Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today we mourn the loss of our trans siblings to violence and celebrate their lives, bravery, and accomplishments. Today we honor our elders and those who paved the way before us. Today we use our mouths to speak the voices that have been silenced.
Below is a collection of art created by Amelia Meman for Women’s History Month 2015. These women, some alive and some not, are some examples of the amazing abilities, resistance, and resilience found in our community. This art has been compiled in zine format, available in print at the Women’s Center and in PDF form here.
Dedicated to Viv. We miss you.
cece mcdonald was arrested on june 5, 2011 for the death of dean shmitz after shmitz’s girlfriend threw a glass in her face. shmitz and a group of friends harassed mcdonald and her friends outside a bar, shouting transphobic and racist slurs and comments at the group. when cece confronted the group, shmitz’s girlfriend threw the glass and a fight ensued. cece was charged with second degree murder and plead guilty to a charge of second degree manslaughter on june 4 of 2012. she was released on jan 13, 2014 after 19 months in men’s prison. activists raised a cry against anti-trans violence with shouts of “free cece” during her trial and prison sentence. since her release, cece has become an activist herself, working and speaking against the prison system and anti-trans violence and she has received the bayard rustin civil rights award from the harvey milk lgbt democratic club. a documentary titled free cece, directed by laverne cox and jac gares, is expected to be released in 2016
cecelia chung is an incredibly influential activist in san francisco. she has been hiv program coordinator and api american health forum and hiv test counselor at ucsf aids health project and has served as deputy director of the transgender law center. in 2001 she was the first asian woman and the first trans woman to be elected president of the san francisco lgbt pride celebration committee board. in 2013, she was appointed to the san francisco health commission and made san francisco the first city in the u.s. to pay for gender reassignment surgery for uninsured trans patients. she currently serves on the presidential advisory council for hiv/aids, is chair of the u.s. plhiv caucus and is senior strategist at the transgender law project.
christine jorgensen became one if the first widely known transgender women in the united states when she returned from denmark after her transition in the 1950s. the world war II veteran toured the country with her nightclub act and appeared on a number of television shows and magazine articles. she published her biography titled christine jorgensen: a personal biography in 1967 and a documentary titled the christine jorgensen story was released in 1970.
danielle berry was an influential and innovative video game designer. her first game, wheeler dealers, was released in 1978 and was the first pc game to be sold in a printed box instead of in a plastic sleeve. her 1984 game m.u.l.e. was one of the first electronic arts games. it was the first economic strategy game and would later influence modern games like sims and farmville. global conquest (1998) was the first pc game in history to be played on multiple computers on an online platform. she received the lifetime achievement award from the computer game development association in 1998. berry’s games were not popular and did not make great sales, but were always ahead of their time and lead innovations in the gaming industry for decades.
harmony santana is an actress and activist. she was nominated for an independent spirit award for best supporting actress for her role in gun hill road (2011), becoming the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for a major acting award. before and during her time on set, she lived in the lgbt youth home green chimneys where she became an advocate for homeless youth and began hiv/aids and anti-bullying activism. she began as a peer educator for bronx aids services and continues to be and advocate for trans youth while beginning work on her third film.
julia serano is a self-proclaimed activist, performer, musician, writer, and biologist. she published her first book, whipping girl: a transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity, in 2007 and her second book, excluded: making femininst and queer movements more inclusive, in 2013. she received her ph.d. in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from columbia university and served as a researcher in genetics, evolution, and developmental biology at university of california, berkeley for 17 years. she is a slam poet and a member of the noise-pop band biteseize.
marsha p. “pay it no mind” johnson was a new york stonewall rebellion veteran and a trans rights and aids activist. she co-founded star: street transvestite action revolutionaries in 1970 with close friend sylvia rivera and later became a star house mother. she served as a mentor, teacher, leader, and homemaker for the girls of star house. she was a member of act up new york during the aids epidemic and dedicated much of her life to aids activism. in july of 1992 her body was found in the hudson river shortly after a pride celebration. though her death was ruled a suicide, her friends and colleagues have always believed her death to be the result of transphobic, racist, and transmisogynistic violence.
miss major, or “mama” to her community, has been an activist for over 40 years. miss major is a formerly incarcerated woman and survivor of attica state prison, a maximum security men’s prison in new york. she is a former sex worker and stonewall rebellion veteran. this trans elder is a fierce advocate for prison abolition and for trans women of color. she is the executive director of the transgender gender variant & intersex justice project.
monica jones was arrested in may of 2013 in phoenix, arizona for “walking while trans.” she was profiled as a trans woman of color and charged with “manifesting prostitution” for accepting a ride in her neighborhood from two undercover cops. jones is an advocate for sex workers and works against the anti-sex worker organization projectrose. she is an arizona state university student and had been recently accepted to the asu school of social work at the time of her arrest.
susan stryker is an openly lesbian trans woman living in arizona. she received a bachelor’s degree in letters from university of oklahoma in 1983 and her ph.d. in us history from university of california, berkeley in 1992. she received a san francisco/ northern california emmy award for her work as director of screaming queens: the riot at compton’s cafeteria (2005) and has been nominated for two lambda literary awards. one of her most notable works is her essay “my words to viktor frankenstein above the village of chamounix,” the first article written by an openly transgender woman to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. she currently serves as an associate professor of gender and women’s studies and director of lgbt studies at university of arizona.
sylvia rivera is often considered one of the foremothers of trans rights movements. this stonewall rebellion veteran was an active member of the gay liberation front and gay activists alliance. she protested the exclusion of trans people from the sexual orientation non-discrimination act and was an advocate for poor trans people and trans people of color. her activism prioritized targeting systematic racism and poverty and opposed the prison industrial complex. rivera co-founded star: street transvestite action revolutionaries in 1970 with her close friend, marsha p. johnson and continued to be an influential figure in trans rights activism until her death in 2002.