The newest addition to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is one for the history books. This week, the museum announced the first portrait of a transgender American to be included in its esteemed collection: A photograph of Sylvia Rivera, the woman who arguably put the “T” in LGBT.
One of the foremost activists in the national fight against gender discrimination, Rivera is best remembered as a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall riots. It was on June 28 of that year that she and other courageous members of the LGBT community stood up en mass against a police force that for years had been publicly humiliating them, as well as physically and sexually assaulting them. The rioting that took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s West Village neighborhood sparked several nights of protests — and, ultimately, the American gay rights movement.