Rusty Mae Moore, left, and her wife, Chelsea Goodwin, in an...

Rusty Mae Moore, left, and her wife, Chelsea Goodwin, in an undated photo. Moore, a transgender activist and longtime Hofstra University educator, died Feb. 23 at age 80. Credit: Family photo

Rusty Mae Moore, a longtime Hofstra University educator and transgender activist who sheltered trans people from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s in her Brooklyn home, died Feb. 23.

Moore died from a "cardiac incident" at her home in upstate Pine Hill, said her wife, Chelsea Goodwin. She was 80.

"She was the most loving, most nurturing human being that it has ever been my pleasure to meet," Goodwin said. "We represented, just the fact that two trans women could have a 30-year committed relationship, involving children, grandchildren, adopted children and all kinds of things."

Moore was born to Paul Martin Moore and Mary (Long) Moore on Oct. 25, 1941, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, according to her family.

Her long academic career included graduating from West Nottingham Academy, a boarding school in Colora, Maryland, as class valedictorian. She studied business with a minor in Russian studies at Northwestern University and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in law and diplomacy at Tufts University.

Moore was a Fulbright Fellow at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 1986-87, and her research was published in numerous scholarly publications, according to officials at Hofstra University in Hempstead.

During her 33 years at Hofstra, Moore served as an associate dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business from 1982-1985, and director of the Hofstra University Business Research Institute from 1985-1991.

Moore came out as transgender during the early 1990s. Shortly after, her colleague David Powell, emeritus professor of romance languages and literatures and founding director of the LGBTQ+ studies program at Hofstra, asked Moore to teach the university’s first transgender studies class, Trans History & Issues.

"These students, many of them trans but not all, didn't have anyone to look up to for reliable information on these issues." Powell said. "She had a very gentle voice, which encouraged students to ask questions, but when she answered she was quite clear and firm about what she was communicating."

In 1994, Moore purchased a home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where a year later she and Goodwin opened their doors to trans and gender-nonconforming people who were homeless and faced discrimination. Their home would be known as "Transy House."

"When you have people from an oppressed community … you see firsthand how they were treated and their experiences," Goodwin said. "It worked because Rusty had her heart in it and my heart was in Rusty and I never questioned if it was the right thing to do."

Among the residents was pioneer LGBT rights activist Sylvia Rivera, who was a part of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. Rivera, along with Marsha P. Johnson, created a refuge for homeless trans girls in the 1970s that was dubbed the STAR House. It became a source of influence for the Transy House — Rivera's last permanent home before her death in 2002.

Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a scholarly initiative and educational resource that began in August 2015 to preserve LGBT history, described Moore as a "trailblazer" for actions to protect homeless trans youth.

"They really filled a void at a time, and it remains today, when people were not looking at the care of trans and gender variant kids, youth and young adults, and these people are the most disadvantaged because oftentimes they’re thrown out of their homes by family members," Lustbader said. "They provided this social service with their own money, which was remarkable in terms of their generosity of spirit and finances to take care of these young people."

In 2008, after closing the Transy House, the couple moved to the Catskills, where they opened an independent book store specializing in works of horror and science fiction. Moore retired from Hofstra in 2011.

A public memorial is scheduled for April 9 at the Blackthorne Resort in upstate East Durham, the same place Goodwin and Moore were legally wed in 2018, after close to three decades together.

In addition to her wife, Moore is survived by three children: Jonica Moore of Brooklyn, Amanda (Moore) Rogers and Colin Zug Moore McGeorge of New Orleans; and two grandchildren, Caleb and Felix.

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