Mercedes Allen

Transgender History: Toward the Future (1996-2007)

Filed By Mercedes Allen | March 18, 2008 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: LGBT history, transgender

Transgender History: A 6 Part Series

Don't miss the other five parts of this series.

It is interesting that it really wasn't until after Stonewall, when the GLB and T communities started to define themselves, that marked divisions occurred among them. From the earliest ages, gender variance and same-sex love were seen as connected and congruous, even if one aspect manifested entirely without the other.

Before the oppression of the Middle Ages, both were also seen as equally innate and equally respectable. The rifts that began in the early 1970s (albeit with some earlier genesis in The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis), deepening with third-wave feminism and other movements, would start to come closer together again as Western culture approached the new millennium, and as the various communities learned that they could distinguish themselves, and still learn to understand and respect each other.

The trans community would remain outside the longest, not seeing any protective civil rights legislation pass until 1993. But as inclusion would spread, so would protections.

1996: JoAnna McNamera of It's Time Oregon successfully convinces Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) that transsexuals are protected under existing Oregon labor law dealing with discrimination of people with disabilities and medical conditions. This made Oregon the third state to extend employment protection to transgender people, following Minnesota and Nebraska.

Michael Alig is arrested for the murder of "Angel" Melendez over a drug debt. The arrest draws national attention to the Club Kids, an often-cross-dressing troupe of wildly costumed teens in New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Club Kids fall from grace and eventually vanish. The story is later chronicled in James St. James' memoir, "Disco Bloodbath," and in a movie and documentary, both entitled, "Party Monster." Of particular significance, the famous female impersonator RuPaul was discovered during the Club Kids' tour of the talk show circuit, roughly around 1988, and later catapults to fame in a music video for the B-52s' single, "Love Shack."

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl: The Fate of David Reimer

1997: Milton Diamond and Dr. H. Keith Sigmundson publish a paper that expose John Money's claims of success in the "John/Joan" case. Sigmundson is David Reimer's supervising psychiatrist at that time, and the two describe Reimer's literal quest to regain his manhood. Diamond goes on to found the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

1998: John Colapinto publishes "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl," telling David Reimer's story in depth, on the heels of a pivotal Rolling Stone article on the subject. Ongoing troubles would plague Reimer, however, including divorce, the death of his twin brother, family strain and more -- Reimer commits suicide in 2004.

Rita Hester is murdered in late November. Discussion about transphobic violence that caused her death, that of Tyra Hunter and many others inspires activists (including Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who curates the list) to catalogue and commemorate these deaths in the form of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. TDoR events now take place annually, usually between November 20th and 28th, in communities around the world.

Matthew Shepard is murdered in Wyoming. His death draws attention to anti-gay hate crimes, and his mother goes on to form The Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting awareness about anti-GLBT violence.

Transgender activists once again protest exclusion from The Gay Games in Amsterdam, this time with modified rules from those previously rescinded in the last Games: that competitors require documented completion of sex change or two years on hormones before being able to compete. FTM transman, photographer Loren Cameron drops out of competition in protest, but Israeli MTF singer Dana International still performs at the Games' festivities.

Japan allows the first legal gender reassignment surgery (GRS) in that nation to be performed on an FTM transsexual.

Hayley Cropper, a transsexual character, first appears on the popular British soap opera, "Coronation Street." It is the third time that a transgender character appears in serialized television (the first was Maxwell Q. Klinger in "M*A*S*H;" the second occurrence was in Australia in 1973), and the first time that the character is kept on as a regular in a daytime soap opera (she had been originally planned to be written out of the show, and viewer response pushed them to bring her back). Cropper continues to be a regular (and sympathetic) character on the series.

Nong Toom, a Thai kathoey (male-to-female transgender person) enters professional kick-boxing -- despite taking feminizing hormones -- and becomes a cross-dressing legend. She would later go on to have GRS surgery, and her story is told in the subtitled movie, "Beautiful Boxer."

DES Sons... and Daughters?

1999: Dr. Scott Kerlin founds the DES Sons International Network, an online support and advocacy group for children exposed to Di-Ethyl Stilbestrol (DES) in utero, fighting the perception that DES is strictly a womens' health issue. When DES Sons is only a few months old, a new member raises the issue that he had always felt that he was a girl, and was, in fact, transsexual. This initiates a flood of confessions about other members' own gender identity issues, and quickly becomes one of the dominant themes raised by male children of DES births (although not all DES Sons experience transgender leanings). DES Trans is later set up by Kerlin and Dr. Dana Beyer as a separate support group for this discussion. Later, DES and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) become a major focus of environmental study, including examination of gender influence and variation in nature.

Since the Michigan Womyn's Festival (a noteworthy and popular lesbian community event) continues to exclude transwomen and refuse to acknowledge them as being women, Camp Trans is revived to protest. Initially, post-op MTF transsexuals are allowed to attend, but confrontations occur. The exclusion and the protests would continue annually.

In a Texas court, in Littleton vs. Prang, Christine Littleton (a post-op MTF transsexual) loses her case against the doctor who she contended negligently allowed her husband to die... because, as the defense argues, even though her birth certificate has been amended to denote "female," it had originally read "male," and since same-sex marriage is not permitted in Texas, she was not legally his widow or entitled to anything on behalf of his estate.

Pvt. Barry Winchell is murdered by fellow soldiers, resparking a questioning of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy of the U.S. Military. He is murdered because of allegations that arise from his relationship with transwoman Calpernia Addams. Their story is retold in the 2003 movie, "Soldier's Girl." Addams later starts the TS Roadmap website with Andrea James, and the two collaborate on several projects to assist transwomen.

Mayor Georgina Beyer becomes New Zealand's (and the World's) first transsexual Member of Parliament.

Robert Eads dies of ovarian cancer. A transman, Eads is denied treatment by more than two dozen doctors out of fears that taking him on as a patient might be an embarrassment to their practice. His story is told (in his own words) in the award-winning documentary, "Southern Comfort."

After a few years of fighting with the British legal system, Petra Henderson, a U.K. citizen residing in Germany, puts forward a special case that is decided by the Lord Chancellor: she is allowed to change her name and gender status (despite Britain's refusal to change Birth Certificates)... without affecting her marital status. Because the case is considered a unique case, authorities refuse to allow it to set a precedent. In 2002, with Henderson's assistance, a British citizen in Paris approaches the consulate in France and wins a similar victory, thus defusing the "one-off" claim. This helps pave the way for the Gender Recognition Act in 2004 (although the GRA requires a divorce before a new gender is recognized).

Birth of a Flag

2000: The Transgender Pride flag is designed by Monica Helms, and is first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) introduces a measure "expressing the concern of Congress regarding human rights violations against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and trangendered [sic] individuals around the world." In doing so, Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to be elected to U.S. Congress, introduces the first known transgender-inclusive resolution proposed on a national stage. It does not pass, but paves the way for later attempts.

2001: Erin Lindsey begins producing Venus Envy, a popular ongoing web comic strip focusing on the life of Zoë Carter, a young transsexual girl living in Salem, Pennsylvania.

Canadian cyclist Michelle Dumaresq enters the sport of downhill bike racing, six years after her SRS surgery. She would go on to win battles with Cycling BC and the Canadian Cycling Association to compete, win the 2002 Canada Cup series, win the 2003 Canadian National Championships and score additional victories. At the 2006 Canadian Nationals, a protest from one of her competitors during the podium ceremonies would bring renewed attention to Dumaresq's participation in female sports: the boyfriend of second-place finisher Danika Schroeter would jump up onto the podium and help Schroeter put on a t-shirt reading "100% Pure Woman Champ." Dumaresq later becomes the subject of the CTV documentary, "100% Woman."

2002: Gwen "Lida" Araujo is murdered by several party goers, who had discovered her male genitalia. The three men who were charged alternately resorted to panic strategies during their defense, trying to minimize (i.e. to a charge of "Manslaughter") or legitimize their actions because of their apparent shock at the discovery. Araujo's mother and local activists would embark on a battle to address this tactic.

The International Olympic Committee amends policy to allow transexuals to compete as their reassigned gender if the surgery has taken place at least two years prior to the competition and if the athlete has been on a regimen of hormones equal to that of a person born to the gender.

The Transgender Law Center is founded, and works toward protecting and entrenching the rights of transgender persons in California, as well as assisting legal activists elsewhere.

The Centurion, a modified form of metoidioplasty is introduced for female-to-male transsexuals.

2003: Calpernia Addams and Andrea James found Deep Stealth Productions and TS Roadmap, invaluable resources for transwomen. Deep Stealth produces video work providing advice on voice therapy and makeup / presentation, and TS Roadmap covers the entire spectrum of MTF transition, in free online written advice.

Jennifer Finney Boylan's memoir, "She's Not There," becomes the first-known best-selling work by a transgender American.

In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court arrives at a 6-3 ruling that strikes down the prohibition of homosexual sodomy in Texas, and declares that such laws are unconstitutional. Several other states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, but they are now often not frequently enforced.

Recognition in the UK

2004: The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is passed in the U.K., allowing transgender persons to legally change their sex and have it recognized for the purposes of marriage and other issues.

Dee Palmer (born David Palmer), former member of the rock band Jethro Tull, comes out as an MTF transsexual.

2005: Although homosexuality had been delisted as a mental disorder in 1973, transgenderism is still listed in the DSM-IV. However, a new wave of thinking has transsexuality and transgenderism linked to more biological factors, such as DNA predisposition, or EDCs. Books of the time begin to reflect this, including Deborah Rudacille's "The Riddle of Gender."

2006: The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act becomes law. The bill, fueled by the murder of Gwen Araujo and 2004 murder of Joel Robles (in which the defendant plea-bargained his way down to a 4-month sentence), prevents defendants from using panic strategies and potential biases against the victim to minimize their actions.

Dr. Ben Barres writes a highly-noted article in Nature refuting an earlier theory by Lawrence Summers and others that there are fewer female scientists than male because of a difference in "intrinsic aptitude." In his paper, Barres notes the differences in treatment of female scientists from male ones, drawing from his own experiences in both genders.

One of the directors of the "Matrix" movies, formerly known as Larry Wachowski, is reported by Rolling Stone Magazine to be transitioning to female. In the article, leather culture and associated personalities such as Buck Angel (an FTM porn actor) are used to generate an unflattering controversy.

Cult favorite TV-show, "The L Word," introduces a female-to-male transsexual. Max (Moira) is the first regularly-occurring FTM character in the history of television *and* the first transgender character to transition during the course of a show. Actress Daniela Sea is no stranger to performing as male, but some trans activists take issue with the early series portrayal, saying that it is "based on the stereotype that transmen are driven by and use testosterone as an excuse to become abusive, violent, and over-sexualized." The producers listen, and the character of Max is later developed more fully.

Chinese surgeons perform the world's first penis transplant successfully (however, the patient later has it removed at the request of his wife, who has psychological objections), raising a question about the possibility of developing a similar option for transmen. Such a development is still likely years away if ever, however, because of the need to find ways to deal with the differences in the underlying infrastructure.

The 2005 documentary, "Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria," written, directed and produced by Victor Silverman and Dr. Susan Stryker, is awarded an EMMY® for "Outstanding Achievement, Historical / Cultural Program." The film gives life to the early transgender (and wider GLBT) movement, and is one of the first true transgender-exploring works to be recognized with a major award (the closest previous trans-ish recognition is Jessica Lange's 1983 victory in "Tootsie").

The Most Progressive Law to Date

2007: Spain passes the most progressive law regarding Gender Identity in the world, allowing for the change of documented identity just by proving a medical treatment for two years, and a medical or psychological certificate, proving a diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- not requiring a GRS.

The rock-star character of "Zarf," who debuted on the soap opera "All My Children" near the end of 2006, comes out as a male-to-female transsexual, Zoey. Although this isn't the first time a soap opera featured a transgender character in a recurring role, it is the first to feature an MTF character in the beginning of her transition, and follow the process along (and second only to "The L Word" to feature a transsexual throughout the process). Rather than alienate AMC's viewers, the character of Zoey appears to re-energize them.

40-year-old Chanda Musalman, who lives as both man and woman and has not had any GRS surgery, is granted both male and female citizenship by Nepali authorities, in the first known case of dual-gender recognition. It is unclear how this unique legal status will play out in practice - for instance, how it will affect Chanda's marriage rights, or how it will be recognized in other countries.

The Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Kimberly Nixon v. Rape Relief, a case in which a transwoman was dismissed from rape counseling because she was not born female (she had been living as female several years and is legally female). Because it was refused at that level, the B.C. Court of Appeals' ruling against her still stands -- a ruling which pointed out that transgender people are not currently protected by the Human Rights Charter under either category of "gender" or "sexual orientation."

A 12-year old in Vienna, Austria is thought to be the youngest person in the world to begin a sex change procedure.

The city of Largo, Florida fires long-time City Manager Steve Stanton (the mayor and one councilman vote in his defense), after he is outed during preparation to announce his intention to undergo hormone treatment and start the process toward GRS surgery. This launches a nationally-publicized court case, in which the City of Largo is revealed to have operated counter to their own laws, which prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In order to save face, the City attempts to first claim that city employees had lost faith in Stanton, and then (in the failure of that) dredge up performance issues, despite their overwhelming support, praise and raises given to Stanton prior to the firing.

UCLA scientists find 54 genes that may explain the different organization of male and female brains. They go on to state that "... gender identity likely will be explained by some of the genes we discovered."

In Fresno, California, Tony (Cinthia) Covarrubias runs for Prom King, supported by a state law passed in 2000 protecting students' ability to express their gender identity on campus. Covarrubias loses, but approximately one month later, her story lends a groundswell of support when Johnny Vera runs for and wins the title of Prom Queen at Roosevelt High School -- the first transgender person known to have won such an honor.

Dr. Russell Reid, a U.K. psychiatrist specializing in gender reassignment, is found guilty in a medical community investigation of accusations that he inappropriately treated five patients, allegedly fast-tracking them, in contravention of established standards of care. Although not the first time a doctor has been brought under fire or threat of legal action for his work (some had even been sued by their transgender patients), the high-profile case reopens major debates in the medical community about transsexuality and its treatment. How the finding will affect the existing pace of the current diagnostic process is as yet unknown.

Legal Defeats... and a Victory

Also in 2007, The Matthew Shepard Act, an anti-hate-crimes bill, is introduced and achieves some success in both Congress and the Senate, but is scuttled by Senators' protests over the attachment of the bill to a military spending bill, a strategy which was initiated in hopes of avoiding a Presidential veto from George W. Bush.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) stirs up even more controversy when, at the eleventh hour before the bill is introduced to Congress, "gender identity" and "gender expression" are dropped from the bill. This legislation originally sought to add protections for gay and transgender people across the US, and the act of abandonment is seen by many as a dark hour in the trans movement. But in reaction to the the bill's sponsor (congressman Barney Frank) and a history of assumptions by legislators that perceptions of transfolk might hurt the GLBT community as a whole, organizations from across North America band together, forming United ENDA -- a coalition of nearly 370 organizations wishing to send a strong protest against the exclusion and pledging to persist in only supporting legislation that is transgender-inclusive. There is one notable exception, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the largest GLB organizations in America (which already had a long history of trans exclusion, with one former director once declaring that trans inclusion would happen "over my dead body"). But HRC's defense of the exclusive ENDA would erode its support and credibility significantly.

As 2007 came to a close, the divisions that happened in the years following Stonewall also seemed to be narrowing significantly. While writers like John Aravosis and Chris Crain would persist in questioning whether transgender people should be included in gay activism or even considered allies, mutual respect and coexistence still re-emerged, with many local GLB organizations coming to the conclusion that they would love to help the transgender community... as long as there's help in understanding what its needs are.

Some patterns emerge within the transgender community itself that appear to be harbingers of division, as cross-dressers, transsexuals (who sometimes divide among HBS / exclusionary post-op transsexuals and non-op / "deconstructionist" / transsexuals who support full inclusion), gender renegades, and more, all seek to distinguish themselves from each other, not having learned the lessons of the damages generated in the early 1970's and the betrayals shown toward people like Sylvia Rivera. As the GLB community becomes receptive to assisting its trans allies, the question arises: are transfolk willing to show enough unity in order to help themselves?

The next chapter, of course, is yet to be written.

Partial Bibliography:

Much of this had been compiled over time, and not all the sources have been recorded. Some online sources have been involved as well, although I search for more corroboration in these cases.
  • Bullough, Vern: Homosexuality: A History From Ancient Greece to Gay Liberation
  • Califia, Patrick: Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
  • Colapinto, John: As Nature Made Him: The Story of a Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
  • Currah, Paisley; Richard M. Juang and Shannon Price Minter: Transgender Rights
  • Feinberg, Leslie: TransGender Warriors
  • Fletcher, Lynne Yamaguchi: The First Gay Pope (and other records)
  • Kessler, Suzanne; and McKenna, Wendy: Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach
  • Rudacille, Deborah: The Riddle of Gender
  • Walker, Barbara: various works
  • Williams, Walter: The Spirit and the Flesh

Transgender History: A 6 Part Series

Don't miss the other five parts of this series.

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We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

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Your series has been excellent. I would like to add a few items in this last installment, to enhance your list, if you want them. (Oh, by the way, I created the flag in 1999.)

-- 2000, Jane Fee becomes the first openly transgender person to attend any political party's national convention. She was at the Democratic National Convention in LA.

-- 2003, Mara Keisling starts the National Center for Transgender Equality.

-- 2003, Angela Brightfeather and Monica Helms starts the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA.)

-- 2004, May 1, TAVA becomes the first transgender group to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

-- 2004, July, Seven transgender people attend the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

You forgot the most important date:

--2002, The year I started transition!(Officially it was 2003, which was when I got my letter for hormones and started full time, coming out on the job and all that wonderful stuff.)Once I had finally figured out what had been going on with me all those years(I thought Everybody wished they would suddenly wake up one morning as a member of the oppsite sex.), I pretty much started presenting as female whenever I had the chance. Of course I got clocked all the time, and got stares, but you know what, it was such a high that I didn't care!

I think for most transpeople, the world is divided into the years before, and the years after. We become monomaniacal about our lives and journeys through the gender continum. The most important date becomes the one where we finally came to grips with our gender identity.

The GLB community has nothing to compare to that moment, and I think it identifies and marks each of us differently. It also does not make for a very coherent whole, for we sometimes see no commonality even among members of our own community.

In the future I think we are just going to have to accept that, some will never see community in being trans, or any type of queer. In their monomania they have lost sight of the shared values and experiences of others, and focused solely on the individuality of their own process of transition. We can sit and speculate about the whys and wherefores, and bemoan the loss of a potential ally, but in the end we can not force someone to join us under the big tent known as trangender.

A good list.

But I do think that any chronology of events in Transworld over the last five years is incomplete without some discussion of the controversy over the repellent book by J. Michael Bailey (I won't dignify it by naming it myself!), and its aftermath leading right up to the dispute over the current Alice Dreger article. As horribly distasteful and unpleasant (and, fortunately, irrelevant to my life on a personal level) as it's all been.

Also, the "division" mentioned towards the end is a bit simplistic; there are plenty of post-op transsexual women, and pre-op transsexual women planning surgery (not to mention trans men!) who are not "exclusionary" and who do believe that there's a spectrum of gender dysphoria -- even when they agree that this is an innate condition people are born with; just that it hasn't been scientifically proved yet, and that making scientifically insupportable claims is leading with our chins to our collective enemies.

Finally, I don't really think it's necessary to single out Andrea James's website from all the websites out there, and give it the equivalent of an advertising plug.


Michael Bedwell | March 18, 2008 1:57 PM

1. Again, regardless of how many hollow "Queer Chic" rationalizations you attempt to glue onto your decision to include GLBs in your "history" of transgenders it remains intellectually indefensible. PS: Jose Sarria STILL does NOT identify himself as transgender. Your inclusion of crossdressing club kids is another example of pseudo-academic tripe.

2. "The GLB community has nothing to compare to that moment." Narcissistic nonsense. You might as well say that when gays or lesbians are killed for being gay they aren't as dead as transgenders killed for being transgender. In your next "installment" perhaps.

This comment has been deleted for violation of our comments policy.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Time to add my community's contributions to transgender history.

1965-The first transgender themed protect is not only held in Philadelphia, PA at Dewey's Lunch Counter by a group of African-American GLBT people.

1969-The Stonewall Rebellion that triggers the modern GLBT movement also includes transpeople of color.

1977-Veronica Redd plays transwoman Edith Srokes on an episode of The Jeffersons

1995-The deaths of transwomen Tyra Hunter in DC and Chanelle Pickett in Boston spotlight several issues facing the African-American transgender community including race, justice, discrimination, and transphobia and emphasize the point that the faces of transgender hate violence victims are increasingly people of color.

1998-The murders of Boston's Rita Hester triggers protests that evolve into the Remembering our Dead list and the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremonies.

1999-In a Bethesda, MD restaurant, NTAC, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition is formed by a multicultural group of transgender activists that includes three future IFGE Trinity Award winners.

2000-Dawn Wilson becomes the first African-American transperson to win the IFGE Trinity award.

2002-Marisa Richmond becomes the second African-American transperson to win the IFGE Trinity Award

2005-The Transsistahs-Transbrothas Conference, the first conference put together with an emphasis on African-American transgender issues is held in Louisville, KY.

2006-Monica Roberts becomes the third African-American transperson to win the IFGE Trinity Awards

Didn't someone already explain to this Michael Bedwell person (whoever he may be) that trans people are not "transgenders" any more than he's "a gay"? Once explained, continued use of such terminology can only be interpreted as disrespectful, if not a slur.

Given the long history of gay writers and historians having shamelessly appropriated trans history, interpreting all historically-expressed gender variance as "evidence" of a gay identity (see, for example, Patrick Califia's incisive work on the subject), the rest of Mr. Bedwell's comments are singularly inappropriate, both in substance and in tone.

The word "Transgender" is and adjective, such as: transgender people, transgender organization, transgender individual, Transgender American. It is NOT a noun. We are NOT "transgendered," we are not "transgenders." Yes, we hear "Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals." I think we should make those words adjectives as well.

As Alex will tell you, language is such a powerful tool. By taking a hold of how words are used in a sentence to describe us, we can make a difference in the perception of how people see us. By saying "gays," instead of "gay people," then gay men are reduced to nothing more than their sexual orientation, being stripped of their humanity. That is how easy it is for the homophobes to vilify us. By insisting on using "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender" as adjectives, we take back the humanity that is stripped from us.

This pertains to the posting, because it has to do with controling our future rather than letting the homophobes control it for us.

Michael, what does a life defining moment which is essentially what I was talking about, have to do with being killed in a hate crime?

I do not think you understand just what a transexual goes through both before and after they realise just who and what they are, and begin to deal with it. All LGBT people have the feeling or knowledge of their difference at some time in their lives, and have to deal with the implications and results of this difference.

This is nothing compared to the inability to resolve yourself into either of the only two roles this culture recognises for a person, that of male or female. From early on we are pushed into being something we might not be at all comfortable being, forced by parents and society to play the role of someone we are not. Through our lives we look for an answer, a way to deal with this disconnection between who we are and who the rest of the world sees us as.

Sooner or later there is a point where, you have to deal with it, something that is not easy, and is certainly not supported by our culture. When that time comes, it is both liberating and confining.

We become free to be who we should be, but then become entrapped in the prejudice and fear that surround those who are different and fit outside the 'norm'. Those who can face it, transition, those who can't, generally kill themselves.

That is an oversimplification, but it was kind of pithy in a macabre sort of way, so what the heck.

I do not think there is anything that you could experience, not even the most fantastic orgasm ever, that can compare to finally dealing with something as central to a persons life, as their gender identity. Most people never even begin to question it. For them it is as immutable as skin or eye color.

But it is not so easy for us.

Bruce Parker Bruce Parker | March 18, 2008 4:28 PM

I always think that gay men who fight about "trans-appropriation" of their histories are probably a little worried that they are more gender variant than they would like.

I was picked on and called fag in elementary school. Was it because I was gay or girly? gay or girly? who cares - it can be be both.

Michael Bedwell | March 18, 2008 5:20 PM

And could it possibly just be a respect for word choice that contributes to rather than obfuscating communication and historical fact over pseudo-intellectual revisionism.

Blacks, browns, reds, Asians are all "people of color," but to lump their histories together under one title as Mercedes keeps absurdly attempting to lump LGBTs under "transgender" is sophomoric.

The core of the bigotry against us all is the same: gender expectation transgression. But trying to say an apple equals an orange simply because they are both fruits is absurd.

Monica, I have really enjoyed your series and will be printing copies of all the articles for my kids at the youth group.

Peace and thank you!

Psst, Serena,

Thats Mercedes,

Monica is the one on the left,

or is that Monica R.?

I get you two confused all the time!

Please keep our comments policy in mind when leaving your opinions on the piece. Michael, while I let your stand, you're skirting awfully close in your 1st comment. I am pleased to see Donna, Diddly and Monica's 2nd comment directly address Michael's issue without getting personal. Good job so far everyone.

Gee Bil, afraid that if you don't keep an eye out us trannies are going to steal the silverware?

I didn't see Michaels comments as too bad, I mean there was nothing at all about Obama in there was there? He was stating an opinion, and I think he misunderstood what I was trying to get at with my remarks.

And he did it in 2 paragraphs!

I mean come on, that is at least worth something.

Oh yeah, and your silverware is not that nice, so don't worry.

Monica: 1999. Kewl. Was it first flown in 2000 though, or do I have mistaken information?

Donna L: It was a conscious decision to not dignify J. Michael Bailey too much (although his name did appear during the discussion of the Clarke Institute, in the previous chapter). I am confident that with (not too much) time, his discredited legacy will disappear, and I think many of us will be content to let it do so. :) I just wish 60 Minutes would stop using him as an "authority" on trans and gay "science."

Michael: I suspect we'll always differ in opinion, no matter what the subject.

1) the point is not to appropriate GLB history, the point is to look at the overlaps we share and celebrate them together.

2) I don't see how it is absurd to find common grounds and stand together for the things we share (and even some of the things we don't). Being Metis, should I stand in one corner with Two-Spirit traditionalists and leave issues pertaining to other people of colour to other people of colour? It just makes sense to me that we can do more together.

Thanks to the rest for the additions and kind words. :)

And I did forget to say how much I have enjoyed your series Mercedes, even taught this old know it all a thing or two!

Of course you didn't get into the part about how in early times, around greek and into roman, MtF transexuals were employed as temple prostitutes, screw a trannie for god, so to speak. One of the reasons the jewish nation was against "a man lying with a man as with a woman", as they saw it, was for this reason. It was seen as a form of worship to heathen gods.

Okay Michael, so now you can blame us for all of the crap gays have had to take over the years. ;)

Good Job, Mercedes.

Some suggested improvements, and some suggestions that might not be improvements.

* The UK Gender recognition act that pre-dates the Spanish one does not require surgery either.

* OTOH the UK GRA overturns all previous caselaw regarding Intersexed people, and they're back to square one.

* 2001-2003 The very significant "Re Kevin" set of legal decisions in Australia cited in many cases internationally, agrees that

"There should be no escape for medical and legal authorities that these definitions (of man and woman) ought to be corrected and updated when new information becomes available, particularly when our outdated definitions bring suffering to some of our fellow human beings".

On the balance of probabilities, Transsexuality is judged to be an Neural Intersex condition, and that a transitioned transsexual man is male for all purposes "within the ordinary meaning of the word". These decisions are later used in the UK and Spain to help justify their Gender recognition Acts.

* 2002: British Lord Chancellor's office publishes "Government Policy Concerning Transsexual People" that categorically states "What transsexualism is not...It is not a mental illness."

* Significant legal cases in the US point to the need for legislative change:

2003-2005: The 2003 Kantaras decision which initially followed the 2001 Australian Re Kevin case and was televised on CourtTV was overturned on appeal in 2005 as the court found that regardless of medical facts, that wasn't the law, and that it was up to the legislature to take action. It has so far not done so.

"The controlling issue in this case is whether, as a matter of law, the Florida statutes governing marriage authorize a postoperative transsexual to marry in the reassigned sex," Appellate Judge Carolyn Fulmer said in the opinion. "We conclude they do not."

The definition of a gender, Fulmer wrote, is not something that can be changed by courts, but rather "should be addressed by the legislature.

This leaves open the issue of whether a postoperative transsexual can marry in the originally assigned sex. Many same-sex couples with one partner post-operative take advantage of this, creating the first legal same-sex marriages, and necessarily in the most homophobic states too.

Rather than using this as leverage to argue for same-sex marriage, such couples are often ostracised by the GLB community, and the issue used as an excuse to exclude transgendered people as a whole from consideration in GLBT activism.

* 2006: A decision, stating that neither Federal Title VII protection covering discrimination based on sex, nor on non-standard sexual appearance applies to transsexuals appears in Etsitty vs Utah Public Transport.

* 2006: The Wisconsin "Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act" is passed, which substitutes legislative for medical judgment. Currently under appeal, the main argument against this law (supposedly based on cost of treatment) is based on finances: it costs less to give hormones than the psychotropic drugs needed to prevent suicide caused by the suffering through lack of treatment.

* 2006 : The IRS refuses to allow deductions for medical treatments of transsexuality, based on fringe science views published in a Catholic Religious Journal.

* 2007 : A review of the Americans with Disabilities Act declines to change wording that specifically excludes Transsexual people who require special facilities while transitioning from coverage.

Now for something that I think is fact, but others may consider opinion.

Since 2003, there has been a growing alliance between Transsexuals, and the Intersexed. This has been matched by a growing distance between Transsexuals and the rest of the Transgendered community. Initial opposition within Intersexed advocacy groups (who are nearly invisible) to being "associated with nutcases" has faded as more medical data has come in, and the true extent of people suffering both HBS (neural cross-gendering, regardless of desire for surgery) and other, non-neural intersex conditions becomes known. The fear that the strongly gendered male or female transsexuals will deny the rights of the minority of intersexed people who identify as neither male nor female to be that way does not materialise. Intersexed people, having themselves been victimised by generations of bad science and worse law, recognise the situation the more visible Transsexuals are in. Opinions differ on whether it should be GLBIT united, or GLB and IT in a looser alliance.

You are correct. The flag was outed at the Phoenix Pride Parade in April of 2000. Echo Magazine introduced it in September or October in an article in 1999.

I still have the original and hope to one day donate it to an LGBT museum that will have it on permanent display. The museums that exist today are not able to keep it on display continuously. I just don't like the idea of having it folded in a box for a long period of time. I suppose I will keep it until I die.

It has seen many events, many parades, many marches and many protests. I understand there are TG Pride Flags seen in many places in the US. I would love to see it flown in a Pride Parade in Europe or other parts of the world one of these days. I cannot copyright it, so it's my gift to the community. I would also love to one day meet the man who invented the Rainbow Flag.

Lets see;

Transexualism is a recognised condition by the medical community.

Intersexed is a recognised condition by the medical community.

HBS is a recognised condition by...


I think, as a transwoman who required surgery in order to finally get relief from the incongruency of having my inner image not match my outer, I have the right to speak on this subject. I had GID severe, it is surprising that it took as long as it did to finally drive me to the point of having to do something. It sure as hell almost killed me, those little urges to eat a bullet just kept getting stronger and more frequent until I finally, in a panic, found out and sought treatment for it.

Even then, it still almost killed me, driving a mild form of type 2 pi-polar into a full blown psychotic breakdown, suicide attempts and hospitalization not optional.

What got me off the anti-psychotics, and other meds? Surgery. Getting that self-image to match both on the inside and the outside did wonders to bring me back to some semblance of sanity(relatively speaking of course, I mean some people are always gonna think I am nuts for getting my outtie turned into an innie.).

Of course, according to the genetic purity,,, er I mean the HBS crowd, the little fact that I am a lesbian, means I do not "fit" in their fantasy world of a syndrome.

Gee, all but for a little thing like sexuality, and I could have been one of the "in" crowd.

That sure resonates around here, doesn't it?

Okay, Bil is going to be getting after me for stealing the silverware, and the good china too, with this post.

But I can't take the hypocrisy and blatant denial that HBS signifies. It is like, do the bigots and haters out there Care what you call yourself? They are still going to call you a queer and fag, and rearrange that nice FFS face for you. When they find out, because honestly stealth just isn't so stealthy now a days, they will still fire you from your job.

No matter what you call it, we are all still gender outlaws, transgressing the rules society lays down that say you are what we tell you you are at birth.

Okay Bil, or Alex, or whoever, I will go quietly, here is the silverware and china back. ;)

Hummm. Nice china. I wonder how much I can get for it on Ebay?

I do have another response to Michael's offensive "narcissistic" comment. George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." Mercedes' series was designed to show that transgender people are proud of the good things that have happened in our history.

However, the bad things that have happened in our history are chances for us to learn from them. We are vigilant in making sure we don't repeat them. Why have we spent so much energy and anger fighting a non-inclusive ENDA? It's history repeating itself.

My question is, why doesn't gay, lesbian and bisexual people spend as much time learning from their history? Some do, but way too few. "Narcissistic?" I don't think so. I call it part of a survival tactic.

Another great segment to Mercedes' series. Thanks so much for doing a six week series of articles, Mercedes. I've learned so much and the commenters have helped to fill in any gaps they've noticed. (I've particularly enjoyed some of the footnotes provided in this thread to modern history.)

Thank you Mercedes, for all the hard work you put into this. While it is not a perfect document, it is an important one.

If you haven't read it completely, go back and read comment number 9. This is really telling it the way it is.

I think MB was reffering to my more personally related post, taking offence at my contention that we, as transgendered people, have a unique moment in our journeys, that is not shared by the rest of the GLB community.

The points you make are of course valid and true, in the sense of the overall series and condition of todays transgender movement.

Thanks for this excellent overview! I wanted to clarify and supplement a couple of details pertaining to online resources in the US. It's hard to overestimate the historical and political significance of the internet for our community. As such, the following people and resources should also be included: on USENET (1994)

Gwen Smith's work on Transgender Community Forum at America Online starting in about 1995. When she and others began their work, typing the word "transsexual" was a violation of AOL's Terms of Service and could get you banned. Many of the main resource sites emerged from TCF.

Melanie Anne Phillips's site at (1997, originating earlier on AOL)

Becky Allison's (1998, originating earlier on Mindspring)

Andrea James's (1999, originating in 1997 on AOL)

Jennifer Diane Reitz's (1999)

Anne Lawrence's (1999, originating earlier on Mindspring)

Aunt Jenny's (1999)

Lynn Conway's (2000)

Except for the AOL resources, I have only listed sites that are still in operation. I am sure I missed a few, too.

There were also several important English-language sites outside the US that Press for Change could provide, not to mention foreign-language sites.

And to clarify, my site originated several years before Calpernia and I met and began collaborating. In a couple of places your article states otherwise.

Thanks again for this excellent work!