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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Transgender Issues and Activism
 
  The term Transgender was most probably coined by Virginia Charles Prince in the 1980s, but people we would now call Transgender Activists began fighting against oppression and discrimination more than a hundred years ago.  
 
 
  Harry Benjamin Dr. Harry Benjamin (1885-1986) was a medical doctor now best remembered for his pioneering work with transsexuals. Benjamin first treated a transsexual in San Francisco in 1949 and by 1966, when he published The Transsexual Phenomenon, Benjamin was justly regarded at the world's most prominent expert on the subject.  
 
 
  Georgina Beyer Georgina Beyer (b. 1957) was the first open transgender person in New Zealand to be elected to the offices of mayor and Member of Parliament. Though a career in politics seemed an unlikely choice for a Maori woman who began life as a farmboy and worked as a drag queen, stripper, and prostitute, Beyer's deep concern for both her queer community and for the working farmers she grew up with earned her the trust of her constituents.  
 
 
  Chaz Bono Chaz Bono (b. 1969), the child of one of the most flamboyant couples to emerge from the 1960s rock scene, came out as a lesbian shortly after finishing high school in 1987. By the 1990s, she had become a prominent lesbian activist. Soon after her fortieth birthday, Bono underwent gender-reassignment surgery and continues to be a prominent and highly visible advocate for the glbtq community.  
 
 
  Kate Bornstein Kate Bornstein (b. 1948) is one of the best known transgender activists. In her accessible and frequently humorous books and performances, Bornstein challenges audiences to buck the gender system.  
 
 
  Patrick Califia (b. 1954) is a gender outlaw whose books and articles have stimulated controversy. Califia, who recently underwent sexual reassignment surgery, is widely admired by those who treasure sexual freedom.  
 
 
  Cheryl Chase Cheryl Chase (b. 1956), founder of the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), has led efforts to educate both medical professionals and parents of intersexed children so that unnecessary surgeries may be avoided and intersexed people may have happier and healthier lives.  
 
 
  Roberta Close Roberta Close (b. 1964), one of the world's most famous transsexual celebrities, is a beautiful Brazilian model, actress, and television performer. When officials refused to recognize her chosen gender, Close took her case to Brazil's Supreme Court.  
 
 
  Cross-Dressing Cross-Dressing is an important aspect of transgender experience, but it can meet a variety of needs for gay and straight men and women as well.  
 
 
  Michael Dillon (1915-1962) is the first person known to have transitioned both hormonally and surgically from female to male, but his pioneering writings at the intersection of ethics, medicine, biology, religion, philosophy, and transsexuality also made a significant contribution to glbtq history.  
 
 
  Lili Elbe Lili Elbe (1886-1931) was known as male Danish painter Einar Wegener, an artist of some renown, for most of her life. Her series of sexual reassignment surgeries in the early twentieth century was a remarkable and pioneering feat, making her one of the world's first post-operative male-to-female transsexuals.  
 
 
  Reed Erickson (1917-1992) was an early transsexual who contributed a substantial portion of his personal fortune to a variety of glbtq causes in the 1960s and 1970s.  
 
 
  Leslie Feinberg Leslie Feinberg (b. 1949), an influential political organizer, grassroots historian, and writer, is a pioneer of transgender activism and culture.  
 
 
  GenderPAC was a national organization whose mission entailed ending discrimination on the basis of gender identification and stereotypes. The organization, which was active from 1996 through 2009, was founded by Riki Ann Wilchins.  
 
 
  Genderqueer Genderqueer is a term for people who feel that their gender identities and expression do not correspond to the gender assigned to them at birth, but do not want to transition to the "opposite" gender.  
 
 
  Hate Crimes is a recent category in the law that distinguishes crimes against a person or his or her property when motivated by bias towards a group or groups from the same crimes when not animated by the offending bias. Glbtq people suffer particularly violent bias-motivated crimes. Murders of transgender people are memorialized each year in November on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  
 
 
  A Hijra Hijras are men who dress and act like women. They have been a presence in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan for generations, maintaining a third-gender role that has become institutionalized through tradition.  
 
 
  Magnus Hirschfeld Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) was a German-born sexologist known as the "Einstein of Sex" by many of those who read him or heard him speak. Hirschfeld challenged homophobia and the enforcement of gender norms as a leading activist against Germany's now infamous Paragraph 175, a prolific writer, an internationally renowned public speaker, and as the founder of the Institute for Sexual Science.  
 
 
  Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) Intersexuals are people born with congenital anomalies of sexual differentiation. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), an activist and advocacy organization, was founded by Cheryl Chase in 1993.  
 
 
  Christine Jorgensen Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989) was an actress, singer, and writer who underwent the first surgical sex change to be highly publicized in the United States. Jorgensen used her notoriety to educate the public about transsexuality and the differences between homosexuality, transvestism, and transsexuality.  
 
 
  Charlotte von Mahlsdorf Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1928-2002) was an East German preservationist and museum founder who is admired by many for her bravery in the face of persecution and for her openness as a transgendered public figure in perilous times. She has been the subject of an acclaimed autobiography, a film in which she played herself, and a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play.  
 
 
  Jan Morris (b. 1926) is a talented and prolific Anglo-Welsh journalist, historian, and travel writer. Morris was one of the first transsexuals to tell her story publicly in a memoir, Conundrum.  
 
 
  Passing is generally defined as seeking or allowing oneself to be identified with a race, class, or other social group to which one does not genuinely belong. The term is usually used pejoratively, but transgender people have begun using the word in a more positive sense to mean being able to live and work in the gender with which they identify.  
 
 
  Virginia Charles Prince (1913-2009) was a pioneer in organizing social and support groups for heterosexually-identified male cross-dressers. Because of the popularity of her magazines and books within the transvestite community, Prince's philosophies were, and continue to be, influential--and controversial.  
 
 
  Renee Richards (b. 1934), a transsexual tennis player, successfully sued the United States Tennis Association when it barred her from competing in the U.S. Women's Open.  
 
 
  Sylvia Rivera Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002), a legendary veteran of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, spent most of her life at the forefront of transgender and gay activism.  
 
 
  Sissies are sometimes reviled by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, but the sissy has historically helped define gay culture, and has questioned dominant constructions of sex and gender.  
 
 
  Sissy Boy Syndrome or "Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood" is a diagnosis created by the American Psychiatric Association that was added to its official list of mental disorders in 1980. The late queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was a particularly outspoken critic of the diagnosis.  
 
 
  The Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall Riots were a series of confrontations between police and demonstrators that occurred at the Stonewall Inn in New York City during the weekend of June 27-29, 1969. They mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights. During the riots, police arrested a disproportionate number of "deviant" patrons--drag queens and butch lesbians--especially if they were people of color.  
 
 
  Brandon Teena Brandon Teena (1972-1993) was just twenty years old when he was murdered on December 31, 1993 on account of his gender non-conformity.  
 
 
  Tomboys must contend with the often false assumptions that they are lesbian or want to be male, but for many the tomboy stage is the first manifestation of a gender-fluid life journey.  
 
 
  Transgender has become an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women and who suffer political oppression as a result.  
 
 
  Transgender Activism began in the late nineteenth century. Ever since, transgendered people have advocated legal and social reforms that would ameliorate the oppression they suffer.  
 
 
  Transgender Issues in Education have grown more pressing as transgender people become more visible at secondary and post-secondary schools. If institutions are to be welcoming to people of all genders, issues of discrimination and equal access to facilities and health care need to be addressed.  
 
 
  Transgender Issues in Sports Transgender Issues in Sports largely surround fears of male athletes masquerading as women, but in 2000, the International Olympic Committee quietly stopped sex testing for Olympic athletes.  
 
 
  Transgender Issues in the Law include transgender legal rights in areas such as employment policies, marriage and family law, medical care, hate crimes, and the need for sensitivity to transgender people's needs in schools, prisons, and other public institutions. While progress has been made, even a modicum of equality still often remains elusive.  
 
 
  Transsexual Autobiography Transsexual Autobiographers not only tell the stories of their lives, but most also seek to educate others in an effort to gain greater acceptance for transgender people.  
 
 
  Transsexuals of Brazil Transsexuals of Brazil--people who were born male but present themselves as female--are Brazil's single most marginalized group.  
 
 
 

 
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