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.
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.