History of Trans Activism

Luci Garza and Malvika Pradhan

Transgender term is first used (1965)

Psychiatrist John F. Oliven first coins the term transgender, refrenced in his work “Sexual Hygiene and Pathology.” Before this, German physician Mangus Hitchfield had used the word “transexual,” which he referenced in a journal article called “The Intersex Constiutuion.” In modern usage, the two terms are not synonymous, however. Transgender is an umbrella term for people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, and transexual is used by medical professionals to discuss trans people undergoing medical transition. 

Stonewall Riots (1969)

The Stonewall Riot begins on June 28, 1969, in the Greenwich village neighborhood of New York City. After several police raids of the Stonewall Inn, a gay club, members of the LGBT+ community take action and resist police efforts, which can now be noted at the start of the modern fight for LGBT+ rights, according to CNN. The riots last for 5 days, starting with Marsha P. Johnson, who throws the first brick as a form of resistance against law enforcement.

M.T. v. J.T. (1976)

In M.T. v. J.T., the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that a trans person can marry on the basis of gender identity, rather than of the gender they were assigned at birth. Although other laws in other states, as well as recent legislation, do not all support this, the decision of the M.T. v. J.T. case creates a landmark notion that validated marriages between transgender inviduals, according to ThoughtCo.


Creation of the transgender pride flag (1999)

Monica Helms, a transgender United States Navy Veteran, creates the transgender pride flag. The flag features five horizontal stripes, a light blue, then light pink stripe at the top and bottom, with a white stripe across the center. Helms says the light blue represents the traditional color for baby boys, the light pink the traditional color for baby girls, and white for intersex babies. According to Medium, Helms purposely designed the flag to be flown in any orientation or direction, to symbolize people always finding correctness in their lives, no matter their gender. 


Creation of TDOV (2009)

International Transgender Day of Visibilty (TDOV) is created in 2009 by transgender woman Rachel Crandall-Crocker. According to PBS, Crandall-Crocker created the holiday because the only other day that the transgender community had was the Transgender Day of Rememberance, which honored the murder of Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman. Crandall-Crocker created the day as a celebration of transgender people. TDOV is celebrated on March 31.


Current Anti-Trans Legislation

According to Facing History and Ourselves, the United States has seen an unprecedented amount of anti-trans legislation, especially targeted towards transgender youth, since the start of 2021. Bills like these aim to prevent trans children and teens from competing on sports teams, or recieve gender-affirming care. One particularly notable bill, according to Them.us, is the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in Florida which prevents teachers from educating kids about LGBT+ identities up to third grade, which critics say is harmful to LGBT+ youth.


*** Sources are Them.us, ThoughtCo., Facing History and Ourselves