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Good afternoon, everyone. I am …from…, I am going to talk about Sylvia Rivera, who was a transgender activist. My presentation will be divided into four parts, first introduction of Rivera’s early life, and then what she wanted, how she fought for it, did she get it.

About Ray Rivera’s early life, he was born and raised in New York City in 1951, when Rivera was only three years old, he was abandoned by his father and became an orphan after his mother committed suicide. Rivera was then raised by his grandmother, who disapproved of his effeminate behavior, especially when Rivera began to makeup. As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of eleven and worked as a prostitute. He considered himself as a transgender, so he changed his name into Sylvia Rivera.

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Her experiences of battling substance abuse and largely living in gay homeless community made her more focused on the problems of LGBT people. At different times in her life, Rivera projected her voice to give her community power; she wanted to fight for herself but most importantly for the rights of the most vulnerable people, includes transgender people, gay community, low income drag queens and also homeless youth. As an individual who suffered from poverty and racism, Sylvia Rivera decided to use her voice by sharing her life stories, pain, and struggles to show her community they are not alone.

And how she fought it? In the early morning of June 28, 1969, when police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York, there were many people gathered outside the inn, including Sylvia Rivera. They threw bottles and other objects to the police, which triggered a sudden riot and protest, and marked the birth of the contemporary LGBT movement. And in 1970, Rivera and her friend Johnson launched STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolution) to strive for transgender rights, it prohibits discrimination on the sexual orientation in employment, housing, education or the exercise of civil rights, which was the first shelter established to advocate and provide services for transgender groups. Later, representing STAR, Rivera gave many speeches about the Stonewall Uprising and the necessity for unity among transgender people to fight for their historic legacy as people in the forefront of the LGBT movement.

The answer for ‘Did they get them’ is yes, in some ways, Rivera was the pioneer of the modern transgender movement, she created a loud and persistent voice for the rights of LGBT people especially of color and low-income transgender and queers people. In 2002, NYC expands the definition of gender to include protections for transgender people in the NYC Human Rights Law. And at the same year, a Law Project was launched and named for Sylvia Rivera, which is called SRLP. The SRLP works to continue Rivera’s work, it tries to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.


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