Women's Activism NYC

Marsha P. Johnson

1945 - 1992

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Marsha P. Johnson is an iconic figure of color for queer liberation. she was born in New Jersey who grew up in a anti-LGBTQ environment as a child. In 1967 she decided to move to West Village in New York to escape all the bigotry and discrimination. She at the legendary Stonewall Riots and it was reported that she she was the first one to throw the first brick on that historic evening. She later became good friends with Sylvia Rivera and co-founded the influential organization STAR which empowered and helped transgender women but specifically focusing on homeless trans women of color. In the 1980s Johnson also became an AIDS activist who partnered with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power which helped bring awareness and lower the prices of AIDS medication. However, her life tragically ended in July 1922 when her body was found in the Hudson River near Christopher Street. Police officers claimed that she committed suicide but Johnson's friends and family said she had likely been murdered since she was constantly harassed by people around the pier. The case was changed from "suicide" to "undetermined" where it remains today. In 2012 it was reopened but nothing was found or cleared up. A new documentary hopes o investigates Johnson's untimely death. Johnson did not identify as tranfeminine but would use female pronouns as many drag queens in her circle did and considered reassignment surgery. However, she also identified as male which placed her at a broader spectrum of non-binary gender identity.

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