The legendary transgender actress and singer Holly Woodlawn passed away last December from cancer and as per her wishes, the Holly Woodlawn Memorial Fund for Transgender Youth at the Los Angeles LGBT Center was established. The Center’s Chief Development Officer, Bill McDermott told The Advocate,
“Holly Woodlawn’s last wish was to establish a legacy in her name for youth at risk. At a time when trans people globally are victimized or killed for simply being their true selves, this CIF Fund will help to empower and inspire trans youth to be relentless, courageous, and strong.”
The fund is a joint project of Woodlawn’s estate and the Center and will benefit a number of its programs, including Trans Pride L.A., Trans* Lounge, Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, and its trans health care services.Woodlawn was one of the Andy Warhol’s most well-known transgender muses and on her ’91 memoir, A Low Life in High Heels: The Holly Woodlawn Story, she says she faced many of the same struggles that befall low-income LGBT youth today,
“I was 15 years old and failing at high school in Miami Beach because I was too busy partying. I was supposed to go to summer school to catch up and really didn’t want to, so I joined some of these Cuban queens to go to New York. I hocked some jewelry and we made it all the way to Georgia, where the money ran out and we had to hitchhike the rest of the way.”
Woodlawn was at the Stonewall Inn when the modern LGBT movement really began and in ’68, at screening of the Flesh, Holly met Andy and her career on stage and screen took off. She appeared in club dates at Max’s Kansas City, worked as a model at Saks, and began transitioning with hormones in the ’70s.
But, like many trans youth, Woodlawn struggled to support herself as a gender variant woman. But somehow Holly always landed on her feet. Over the years she appeared in downtown productions in New York, LA and beyond and last year she appeared in the hit Transparent, connecting her to a new audience and the trans issues of today.
Woodlawn’s seed money, as well as her work and memory, will inspire and help the center, one the nation’s largest provider of services for LGBT youth. Donations to fund can be made online at Lalgbtcenter.org and for more infor about the Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, you can go here.