|First Statue for Transgender in New York City|
by Redaktie in History & Politics , 12 July 2019
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New York gets a statue for two champions of transgender rights, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. According to Mayor De Blasio, it will be one of the first monuments for Transgenders ever.
"Transgender and non-binary communities across the country suffer from violent and discriminatory attacks. Here in New York we have a clear message: you can be yourself, we praise you, and we will protect you," De Blasio said when announcing the plans. The announcement comes at the beginning of the New York Pride month and 50 years after the Stonewall riots. After a police raid on the gay bar of the same name in 1969, LGBT people took to the streets to demand an end to police harassment. It is seen as the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States.
“The LGBT movement was often depicted as a movement of Caucasian gay men. This monument is against that racial whitewashing, according to a spokesman in New York."
Johnson and Rivera participated in the Stonewall protests, but were also active in the LGBT movement before and after the riots. They both took care of young people who had been thrown out by their family because of their orientation. Both activists did not get to live long: In 1992 Johnson drowned at the age of 46 under suspicious circumstances in the Hudson River, and Rivera died of cancer at the age of 50 in 2002.
The city of New York emphasizes that the statue contributes to a more diverse history of the city in a dual way - Not only to honour the gay rights movement, but also to emphasise the role of black and Latino transgenders, who formerly were not given the proper attention for their roles.
"The LGBT movement was often portrayed as a movement of white gay men," said a spokesperson for the city in The New York Times. "This monument counteracts this whitewashing."
New York has allocated 10 million dollars to make the statue allocation of the city more diverse. The money was made available after criticism that Caucasian men in particular were honoured, while their negative sides regularly remained unmentioned.
At the end of last month, the first of five new statues were announced: Queens gets a statue of jazz singer Billie Holiday. Also, the very first African-American woman in Congress will be honoured in Brooklyn, and there will be a statue of one of the few female lighthouse keepers on Staten Island.
At Grand Central Station in Manhattan there will be a monument erected for Elizabeth Jennings Graham, the African-American that was fined for taking a seat in a tram reserved for whites in 1854. That the judge cancelled that fine "because people of color have the same rights as others" was the beginning of the end of racial separation in the city.
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