District.
The annual Pioneer Woman of the Year Award honors local leaders in the fight for gender equality. The theme of this year’s ceremony was “Shifting Narratives: The Strength of Survivors.”
Los Angeles City Council members and the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women also honored Dorit Dowler-Guerrero, Patti Peteque, Jeannie Mai, Zaydee Sanchez, Laurie Craft, Amber Sheik-Ginsberg, Meredith Harper Houston, Georgia Berkovich, Tangelia Myles, Joan Howard, Josefina Lopez, Kelli Dillon and Patti Colvin.
“When we recognize women, we have a responsibility to recognize all women,” said Wesson. “Trans women have been and continue to be an integral part of the struggle for women’s rights and I am honored to have Gia Banks as my 2019 Pioneer Woman. ”
Banks was the only trans woman honored during today’s ceremony at City Hall. West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey P. Horvath joined the Los Angeles City Council President in presenting Ms. Banks and also presented an award on behalf of West Hollywood.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized and I am so grateful,” added Banks. “It feels so good to welcomed and accepted for who I am and the community of women that I represent.”
Banks is a resident of Baldwin Village in South Los Angeles, a beloved local figure known as Legendary Mother Gia Mizrahi. She is a dancer, model, activist and survivor who uses performance to ignite social change.
As a former sex worker Banks famously survived a brutal attack, she now works to empower her community confront the interwoven complexities of being a trans sex worker and person of color.
Gia has used her platform and talent to perform LA PRIDE, TransNation, and Alliance for California Traditional Arts.
Since 2006, Gia has worked with REACH LA to link the West Coast House and Ballroom Community to both artistic platforms and HIV/AIDS-related services.