Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries

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Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) was a transgender activist organization founded in 1970 by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. It was the first political organization for transgender rights in the world. Marsha and Sylvia used to hustle the streets in order to keep their children from having to do the same to feed and shelter themselves. STAR in New York was the model for other STAR organizations in the U.S. and in England as well as for Transy House 1994-2006. STAR was briefly renewed in the early 2000s initiating street demonstrations and other political activity before Sylvia's death in order to advance the fight for the transgender civil rights bill in New York City and New York State and to fight for self-determination for all gender non-conformists.

Both founders became activists during the Stonewall riots, but their work within the key gay rights groups ended when trans issues were deleted from proposed legislation in 1972:

After Gay Liberation Front folded and the more reformist Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) became New York’s primary gay rights group, Sylvia Rivera worked hard within their ranks in 1971 to promote a citywide gay rights, anti-discrimination ordinance. But for all of her work, when it came time to make deals, GAA dropped the portions in the civil rights bill that dealt with transvestitism and drag — it just wasn’t possible to pass it with such “extreme” elements included. As it turned out, it wasn’t possible to pass the bill anyway until 1986. But not only was the language of the bill changed, GAA—which was becoming increasingly more conservative, several of its founders and officers had plans to run for public office—even changed its political agenda to exclude issues of transvestitism and drag. It was also not unusual for Sylvia to be urged to “front” possibly dangerous demonstrations, but when the press showed up, she would be pushed aside by the more middle-class, “straight-appearing” leadership. In 1995, Rivera was still hurt: “When things started getting more mainstream, it was like, ‘We don’t need you no more’.” But, she added, “Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.”[1]

STAR was created to advocate on behalf of homeless drag queens and runaways. They also created STAR House, a shelter for this underserved population and pressed for trans inclusion in mainstream gay activist groups.[2]


  1. Bronski, Michael (April 2002). Sylvia Rivera: 1951-2002. Z Magazine
  2. Leslie Feinberg (Sep 24, 2006). Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Workers World Party


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