From the Black Trans Fund, Happy Birthday, Marsha!

Black Trans Fund
7 min readAug 24


In honor of activist’s Marsha P. Johnson’s 78th birthday, we composed a letter from Black Trans Fund staff along with our Arts & Culture Fellows who will make up our newly launched Black Trans Art Pathway’s Fund, with sentiments full of celebration, gratitude, joy and a window into the world she created. See what everyone wrote below.

We also encourage and invite you to send Marsha love notes for her birthday! Please click here to send your message. Select pieces will be shared in honor of her ancestral solar return/birthday.

A Black non-binary person with dreadlocks and glasses in a colorful button-up shirt sits in a wicker chair.
HunterDae (HD) Goodridge, BTF Program Manager

Dear Marsha it’s me HD, your unruly black gender abolitionist kin from Brooklyn … You would be 78 this year … and there is so much for us to tell you. Would you believe Beyoncé said Trans is Beautiful to a sold out crowd in your home state of Jersey? not far from Elizabeth!! Yes Marsha, trans and nonbinary folks are cutting up and showing out everywhere and our babies continue in the legacy of resistance by celebrating and communing in JOY … It’s our pleasure to celebrate you on this day, write you some love letters, and lift up our new BTF Artists Advisors and our new Black Trans Art Pathway’s Fund. Do you know how many organizations there are now that are Black trans led? How many of your brothers are organizing on behalf of Trans masc communities? How concepts of Black trans politics are ruffling cis Black spaces? Girl, look at TS Madison and Janelle Monae … Black Gender politics are politic’n and I want to thank you. I want to thank you for all the ways that you gave us permission to show up and celebrate ourselves and I also want to thank you for giving us the nerve to also PAY IT NO MIND!!!!

Dreaming is how we have come to be here, in this moment when Black trans people are convening across the country and internationally, lovingly building into a future honoring our ancestral legacies. Black trans folks are making music in Japan, featured in Time magazine, birthing illustrations that grow and live into the canon of our Black trans visual media, Black trans folks are writing, producing and performing their own stage plays and short films. Marsha, I need you to know that in a world that normalizes on a mainstream level a desire to shut us out and shut us up … We Black trans people are full of love, full of care, full of flyness and we have the range to show up and organize against the state to protect our people, while also digging down into our ancestral care practices and convening each other to travel, retreat, hold circles of care, and wash water over each others feet, honoring ourselves.

Auntie Marsha I also want to tell you that Black trans artists are out here carrying! Lifting up all things beautiful in your vision and today on your birthday I am proud to announce that the Black Trans Fund has launched our newest funding program dedicated to Arts and Culture. BTF’s Arts and Culture Fund is the first of its kind, an arts fellowship and grantmaking program fundraised by Black trans people, operated by Black trans people, and resourcing Black trans art, artists, and arts and culture organizations. This year we will be moving $200,000 to the field in support of Black trans arts and culture work through our 5 artist advisors, and with 5 artists organizations. When I started researching and evaluating the field of funding for Black trans art, I’ve learned a lot and met so many of our common kin. Our inaugural Artist Advisor committee includes: Wriply Bennet, Ahya Simone, Texas Isaiah, kei slaughter and Mortica Godiva. They will join us in this journey to create and build our New World, a world where joy and libertion is the only narrative for Black trans folks.

A Black woman sits behind a harp with colorful strings.
Ahya Simone, Arts & Culture Fellow

Dear Marsha, It’s Ahya, the ethereal harpist and siren who calms souls with her music. We are in a beautiful Black trans renaissance. Our collective voices — thanks to you and all of the transcestors — are rippling through space and time. We are caring and saving each other, pouring into our talents and mobilizing each other towards creativity, connection, joy and rest. The energy is ripe and we are living in the light. We stood on your shoulders and continue the tradition of becoming who we are so that we may gain the fruits of spirit that we can continue to spread and lighten the load for those who come after us.

A slightly faded image of a Black person with short-length hair, on what appears to be a postage stamp background.
Texas Isaiah, Arts & Culture Fellow

Dear Marsha, it’s Texas Isaiah, one of your descendants from Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY), and I often wonder what you would think of this time we are in. On the one hand, many beautiful, illuminating things are occurring; on the other hand, so much more guidance and healing are needed in our communities so we don’t continue to project our hurts and harm each other. I wish you could witness how much more access we have to language and simply existing. How many people are dedicating themselves to connecting with other trans siblings outside of the borders of America … It’s pretty beautiful.

A Black person with dreadlocks in a colorful dress, sitting and smiling in front of a red curtain.
Morticia Godiva, Arts & Culture Fellow

Dear Marsha, it’s me Morticia, your passionate sigh of comedic relief and your legacy. Acting as that sigh, I would like to point you to the board; Florida and AppleTV’s series Extrapolation. It’s happening now like it was happening then, and then a little bit more than then. What’s great is that we now have these hieroglyphics that we call memes; they serve as a really cool ketamine alternative, I think you’ll like them. It’s also the way that I know you live for Azealia Banks, but might still be on the fence and or very clear about Ice Spice.

A close-up of a Black person, looking directly to the camera in a room with a teal wall.
Wriply Bennet, Arts & Culture Fellow

Dear Marsha, the effervescent, divine sister of the water! Your niece, Goddess Wriply Bennet. I trust all is well, with all that cosmic carrying on in new lala. It’s your star’s return, And I’m celebrating with you sweet Auntie, the Children of the water still live sweet Sister, and you are remembered!!! Your work has sustained us! And because of you we were able to be dreamers as the Divine energy has willed it! I am one who continues in and beyond your footsteps. I love you deeply sweet one. ♥️

A Black person sitting and holding a flute, wearing a striped white shirt and dark clothes in a yellow background.
kei slaughter, Arts & Culture Fellow

Dear St. Marsha, Auntea, Ancestor, North Star. How you doin? How your people nem doin? Its me Kei a lil southern Black preacher boi from New Orleans. Today, I crown you with fresh flowers and speckles of gold, with poetry and devotion. Thank you for the vibrant energy, fierce love, and courageous commitment to liberation you brought to your movement practice and to your life as a Black trans woman. Thank you for fighting for the dignity and safety of Trans lives. You were and are revolutionary. May your spirit and legacy continue to dance in full regalia, greeting and guiding us as we remember who we are and wholly (holy) inhabit our Black Trans Somebodiness! Happiest of birthdays to you, Marsha P “pay it no mind” Johnson.

A Black woman in a long white dress, standing in a field in front of mountains.
Bré Rivera, BTF Director

Dear Marsha,

My name is Bré Rivera! I am a powerful and proud Black trans femme at the helm of the Black Trans Fund. The joy work of our fund is in honor of you. I am speaking to you on what would have been your 78th birthday. Today is also my father’s birthday, Martin Patrick Campbell; he would have turned 57 if he was still here with us. Today, I am mourning existing without the both of you! I am amazed at how the universe works. It’s nothing but divine intervention that my father, who loved me so dearly, would share a birthday with a legendary Black trans icon who inspires me to lead with liberation and love. This year has been particularly hard on my body and mental health, and in celebration of both of you, I have decided to rest and recharge. I know both of you are smiling and proud of me in heaven. Thank you both for loving me in life and the hereafter.

A light-skinned man with colorful glasses wears a black jacket and white shirt, looking toward the camera in a green, tree background.
Rainier Miles, BTF Program Associate

Dear Marsha, it’s me Reign, your loud, full of sass and take no trash kin. I know you see me down here wylin, bringing joy and kindness to anyone who needs it. Your spirit reminds me that we can be kind and still throw hands. I just hope I’m out here making you proud.



Black Trans Fund

Supporting and uplifting Black trans joy and liberation for our communities. Stories by BTF staff and allies.