Sylvia Rivera And The Rosa Parks Of The Transgender Movement
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Sylvia Rivera (1952-2002) Run through plagiarism check
A self-described “bitch on wheels”, Sylvia Rivera was a teenage runaway who became one of the world’s earliest and most passionate advocates for transgender rights. “In many ways,” one writer noted in a Village Voice obituary following her death in 2002, “Sylvia was the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement, a term that was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall.”
Growing up in America in the 50s and 60s was brutal for young trans people, let alone an transgender orphan born into poverty. Her mother killed herself when Sylvia was just three; her biological father was already long gone. Sylvia’s forbidding Venezuelan grandmother took her in, but despised Sylvia’s…show more content… Get out of our faces!” As nickels and dimes turned into glass bottles, the police were barricaded inside the Inn.
At one point, Sylvia hurled one of the first Molotov cocktails at the cops.
“All of us were working for so many movements at that time. Everyone was involved with the women's movement, the peace movement, the civil-rights movement. We were all radicals. I believe that's what brought it around,” she later told Workers World Service. “You get tired of being just pushed around.”
Sylvia was electrified; after years of harassment and discrimination, the LGBTQ community was finally waking up and expressing its rage. As the crowds swelled and began to fight back against the police reinforcements that had arrived, Sylvia howled through the streets, “The revolution is here!”
After the Stonewall riots, Sylvia formed Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Marsha P. Johnson, a trans black woman and street queen who had become her closest friend. On 213 East 2nd Street, the pair created STAR House, a refuge for LGBTQ runaways like themselves to find food, shelter, and clothing. Under Sylvia’s direction, the organization would later go on to fight for key legislation such as the New York City Transgender Rights Bill, which outlawed discrimination against trans people in housing and employment, and organised street actions to protest the murder of trans woman Amanda Milan.