Sylvia Rivera, 1951-2002
American Transgender Rights Activist
astrology chart, profile, books, links
Taurus Ascendant, Cancer Sun, Gemini Moon, Saturn T-Square
ASTRoDATA: 2 July 1951, 02:30 (2:30 AM) EDT (4hW), Bronx, New York, USA. Sy Scholfield [copyright] quotes data from Rivera in Eric Marcus's Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990: An Oral History (HarperCollins, 1992), p. 187: "I was born at two-thirty in the morning on July 2, 1951, in a taxi cab in the old Lincoln Hospital parking lot in the South Bronx. I came out feet first." RR: A.
FEATURES: PERSONALIZED PLANETS: Cancer MERCURY (conjunct Sun; rules moon), Leo PLUTO-VENUS (conjunct Base),
Libra NEPTUNE (square Sun; trine Moon).
PATTERNS: MUTABLE T-SQUARE (Sagittarius CHIRON opposite Gemini MARS, both square Virgo SATURN).
MUTUAL RECEPTION: Gemini MOON & Cancer MERCURY.
SHAPE: HORSESHOE (Pluto-Venus is Pivotal).
CHINESE SIGN: METAL CAT-RABBIT. NUMEROLOGY: "7" LIFEPATH.
[with Astrology notes by Sy Scholfield]:
Sylvia Rae Rivera (2 July 1951–19 February 2002) was an American transgender activist. Rivera was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance and helped found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group dedicated to helping homeless young street trans women, with her friend Marsha P. Johnson.
Rivera was born and raised in New York City and would live most of her life in or near this city. She was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent. Her birth name was Ray (or Rey) Rivera. She was abandoned by her birth father José Rivera early in life and became an orphan after her mother committed suicide when Rivera was three years old. Rivera was then raised by her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of Rivera's effeminate behavior, particularly after Rivera began to wear women's makeup in fourth grade. As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of eleven, where she joined a community of drag queens.
Rivera's activism began during the Vietnam War, civil rights, and feminist movements and fully bloomed around the time of the Stonewall Riots. She often spoke of her presence within the Stonewall Inn the night of the riots. She also became involved in Puerto Rican and African American youth activism, particularly with the Young Lords and Black Panthers.
At different times in her life, Sylvia Rivera battled substance abuse issues and lived on the streets. Her experiences made her more focused on advocacy for those who, in her view, the mainline community (and often the queer community) were leaving behind.
In May 1995, Rivera tried to commit suicide by walking into the Hudson River. That year she also appeared in the Arthur Dong documentary episode "Out Rage '69", part of the PBS series The Question of Equality. Rivera died during the dawn hours of February 19, 2002 at New York's St. Vincent's Hospital, of complications from liver cancer. Activist Riki Wilchins noted, "In many ways, Sylvia was the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement, a term that was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall".
In the last five years of her life Sylvia renewed her political activity, giving many speeches concerning the Stonewall Riots and the necessity for unity among transgender people to fight for their historic legacy as people in the forefront of the LGBT movement. She traveled to Italy for the Millennium March in 2000 where she was acclaimed as the Mother of all gay people. In early 2001, after a church service at the MCC referring to the Star announcing the birth of Jesus she decided to reinstate Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries as an active political organization. STAR fought for the New York City Transgender Rights Bill and for a trans-inclusive New York State Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act. Also STAR sponsored street pressures for justice for Amanda Milan, a transgender woman who was murdered in 2000. Sylvia also attacked the Human Rights Commission and the Empire State Pride Agenda as organizations which were standing in the way of transgender rights. On her death bed she met with Matt Foreman and Joe Grabarz of the Empire State Pride Agenda in order to negotiate trans inclusion in ESPA's political structure and agenda.