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Trans person featured in National Portrait Gallery for the first time

Joe Williams October 28, 2015

Sylvia Rivera has gained a place in the National Portrait Gallery.

This week, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery announced the addition of a photo of trans activist Sylvia Rivera to its collection.

This is the first trans portrait to be added to the museum’s collection.

The photo features Rivera with her partner Julia Murray and Christina Hayworth at the New York City Pride parade back in 2000.

The gallery said that the activist deserved her place among the influential figures who had helped shape and change US history, as part of their ‘Struggle for Justice’ exhibition.

“At the National Portrait Gallery, we look to include portraits of people who have made a significant impact on American culture,” gallery director Kim Sajet told MSNBC.

“In the aftermath of the Stonewall riots, Sylvia Rivera expanded the gay liberation movement and fought for equal rights for people who embraced different gender identities.”

Rivera – a leading participant in the infamous 1969 riots – was also a founding member of early LGBT organisations such as STAR, one of the first trans-specific rights organisations.

At the Millennium March in Italy in 2000, activists proclaimed her the “mother of all gay people.”

“She had to fight for her own home in the movement she helped launch,” said Jay Brown, Human Rights Campaign’s Director of Research and Public Education.

“It’s great to see the Smithsonian honouring her memory with this inclusion – and ensuring that visitors to the museum get to know our history as a trans movement a better through her photo.”

“Rivera’s legacy has led to organisations like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which ‘works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race,'” the portrait gallery explained.

“The SRLP provides much-needed legal services for those who cannot afford representation.

“This organisation is continuing Rivera’s lifelong work to ensure a stable and safe existence for transgender, intersex and gender nonconforming people.”

More: art, LGBT, Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Trans, US, US

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