Kortney Ryan Ziegler

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Kortney Ryan Ziegler
Born (1980-12-15) December 15, 1980 (age 37)
ResidenceOakland, California
Other namesShane B. Star
Alma materNorthwestern University (PhD, 2011)
San Francisco State University (MA, 2005)
University of California, Santa Cruz (BA)[when?][1]
OccupationFilmmaker, visual artist, writer, blogger, technologist

Kortney Ryan Ziegler (born December 15, 1980) is an American filmmaker,[2] visual artist, blogger, writer,[3] and scholar based in Oakland, California.[4][5] His artistic and academic work focuses on queer/trans issues, body image, racialized sexualities, gender, performance and black queer theory.


Ziegler was born in Compton, California. Raised in a family of single black women, his mother struggled with mental illness and drug abuse. His father was absent and he lived with three alcoholic uncles who inflicted physical and emotional abuse on the women in his family.[6]

According to Ziegler, growing up in Compton he was surrounded by ads and music that made him feel like an ugly girl.[7] In 2001, he began at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was the first in his family to attend post-secondary institution. He went on to pursue his Masters at San Francisco State University and later his PhD at Northwestern University. During this time, he slowly began his transition, though when he began his doctoral program he checked female.[8] In his third year he began to identify as genderqueer and started taking hormones. In 2011 he began to defend his dissertation on queer, black and Latino filmmakers. He was the first person to receive the PhD in African-American studies from Northwestern University.

He currently resides in Oakland, California.



blac (k) ademic[edit]

From 2003 to 2006, Ziegler maintained a popular black queer feminist blog, blac (k) ademic.[9] The blog tackled topics such as gender and sexuality from a young black queer academic perspective,[10] eventually becoming one of the top blogs in the feminist blogsphere.[11]

Ziegler endured much controversy due to his radical stance that positioned the experiences of women of color as the locus of his feminist analysis.[12] Ziegler shut down the blog due to the many negative comments he was receiving.[13] Blac (k) ademic went on to receive the award for Best Topical Blog in the first annual Black Weblog Awards in 2006. It relaunched in November 2012 and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award[14] and a Transguy Community Award.[15]


STILL BLACK: a Portrait of Black Transmen[edit]

Premiering in 2008, STILL BLACK: a Portrait of Black Transmen was conceived during the years Ziegler was a doctoral student in the department of African-American studies at Northwestern University. The film explores the theme of female to male transgender transition in the African American community.[16] Ziegler and his producer, Awilda Rodriguez Lora, provided the initial financial investment to get the project off the ground. They employed a grassroots fundraising method, using social networking to secure funds to complete the project. Upon release to the queer film festival circuit, the film became one of the most sought after and talked about films representing the trans man-of-color experience, showing to sold-out crowds in cities such as Los Angeles, Toronto, Seattle, Chicago, and Tel-Aviv. The film received an Isaac Julien Experimental Award from Queer Black Cinema International Music Festival and an Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary in the ReelOut Queer Film + Video Festival.


In 2013, Ziegler launched Trans*H4ck, an organizational hub for trans people collaborating on technical projects. It first began as a two hack-a-thon which was aimed to address specific issues in the trans gender community.[17] During the hack-a-thon developers, programmers, designers, entrepreneurs, and community members came together to brainstorm new ideas and create technological advances digital tools to better the trans community.[18] This was used as digital activist movement to help spread the word of an underrepresented community and raise money through crowdfunding. Over the two day hack-a-thon partners got to know each other,and heard about the social injustices facing transgender and non gender-conforming people.

Along with Tiffany Mikell, he also founded BSMdotCo, an educational technology startup company.[19] Together they created Aerial Spaces. This is a video based forum which allows educators to reach a wider audience of learners.

In 2017, Ziegler and Mikell cofounded Appolition.us in order to help incarcerated Black people return to their families by allowing users to round up purchases to the nearest dollar and donate the funds to bail funding efforts. The app was supported through crowdfunding after a tweet from Ziegler got attention during July of 2017. [20]

Community Outreach[edit]

In 2011 he became the co-owner of the Halmoni Vintag,[21] which a vintage boutique that promotes healthy body positivity and self-love for women. which holds monthly clothing swaps for women called A Naked Lady Soiree. In 2013 Ziegler also founded Who We Know, it is group that focuses on creating products and developing different initiatives, that help economically empower the transgender color community.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 2006 Best Topical Blog, Black Weblog Awards - "blac (k) ademic"
  • 2009 Best Documentary, Reelout Queer Film + Video Festival - STILL BLACK: a portrait of black transmen
  • Trans 100 Honoree
  • 2013 GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding Blog
  • 2013 Empowerment Award, Black Transmen, Inc.
  • 2013 Outstanding Transgender Service, The Esteem Awards
  • 2013 Top 40 under 40 LGBT Activist, The Advocate
  • 2013 Authentic Life Award, Transgender Law Center
  • 2017 Diablo magazine's 40 Under 40 award winner


  1. ^ http://blackademic.com/c-v/
  2. ^ Vallejos, Jorge Antonio (July 29, 2009). "Portraits of Black Trans Men". ColorLines Magazine. Applied Research Center. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  3. ^ Moore, Lisa (September 15, 2007). "thank you". Does Your Mamma Know?. RedBone Press. Archived from the original on July 30, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  4. ^ Sibery, Michelle (September 15, 2007). "Framing race, sexuality". The Chicago Reporter. Community Renewal Society. Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  5. ^ Robie, Tehea (October 20, 2010). "Kortney Ryan Ziegler's Crying Room". Oakland Local. Oakland Local. Archived from the original on November 29, 2010. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Education of a Scholar Who Chose to Become a Black Man". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  7. ^ "The Education of a Scholar Who Chose to Become a Black Man". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  8. ^ "The Education of a Scholar Who Chose to Become a Black Man". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  9. ^ "blac (k) ademic - critical essays by Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler".
  10. ^ Ziegler, Kortney. "Academic Blogging as Intercultural Exchange". From Where I Sit. Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  11. ^ Head, Tom (July 29, 2009). "Top 10 Blogs on Feminism and Women's Rights". Civil Liberties. about.com. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  12. ^ De Leon, Celina. "The Segregated Blogosphere". ColorLines Magazine. Applied Research Center. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
  13. ^ admin (2007-03-01). "The Segregated Blogosphere". Colorlines. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  14. ^ "GLADD Announces Media Award Nominees – Philadelphia Magazine". Philadelphia Magazine. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  15. ^ Morgan, Glennisha (February 27, 2013). "Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Transgender Filmmaker, Talks Movies, Race And Advocacy". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  16. ^ Ryan, Joelle (Summer 2010). "Feminist Visions Diversifying and Complicating Representations of Trans Lives: Five Documentaries about Gender Identity" (PDF). Women Studies LIbrarian. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  17. ^ "Interview with Kortney Ryan Ziegler of the Trans*H4CK Project". TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. 1 (1–2): 280–284. 2014-05-01. doi:10.1215/23289252-2400253. ISSN 2328-9252.
  18. ^ "Interview with Kortney Ryan Ziegler of the Trans*H4CK Project". TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. 1 (1–2): 280–284. 2014-05-01. doi:10.1215/23289252-2400253. ISSN 2328-9252.
  19. ^ Lovemonster, Kelly. "Inclusive Tech Entrepreneur: Kortney Ryan Ziegler". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  20. ^ "App Turns Small Change Into Bail Donations For Black People". News One. 2017-11-28. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  21. ^ "About Us". Halmoni Vintage & Treasures | 1601 2nd Ave. OAKLAND. Retrieved 2016-11-16.

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