sylvia and marsha start a revolution!


4 years & up

  • LGBTQ History
  • Transgender Figures
  • Empowerment
  • Activism
  • Chosen Family

Joy Michael Ellison & Teshika Silver


For #sweetsandsocialjustice this week I experimented with tahini again, this time adding it to chocolate chip cookies! There might not be a clear connection between the cookies and the book, except that my love for Sylvia, Marsha, and cookies knows no bounds.

This story is joyful and quirky, focused on being a teaching tool about transgender lived experiences as well as an introduction to Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Those of you familiar with the Stonewall Riots might know that no one really knows what happened, or who was there. This book follows the rumored storyline that both Marsha and Sylvia were there, and integral parts of the protest. In the back of the book is a ton of information about both of them, the murky historical details about that evening, and additional information for kids about various trans identity definitions.

This story is unique because it’s both a read aloud and cohesive lesson. There are activities, resources, and separate back matter for kids and grownups. I’m thrilled that books are being released by sizable publishers that focus on the social justice and activist contributions of TWOC, and can’t wait to see more from this creative duo!

This book was kindly sent by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to review it. All opinions and decision to review is my own! The featured image on this post was found here and is part of a blog post that’s worth checking out!

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Tahini Cookies

  • 4 oz browned butter (room temp)
  • 3/4c  tahini (stir it well)
  • 1 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2T all-purpose flour
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t baking powder
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ c chopped chocolate
  • Flaky salt

ingredient Notes: I used dark chocolate, but you could use chips, chunks, or whatever you have, but I recommend something not too sweet. For flaky salt there is only one for me-I always use Maldon.

  1. Cream butter, tahini and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (five-ish minutes). Add eggs, salt, and vanilla and continue mixing at medium speed for another few minutes.
  2. Measure dries (flour, baking soda, baking powder) into a bowl and whisk. Add dries to creamed ingredients at low speed until almost combined, and then add in chopped chocolate to finish mixing dough. Dough is soft! Refrigerate dough overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees and scoop dough onto sheet, flattening slightly and sprinkling flaky salt on top. Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on how golden brown you like them. I preferred about 15 minutes!  

Baking Notes: These are soft cookies, and perfect to add into a bowl of ice cream because they don’t get too hard. I prefer chewy cookies usually, but I think the tahini gives a depth of flavor that prevents them from being too sweet. I found the original recipe on a free trial of NYT Cooking, but tweaked the recipe based on my own tests and some helpful comments.

Joy Michael Ellison

Joy Michael Ellison is the author of Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution! They are a writer, a teacher and scholar, and a grassroots, community activist. They are also a loud-mouth, a poet, and a ukulele-playing rock star. Currently, they are earning their PhD in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University, where they study transgender history in the Midwest. Their column Rainbow Rant appears biweekly in Columbus Alive and you can find their creative writing in the Baltimore Review, Story Club Magazine, Lunch Ticket, and many other places.

Teshika Silver

Teshika is a creative with over 12 years of wide-range professional art experience. Illustration is her passion, using both traditional media as well as digital programs to create pieces that are both captivating and magical. She is also an intuitive graphic designer, working with local organizations and small business owners alike: be it by logo design, promotional pieces or other marketing collateral. She is currently a teaching artist at Hyde Park Art Center where she works closely with youth. She strives to create work that uplifts, heals and promotes the resilience of marginalized people.

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