Latinas have demonstrated their strength, fortitude, and ability in all disciplines and fields, including science, the arts, law, and politics.
Throughout these posts, I will introduce you to Latinas who have stood out, and are standing out in the world for their work; women who inspire and make history.
This first article is about Sylvia Rivera, a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican transgender woman, who was a pioneering LGBT activist who fought tirelessly for the rights of the trans population. She is often credited as the person who 'put the "t" in LGBT activism'.
She was born with the name of Ray Rivera on July 2, 1951, in New York City, and died at the age of 50 on February 19, 2002, of liver cancer in New York City.
Sylvia created the organization Street Transvestites Revolutionary Action (STAR), which provided a home for the trans population living on the streets of New York in the 1970s.
As you can read, she was a tireless advocate for LGBT people, ethnic minorities, and the homeless.
Sylvia Rivera, the pioneering Latina who was at the forefront of the revolution for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.
The background of this woman was not easy, at an early age she suffered the abandonment of her father, and at three years old her mother's suicide. After this tragedy, she was left in the custody of her grandmother, with whom she had conflicts due to her effeminate gestures.
For this reason, at the age of ten and a half, she ran away from home and began her life in prostitution and committing petty crimes. Even so, her grandmother continued to watch over her from a distance, many times paying bail to free her.
Along her life's journey, Sylvia was taken in by a group of drag queens, and they were the ones who baptized her with the name that accompanied her most of her life. She identified herself as drag because it was the word at the time to describe sexual identities that did not feel in line with the sex assigned at birth.
The terms 'transsexual' and 'transgender' appear in the mid-'60s, even, transsexuality was considered a mental illness. It was not until 2018 that the World Health Organization removed it from the list.
We can define Sylvia as a woman in search of liberation, not only for herself but for an entire population, a group that she defended and helped despite her own difficulties. A warrior with vision and a tireless purpose, even more so at a time when privilege and forms of discrimination were notorious.
Because of this strength that characterized Sylvia, the struggle for the rights that in every law belong to this population continues to be promoted and fought for.