Lesson 129:
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

An ongoing illustrative history study
This piece originally posted 6/21/2023

Prelude | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | Email

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Watercolour w/ some pen and ink, 2.5 in. x 3.5 in.

"The moment that I was questioned as a transgender woman raising a child I became a feminist."

Say hello to activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, 82 years old as of this writing and not about to ease up in the fight for trans rights. She faced many hurdles during her life --including homelessness and incarceration-- and it's these challenges that fuel her determination to this day. In 1969, Majors fought the police at Stonewall, right alongside Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson (see Lesson #94 in this series), and to this day expresses doubt that the promises of Stonewall have truly been kept --particularly in this cynical and opportunistic age of "corporate Pride." ("Who invited the motherf**kers from Home Depot?") In the 1970's, having herself been an inmate at New York's notorious Dannemora prison and Bellevue Hospital's so-called "queen tank," Griffin-Gracy provided direct services to trans women dealing with addiction and incarceration. In the 1980's she took it upon herself to care for people impacted by HIV/AIDS.

In 2005, Miss Major joined San Francisco-based Trans Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) as a staff organizer, and later as executive director, to lead the group's efforts advocating for incarcerated trans women. She has often spoken out against the prison system, which she says contributes to the incarceration of transgender individuals, particularly trans people of color and those with low incomes.

Now 82, Miss Major, known to many simply as "Mama," resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she continues to be a vocal activist. She founded and administers the House of GG, a retreat center for trans people and their families. A 2016 documentary of her life and acheivements, Major!, is available as a teaching resource from What Do We Want films:

Read an absorbing interview with Miss Major from just this past week at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/black-trans-activism-miss-major-griffin-gracy-stonewall/

And just out this year: Miss Major Speaks: Conversations with a Black Trans Revolutionary by Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and Toshio Meronek - https://www.versobooks.com/products/2787-miss-major-speaks

Next page - Lesson 130: Pauli Murray

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