Jake Crandall—The Montgomery Advertiser/AP

Quentin Bell believes that America is in the midst of the “second leg” of the civil rights movement—one that extends to a fight for Black trans rights. Bell and his wife Jennine founded The Knights and Orchids Society (TKO), a Black trans- and queer-led organization that provides clients with services including routine STI ­wellness checks and access to a general practitioner. TKO is not a lobbying group. But as a host of anti-trans bills emerged in the Alabama state legislature over the past three years, Bell’s work to fight back has become like a second full-time job. In the spring, Bell, who is trans, testified against a bill restricting access to gender-­affirming care for minors and argued it could have dangerous repercussions. He led coalition calls against the bill, pointing out that major medical organizations opposed it. In April, when the bill became law, he began educating Alabamans on how it could affect them. Based in Selma, with its long civil rights history, Bell says he’s hopeful about the young activists in this fight. “I want to make sure the next generation of trans leaders do not have to start from zero,” he says.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Madeleine Carlisle at madeleine.carlisle@time.com.

Keke Palmer
Sydney Sweeney
Joel Kim Booster
Jack Harlow
5 stories