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Sylvia Rivera

GLSEN LGBTQ+ History Cards - Image of Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002)is one of the most notable Stonewall veterans and fierce trans activists of the late twentieth century. Sylvia Rivera refused to accept conformity to the status quo, constantly calling out the mainstream “gay rights” movement for being complacent in perpetuating systems that continued to specifically disenfranchise people of color. Even as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance started gaining force and momentum post-Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera did not back down. The most popular video of Rivera is her fiery speech at the NYC Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in 1973 where she stressed the criticality of supporting trans people, people of color, and low-income people, particularly those who are in jail or experiencing housing instability. She fought hard against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York and was a co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR)—a group committed to providing shelter to trans youth experiencing homelessness in New York City. Sylvia Rivera continued to be an important player in trans activism until she passed away in 2002. Learn more about Sylvia Rivera here.