Women’s History : Marsha P. Johnson

“History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable. It happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.”

Today, on March 31, 2023, is International Transgender Day of Visibility. It is a time where the world comes together to see transgender people for who they are: real people with real needs and feelings, and they are people who deserve the same rights as anyone else. The rights of transgender people have been under attack for centuries, and they still continue to be combated today with bigotry and laws that discriminate against transgender people. Throughout this times, there are been some prominent people that have fought for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. One of those people was Marsha P. Johnson.

Marsha P. Johnson was born in 1945 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. From a very young age, Johnson enjoyed wearing dresses despite being assigned male at birth, and she was bullied a lot for choosing to dress this way. As soon as Johnson graduated, she moved to New York was $15 to her name and adopted the name Marsha P. Johnson – the “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind.”

Life in New York wasn’t easy for Johnson. At this time, gay people were criminalized for their presence and activities. She bounced between jobs and friends’ couches just to get by. Throughout it all though, she remained true to herself, dressing in colorful outfits she fashioned from thrift store finds and discarded items on the street, and she loved to wear flower crowns.

Johnson’s life changed forever on June 28, 1969 at The Stonewall Inn. In the early morning, police raided the famous gay bar, and the transgender women who were there felt they had nothing to lose, so they fought back in what is now known as the historical events that started the gay rights movement. From this time on, Johnson and her friends led many protests and fought for the rights and freedom of LGBTQIA+ people.

Learn more about Marsha P. Johnson here:

Here are some books that the library has on LGBTQIA+ information:
Understanding transgender identities : four views
Understanding gender dysphoria : navigating transgender issues in a changing culture
LGBTQI+ in the Basque country
The ABC’s of LGBT+

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