Sir Lady Java
Sir Lady Java, born in 1943 in New Orleans, LA was a popular performer at the Redd Foxx Club and other Los Angeles, CA venues in the 1960s.
The city’s Rule No. 9 made it illegal to “impersonate by means of costume or dress a person of the opposite sex” and was used frequently by authorities to break up such shows to arrest gay and trans people for a number of laws used against them.
“It’s got to stop somewhere, and it won’t unless somebody steps forward and takes a stand. I guess that’s me.” Sir Lady Java, October 21, 1967
As Sir Lady Java became increasingly popular, packing local bars and clubs to see her performances, authorities began targeting her directly. Recognizing this violation on her civil rights and the impact this had on other local trans people, she fought back. Joining forces with the ACLU, Sir Lady Java took Rule No. 9 to court and brought the LGBT community together through public rallies and protests.
Learn more about ACLU’s involvement in Rule No. 9 at https://www.aclu.org/work-aclu-linking-gender-identity-and-gay-rights?redirect=lgbt-rights_hiv-aids/work-aclu-linking-gender-identity-and-gay-rights
While she was not able to get the ordinance struck down because it was determined she didn’t have legal standing to file the lawsuit, Sir Lady Java nonetheless paved the way for Rule No. 9 to be stuck down two years later.
Sir Lady Java was featured in JET magazine several times, including in coverage of a 1978 Los Angeles birthday party for her idol Lena Horne where she performed.
Learn more about Sir Lady Java by a detailed blog post from Monica Roberts @
See more black trans leaders questions/answers!
We welcome you to follow us on social media throughout February (and beyond!) and use #BlackTransHx to contribute to the conversation.