Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

Jessica Kingsley. Nov. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781787755307.
Gr 2-5–Sylvia Rivera (1951–2002) and Marsha P. Johnson (1945–1992) played an important role in the fight for LGBTQ rights. Johnson, a Black trans woman and self-identified drag queen, befriended Rivera, a Puerto Rican American trans woman, on Halloween in 1963. Eventually, they founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group that helped homeless trans girls and provided them with a sense of community and safety. The pair worked to gain support in the larger gay rights movement. The text incorporates these facts into the narrative, but the central account of the Stonewall uprising is a simplified version of events. In additional biographical and historical information at the end of the book, Ellison and Silver acknowledge there are many accounts of the Stonewall Rebellion. Colorful illustrations of glamorous trans women strolling New York City streets reinforce an upbeat portrait of street life. A glossary and several pages of suggestions for adults, including discussion questions, resources, and student activities, are included. For a more complete history of the subject, try Rob Sanders’s Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution. Other recent picture book portrayals of transgender children include Erica Silverman’s Jack (Not Jackie) and Kyle Lukoff’s When Aidan Became a Brother.
VERDICT This volume could serve as a discussion starter to introduce children to activists who fought for transgender rights.

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