Women that have left their mark in history were not obedient. Those empowered gals who have been remembered and talked about were nonconforming and revolutionary.
History is filled with strong female leaders that at first might have been thought of as threats to society’s standards. But now they are remembered as empowering, glorifying the name of women everywhere.
Though you can find a myriad of them all over the world, we’ll be focusing on 10 LBGTQ+ latina women that defied every expectation, and thrived.
Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican-Venezuelan transgender woman, was a pioneering activist for LBGTQ+ rights, especially for the trans community. She, along with Marsha P. Johnson created the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a shelter for trans people who lived on the streets of New York City during the 1970s.
She was a restless fighter for the rights of the LBGTQ+ community, racial minorities, and the homeless. Rivera dedicated her life to help others.
On April 8th, 1993, Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina woman to travel to space. In her first mission she stayed nine days in space while investigating the ozone layers of Earth. She accomplished a thousand hours in space in total!
And, if her first pioneering mission weren’t enough: in 2013, Ochoa took lead as the first Hispanic and second female director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Ochoa dared to defy in a profession that’s strongly associated with men. She is truly an empowered STEM woman.
Self-described as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde, born from immigrant parents, became one of the most significant feminist thinkers of the 20th century. She approached the women’s liberation movement and gave rise to the voice of women and the queer community through her writing and speech.
Her groundbreaking works include poetry, fiction, and essays, such as Sister Outsider, which discusses issues of racism, self-acceptance, and woman-hood, her essay collection A Burst of Light, and The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, which Lorde expresses as a: “linguistic and emotional tour through the conflicts, fears, and hopes of the world (she has) inhabited.”
Lili Elbe was a famous landscape painter, as well as one of the first known cases of transexual surgery during the ‘30s. She went to gatherings with her wife Gerda, courageously herself with makeup and clothing of her choosing.
Elbe died of cardiac arrest as a result of an infection due to a failure in womb transplant, she is honored for her bravery today.
Evangelina Rodríguez was the first woman from the Dominican Republic to become a doctor. She fought for her degree as half-Black, poor, and female; all traits that were demeaned on her.
After becoming a doctor, Rodríguez dedicated her life to care for those living in small, abandoned towns. When she returned to her country, she became an important political figure, fighting for female rights and speaking out on important issues, like birth control. Rodríguez also bravely spoke out against dictator Rafael Trujillo.
Julia de Burgos
Julia de Burgos was an unconventional and brilliant Puerto Rican poet. As a black immigrant woman, she wrote during a time where her identities were not favorable in the literary world.
Nonetheless, she was ahead of her time, as she spoke about feminism and social justice in her verses. As she said so herself: “I am the life, the strength, the woman.”
Dolores Huerta sought for change in the job and life conditions of agriculture workers. During the early ‘20s, the work in the fields was held under the beating sun, restless, and in extreme poverty.
Huertas and her followers decided this needed to change, and created the United Farm Workers. A tireless organization that led boycotts, protests and resistance in favor of workers’ rights. Huertas is an advocate, leader, and activist for the most vulnerable.
Marsha P. Johnson
A drag queen in New York during the ‘60s, Marsha P Johnson, was a prominent LBGTQ+ rights advocate and one of the central figures in the Stonewall Uprising– a movement birthed from the confrontation of LBGTQ+ individuals against a police raid at NYC’s Stonewall Inn (1969). She was also co-founder of STAR, along with Sylvia Rivera.
Moreover, she defiantly led the gay pride parade of 1973, in spite of drag being banned from the event.
Born from a strict wealthy family in 1791, Ann Lister defied all the social norms. She educated herself; owned her own lands; ran her own coal business, and became the first woman to climb several mountains in the Pyrenees.
A scandalous figure who walked “like a man,” dressed in black, and gave herself male names such as “Fred” and “Gentleman Jack.” She eventually married a wealthy woman, and even blessed their union in a church.
Sonia Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican judge whose brilliance and determination led her to graduate with the highest honor from Yale’s school of Law.
She became a U.S. District Court judge, and made history as the first Latina U.S Supreme Court Justice.Sotomayor has become an advocate for the criminal justice form and women’s rights.
In a world where it’s deemed preferable for a woman’s voice to be silenced, these women have made themselves be heard by defying all social expectations. They are the fighters, dreamers, and misbehaved females that we should strive to be.
Remember, obedient and well-behaved people rarely make history. So go out there; defy the norm, and rebel on!