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Transgender History in the US

Robyn Exton

Jan 04, 2022

Transgender History in the US
  • Uncovering the History of Trans People and Gender Nonconformity

    The history of transgender people in the United States comes a long way. From as early as the Civil War, 200 people who were female at birth put on men’s clothing and went to fight as soldiers. After the war, some of these people lived the rest of their lives as men. At the time, people thought that such individuals were transgender.

    During this period, transgender people were not as widely accepted and celebrated as they are today. So, it was a challenge for them to live freely. For instance, Frances Thompson, was enslaved trans woman because he dressed in women’s clothing.”

    After that, the next significant moment for transgender people came in 1895 when a group of self-described androgynes came together to form a club with the aim “to unite for defense against the world’s bitter persecution.” The club had famous people like Jennie June, the author of “The Autobiography of an Androgyne.” This book gave first accounts in the early part of the 20th century and shed light on what it was like to be a transgender person in the United States then. 

    What is Trans History

    Trans History refers to studying the evolution of transgender people’s rights and how their movement has come along over the past few years. It looks at the difference between the experiences of trans people back in the early part of the 20th century, the early part of the 21st century, and now.

    Why is it Important

    Trans History is important and well worth learning as it opens your eyes to a lot of things. You get to see things from a different perspective, one that you would have never imagined. You get to understand the fight for freedom and why it means a lot to transgender people.

    This knowledge helps one appreciate the rights of trans people, as well as the struggles they’ve faced. For example, trans dating, or building a trans community, have historically been far more difficult, as it hasn’t been as safe or accepted for trans folks to connect with one another. By learning more about trans history, we can ensure that trans rights are intact and that trans people can enjoy the same privileges and freedoms as cis people.

    Non-Binary Genders

    For those who don’t know, nonbinary refers to an umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female‍. On many occasions, non-binary identities are transgender since they tend to identify with a gender different from the one assigned at birth. However, it is worth pointing out that not all non-binary individuals consider themselves transgender.

    The Development of Drag

    While the origin of the word drag remains relatively unknown, it’s thought that the use of the term drag started when referring to male actors dressed in women’s clothing. This term referred to how these dresses would drag on the floor. With time, the term found its way into the LGBTQ community. These days, the term ‘drag queens’ refers to such people. It is worth mentioning that the term ‘drag queen’ doesn’t necessarily refer to gay men dressed in female clothing. It also includes cisgender and trans women and non-binary people who use drag clothing and makeup to imitate and exaggerate gender roles and female gender signifiers for entertainment.

    Gender Nonconformity

    Gender nonconformity refers to an individual’s behavior or gender expression (mainly in terms of dressing) that doesn’t match gender norms. In most cases, a gender non-conforming person doesn’t identify with the gender assigned at birth. They are either transgender, non-binary, or cisgender. In the case of transgender people, one may only perceive themselves as non-conforming before the transition and not so much after the change because they identify as the other gender.

    Rise of Transsexuality

    In recent years, there has been a remarkable rise in the number of people that identify as transsexual. Also, more people are willing to go through with gender reassignment surgery. A significant part of this is due to the relative progress in transgender rights and that the world is more accepting of transgender people than it was twenty or thirty years ago. In addition to that, innovation in medicine and research has made gender reassignment surgery possible. These advancements have encouraged many people dealing with gender dysphoria to switch sexes to feel more comfortable in their bodies.

    Cross Dressing

    Crossdressing refers to the act of wearing clothing items that are not commonly associated with one’s sex; for example, when a man decides to wear a dress or heels. Throughout history, most people have been using cross-dressing for comfort and also as a form of expression. This habit is widespread among folks within the LGBTQ community.

    Growing LGBTQ+ Activism

    Throughout history, the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender people have always been under threat. There have also been numerous reports of discrimination and hate crimes against these people, who, to be honest, have done nothing other than embrace their true identities. For that reason, most of them have come out to fight for their rights. LGBTQ+ activism has grown over the years, and the global impact is impressive. Compared to ten or twenty years ago, society is more accepting of gay and trans people, and they can even enjoy the rights and freedom that straight people do.

    Learn More With HER

    HER is a movement that brings together LGBTQ women from all over the world to help them learn more about how to deal with different challenges that will always be present concerning their sexual orientation. Other than that, we help queer people find each other and form communities that help build each other and offer support to those who need it the most. Finally, HER also helps single queer women find dating partners, so feel free to check us out. Please join the movement to raise more awareness about the LGBTQ community.

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    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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