Anyone who met Nikki Woods realized quickly that she was a woman of grace, strength, spirituality and love. She was steadfast in fighting for the protection of the trans community, always speaking up for trans women of color, and very involved in her church where she was regarded an integral component of its Leadership Team.
Woods, who always thanked God for her blessings, even while facing the world’s cruelty, died last month after battling a lung condition. Services were held at her church, Abundant Peace United Church of Christ.
“She always had a smile and was always trying to make a change,” said Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou, a local minister who first met Nikki and a friend at Trans Pride in 2017, and loved Woods’ authenticity.
“I would hope people would be encouraged by the life she led.”
Originally, from Atlanta, Georgia, Woods moved to Las Vegas in recent years and became involved with the community, serving as LGBTQIA coordinator at her church where she created several programs, including the annual Trans-giving Dinner and the Block Party at The Peace. Friends said that Woods was also a certified LGBTQ advocate for the city of Las Vegas.
“She inspired other trans women to love themselves,” said Ian Micheal Ayers, who refers to Woods as a community partner. “We helped each other with projects and supported each other. She was always very classy, always took care of herself and spoke so eloquently. She mentored trans women of color and allowed them to embrace their transition in their own way.”
A student of the Pacific School of Religion, Woods participated in Our Whole Lives Matter Project (OWL). She also was an advisor for the Salvation Army’s LGBTQ division, a strong supporter and member of the Proud Together by True Care Staff.
Always, she was vocal about the trans women of color who paved the way for others, questioning how the community could celebrate PRIDE every year without celebrating the women who were instrumental in launching the movement, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. “Mention their names,” she said in a Facebook video posted on her page.
“Nikki was my soul and spiritual sister from the day we met,” said good friend Judy Bowen. “We formed a bond of unity, working to improve our community.”
The two of them called each other every morning to check on one another. And when Bowen took the stage to receive The Center’s Legacy award at the 2019 Honorarium at the Palms last month, Woods was among the group on stage with her.
Ayers said that as a trans man he was inspired by Woods’ authenticity. Like Sprague-Ballou, he would like others to be encouraged by Wood’s life:“As a community, we can carry Nikki’s fire and passion.”