Thursday, October 6, 2016

October 6 - Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera

One of the earliest activists for trans rights, Sylvia Rivera (born Ray Rivera) was famous for her unabashed brashness and take-no-prisoners attitude. She is remembered by many as the "Rosa Parks of the transgender movement" for both her social activism and her penchant for demonstration. Sylvia was a member of the Gay Activists Alliance, and she was famously arrested for climbing a gate at New York City Hall in defense of a gay rights bill being voted upon inside. After GAA distanced themselves from supporting trans rights, Sylvia and another trans icon, Marsha P. Johnson (who was present at the actual Stonewall riots), founded STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), which both provided housing for homeless trans people and marched for equality and visibility. Rivera fought tirelessly and angrily against the exclusion of bisexuals, drag queens, street kids, people of color, and trans people from mainstream society and LGBTQ factions. Sylvia was against the commercialization of Pride and the whitewashing of racial and class issues from the LGBT platform. Her radicalism inspired the foundation of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project 2002, the year of Sylvia's death, whose mission statement is "to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence."

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