Stephanie Skora is an unapologetic femme, a statistically middle-aged genderqueer trans woman, a lesbian in a culture quickly moving away from that label, and an anti-racist, anti-Zionist white Jew practicing her spiritual tradition through radical activism. Born with some pretty bad paperwork errors, raised in a deeply conservative suburb of Chicago, Illinois, and brought up in a sheltering, faux-liberal, and Zionist family with an abusive parent, Stephanie had the making of an activist from an early age. Stephanie has presented and spoken at conferences across the US, with a particular focus on locations in the Midwest, where queer and trans activism is often forgotten and discounted outside of major cities. Her activist work centers radical queer and trans justice, liberation for Palestine, and the dismantling of antisemitism, while employing black liberation and decolonial praxes, and works towards building and teaching survival in a society and culture hostile to all forms of queerness, transness, and racial resistence and life. Stephanie seeks to become one of the first trans women employed in the movement for justice in Palestine.
Stephanie began organizing while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where she discovered her lesbian and trans identities. Finding no existing space for trans students on campus, Stephanie co-founded the first and only trans organization at UIUC, the Campus Union for Trans Equality and Support (CUTES), and set to work crafting policies and changing the landscape of the University so that trans students could have a chance at making it through their four years without the additional burden of battling University policies along the way. Her work continued when she joined an ongoing movement for Arab and Muslim students and the movement for Justice in Palestine in the wake of a politically-motivated firing of Professor Steven Salaita. This involvement led to Stephanie's work with campus and local black liberation groups, and her volunteer organizing with multiple labor unions on campus. During her final semester on campus, Stephanie served as the Undergraduate Coordinator for a five-day strike by non-tenure faculty, allowing her to bring together the massive coalition she had assembled over the previous three years. In her scholarly work, Stephanie remained a committed activist, earning her BA in Gender & Women's Studies and Political Science, with minor concentrations in Sociology and LGBT/Q Studies in the Spring of 2016, and becoming the first person in the history of her University to complete both the GWS major and LGBT/Q Studies minor in the same degree program. Following her time on campus, Stephanie began working in the Champaign-Urbana community, serving as President of the Board of The UP Center of Champaign County, the local LGBT community center, until she left Champaign-Urbana in January of 2017.
After leaving Champaign-Urbana, Stephanie moved to Chicago and jumped into organizing in the city. She is a founding core organizer of the Trans Liberation Collective (TLC), a horizontally organized group working for the liberation of all trans people in Chicago and beyond. Through her work with TLC, she helped organize the Trans Liberation Protest, the largest gathering of trans people for a non-Pride related event in Midwest history. During the following June, she strategized and organized a shutdown of the Chicago Pride Parade in 2017, protesting their historical transphobia, racism, and Zionist tilt. Stephanie also began engaging more directly with her Judaism in her organizing, becoming a chapter leader for Jewish Voice for Peace - Chicago, and a leading figure in the Network Against Islamophobia as she helped launch JVP's Defund Islamophobia campaign. She broke new ground in JVP later that in 2017 by founding the organization's first working group specifically for queer and trans people, named QTJVP in Chicago. Stephanie has grown greatly in prominence as an anti-pinkwashing activist, gaining national recognition when she led a widely-lauded disruption of the 2018 Creating Change conference in Washington, DC, to protest the conference's censorship of workshops that discussed Palestine.
Outside of her time in her office and in the streets, Stephanie spends her time with her loving wife, and caring for her extensive queer family of children, siblings, and people who make life brighter despite the struggles of living it. Stephanie's activism and work on trans liberation, justice for Palestine, and the dismantling of antisemitism continue to grow as she travels the country educating and organizing, and she is excited to see what life brings to her next!