Unless otherwise specified all quotes are from Miss Major’s personal website, which you can find here: missmajor.net
For those of you who aren’t aware of her, Miss Major’s website really says it best: “Miss Major is a Black, transgender activist who has fought for over fifty years for her trans/gender nonconforming community.”
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy was born on October 25, 1940 on Chicago’s South Side, where she participated in the drag scene in her youth. I appreciate that she has pointed out that she and her contemporaries were unaware that they were exploring their personal gender identities through drag, as the current vocabulary around gender identity simply did not exist back then.
[Author’s aside: I grew up in a conservative Christian household from the American South, so this explanation resonated with me on a personal level.]
Miss Major came out as a trans woman in the late 1950s, after which she was ostracized and routinely assaulted by her peers. Through the ensuing years Miss Major was on the ground during the Stonewall Riots, and survived both Dannemora Prison and Bellevue Hospital’s “queen tank.”
These experiences continue to inform her “work to uplift transgender women of color, particularly those who have survived incarceration and police brutality.”
Miss Major’s personal and professional accomplishments are next to innumerable, so I will attempt to portray the highlights:
- She worked directly with people with HIV/AIDS in New York during the early 80s
- This helped her create and drive the first mobile needle exchange in San Francisco
- She is the former leader of the TGI Justice Project, which works “to end human rights abuses against transgender, intersex, and gender-variant people, particularly trans women of color in California prisons and detention centers.”
- She now runs House Of GG, an educational leadership retreat primarily aimed at Black Trans women who live in the Southern U.S., which you can learn more about at their website: houseofgg.org
- Her recent creative work includes “executive producing the series Trans in Trumpland (now streaming everywhere), and a book on her life’s activism, a collaboration with Toshio Meronek”
No amount of explanation or bullet points can accurately convey the impact that the incomparable Miss Major continues to have on the lives of the most marginalized and brutalized members of our society. She continues this valuable work to this day, including the upcoming publication of her autobiography Miss Major Speaks which you can pre-order from Verso Books.