Cecilia Gentili poses in profile wearing a flowing yellow dress and crown of red flowers. She faces left and holds a matching flower in her outstretched left hand, which is balanced on her raised knee. She sits on a white cloth laid on the grass and is surrounded by trees draped in matching white fabric. Sunlight peeks through the trees.

Remembering Cecilia Gentili


Image: Cecilia Gentili by Oscar Diaz. Image Credit: Xtra Magazine

It is with deep sadness that we write to mourn the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a trailblazing writer, artist, actress, and fierce advocate for the rights of sex workers and incarcerated people, trans liberation, immigrant justice, and drug user health.  

Cecilia’s advocacy was firmly rooted in her experiences as an undocumented trans immigrant of color. Her Stonewall Book Award-winning memoir, Faltas: Letters to Everyone in my Hometown Who Isn’t my Rapist, documented her experience growing up in Argentina and relocating to the U.S. in search of safety. A gifted performer and storyteller, she acted in the FX series Pose and performed her one-woman show, Red Ink in a highly praised off-Broadway debut last fall. 

She helped found Decrim NY, an organization that works to decriminalize, decarcerate, and destigmatize sex work in New York. She fought to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), played a key role in leading the NEW Pride Agenda, and worked tirelessly to advocate for the health, safety, and dignity of New York’s LGBTQIA+ community. 

NASTAD had the pleasure of collaborating with Cecilia several times over the past few years. She moderated the THRASH plenary at the 2023 Annual Meeting titled The State of Trans Health in Public Health Discourse. Her company, Trans Equity Consulting, worked closely with NASTAD’s Health Equity team on the Center for Innovation and Engagement and she presented a webinar, Overcoming Implicit Bias When Working with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Communities, in partnership with her colleague Mateo Belen. Cecilia also collaborated with NASTAD’s Prevention team to help connect traditionally underserved persons of trans experience to care through her contributions to the toolkit, Re-envisioning Community Engagement: A Practical Toolkit to Empower HIV Prevention Efforts with Marginalized Communities.

She will be remembered for her intelligence, her bravery, her art, her witticisms, and the boundless love she showed to her community. Sharing space with Cecilia, her stories, and her fierce sense of humor was an honor and an immense joy. 

We leave you with a request from Cecilia’s loved ones in honor of her memory: Please be gentle with each other and love one another with ferocity. May she rest in power and peace. 

*The THRASH (Trans Harm Reduction and Sexual Health) committee works with and across all teams at NASTAD taking on any Trans related TA requests, informs NASTAD in the development of policies and resources to support our Trans coworkers, and advocates for Trans inclusion and representation at all NASTAD Meetings.