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    Judy Bowenwiener: The Transgender Activist Who Inspired The Stonewall Generations Study

    By Jason Flatt, Ph.D., M.P.H.–

    Judy Bowenwiener is an 80-year-old self-proclaimed “Equality-For-All activist” who has dedicated her life to advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community and driving change for the inclusion of transgender people. She has a rich history of involvement in various LGBTQIA+ organizations, advocacy, and initiatives. Judy’s stories and experiences have also played a crucial role in inspiring my work on The Stonewall Generations Study at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Judy’s firsthand accounts of living in New York City and knowing Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson have shed light on the unique health needs of LGBTQIA+ people as they age.

    Judy’s journey began in the mid-1960s when she moved to New York City from Tennessee and quickly became immersed in the vibrant Greenwich Village scene. She founded Transexuals Anonymous in New York City and later championed for the creation of The Safety Dorm for unhoused transgender people at The Salvation Army in Las Vegas, Nevada. Judy also owned Judy’s Cafe in Long Island City and published a weekly newspaper called The Western Queens Gazette.

    Judy Bowenwiener
    Photos courtesy of Jason Flatt

    During the Stonewall Riots, Judy lived on Christopher Street and marched with the Gay Activists Alliance in the Christopher Street Liberation Day March—the first Pride parade in New York City following the Stonewall Riots. Judy represented the transgender community at the march, highlighting her commitment to inclusivity and equality. Judy’s experiences during this time included meeting influential figures such as Andy Warhol, Candy Darling, Silvia Rivera, and Marsha P. Johnson. She also worked as an extra alongside Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.

    In the years following the riots, Judy played a pivotal role in founding organizations such as, in 1970, Transvestites and Transsexuals, which later became Transsexuals Anonymous and STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries). Judy said, “Transsexuals Anonymous was needed for transgender people because they needed to talk, and we had to be anonymous or we might be murdered if someone found out.” These organizations provided vital support for transgender individuals in New York City, offering a safe space for discussion and connection.

    Jason Flatt with Judy

    In 1999, Judy relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she continues to be an active member of The LGBTQ+ Center of Southern Nevada and many transgender inclusive groups and advocacy efforts. For instance, she is dedicated to creating housing for those in need and fighting against prejudice and hate. Judy is actively involved in promoting inclusion and acceptance of transgender people across the world and is part of Trans United, an international group that aims to increase communication among transgender individuals and organizations.

    Judy’s tireless efforts and significant contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community have not gone unnoticed. She was recently awarded the Las Vegas 2023 Trans Icon Award and the 2024 Miss International Queen USA Guiding Light Award, recognizing her exceptional leadership and advocacy. She works closely with Kataluna Enriquez, a transgender activist, model, and pageant titleholder, Miss Nevada USA 2021, and was recently crowned the 2024 Miss International Queen USA.

    Judy’s lifelong dedication to equality and inclusion serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us of the importance of advocacy and the power of individual stories in driving social change. Learn more about Judy’s efforts in the Stonewall Forever Documentary. (See the link to view the documentary here:

    Judy has played a crucial role in not only inspiring but also advising on The Stonewall Generations Study, which is actively seeking LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQIA+ individuals aged 50+ to participate in research to help us better understand concerns around memory and health for the LGBTQIA+ community. You can receive a $25 gift card for completing our telephone survey. The Stonewall Generations Study is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association and involves completing a one-time 30–45 minute telephone interview by calling 1-833-966-6974 or emailing us at 

    Jason D. Flatt, Ph.D., M.P.H., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Health and Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, Institute for Health and Aging. Dr. Flatt’s current research works to better understand concerns and needs of diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and additional identities adults living with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and their care providers. In 2020, he received the Early-Stage Investigator Award from the NIH Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office. His research is funded by the National Institute on Aging, American Federation for Aging Research, The Alzheimer’s Association, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He and his husband live in Las Vegas with their three pups: Tuna, Bowie, and Elton. You can learn more about his research and team members at

    Aging in Community
    Published on May 23, 2024