Ebony Ava Harper
Ebony Ava Harper
Ebony Harper protesting in support of Black Trans Lives [undefined]
Ebony Ava Harper is an award-winning nationally recognized activist and philanthropist, she's the first open black trans woman to work at a foundation (The California Endowment) in the nation. Through her professional career and her activism Harper has helped to uplift and shift culture for marginalized communities across the nation. In 2019 Harper was recognized by San Francisco Mayor London Breed's Office for her trailblazing advocacy work. Harper is the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Sacramento Stonewall Four Freedoms Award and Grand Marshal for Sacramento PRIDE.
Stints at Project Angel Food and the Los Angeles Youth Network propelled her into a staff position at Children Of The Night in Van Nuys, CA (a nonprofit focused on rescuing America’s children from the ravages of human trafficking and prostitution).
It was there Ebony learned community-based outreach and how to apply her lived experience as a Peer Counselor, helping homeless youth going through many of the same disadvantages and tribulations as she had gone through during her youth.
Harper was appointed to the the Department of Health California Planning Group in 2017.
From creating healing spaces, to employment opportunities, to spearheading the Chyna Gibson Memorial Mural detailing the epidemic of transgender murders, to LGBTQ+ community and sex workers needing a shoulder to cry on, Harper never fails to show up for her community time and time again.
Ebony Ava Harper is of Jamaican descent. Harper's mom, dad and 6 siblings migrated from Jamaica to Maryland in the 60s, she's the first to be born on American soil in her family. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California and attended Hollywood High School. [undefined] She began volunteering as a teenager with the Los Angeles Youth Network. [undefined]
Harper often talks about growing up "in a rough poor neighborhood" and being a product of her environment.
She was abandoned at the age of 13 for wearing women's clothing.
She often talks about her rough life having to survive on the street of Hollywood as a young black trans women and persevering years later.
She's now a resident of Sacramento, California. [undefined] and one of the most recognize transgender activist in the state of California.
Ebony Ava Harper at a community event [undefined]
Ebony Ava Harper wearing a "No Muslim Ban" shirt [undefined]
Harper worked for the Gender Health Center for a number of years as a PReP coordinator before her move to the Endowment.
Harper was recently appointed to the California State Department of Health Planning Group which reflects her role as a go-to contact for a broad range of needs and services in the state of California.
She'siin high demand from heads of global corporations to State-level agencies looking for her to speak at a program unveiling to religious community leaders seeking transgender cultural competence to survival sex workers in crisis needing a shoulder to cry on and resources to get them through to tomorrow Harper never fails to show up. [undefined]
Ebony Ava Harper's first paid position was working as a Peer Counselor for Dr. Lois Lee at Children Of The Night in Van Nuys, California, a nonprofit focused on rescuing children from human trafficking and prostitution. It was here that Ebony learned community-based outreach helping homeless youth going through many of the same disadvantages and tribulations as she had gone through during her youth. Before becoming a staff member at Children Of The Night she was a volunteer. [undefined]
In April 2018 Ebony Ava Harper accused the Sacramento County Jail discriminated against her by booking her into the male section of the jail. 
The woman’s arrest drew attention from city and county officials, who say they stepped in to help move the woman into another part of the jail.
Ebony Harper was arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Jail on charges of failing to disperse during a protest, and resisting an officer.
Ebony Harper says says her experience Thursday was humiliating, and a nightmare.
“My humanity was stripped, I was searched by men, and they videotaped me, I began to cry because I didn’t feel comfortable being searched by a guy,” Harper said.
Ebony Ava Harper says she was then booked with the male population, where she says she feared for her safety.
“I have some female body parts; I just felt dehumanized,” she added.
But Ebony Ava Harper wasn’t locked up in the male section for long.
City and county officials stepped in to help.
“It could have been borderline dangerous,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.
Serna says he learned about the incident from the Sacramento mayor’s office and says he immediately contacted Sheriff Scott Jones.
Serna says the sheriff had Harper transferred to the female section.
The incident now has Serna questioning the jail’s booking policy.
“If there’s any kind of confusion as to how that happens, I think we need to make sure there is no confusion,” Serna added.
CBS Sacramento asked the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department t about its current policy for housing a transgender inmate in the Sacramento County Jail. 
The spokesman also said “…Ms.
Harper was placed in a holding cell by herself in the booking area of the jail…the cell was located on the male side.”
Ebony Harper said after her arrest she has a renewed will to seek transgender equality behind bars.
“We live in a hostile society, it’s hostile to our existence…the way law enforcement handles us, it’s just one more notch on the belt of oppression,” said Harper.
CBS Sacramento also reached out other jails in the region about transgender booking policies.
In Yolo County, California transgender inmates could be housed separately for safety reasons, or assigned depending on their physical attributes. 
Placer County, California is adopting a new policy, but currently follows California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s recommendation to house transgender inmates on which gender they identify with.