Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera was born on July 2, 1951, in New York City. She left home in 1962 and became part of a community of fellow drag queens, trans women, and sex workers in the area around 42nd Street, which inspired her lifelong activism. She may have been present during the week-long Stonewall riots in 1969 and become involved in gay liberation groups that formed in the aftermath. She faced racism, transphobia, classism, and prejudice based on her history as a Latine trans sex worker, but persisted and advocated for trans inclusion. She also founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.), a group that gave shelter to homeless queer youth, in 1970. In the mid-1970s, she moved to Tarrytown, New York, where she hosted drag shows and worked on local pride events, and then returned to New York City in the early 1990s, where she revived S.T.A.R. and again advocated for the inclusion of the most marginalized queer people in the mainstream LGBT agenda. She died on February 19, 2002, in New York City. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, established shortly after her death, advocates for the causes that she supported in the legal sphere. The corner of Christopher and Hudson Streets is named Sylvia Rivera Way in her honor, and she is included in Chicago's Legacy Walk and the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor. She is profiled in Challenging Gender Boundaries: A Trans Biography Project by Students of Catherine Jacquet.