Wendi Cooper is a transgender woman of color who is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 2011 and her Master of Arts in Criminal Justice in 2015, both from Southern University at New Orleans. She is the founder of the CANScantSTAND campaign, which seeks to liberate individuals who have been impacted by Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature Statute (CANS). CANS was enacted in 1805 and disproportionately targets the LGBTQ community, especially trans women of color. Wendi provided key testimony in a federal lawsuit that successfully challenged CANS and secured the removal of more than 700 women from the sex offender registry. In 2018, was appointed to Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s transition team as a member of the Health and Wellness Subcommittee. That year, the mayor’s Director of Human Rights and Equity appointed Wendi the chair of the New Orleans LGBTQ+ Taskforce. Wendi is also a member of the governor appointed Louisiana Taskforce on Women’s Incarceration.
Because of her advocacy, Wendi received a city council proclamation and has been featured in MSNBC and Human Rights Campaign feature stories. Her life and activism is the subject of “Cans Can’t Stand,” a New Yorker documentary directed by Matt Nadel and Megan Plotka. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Transcendence, an organization aiming to empower all women to with connections to employment and bring visibility and resources to women seeking leadership positions in the South.