Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major Griffin Gracy is a Black transgender woman and elder. She is a veteran of the Stonewall riots (which are credited with “kicking off” the modern “gay liberation” movement). Miss Major is a transgender icon, but perhaps an unlikely OtherWise Christian icon. However unlikely, she emerged as just such a figure in the final section of the final chapter of OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation.

Miss Major was radicalized by the folk who led the Attica Prison revolt in 1971. She is past executive director of the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project, which serves the needs of OtherWise folk in prison. She now leads the House of GG (Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat & Historical Center) in Little Rock, Arkansas, which is focusing on growing a network of trans folk working for justice in the Southern United States.

I’ve loved Miss Major for a long time. Early on, I loved her indirectly as a mother and grandmother to folk that knew her better than I did. Later, I got to meet her and spend time with her and feel both her love and her spirit of determination, first hand. You can meet her through the documentary movie, Major!, which profiles Miss Major’s life, her family, and her work.

I didn’t realize how much Miss Major reminds me of Jesus until I was writing chapter 25. I’m not saying that she identifies as a Christian. Miss Major curses like a sailor–or perhaps more accurately like a survivor. But as I wrote those final paragraphs, I found myself weeping…

Jesus shows up inexplicably: in locked rooms filled with fear (John 20:19; Luke 24:36), in our grief and mourning (John 20:11–14), in table fellowship with our siblings (Luke 24:30; John 21:1–14), bearing witness to broken and bloody bodies, in the community meals where we remember and re-member, in the moments where we are putting ourselves and our families back together after an assault. Jesus shows up in those places saying “Peace be with you” (John 20:19; or “Rejoice!” in Matthew 28:9).

OC promo - Major (1)The incomparable Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, has survived as a Black transgender woman for 50 years after participating in the Stonewall riots of 1969. Mother Major’s signature closing comment is “I’m still fucking here.” Like those who have whitewashed and commercialized the Stonewall riots, religious leaders and politicians have long been working to domesticate Zey Jesus into a tidy religious icon. However, zey was a radical who confronted respectability, bringing us this promise: Death will not have the ultimate victory. Jesus reaches out to us, with a tender defiance like unto our beloved Mother Major, saying, “I love you, baby, and I’m still fucking here. We got this.”

OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation
Excerpt from Chapter 25
by Mx. Chris Paige

When I recently showed the film, Major! at my church a young person asked me what I learned from her. I said that I learned how to live defiantly, how to love extravagantly, how to keep showing up when things are hard, how to keep it real, and how to keep your focus on what matters most.

I highly recommend the documentary. As I write this it is available for free with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on June 28, 2019–the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.