Laverne Cox is here to help you get to know your trancestors. The Emmy-nominated actress and activist lent her voice to a new video by Time and the ACLU that details the history of transgender activism in the United States. Alongside Cox, Transparent producer and artist Zackary Drucker and the creative team of Molly Crabapple and Kim Boekbinder teamed up to create the beautiful, four-minute film.
The result is a rundown of all the big names and moments in history we should know that don’t center around Stonewall Inn. As Cox narrates, the video explains the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riots in San Francisco, LA’s Cooper’s Donuts uprising in 1959, and more. From there, she namechecks the queens who paved the way for a new generation of trans activists, including Miss Major, Martha P. Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera.
As history pushes into the present, the final section of the video settles into the horrifying abuse the trans community faces today. According to a survey of 27,000 transgender individuals in 2015, nearly one in three respondents lived in poverty, over half were denied health care related to their gender transition, one in four indicated that they didn’t seek medical attention at all because they were afraid of discrimination, and more than three out of four said they’d experienced harassment in school.
That’s not to say anything about the adverse effects of the president’s transphobic administration or the number of anti-trans bills that have stripped away rights from the trans community. It’s this harsh reality that makes Cox’s video so essential. As she explains at the end of the film:
“Resistance is our birthright. The gift passed on from our elders. We carry the lessons of Cooper’s [Donuts], Stonewall, Compton’s [Cafeteria], and the many strategies that continue to give us hope and life. We’ve always existed and we’ll continue to fight until we are all safe—and free.”