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Trans History Part II: Stonewall and Beyond



It’s a common misconception that trans history began in 1969 in New York City with the Stonewall riots, when in fact we have been around since at least the Iron Age (Check out last week’s article to find out more!). Continuing the timeline of trans history in honor of October being LGBTQ History Month, let’s pick up where we left off: the early 1900s.


The first play to center around trans folks, “The Drag,” starring Mae West debuts in Connecticut. It was forced to close 2 weeks later for its portrayal of cross-dressing. Celebrities have always had a platform to make a stand on injustices and other social/political issues. Censorship and controversy continue to create obstacles for encouraging these conversations which would in turn foster action. From Lady Gaga to Colin Kaepernick, having celebrities use their platform and influence to echo what minorities are already saying to a broad audience is using their privilege responsibly.


Starting with the Klamath in the Pacific Northwest, Two-Spirit Native Americans are noted among tribal communities. This population adopted “Two-Spirit” as a blanket term — though in reality, nearly every tribe had at least one, but often several, unique names for Two-Spirit peoples. The term “Two-Spirit” can be traced to the belief that Two-Spirits actually had two spirits inhabiting the same body. Two-Spirit people deserved a special kind of reverence in Native American communities. Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette notes that in the Illinois and Nadouessi tribes, nothing is decided without their advice. This notion that trans/Two-Spirit people are to be cherished is beautiful and refreshing. However, not everyone felt (or still feels) the same way. The existence of Two-Spirit folks were used to try to justify genocide, theft of land and the dismantling of Native culture and religion. In Panama, explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, threw a King and forty others of a Native tribe to be eaten by his dogs because they crossdressed or had same-sex partners. Spaniards committed similar genocides in the Antilles and Louisiana. In those areas where Two-Spirit traditions survived, they were later driven underground or supplanted completely by missionary teachings and residential schools. Both of these actions and institutions had the same goal of destroying Native culture.


Christine Jorgensen, a WWII era GI, became a public figure regarding her MTF (male to female) sexual reassignment surgery.


Ed Wood Jr.’s film “Glen or Glenda” debuts. Wood himself is a cross-dresser and the film is a plea for tolerance, loosely inspired by the sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) of Christine Jorgensen.


A legendary drag queen, Jose Sarria, becomes the first trans person to run for public office for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He garnered 6,000 votes, and came in 9th in the polls, which put the “gay vote” on the map.


Reed Erickson creates the Erickson Educational Foundation after his transition in 1963. This foundation donated millions of dollars to promote gay and transgender equality.


During the Compton Cafeteria Riots, trans women take a stand against discrimination and police harassment. Tension between the police and trans communities is nothing new. Trans folks have always been on the forefront of activism and radical movements, from the Revolutionary War onwards, fearlessly risking their lives for what they believe in.


The International Olympic Committee begins chromosome testing of female athletes, which banned trans AND intersex folks from competition. This shows that transphobia affects much more than just the trans community.


Trans women including Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, and gender nonconforming people are among those who clash with police at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. This riot is what is commonly acknowledged to be the birth of the modern LGBTQ movement.


Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson form STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries), the first trans activist organization. At times this included a safe house. Homelessness and trans folks have sadly gone hand in hand for centuries. Creating a safe house acknowledges the need, then and now, for acceptance and (you guessed it) safety for trans folks.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show debuts in London as a stage musical and becomes a cult phenomenon. “Don’t dream it, be it!”


The New York Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Renee Richards in her case against the U. S. Tennis Association, gaining her the right, as a transwoman, to play in the women’s league.


Boy George tops the charts! Even though his cross-dressing image is not new, having a major celebrity icon that defies the social constructs of gender and gender expression validates trans folks worldwide. Representation not only opens the minds of others, but creates a much-needed community for a vulnerable population. This need is still prevalent today. When Sasha Velour won the most recent season of Rupaul’s Drag Race, I felt seen. Having a “nontraditional” drag queen represent one of the most famous drag TV shows to date reminds me that I’m not alone.


Lou Sullivan founds one of the first advocacy groups for transgender men, FTM International. He also publicly challenges authority figures who claim trans men cannot be gay.


Paris is Burning” is released. This phenomenal documentary focuses on gay and transgender ball culture in NYC.

Lou Sullivan dies of complications from HIV.


Transgender youth Brandon Teena is violently murdered in Nebraska. The film “Boys Don’t Cry” later shares Brandon’s story with a national audience.


Infantry soldier Barry Winchell is murdered by other soldiers after they discovered he was in a relationship with Calpernia Addams, a transwoman. This leads the US government to order a review of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the US military.

1 year after the murder of Rita Hester, the first Transgender Day of Remembary (TDOR) is observed to honor her and other victims of transphobic violence.


The trans pride flag is designed by Monica Helms and first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, AZ.


The chromosome testing of female athletes originating in 1968 is finally reversed. Tradition can be toxic. To use the “that’s the way it’s always been” line is a cop out for challenging old ways of thinking.

The Transgender Law Center is founded. TLC begins its work to change law, policy, and attitudes, so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity and expression.

Dean Spade founds the Sylvia Rivera Law Project which provides legal services, public education, and work towards trans-inclusive policy change through community organizing.


The National Center for Transgender Equality is founded. It aims to advance the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.


Kim Coco Iwamoto, a transwoman from Hawaii, is elected to the Hawaiian Board of Education, becoming the highest elected trans official in America.


Angie Zapata, a transgender teen, is murdered in Colorado. Her killer becomes the first in America to be convicted of a hate crime for violence perpetrated against a trans victim.

America’s Next Top Model features Isis King, the first transwoman to be featured on the reality show.

After transitioning from MTF, Stu Rassmusesen is re-elected as mayor of Silverton, Oregon, becoming the first openly trans mayor in America.


Gender identity is listed in the federal Equal Employment Opportunity statement of federal job postings, thus protecting trans employees.

Laverne Cox becomes the 1st African American transwoman to produce and star in her own TV show: TRANSform Me, on VH1.

Amanda Simpson becomes the first trans presidential appointee. She is named Senior Tech Advisor in the Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security.


Kye Allums becomes 1st NCAA FTM trans athlete, playing Division 1 basketball for George Washington University.

Cece McDonald is arrested in Minnesota for stabbing a man who violently attacked her. The LGBTQ community rallies to support our trans sister who was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

The editor and author, Janet Mock, shares her teen transition story in Marie Claire magazine.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Committee declares trans employees protected, stating that this discrimination goes against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After initially disqualifying the Canadian contestant Jenna Talackova because she is trans, Miss Universe changes course and opens the competition to all women.

Founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, Kylar Broadus is the first trans person to testify before the U.S. Senate in support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.


Laverne Cox, US actress and LGBTQ advocate, best known for her role in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” as Sophia Burset, becomes the first openly trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy in the acting category.


Ontario, Canada announces that inmates will be housed according to their gender identity instead of their physical sexual traits. Sadly, this progress was initiated by a series of violent high profile cases.

What next?

This was just a brief glance at notable moments in trans history starting in 1927. While we can’t change the past, we CAN change the future. Looking back at trans history is important to not only learn about the folks that paved the way for us, but also to learn from mistakes made by societal and government institutions. Lastly, it is important to remember the history of trans people of color. History of all types has been whitewashed for years – now more than ever do we need to learn, share, and celebrate the accomplishments, culture, and history of trans people of color.

Most information was obtained through  and

Originally posted 2017-10-19 23:57:03.

Sara Whittington is a genderqueer artist raised in Central Louisiana, but currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. They have had the good fortune to be able to travel across the country, as well as abroad. Some of their favorite trips thus far have been adventuring across Iceland, spending summers on Lake Michigan, and a family celebration in Mundesley, England. In their spare time, Sara enjoys writing letters to loved ones.


Same-Sex Marriage in the US: A Decade of Change



On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced the decision to make same-sex marriage a right in all 50 states. People all over the country celebrated, pride flags were flown, and for the first time, the White House was lit with rainbow lights. The decision was a landmark victory for the gay-rights movement, but behind it all was decades of litigation, activism, and advocacy.

In 1996, a law called the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It defined marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” in the United States constitution. Individual states were able to recognize same-sex unions, but on a federal level, the words wife, husband, and spouse, were reserved specifically for heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples were also denied social security survivor’s benefits and were unable to jointly file taxes. For almost a decade, the DOMA remained.

After 40 years of being together, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer traveled to Toronto to get legally married in 2007. A year later, their union was officially recognized by their home state of New York . In 2009, Spyer passed away at the age of 77. She left her entire estate to her wife, Windsor. Because of DOMA, the federal government did not recognize their union as a marriage and Windsor was required to pay over $300,000 in taxes on her inheritance. Windsor decided to challenge this because she was legally married and should have therefore qualified for an unlimited tax deduction on the inherited estate. After approaching several gay-rights advocacy groups, she was repeatedly denied and was unable to find representation.

Finally, Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP agreed to take on the case. In 2010, her case was filed and made its way through the circuits and in 2013 it had reached the United States Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of Windsor and announced that DOMA had been unconstitutional. By the same margin, the Supreme Court would legalize same-sex marriage three years later.

In September of 2017, Windsor passed away at the age of 88. She left behind a legacy of activism and change, and hope. At her funeral, Hillary Rodham read a eulogy. “Because of her, people came out, marched in their first pride parade, married the love of their life. Thank you, Edie,” reported the New York Daily News.“Thank you for being a beacon of hope, for proving that love is more powerful than hate.”

Edith Windsor has helped to change the lives of thousands of LGBTQ couples and her legacy will continue to live on. Do you have a story of how legalizing same-sex marriage changed your life? Tell us in the comments!

Originally posted 2017-10-25 13:58:13.

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You are planning a trip and have booked your flight, now it is time to pack!  Depending on your destination or the length of travel, your suitcase should be filled with items that will be comfortable for your leave. While everyone packs differently, there are certain things that are essential and should always be added to your carry-on- This will help you prepare you for the unexpected.


If you are traveling alone, with a group or significant other, make sure everyone has their documents, IDs and passports readily available when requested. As a backup, keep your information and photocopy of your passport stored on your phone. Try putting them in a travel document holder for better organization.


Never assume that you have enough battery juice to get you to your destination.  Anytime you have a few minutes to spare, charge your phone to give it quick boost of power. There is nothing worse than needing to use your phone in an emergency and not having enough battery life left.  Invest in a portable charger from Walmart, Amazon, or eBay for backup in case of emergency.


If you have essential medication that you take a regular basis, pack those in your carry-on. Don’t settle and just pack a day’s worth a meds, pack all of them. If you put them in your checked luggage, you are taking a risk with your health if your luggage is lost or stolen.  It also doesn’t hurt to pack over-the-counter medication as well.


First, never trust baggage handlers to treat your luggage delicately or gentle.  If you have anything fragile that you need to take with you on a trip, please put it in your carry-on bag.  Electronics are fragile and expensive to replace. Besides, you may need something to keep you occupied throughout your flight.

Remember laptops are not allowed in checked baggage because they have lithium batteries and are a fire risk. Because earbuds are crap and never last as long as you may want, pack an extra pair just in case.


Yes, it is 2017!  I know it is unfathomable but even with all this technology that airlines have, they can still lose your luggage.  Believe me, it can and still happens.

By packing a set of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on, you are guaranteeing that you have at least one set of changing clothes and can brush your teeth.  It also helps if you have an extended layover without access to your checked luggage.


Due to airline security, all liquids over a certain ounce will be rejected.  However, snacks are not.    Dollar Tree is to the go spot to stock up on snack at a reasonable price. Snacks are good in time of stress or simply when you are hungry. Airline peanuts and pretzels are not enough to fill you up.

Plus, if you are sitting next to cranky child or travel companion, try sharing some of your snacks with them. It may make your travel better.

What essentials do you always pack?  What do you feel was left off this list? Would love to read your thoughts and comments below.

Originally posted 2017-10-24 18:01:31.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance



The LGBTQ community has faced violence for hundreds of years and the transgender community has sadly faced the brunt of these heinous acts. Every year, hundreds of trans folks around the world are murdered, purely for being trans. For many reasons, the majority of these murders are either not reported, or not classified as a hate crime against a trans person. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day set aside to honor those that we do know were killed due to their identity and/or gender expression.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Americans are desensitized to violence – on any news station on any day, there are multiple reports of accidents and attacks. When trans murders are reported, they are but a minor blip on the radar, often forgotten by the public by the next day. These reports often misgender the victim, and erase their identity. GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) provides a resource kit for journalists, especially tailored for TDoR. These simple changes in language have a major impact in how the individual is respected, validated, and honored. The report becomes less sensationalized and more personal and grounded.

History Repeats Itself

TDoR is a fairly new event considering the number of years these tragedies have been occurring. It started in November 1999 to honor the still unsolved murder of transwoman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998. Each year there is a list of names from November of the prior to current year of trans folks that were murdered. As of October 14, 2017, there are a total of 87 reported murders worldwide caused by transphobia. Again, it is important to note that this number is incredibly low, and inaccurate. Most trans murders go unreported, or are misclassified. These names are confirmed through news sources, and have been reported specifically as hate crimes towards trans folks. Brazil had the most murders at 65, while there were 24 in the United States, the most being in Maryland and Texas.

Vulnerability Factors

Being trans in and of itself is dangerous, and trans folks face violence of all types on a regular basis. Transgender women of color sadly face the worst of it.

For the last five years NCAVP has documented a consistent and steadily rising number of reports of homicides of transgender women of color, which continued into 2017. In August of 2017, NCAVP has already collected information on 19 hate-violence related homicides of transgender and gender nonconforming people this year, compared to 19 reports for the entire year of 2016. 16 of these homicides were of transgender women of color.

For an indepth study and database about the murders of transwomen, click here.

How to Host a TDoR Event

Here are the guiding principles of Transgender Day of Remembrance:

  • All who die due to anti-transgender violence are to be remembered.
  • It is up to us to remember these people, as their killers, law enforcement, and the media often seek to erase their existence.
  • Transgender lives are affirmed to have value.
  • We can make a difference by being visible and speaking out about anti-transgender violence.

Options are infinite of what one could do during this event. Some ideas include (but are not limited to):

  • Candlelight Vigils / Marches
  • Roundtable Discussions
  • Performance Actions
  • Political Rallies
  • Read-Ins
  • Art / Photography Displays

What is most important is that every name on whatever list you choose to use, is read aloud. On this day, we remember each person that was murdered, and give them our attention and respect.

A great way to end the event is to distribute printed material with follow-up actions. Where can people who are moved go to help? How can they pass the message on to others? TDoR is not just a day of memoriam, but also a call to action.

Events near You

The following is far from a complete list of TDoR events being held this year, but is certainly a good place to start looking for ways you can participate. TDoR is November 20, which lands on a Monday this year, so many events are being held on the weekends.

United States


San Francisco LGBT Community Center

1800 Market Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Monday, November 20, 2017

5:30 PM – 8:00 PM PST



Center on Halsted

3656 N Halsted

Chicago, IL 60613

Monday, November 20, 2017

5:30 PM – 9:30 PM CST


Brave Space Alliance

1434 W 51st St.

Chicago, IL 60609

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2 PM – 6 PM CST


Washington, D.C.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC (MCCDC)

474 Ridge St. NW

Washington, District of Columbia 20001

Monday, November 20, 2017

5:30 PM – 8 PM EST



First Parish UU Church of Chelmsford

2 Westford St. (on the Chelmsford Common)

Chelmsford, MA

Saturday, November 18, 2017

6 PM – 9 PM EST


Cathedral Church of St. Paul

138 Tremont St.

Boston, MA 02111

Sunday, November 19, 2017

6 PM – 8 PM EST


Harwich Community Center

100 Oak St.

Harwich, MA

Friday, November 17, 2017

A light dinner will be offered starting at 5:30 PM EST

The program will begin at 6:15 EST


North Carolina

Fayetteville, NC

Saturday, November 18, 2017

4 PM – 6 PM EST



First Presbyterian Church

512 7th St.

Columbus, IN 47201

Saturday, November 4, 2017

7 PM – 8 PM EST



Courtyard by Marriott St. Louis St. Peters

4341 Veterans Memorial Parkway

Saint Peters, Missouri 63376

Monday, November 20, 2017





Cinema the Variety

37 rue Vincent Scotto

13001 Marseille, France

Monday, November 20, 2017

7 PM – 8 PM UTC +01


United Kingdom

ARC Stockton Arts Centre

Dovecot St.

TS18 1LL Stockton-on-Tees, United Kingdom

Monday, November 20, 2017

6 PM – 9:30 PM UTC


“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” – Santayana

Originally posted 2017-10-24 14:35:28.

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