This Trans Filmmaker Is Accusing A Netflix Director Of Stealing Her Work

Netflix just released a documentary called The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson that is about the trans activist, Marsha P. Johnson who started Stonewall and was eventually murdered. The documentary is supposed to be groundbreaking and finally, shine a light on Marsha and all the work she did for trans people, but allegedly the director stole the film idea from an up and coming trans filmmaker.

Reina Gossett is calling out the director of the Netflix movie, David France and sharing how The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson actually came to be. In an Instagram post Reina shared how the film was originally her idea. “David got inspired to make this film from a grant application video that [Sasha Wortzel] & I made and sent to Kalamazoo/Arcus Foundation social justice center while he was visiting,” she wrote.

Reina continued the story of how David said he should be the one to make the film, got the grant and used her research. “[He] got a grant from Sundance/Arcus using my language and research about STAR, got Vimeo to remove my video of [Sylvia Rivera’s] critical ‘y’all better quiet down’ speech, ripped off decades of my archival research that I experienced so much violence to get, had his staff call Sasha up at work to get our contacts then hired my and Sasha’s *ADVISOR* to our Marsha film Kimberly Reed to be his producer.”

Her Instagram post alluded that there are even more shady things that David has done to steal Reina’s and Sasha’s work. Reina compared her work being stolen from her to Marsha’s experience. “This kind of extraction/excavation of black life, disabled life, poor life, trans life is so old and so deeply connected to the violence Marsha had to deal with throughout her life.”

So much of Marsha’s life work has been whitewashed and given credit to people other than herself, which is why a film about her is so important. But knowing that this film was stolen from a trans person of color really takes away the credibility and significance this documentary held.

Janet Mock, a famous trans activist, author and model, tweeted about Reina’s work being stolen and summed up why this is such a grave injustice.

David, the man who allegedly stole Reina’s work, responded to Janet’s Twitter thread about him and how he didn’t steal her film.

Many people, including Janet, were quick to point out that if David really supported trans voices he would have used his privilege as a white man to help fund and produce Reina’s film.

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