* This editorial is part four of a multi-part editorial series. Click on the following corasponding links to read part one, part two, and part three of the series.
Following the decade of excess known as the 1980’s, the 1990’s would prove to be a turning point for many world issues and cultures, both for better or worse. The transgender community would be no different, with both accomplishments and tragedies.
In 1991 a transgender woman named Nancy Burkholder was removed from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival when security guards realized she was transgender. Every year since then, there has been a demonstration against the Festival’s women-born-women only policy. This demonstration is known as Camp Trans.
Also in 1991, Female-to-male Transgender activist, Jamison “James” Green, took over Lou Sullivan’s Female to male newsletter. Renamed Female-to-male International, Inc., it becomes the world’s largest information and networking group for female-to-male transgender people and transsexual men.
1991 was also the year of the first Southern Comfort Conference. The Southern Comfort Conference is a major transgender conference that takes place annually in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the largest, most famous, and pre-eminent such conference in the United States.
Althea Garrison was elected as the first known transgender state legislator in 1992, and served one term (1993 – 1995) in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. however, it was not publicly known she was transgender when she was elected.
Transgender Nation, an offshoot of Queer Nation‘s San Francisco chapter, was formed in 1992, and lasted until 1994. Transsexual Menace was a similar group that was founded in 1994 by Riki Wilchins.
Cheryl Chase founded the Inter-sex Society of North America (ISNA) in 1993 to help build awareness and offer support to inter-sex people.
A tragedy also occured in 1993 when transgender youth, Brandon Teena, was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska. This hate crime brought widespread attention to transgender discrimination and violence, and became the subject of the award-winning film, “Boys Don’t Cry.”
British transgender woman, Julia Grant, publishes her book, “Just Julia” in 1994. The book Chronicles Julia‘s process through her transformation.
Intersex activist and founder of the Intersex Society of North America, Cheryl Chase, creates “Hermaphrodites Speak!”, a 30 minute documentary film in which several intersex people discuss the psychological impact of their conditions and the medical treatment and parenting they received.
Also in 1995, MtoF transgender Pro Golfer, Mianne Bagger, underwent gender realignment surgery in 1995.
Trans activist, Leslie Feinberg, publishes “Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman” in 1997. The book is a virtual who’s who of transgender people throughout world history, and traces the roots of transgender oppression.
A 1997 trial court in Orange County, Calif.ornia affirmed the validity of a marriage involving a transgender man. The case arose when the wife sought to invalidate the marriage in order to deprive her husband of his parental rights vis-a-vis the couple’s child, who was born through alternative insemination. The trial court rejected the wife’s argument that the transgender husband should be considered legally female and refused to nullify the marriage. The court held that California law recognizes the post-operative sex of a transsexual person for all legal purposes, including marriage. Notably, however, if the court had ruled differently, or if the transgender spouse had not undergone extensive and expensive sex reassignments surgeries prior to the marriage, it is likely that he would have lost any right to maintain a relationship with his child.
In 1998, Intersex activist and founder of the Intersex Society of North America, Cheryl Chase, wrote an amicus brief for the Colombian constitutional court, which was then considering a ruling on surgery for a six-year-old boy with a micropenis.
Transgendered African American woman, Rita Hester, was murdered in Allston, Massachusetts on November 28th, 1998. In response to her murder, an outpouring of community grief and anger led to a candlelight vigil held the following Friday, December 4th, in which about 250 people participated. This vigil inspired the “Remembering Our Dead” web project. Hester‘s death and subsequent vigil that followed also inspired Gwendolyn Ann Smith, an American transgender activist, to start the annual “Transgender Day of Remembrance” that same year. Smith initially started the “Transgender Day of Remembrance” in order to memorialize Hester‘s death, though the event became an annual occasion held every year on November 20th, and now memorializes all those murdered due to transphobic hate and prejudice.
Also in 1998, gender identity was added to the mission of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) after a vote at their annual meeting in San Francisco. PFLAG was the first national LGBT organization to officially adopt a transgender-inclusion policy for its work.
In entertainment, Julie Hesmondhalgh Joined the cast of “Coronation St.” (Britain’s longest running television soap) in 1998, portraying a transsexual character named Hayley Patterson. The character was the first ever transsexual portrayed on a British serial. Transsexual singer, Dana International, also became the first transsexual woman to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999, singing a song called “Diva.”
In 1999 computer scientist Lynn Conway (noted for the Mead & Conway revolution in VLSI design and the invention of generalized dynamic instruction handling), came out as transgender. Her transition was more widely reported in 2000 in profiles in Scientific American and the Los Angeles Times, and she founded a well-known website providing emotional and medical resources and advice to transgender people. Parts of the website have been translated into most of the world’s major languages.
MtoF Transgender profesional golfer, Mianne Bagger, won her first South-Australian championship in 1999. Controversy would follow her career due to fans accusing her of having an advantage over other female competitors due to her being born a man.
The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition was founded in 1999 by a group of experienced transgender lobbyists, who discovered after lobbying Congress in May 1999 that other organizations ostensibly supportive of rights for transgender people had been lobbying against the interests of the transgender community. A transgender pride flag was also created in 1999 by trans woman Monica Helms. The flag was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona in 2000. Jennifer Pellinen created an alternative design in 2002.
Brain material provided by the Netherlands Brain Bank in 1999 demonstrates transsexualism is a medical condition, not a “state-of-mind.”
In the 1999 Littleton vs. Prang case (Texas, USA), Christine Littleton, a post-op Male-to-female transsexual, loses her negligence case against the doctor who allowed her husband to die. Defense lawyers argue that she was never married to her late husband since her Texas birth certificate, though now amended to read female, originally read male.
FtoM transgendered man and German pole vaulter, Balian Buschbaum, takes 1st place in the European Junior Championships.
MtoF transsexual woman, Georgina Beyer, became MP for the Labour Party in New Zealand on November 27th, 1999. Beyer was the world’s first openly transsexual mayor, as well as the world’s first openly transsexual Member of Parliament. Beyer served until February 14th, 2007.
* for more information and facts on transgender history, read part five of this editorial coming soon, or visit the International Transgender Historical Society & Hall of Fame Official Website.
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