Ivory Nicole SmithAge 27 (born 28 Jul 1995)
24 Jan 2023
San Francisco, California (USA)
Ivory was found dead in her apartment on Tuesday 24th January. She was a well-known Black transgender activist and entrepreneur.
Ivory Nicole Smith, a well-known Black transgender activist and entrepreneur, was found dead in her apartment on Tuesday. She was 27.
A San Francisco native and Tenderloin resident, she had served as a program associate in the Transgender District and as a member of the Trans Advisory Committee with the city’s Office of Transgender Initiatives. At the time of her death, Smith was a site supervisor at the Taimon Booton Navigation Center, a trans-specific project of St. James Infirmary, an SF nonprofit that provides health care and resources to sex workers.
As part of the Know Our Places campaign designed to showcase uplifting narratives about trans and gender-nonconforming people, Smith was one of several models whose faces appeared on BART trains and other public places.
In an Instagram post announcing Smith’s death on Wednesday, the transgender district said the San Francisco Police Department’s investigation “is ongoing, but their preliminary assessment rules out foul play and murder.” The Standard has yet to hear back from the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office after requesting further information.
On Friday, the transgender district will hold a candlelight vigil for Smith at the intersection of Turk and Taylor Streets in the Tenderloin.
Smith was also part of SFMoma’s SECA Art Prize exhibit, which is currently on view. For I’m so lucky, so lucky to be trans, Oakland-based visual artist Marcel Pardo Ariza photographs Bay Area trans leaders in the manner of Catholic saints to evoke a sense of joy and tenderness in the community. SFMOMA plans to hold its own memorial at an unspecified date.
Jupiter Peraza, a trans activist who worked with Smith in the district, remembered her as a “brilliant, brilliant leader”.
“I got to spend a lot of time with Ivory,” Peraza told The Standard. “We’re about the same age, so we definitely have a lot of the same dreams and aspirations for the future. I was always amazed at how she interacted with her community with the utmost grace and respect and love.” She led with kindness.