March is Women’s History Month and while GO believes in celebrating women year-long — we relish in the opportunity to uplift the stories of queer babes of the past, present and future who continue to pave the way for a more beautiful and Sapphic world. Every day for the month of March, we will celebrate one of our favorite queer women!
I first found out about Reina Gossett when her Hampshire College 2016 Commencement speech went viral. I was absolutely blown away. Gossett shows us all that we can actualize the future we dream of: An anti-capitalist, anti-racist, trans celebratory, queer inclusive, sex positive future. It is possible if we put in the hard work to get there — and Gossett is out there doing the work.
“Students are told again and again to be grateful to the institutions that harm them, to be grateful for the opportunities afforded them by the institutions they pay to attend – in all the many material and immaterial ways we pay – or go into debt by attending. This relationship is precarious, and about so much more than luck or gratitude. So, to all of you who have worked to make this institution look more like the world you want to see—even as you go into emotional and material debt while doing so—I see you & I want to share debt with you.”
You might have heard Gossett’s name again this year when Netflix released the documentary “The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson” and filmmaker David France was accused of stealing content from Gossett in the production of the film. “He told the people who worked there -I shit you not- that he should be the one to do this film, got a grant from Sundance/Arcus using my language and research about STAR, got Vimeo to remove my video of Sylvia’s critical “y’all better quiet down” speech, ripped off decades of my archival research that I experienced so much violence to get, had his staff call Sasha up at work to get our contacts then hired my and Sasha’s *ADVISOR* to our Marsha film Kimberly Reed to be his producer,” Gossett wrote in a deeply personal Instagram post.
Gossett did the work interviewing, researching and curating historic information about Marsha P. Johnson for years. That work was ripped off by a white cishet man. Gossett’s story is one that shows why queer and trans folx, in particular Black queer and trans folx, should be in charge of their own narratives.
Most recently, Gossett released a new book titled “Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and Visibility Politics,” which she edited alongside Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton. “The increasing representation of trans identity throughout art and popular culture in recent years has been nothing if not paradoxical. Trans visibility is touted as a sign of a liberal society, but it has coincided with a political moment marked both by heightened violence against trans people (especially trans women of color) and by the suppression of trans rights under civil law. Trap Door grapples with these contradictions.”
Gossett continues to create work that is vital for trans women of color to take up more space in this world. She creates dialogue around topics that most people shy away from– and for that, she deserves to be celebrated. May the future that we envision be inclusive and supportive of women like Gossett who create space for trans women to be uplifted and celebrated.