Although gay, lesbian, and queer theory are related practices, the three terms delineate separate emphases marked by different assumptions about the relationship between gender and sexuality.
The Harlem Renaissance, an African-American literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s, included several important gay and lesbian writers.
Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.
Langston Hughes, whose literary legacy is enormous and varied, was closeted, but homosexuality was an important influence on his literary imagination, and many of his poems may be read as gay texts.
Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.
Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.
Feminist literary theory is a complex, dynamic area of study that draws from a wide range of critical theories.
James Baldwin, a pioneering figure in twentieth-century literature, wrote sustained and articulate challenges to American racism and mandatory heterosexuality.
On October 3, 2012, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) announced that it has resolved a claim on behalf of Ida Hammer, a transgender woman who had been denied health insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery.
Hammer, a New York City resident, applied for pre-authorization for male-to-female sex reassignment surgery in July 2011. MVP Health Care denied her claim on the grounds that the surgery was "cosmetic" and therefore not covered under her policy. MVP denied two internal appeals, even after TLDEF submitted extensive evidence in support of Ms. Hammer's claim.
Only after TLDEF threatened to file a lawsuit did MVP reverse its position and agree to cover the doctor-recommended procedure. MVP acknowledged in its letter authorizing the surgery that "the requested surgery is medically necessary."
"I have been undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria for the past five years. My doctors determined that surgery is the only adequate treatment for my condition," Hammer said when the settlement was announced.
She added: "My insurance company should not be second-guessing my doctors. I'm relieved that it is finally treating me fairly and covering the health care I need."
TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman said, "The well-established medical and legal consensus is that transgender-related health care is medically necessary care. This surgery is not designed to improve one's appearance, but rather to treat a recognized medical condition. Transgender individuals pay the same premiums and simply want the same benefits as anyone else."
The medical necessity of sex reassignment surgery has been widely recognized in medicine and law. Organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health recognize surgery as medically necessary and support insurance coverage for it.
TLDEF was founded in 2005 to achieve equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, community organizing, and public policy efforts. The New York-based organization works on issues ranging from employment discrimination to health care access, from educational discrimination to housing issues.
In the video below TLDEF attorney Noah Lewis discusses discrimination against transgender people.