Pride Edition - 5 Influential LGBTQIA+ Members

Michael Dillon (1915-1962)

Born in 1915, Michael Dillon was the world’s first person to transition from female-to-male through hormones and surgery.

Dillon had always identified as masculine and began taking testosterone in the year of 1940. He subsequently succeeded in getting his birth certificate changed in 1944, to reflect his gender.

From 1944-1953, Sir Harold Gillies, a leading plastic surgeon at his hospital, Rooksdown House, near Basingstoke, carried out Dillon’s genital reconstruction.

Dillon trained and qualified as a doctor and worked as a ship’s surgeon for several years in order to protect his privacy. Prior to his transition, he led the women’s rowing team to many victories whilst at Oxford University during the 1930s.

Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) and Marsha P Johnson (1945-1992)

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson are known for their involvement in the Stonewall uprising, which took place on June 28th, 1969. If you’d like to learn more about the Stonewall uprising and the history behind why we celebrate Pride, be sure to check out our blog post, The History of Pride and How it Began.

Rivera and Johnson are commonly referred to as the ‘forgotten transcestors’, as they only received mainstream recognition until after their deaths.

They were close friends and they co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in 1970, which was an organisation that aimed to help gay youth, trans women and homeless young drag queens.

Rivera’s gender identity varied throughout her life. She identified as a drag queen for the majority of her life and later, as a transgender person.

She was extremely passionate in her campaigns against the exclusion of transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York, in addition to the rights of low-income queer people, trans people and people of colour.

Johnson was a disabled, African-American, gay liberation activist and sex worker, who identified as a drag queen. She regularly participated in demonstrations with the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and was a noted community worker in New York.

Travis Alabanza (born 1995)

Travis Alabanza identifies as a trans feminine, gender non-conforming person. They grew up on a council estate in Bristol, south west England. They are an award winning writer, performer and theatre maker.

They began making art when they were 16 years old, as it helped them process the adversities of life as a black, queer person. Their work often surrounds gender, race and trans identity and they have given various talks at universities including Harvard, Oxford and Bristol.

Alabanza frequently speaks out for the rights of trans people, plus the importance of safe spaces and communities for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

In 2022, Alabanza released a semi-autobiographical non-fiction book, My Life Beyond the Binary, which was listed as one of Waterstones’ Best Books of 2022.

Chella Man (born 1998)

Chella Man identifies as genderqueer and trans masculine and is an advocate for transgender and disabled communities. He is a visual artist, public speaker, artist, model and actor.

He began to lose his hearing at the age of 4 and by 13, he was profoundly deaf. The next year, he received his first cochlear implant and at 16, he had his second implant in his other ear.

He was casted as Jericho, who is mute and communicates only via sign language in HBO Max’s, Titans. This made him the first deaf and trans actor to portray a superhero on television.

Man has also modelled for magazines, including Time Out, The Advocate, Gay Times, Gap and Calvin Klein. In 2021, he became one of the first trans men to collaborate with a major beauty brand, as a member of the team of influencers Yves Saint Laurent formed to promote their Nu Collection.

Back to blog