This Trans Day of Remembrance, we’re reflecting on and honoring some of the GJL organizers we’ve lost over our 10+ year history: Ryannah Quigley, chip phillips, and Ragnar Thorrison. Each of them brought light and laughter to our lives and to our movements. Although our hearts continue to break for these immense losses, we know they all live on through us, other family and friends, and through their impacts for our communities.
A proud Samoan trans woman, Ryannah Quigley spent her time making others’ lives better, brighter, and fuller. By day, she excelled in and loved her last job as a Nest coordinator for New Horizons, a homeless shelter in Seattle, where she devoted her time, love, and energy into helping youth struggling with battles that she understood intimately. By night, she was a talented drag performer, bringing joy to countless audiences.
We had the honor and pleasure of working with Ryannah across many areas: advocacy for homeless youth; HIV prevention work with the WeAre1 Campaign; producing Trans Pride Seattle from 2015-2016, which she also emceed one year; and expanding WA State’s Apple Health coverage. Impressively, Ryannah was also instrumental in getting trans health insurance coverage passed for Oregon State’s insurance program.
Ryannah had a talent for filling a room with light, love, and laughter. We, and many others, have been greatly blessed to know her.
chip phillips was a force to be reckoned with. There was nothing they did that they didn’t go all in on, jumping into any problem or volunteer opportunity with gusto and determination. chip was empathetic, devoted, playful, and full of joy—and they brought that vivacious spirit to every encounter.
chip was essential to the success of Trans Pride Seattle between 2018-2020 and two Gender Justice Awards, along with dozens of community events both privately and as a member of the Gender Justice League Board of Directors, where they took over the role of Secretary at the very beginning of the COVID pandemic. chip was empathetic, devoted, playful, and full of joy—and they brought that vivacious spirit to every encounter.
Their fierce passion for serving the Seattle trans community will forever be an inspiration to us. The loss of chip is monumental, but our time with them will live on forever in our memories and in their lasting impact on our community.
A founding member of Gender Justice League and one of the first fundraiser architects of the organization, Ragnar Thorrison was instrumental in helping GJL and Trans Pride Seattle get off the ground supporting and advocating for trans communities.
In addition to their work all over the country related to gender-affirming care and non-discrimination across college campuses, Ragnar helped launch Trans Pride Seattle by writing our first successful grant—which funded the first ever Trans Pride Seattle in 2013—and organizing our first crowd fundraising campaign for the event.
In a tribute from Grinnel College, Ragnar is remembered as “an active, thoughtful, and respectful leader” who “exemplified passionate activism and respectful dialogue, demonstrating a deep commitment to building a just and equitable society free from hate and bigotry;” and as “instrumental in the writing and passing of the hate crimes and bias motivated incidents response and protocols” on campus.
An uplifting spirit to all who knew them, Ragnar passed away due to AML leukemia at age 27, in 2016.