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"I Rise-The Transformation of Toni Newman": chat with the author, black transgender activist Toni

Toni is on the show today talking about her experience as an author, activist, and black transgender woman. She's currently the Interim Executive Director for LYRIC in San Francisco: Lyric is a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ youth, their families, and allies of all races, classes, genders, and abilities. Find out more about Toni on her website:

More about Toni:

Toni is the former Interim Director for Employment Services at the San Francisco LGBT Center and a consultant for the Transgender Strategy Center. Toni is a graduate of Wake Forest University and current candidate for her Juris of Doctorate (JD). Toni served as the Executive Director for St. James Infirmary and the Director of Development for Maitri Compassionate Care, and previously served as an Interim Director of Development & Communications, Strategic Fundraiser, Volunteer Recruiter, and Legislative Aide. Additionally, Toni is a best selling author, noted for her memoir “I Rise – The Transformation of Toni Newman” released in 2011, which is based on the poem “I Rise” by Wake Forest University Reynolds Professor and poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.


“A True Tale Of Rags To Riches of African American Transgender. I Rise, the controversial coming of age novel by Toni Newman will bring tears of joy and perseverance. You will follow Toni on her rise from a “sissy boy,” a scholarship student, a business professional, an escort, a drag queen, a NYC prostitute, an LA dominatrix, and finally, a transsexual attending law school in order to help her transsexual sisters in need. Along Toni’s journey you will see the highs and lows, as well as life-long quest for self-acceptance.

Toni is ex Playgirl magazine model and male fitness model turned Transgender to lose it all. Toni graduated from Wake Forest University in 1985 with a BA degree. In the late 90’s, Toni was the CEO of MPI Productions, producer of male/female fitness calendars, sold all over the United States and abroad.

An outcast to society, Toni fell from grace landing on the streets of New York City. Living in a crack house, and eating from a trash can, Toni’s life had spiraled out of control. Fallen, but not beaten, Toni Newman decided to RISE. In the footsteps Ted Williams, Toni Newman is a true testament of determination.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Maya Angelou


How did Toni and I meet?

I met Toni through volunteering at the SF LGBT Center. I volunteered as a job coach speaking with people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds who were looking for employment. At the volunteer sessions: I do resume reviews, interview preparation, and help coach them on what jobs might be a good fit. Toni has since shared some of her life experiences with me and I was very inspired by her story and wanted to share it with the world. She was kind enough to hop on a Zoom with me to talk about her life experiences and how she ended up working in nonprofit from canvassing with Equality California to working as the Interim Executive Director of Lyric.

I hope you will find our chat helpful and learn a little bit more about acceptance, sex workers rights, healthcare, nonprofit, getting involved in the community, finding a book deal, following your dreams, and more.

I also wanted to share more information about Lyric, where Toni current works. Find out more at

Lyric helps queer youth, typically between ages 11 and 23 years old with all kinds of services from mentorship, job training, housing assistance, counseling, and more.


LYRIC’s mission is to build community and inspire positive social change through education enhancement, career trainings, health promotion, and leadership development with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth, their families, and allies of all races, classes, genders, and abilities.

LYRIC’s vision is a diverse society where LGBTQQ youth are embraced for who they are and encouraged to be who they want to be. By working towards social justice and supporting young leaders, their families and allies, LYRIC is building a world that honors, respects and appreciates LGBTQQ youth and their contributions.

More information about the SF LGBT Center: a nonprofit organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of San Francisco, California, and nearby communities, located at 1800 Market Street. Our mission is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBTQ people and our allies.

You can find her book on Kindle or paperback. More about the book or buy it here to support this blog:


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