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Trans woman stuns on Mastermind with a fabulous Pride dress and a much-needed history lesson on the Stonewall Riots

Josh Milton May 5, 2020
Trans woman gives Mastermind viewers vital lesson about Stonewall riots

Emma Laslett appeared on BBC Two television show Mastermind in a trans Pride flag. (Screen capture via BBC Two)

In a brief break from thumping drumbeat of bleak news, a pansexual trans woman donned a trans Pride flag dress on British TV show Mastermind and her specialist subject?

The Stonewall Riots, of course.

Disability benefits officer Emma Laslett appeared on the grand final of the primetime game show Monday evening, coming joint second after scoring a sizeable 21 points.

She wore a fabulous geometric print trans Pride flag with a leather jacket and white boots as she answered Mastermind questions about the cornerstone of the LGBT+ rights movement.

‘It’s more than just a specialist subject, it was a very real event that improved the lives of millions of people in a very real way.’

“My specialist subject is the Stonewall Riots,” she said over voiceover, “which I chose because I think it’s so important to shine a light on bits of history that not everybody knows about.

“It’s more than just a specialist subject, it was a very real event that improved the lives of millions of people in a very real way.”

Laslett absolutely smashed the round on the Stonewall Riots, and we’ve written it in full for both your personal curiosity, a brief history lesson and in case there’s a question on the raids comes up in your next Zoom pub quiz.

In the early hours of Saturday, June 28, 1969, there was a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village area of New York City.

Trans woman gives Mastermind viewers vital lesson about Stonewall riots
Storefront window of Stonewall Inn. (Joan Slatkin/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The raid was led by deputy inspector from the New York Police Department Morals Division. What was his name?

Seymour Pine.

The Stonewall’s doorman, Frank Esselorne, admitted to the club only those people he thought were gay and he was arrested by the police during the raid but managed to escape.

He was usually known by what nickname?

Blond Frankie.

The crowd outside the Stonewall Inn turned violent when a gay woman [some believe the woman was lesbian activist Stormé DeLarverie] was physically forced into a police car.

The Stonewall Riots: Storme DeLarverie (North Fork Women for Women Fund)
Storme DeLarverie. (North Fork Women for Women Fund)

Which prominent folk singer was seized by the police and handcuffed to a radiator inside the Stonewall after a policeman was hit?

Dave Van Ronk.

The man whom Dave Van Ronk was accused of injuring in the riot was the only uniformed officer left on the scene after police vehicles had taken the first prisoners away. What was his name?

Gil Weissman.

The police barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall after the crowd of angry protesters attacked them. The Stonewall’s doors were broken open when an object was uprooted and used as a battering ram. 

What object?

A parking meter.

On Sunday, June 29, the New York Daily News printed an article about the riots and a photo that showed protesters, including blond youth Jackie Hormona, in a confrontation with the police. 

The riots lasted for days. (Wikimedia Commons)

Who took the photograph?

Joseph Ambrosini. [Laslett answered “Frank McDowell”].

What was the name of the [trans woman] who climbed a lamp post and dropped a weighted bag onto an empty police car?

The bag smashed the car’s windscreen.

Stonewall Riots: Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P Johnson (left) and Sylvia Rivera (right). (Netflix)

Marsha P Johnson.

New York’s riot squad, the TPF, arrived on the scene and attacked the rioters. What do the letters ‘TPF’ stand for?

Tactical Patrol Force.

What was the title of the television show from the 1950s whose theme tune was borrowed by protesters to create a song to taunt the police? 

They changed the lyrics so that it opened with the words: “We are the Stonewall girls / We wear our hair in curls.”

Howdy Doody.

The riots died down on the Monday and Tuesday, after two days of clashes, but restarted on Wednesday evening after two articles about the riots that used homophobic language were published in a local newspaper. 

Which one?

The Village Voice.

Laslett is no stranger when it comes to quiz shows, after appearing on Mastermind in 2014 and climbing to the semifinals. While Laslett was even joined by her father and brother to appear on OnlyConnect that year, too.

“It’s just what we do in my family all the time,” she joked, “and it’s just become a way of life at this point.”

Trans Mastermind contestant proves a hit with viewers. 

Laslett immediately proved a fan favourite among viewers, with many cheering her on and also likely trying to google the brand of her dress.

Her appearance on Mastermind, however, came at a startling and precious time for trans Britons.

Minister for women and equalities Liz Truss moved to restrict access to healthcare for trans youth, making Laslett’s appearance all the more powerful as countless housebound viewers tuned in.

The government have gingerly moved ahead with planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act after a comprehensible public consultation in 2018. Lawmakers, however, consistently kicked those plans into the long grass, miring and stalling potential progress.

Truss alarmed LGBT+ rights organisations and parents of vulnerable trans children when she made comments in late April about the ministry’s response to the GRA. The three-pronged plan alarmingly saw Truss say she will limit healthcare access to trans youth.

Healthcare for trans under 18s is not governed by the GRA.

More: BBC Two, Emma Laslett, liz truss, Marsha P Johnson, mastermind, Stonewall Inn, stonewall riots, storme delarverie, Trans, trans pride

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