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Commencement Speaker Is New York Activist, Writer, and Artist Reina Gossett

Gossett is 2014–2016 activist in residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women

Responding to requests by the Hampshire community to identify a commencement speaker who could directly address student concerns, the College has selected Reina Gossett. Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m. on the Harold F. Johnson Library Lawn.

2016 Hampshire Commencement Speaker Reina Gossett
Reina Gossett. Photo by Alice O'Malley.

Faculty, in consultation with students and staff, proposed Gossett because her life and work engage the issues that have been raised by students around anti-blackness, transphobia, and sexual violence.

Reina Gossett is an activist, writer, and filmmaker, and 2014–2016 activist in residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women. Before that, Gossett collaborated with Critical Resistance, organizing with low-income LGBTGNC New Yorkers in a campaign that stopped the city’s Department of Corrections from building a $375 million jail in the Bronx.

In a previous role, as membership director of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Gossett worked to lift the voice and power of trans and gender-non-conforming people who participated in the successful campaign to end healthcare discrimination aimed at low-income trans and gender-non-conforming New Yorkers. Gossett has also worked at Queers for Economic Justice, where she steered the Welfare Organizing Project and produced A Fabulous Attitude, which documents low-income LGBT New Yorkers surviving inequality and thriving despite enormous obstacles.

Reina Gossett is a 2009 Stonewall Community Foundation Honoree as well as a filmmaker who, with Sasha Wortzel, wrote, directed, and produced Happy Birthday, Marsha!, a film detailing the lives of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson in the hours leading up to the Stonewall Riots of 1969. The film (in postproduction) builds on Gossett’s archival research and writing over the past decade about Sylvia Rivera and STAR (a shelter Rivera founded), published in various print and online platforms, such as Captive Genders in 2011 (AK Press), The Scholar & Feminist Online, and her blog.

“I’m grateful to faculty and students who worked to bring Reina Gossett to campus, and thrilled that Reina has agreed to be our graduation speaker,” said Eva Rueschmann, acting president and Dean of Faculty.

Reina Gossett frequently speaks on and facilitates trainings across the country on queer and trans activism and awareness, campaign organizing, and prison abolition, as well as on reproductive justice, and trans people of color history. More information about Gossett can be found on her personal website.

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