MAJOR!”— An Activist


An Activist

Amos Lassen

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has form, history and experience. She is an activist of the old-school type, the type that actually achieved things. In other words, she is a true pioneer of everything LGBT! She has stories to tell and important things something to say. She says what is on her mind and does so with diplomacy, grace and “high-voltage electricity!” She has made a difference in many lives [and still does]. Annalise Ophelian’s film captures her in all her defiance and glory. It is a tribute to a truly formidable and enviable legacy of achievements.

The documentary explores the life and campaigns of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion. She has been fighting for the rights of transgender women of color for over 40 years. Known to most people simply as Miss Major or Major she is a larger-than-life old school activist who leads by example, helping hundreds of trans-women of color, most of whom were strangers.

Assigned as a boy at birth in Chicago  in 1940 , Major came out when she as a teenager  Back then she and her peers did not know that they were questioning their gender. She says that much of the contemporary terminology surrounding gender identities did not exist back then. Interviews with Major cover most of her life and we see her as a perpetual optimist despite how the tragic nature of the stories she tells.  

Like so many transwomen of color who could not find  legitimate work, Major once histed johns on the street and shoplifted. She has served time in jail. Because of the terrible and illegal ways that trans women are treated in jail, she was inspired to set up and lead the TRANSGENDER GENDER-VARIANT & INTERSEX JUSTICE PROJECT (TGI JUSTICE PROJECT OR TGIJP).

Major says this is  part of her life’s work as transgender women are disproportionately incarcerated under Court Judgements. The inmates and warders feel entitled to impose their own punishments which include rape and physical beatings. 

She has also been a very vocal and effective activist for people with AIDS, homelessness, feminists but it is clear that her first love is helping trans women of color, several of whom call her Mother.  As a mentor and role model she has  worked to change an unfair system while suffering from serious life-threatening health issues 

We see Major dressed to the nines as well as wigless and in male attire which is oblivious to the physical image she is creating.  She still has time for a personal life, and seeing her with her ex romantic partners, balances her profile.  Major fathered a son some 40 years ago, and became his primary parent.

The film reminds us of the continuing plight of trans women of color whose lives are vulnerable still today.

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