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  • Standing Feather

The Marsha P Johnson Story

By Tyler Born

Marsha P. Johnson was a transwoman who became an important face to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community in New York City. She was recognized by being herself and fearing no judgment of the harassment and ridicule of dressing and living as a woman, while having the masculine features of a man. The hardships of a transgender individual were nothing new to Marsha who herself was living on the streets of New York without a permanent home or financial and living arrangements. This tended to be a normal struggle of transgender individuals. Marsha P. Johnson felt these people who wanted nothing more than to be their selves deserved support from the growing LGBT community in New York. Along with fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera she founded the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to help others out there facing the struggles of an unaccepting society.

Born a male and named Malcolm Michaels, Marsha legally changed her name after 1966, when she moved from New Jersey to Greenwich Village permanently, to Marsha P. Johnson. When people would ask her what her middle name was, she replied, “Pay it no mind.” This response was intended to be a rhetorical answer to the question many had on their minds as to whether she was male or female. By putting “pay it no mind” in her name it deterred the public from asking the question she hated to receive.

Marsha passed away on July 6, 1992. Her body was found in the Hudson River in New York. Police and investigators ruled her death as a suicide, but people who knew her and were close to her insisted she was not suicidal. Witnesses saw Marsha being harassed earlier in the day and wanted a full investigation of her death as a murder. There has been no criminal investigation to the death of Marsha P. Johnson.

So, I painted a memorial picture of her. Here it is.

Also, happy to have my son Zane here visiting! He helped me paint the gallery last April before I opened - what a great full circle!

'The ghost of Ma

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