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Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were seminal figures in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, known for their tireless activism, particularly for transgender people. 

They were born on different continents, but both had traumatic childhoods, ostracized for being gay and acting feminine. They both found support and acceptance in the transgender community of New York City. Their past trauma fueled their activism. Both participated in 1969’s Stonewall riots, showing the crucial role that transgender people of color played in the early LGBTQ+ rights movement.

In 1970, Johnson and Rivera founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), one of the first organizations to address the needs of homeless transgender youth and other marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Johnson’s activism extended beyond STAR, as she was also involved with organizations like ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), where she worked to raise awareness and fight for better treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. 

Rivera was also a fervent campaigner for the inclusion of transgender individuals in broader gay rights legislation and organizations. She challenged the exclusionary practices within the LGBTQ+ movement and pushed for a more inclusive and intersectional approach to activism.

Life was never easy. They faced opposition and discrimination throughout their lives, but their courage was pivotal in the fight for transgender equality and continues to inspire activists today.

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