Trans Pioneer: Marsha P. Johnson


Pay It No Mind – The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson. Thanks to the wisdom of Jimmy Camicia, Richard Morrison, and Larry Mitchell who helped make this documentary possible.

Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson
Pronouns: She/her
June 27, 1944 – July 6, 1992

This pioneer was a notable transgender rights activist and popular figure in New York City’s gay and art scene, as well as one of the city’s best known trans women of the times. She was a leader in clashes with the police amid the Stonewall Riots.

Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson

She was a co-founder, along with Sylvia Rivera, of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) in the 1970s, and also the “mother” of S.T.A.R. House along with Sylvia, getting together food and clothing to help support the young trans women living in the house on the lower East Side of New York.

Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson

In 1974 Marsha P. Johnson was photographed by famed artist Andy Warhol, as part of a “ladies and gentlemen” series of polaroids featuring drag queens. Johnson was also a member of Warhol’s draq queen performance troupe, Hot Peaches (which has been compared to the similar, San Francisco troupe, The Cockettes).

Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson

Once, appearing in a court the judge asked Marsha, “What does the ‘P’ stand for?”, Johnson gave her customary response “Pay it No Mind.” This phrase became her trademark.

Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson

In July 1992, her body was found floating in the Hudson River, shortly after the 1992 Pride March. Police ruled the death a suicide, but her friends and supporters denied this, and a people’s postering campaign later declared that Johnson had earlier been harassed near the spot where her body was found. Attempts to get the police to investigate the cause of death were unsuccessful. After lobbying by activist Mariah Lopez, in November 2012 the New York police department re-opened the case as a possible homicide.

Trans Pioneer Marsha P. Johnson

Comments are closed