Transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera to be honored with Village monument

Transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, seen in a 1977 photograph at Swann Galleries, will be honored with a monument proposed for Greenwich Village. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were leaders in the Stonewall uprising that helped spark the LGBTQ civil rights movement.

Transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, seen in a 1977 photograph at Swann Galleries, will be honored with a monument proposed for Greenwich Village.
Transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, seen in a 1977 photograph at Swann Galleries, will be honored with a monument proposed for Greenwich Village. Photo Credit: Ceetay

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two transgender activists, will be honored with a monument proposed for Greenwich Village, the city announced Thursday, days before the start of Pride Month. 

The suggested location for the monument, commissioned by the She Built NYC initiative, is the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, just blocks from The Stonewall Inn, where Johnson and Rivera were leaders in the uprising 50 years ago that helped spark the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.

“I would not think of a more fitting way to recognize the beginning of this historic Pride month than acknowledging the contributions of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in this way,” said Chris Frederick, executive director of World Pride. “Their contributions have been long overlooked and their place in history will be there for all to see when they come to pay their respects to all the LGBTQIA+ individuals who sparked the modern gay rights movement at the Stonewall uprising.”

Johnson and Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (later changed to Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) in 1970 to provide housing and other services to homeless transgender youth, who often had to be sex workers to support themselves. 

The new monument will be the sixth commissioned by the She Built NYC initiative, which launched in 2018 to better represent historical women around the city. It will be one of the first permanent, public monument recognizing transgender women in the world, according to city officials.

The proposed location will be finalized after discussion with the community, the city said.

Five other She Built NYC monuments — one in each borough — have already been announced. The first one to be installed will honor Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman, at an entrance to Prospect Park.

The four other monuments will be for revered jazz singer Billie Holiday; civil rights leader Elizabeth Jennings Graham; Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, the first Latina director of the American Public Health Association; and Katherine Walker, a lighthouse keeper who is credited with saving at least 50 lives while guiding ships.

Nicole Brown