LaVelle Ridley is a queer black transsexual woman and PhD candidate in English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She holds a BA in English literature with a minor in Africana Studies from the University of Toledo and was a member of the 2015 Schomburg-Mellon Humanities Summer Institute cohort in New York City. Her research and teaching interests include contemporary African American fiction and life writing, radical Black feminist theory, and queer and trans of color critique. Currently, she is working on a dissertation which examines contemporary life writing by black trans women in the U.S. and questions how a critical trans* imagination informs how these writers creatively engage black queer and feminist literary traditions, resist oppressive forms of state and social power, and move us towards more liberatory black/queer/trans world- and freedom-making. Additionally, she is a member of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and currently co-editing an anthology of writing by trans women of color with Lexi Adsit and Nava Mau. She has published in academic journals such as GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and is the special section co-editor of “Book Reviews” for TSQ.
As an advocate for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, LaVelle centers her activism around community education and coalition-building across social-justice based movements. As an abolitionist, her greatest fuel for doing this radical work is the act of imagination, dreaming of a world in which oppressive structures of power no longer determine how we live our lives or care for those in our communities and struggling towards actualizing such a world. Her favorite community education topics include imagination as a radical form of resistance, black queer feminist history and politics, the liberatory power of transgender literature and art, and T4T (trans for trans) love and desire as a liberating relationship dynamic for trans and gender non-conforming folks.