Major! (dir Annalise Ophelian, 2015) is a documentary that provides important context for how we have arrived at this pivotal moment in the pursuit of Black trans liberation, thru focusing on one of its most long standing and influential visionaries.
The film sensitively charts the daily struggles, trans familial bonds and past achievements of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, the co-founder of the Transgender Gendervariant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), activist, visionary, and spiritual mother of Black trans women across the US and who also happens to be one of the few remaining queer elders alive today who was involved in the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
Given the shocking statistic that the average US life expectancy of a Black trans woman is just 35, part of Miss Major’s exceptionalism (sadly) lies in her status as one of the few living trans women of her generation; miraculous by way of merely existing, in that having faced decades of systemic neglect, exclusion from institutions (she was ejected from two colleges before turning to sex work), imprisonment (she was imprisoned in the late 70s for robbing a john, housed in Sing Sing and then Attica, shortly after the Attica uprisings, where she became radicalised to the Black prison abolition movement) and lack of support from the wider LGBTQ community for most of her life (only receiving institutional accolades for her work w/in the past decade) - that she is able to triumphantly proclaim aged 78: ‘I’m still fucking here.’
On June 14, an estimated 15,000 people showed up in Brooklyn to affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter. Addressing the crowd that day, Ceyenne Doroshow, a close friend of Miss Major and the founder of Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (GLITS) broke down in thanks, after having just about reached her staggering fundraising target of 1 million dollars to secure long term sustainable housing for Black trans men and women. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Miss Major Griffin Gracy, and her unwavering faith in a hospitable future for Black trans women as something one must never give up fighting for.
Written by June Lam
Artist and Writer
Annalise Ophelian 2015 USA 1H 35m Documentary