Dec. 8, 2019 — The year 2019 was marked with a rise in violence against the transgender* community in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. In reflecting on these events and the need for strong leaders in our local LGBT+ community, the Dallas LGBT+ Bar Association (“DLGBTBA”) Board established the Justice Award in December of 2019.
The Justice Award is given to one person who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the LGBT+ community by fighting injustice. The recipient of the DLGBTBA’s Justice Award meets the following criteria:
- The recipient demonstrates qualities showing “a heart of gold.”
- The recipient has drawn attention to or advocated against injustice in the LGBT+ community.
- The recipient (absent contingencies such as exile, detention, or restriction on travel due to the circumstances justifying the award) must agree to be present in person to receive the award when it is presented. No preference is given to a recipient’s lifetime body of work over a single event or case.
The DLGBTBA awarded its inaugural Justice Award at its annual Holiday Party on December 8, 2019, to Assistant City Attorney for the City of Dallas, Jayla Wilkerson.
Wilkerson is a graduate of University of North Texas (UNT), with a Masters in Criminology and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania.
Wilkerson worked as an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County from 2015 until 2018. When news broke about Dallas County Prisons mistreating transgender detainees, she resigned from the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Wilkerson now serves the City of Dallas as an Assistant City Attorney.
In 2017, Wilkerson also founded Transgender Pride of Dallas. That year, she partnered with the Dallas Resource Center to launch the very first Transgender Pride in Dallas.
In 2019, when the City of Dallas moved the annual Pride Parade, Wilkerson organized the Pride is a Protest March in response to the complaints many members of the community had about the new location for Dallas’ Pride Parade.
Wilkerson has organized the Dallas Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) for the past two years, and is also the 2019 Secretary of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.
Wilkerson moved the crowd of over 100 attendees at the DLGBTBA Annual Holiday Party during her acceptance speech, where she spoke candidly of her personal life and professional career.
“We cannot think of a more deserving recipient of the DLGBTBA’s inaugural Justice Award,” said DLGBTBA President Mario H. Nguyen. “We look forward to honoring more leaders, like Jayla, each year.”
The Dallas Voice also covered Wilkerson’s receipt of the DLGBTBA’s Justice Award on page 27 of its December 20, 2019, issue.