Giana Graves still doesn’t see herself as anything more than an outspoken advocate for her community.
But the 22-year-old powerhouse has become much more than an activist. A self-described trans woman of color, Graves is being honored during Wawa Welcome America with the 2018 City of Philadelphia’s Magis Award for her work at The Attic Youth Center, which provides resources and a safe space for LGBTQIA youth. There, Graves worked closely with teens whose experiences mirrored her own.
“I feel like growing up, a lot of my issue was that I didn’t know how to advocate for myself and articulate the things that I was going through,” she said. “I just knew my teachers were mean to me because I was trans and kids on me because I was weird.”
During her time at The Attic, Graves provided support for kids and helped connect them with the resources they needed. She also addressed the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission during a hearing on racism in the Gayborhood and developed a curriculum to educate youth on the intersection of racism and sexism.
Her work has touched the lives of hundreds of queer teens in Philadelphia and continues to grow in her new role at the Mazzoni Center.
“I think it’s easy for me to talk to youth because I am a youth,” she told NBC10. “When they are talking to me, I’m talking to someone from my generation ... I can meet them where they’re at because I’m already speaking the same language.”