Mariah Lopez

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Mariah Lopez
Known forTransgender activism

Mariah Lopez is an American transgender activist and former sex worker,[1] currently located in New York City.[2] She works to address the issues around improving the lives of LBGTIQ population in the United States and more specifically for people of color and/or low income.[3] Lopez is the executive director for STARR (Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform), a transgender rights advocacy group.


In 2012, Lopez lobbied for the 1992 death of Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender rights activist to be reexamined with modern technology. Initially the case was considered a suicide but in 2012 the New York Police Department re-opened the case as possible homicide.[4] In 2017, the documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson was released by Netflix and Lopez was filmed for the documentary but not featured in the final film.[5] The film prompted a discussion around who should tell the story of Marsha P. Johnson, and their power and relationship to profiting off of a marginalized community and sharing someone else's story.[5] STARR (Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform) is intended to be a reboot of Johnson and Rivera’s organization STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries).[5]

Lopez helped open the very first transgender housing unit for the largest prison in America, Rikers Island in 2014. She wrote on Facebook on July 30, 2014 that "the country's first exclusively transgender facility" would open within days.[6][7] The new unit would help better protect transgender individuals as Lopez stated the housing unit was in response to "abuses so severe and taboo, that most people (the general public and elected officials) believe these practices to be outlawed and or no longer practiced"; writing that "abuses included strip-searches by officers, beating and rape of trans individuals while incarcerated throughout the United States." citing Amnesty International's 2003 report, "Stonewalled".

In 2014, Lopez acted as a publicist with STARR when the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) of New York City offered gender reassignment surgery for a 21-year-old, former foster care child. The city paid for the surgery.[8]

In 2015, Lopez served on a panel discussion at the National Action Network (NAN) about LGBTQ rights and homophobia in the Black community, moderated by Patrik-Ian Polk.[9][9] The panel included Sean Coleman, Executive Director, Destination Tomorrow, Reverend MacArthur Flournoy, Director Faith Partnerships and Mobilization, Human Rights Campaign, Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO, National Black Justice Coalition, Lawrence "Miss Lawrence" Washington, Co-Host, Bravo's Fashion Queens, Daniel Williams, Youth Huddle Member and Chairperson, LGBT Committee, NAN New York City Chapter, Reverent Steffie Bartley, Sr., President, NAN Elizabeth, NJ Chapter & NAN Board of Directors and BJ Coleman, President, Coleman Entertainment Group.[9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Lopez is transgender and she is of Black and Latino heritage.[3]

On June 17, 2006 Lopez was arrested for "loitering with intent for solicitation" by the New York Police Department.[11] She was held on a one thousand five hundred dollar bond, which she couldn't afford to pay. The abuse she endured while going through prison included being taken to a women's jail, where she was ordered to do a "genital check" by the officers to determine if she belonged there.[11][12] When she refused, they took her to a men's jail where she was denied her clothing and underwear, later being sexually harassed and assaulted by both a inmates and officers.[13]


  1. ^ Nir, Sarah Maslin (2012-07-24). "In West Village, Living Out Loud on a Transgender Runway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  2. ^ "Vigil For Murdered Transgender Woman Disrupted". The Huffington Post. 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  3. ^ a b Morrison, Aaron (2015-06-26). "Will Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling End Culture Wars? Activists On Both Sides Say No". International Business Times (IBT). Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  4. ^ Jacobs, Shayna (2012-12-16). "DA reopens unsolved 1992 case involving the 'saint of gay life'". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  5. ^ a b c Juzwiak, Rich. "Who Owns Marsha P. Johnson's Story?". Jezebel. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  6. ^ "Rikers Jail to Open Transgender Unit". Retrieved 2015-07-24.
  7. ^ Conley, Kirstan (2014-11-19). "Rikers Island to offer separate housing for transgender inmates". New York Post. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  8. ^ "Exclusive: A sex change operation is funded by New York City's Administration for Children's Services". Daily News New York. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  9. ^ a b c "Creators of FOX's hit Empire amongst honorees at Al Sharpton's NAN 2015 Conference". Voice World News. 2015-04-01. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  10. ^ "Convention Schedule" (PDF). National Action Network (NAN). 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-11-14.
  11. ^ a b "8 Pioneering Trans Latinas to Honor During Women's History Month". Remezcla. 2018-03-12. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  12. ^ "You're Not Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth If You're Not Celebrating These Trans Women". we are mitú. 2019-03-14. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  13. ^ "New York City: Abuse of Transgender Women by New York City Police Officers" (PDF). Amnesty International. 2006-10-01.[permanent dead link]

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