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History

This is the timeline of transgender, intersex and genderqueer history. Each entry provides a brief description of the event in question, with links to a page providing a more detailed account where an account is currently available. The purpose is to build up a comprehensive, unbiased written history of transgender, intersex and genderqueer culture, politics and activism.

If we are missing important events from the timeline (and we may be since this is being compiled from oral sources and much of the early history is inaccessible to younger activists) then please email us or join us to help build this into the valuable archive of our history that we all need.

1800 – 1899

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 1897Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld founded the first gay liberation organisation in Germany (the Scientific Humanitarian Committee).

1900-1959

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 1907 – Magnus Hirschfeld is introduced to Harry Benjamin.
  • 1910 – Magnus Hirschfeld coins the terms ‘transvestite‘ and ‘transsexual’.
  • 1919 – Magnus Hirschfeld becomes one of sexology’s founding fathers when he opened the world’s first sexological institute, the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. It becomes the first clinic to serve transgender people on a regular basis.
  • 1920Jonathan Gilbert publishes Homosexuality and Its Treatment, the story of “H”, Dr. Alan Hart’s 1917 FTM transition.
  • 1930Encyclopaedia of Sexual Knowledge by Norman Haire published. It addresses transvestism in detail and also illustrates the first ‘sex-change’ procedures.
  • 1930Lili Elbe undergoes five surgeries, the fifth of which kills her in 1931.
  • 1932 – Magnus Hirschfeld performs the first ‘documented’ Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) on Dora-R.
  • 1932Man Into Woman, the story of Lili Elbe’s life, MTF transition, and SRS, is published.
  • 1933 – The Institute for Sexology is raided, shut down, and its records destroyed by the Nazis. Physicians and researchers involved in the clinic flee Germany. Some, unable to escape, commit suicide in the coming years.
  • 1945Sir Harold Gillies and his colleague, Ralph Millard, carry out the world’s first female-to-male gender reassignment surgery on the young aristocrat, Michael Dillon. Sir Harold Gillies, internationally renowned as the father of modern plastic surgery, played a pioneering wartime role in Britain developing pedicle flap surgery.
  • 1949 – Harry Benjamin begins to treat transgender individuals in San Francisco with hormones.
  • 1951 – On May 15th, Roberta Cowell becomes the United Kingdom’s first trans woman to undergo male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. The surgery is performed by Sir Harold Gillies.
  • 1952Christine Jorgensen undergoes SRS in Copenhagen and returns to the US, where she is outed by the American press. She caused an international sensation and for many, she was the first visible transsexual in the media.
  • 1958 – Transsexual pioneers Coccinelle, Bambi and April Ashley are among the first SRS patients of Dr Burou.

1960-1969

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 1964Reed Erickson launches the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF), an organisation which helped to support, both through direct financial contributions and through contributions of human and material resources, almost every aspect of work being done in the 1960s and 1970s in the field of transsexualism in the US.
  • 1966The Beaumont Society is founded.
  • 1966 – Harry Benjamin publishes The Transsexual Phenomenon.
  • 1966 – Compton’s Cafeteria Riots in San Francisco, the first recorded Trans riot in American history, occurs in August. The riot marked a turning point in the local LGBT movement as a network of transgender social, psychological, and medical support services was established.
  • 1968 – The National Transsexual Counselling Unit was created in San Francisco as a result of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots, the first such peer-run support and advocacy organisation in the world.
  • 1969 – The First Gender Symposia is held. This develops into the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association.
  • 1969 – The Stonewall Riots broke out on the evening of 27/28 June, in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn. Transgender and gender-noncomforming people are among those who resisted arrest, thus helping to ignite the modern LGBT rights movement.

1970-1979

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 1970 – Arthur Corbett begins divorce proceedings against his wife, April Ashley, in February.
  • 1971Corbett v Corbett [1970] 2 All ER 33 – Lord Justice Ormrod delivers his decision in the Corbett/Ashley divorce. The decision ends the practice of correcting birth certificates for transgender & intersex people in the UK, creating a legal minefield that perpetuates discrimination against trans & intersex people until the Gender Recognition Act 2004 is enacted.
  • 1972 – John Money publishes Man & Woman, Boy & Girl: Gender Identity from Conception to Maturity. Money cites his famous ‘John/Joan case‘, which he claims as being the socialisation of a boy whose penis had been lost in a circumcision accident, to be raised successfully as a girl.
  • 1974R v Tan – UK court decision that there is no logic to treating transsexual people as one gender for marriage and another gender for other purposes. Courts determine that the decision in Corbett v Corbett will apply in all cases. The decision extended trans discrimination in law and created widespread consequences, including but not limited to abolishing the crime of rape against trans women.
  • 1974 – Jan Morris, one of Britain’s top journalists who covered wars and rebellions around the globe and even climbed Mount Everest, publishes Conundrum, a personal account of her transition. The book is now considered a classic.
  • 1976 – Tennis ace Reneé Richards is outed and barred from competition when she attempts to enter a women’s tennis tournament.
  • 1977 – The New York Supreme Court rules in favour of Reneé Richards, overturning her ban from women’s tennis. This was a landmark decision in favour of transsexual rights; establishing that transsexuals are legally accepted in their new identity after reassignment, in the US.
  • 1979 – A series of programs entitled A Change of Sex are aired by the BBC. For the first time, viewers are able to follow pre-op transsexual Julia Grant through her transition. It also highlights the arrogance at that time of psychiatrists based at the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital in London.

1980-1989

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 1980 – MIND Conference is held in October by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association to promote the newly founded Standards of Care (SOC). The SOC go on to become the foundation for treatment of transsexuals worldwide.
  • 1986The Rees Case (2/1985/88/135) – The European Court of Human Rights votes 12-3 that the UK has not breached Mark Rees’ human rights by failing to legally recognise his acquired gender.
  • 1986Lou Sullivan founds the FTM Newsletter.
  • 1989 – Ray Blanchard proposes “Autogynephilia” as a model to “explain” trans women. It is instantly controversial and quickly discredited, although it continues to be defended for decades to come.
  • 1989 – The Council of Europe issues Recommendation 1117: On the condition of transsexuals, which invites Member States introduce legislation to amend birth certificates; allow changes of forenames; protect the private lives of transsexual people; and end “discrimination in the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms” of transsexual people “in accordance with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights”.
  • 1989 – Celebrated jazz musician Billy Tipton dies in Spokane, Washington. He bleeds to death from an ulcer, rather than seek medical help. He is only discovered to be biologically female after his death by the coroner. Tipton, who played in big bands in the 40s and 50s, had lived for as a man since 1933, marrying several times and raising children.

1990-1999

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 1990The Cossey Case (16/1989/176/232) – The European Court of Human Rights votes 10-8 that the UK has not breached Caroline Cossey’s Article 8 (privacy) rights, and votes 14-4 that the UK has not breached her Article 12 (marriage) rights, in refusing to legally recognise her acquired gender.
  • 1990The Gender Trust is founded in the UK; the largest UK charity supporting anyone affected by gender identity issues.
  • 1991 – Transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard receives a nomination for the Prestigious Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Festival.
  • 1991 – FTM activist Jamison “James” Green takes over Lou Sullivan’s FTM newsletter started in 1986 and transforms it into FTM International, Inc., the world’s largest information and networking group for female-to-male transgender people and transsexual men.
  • 1992B v France (13343/87) [1992] ECHR 40 -The European Court of Human Rights votes 15-6 that France has breached B’s Article 8 (privacy) rights by failing to allow a change in her legal sex, dismissing France’s objections entirely. The Court votes unanimously to dismiss B’s claims under Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment).
  • 1992 – UK political pressure group Press For Change is formed on 27 February by Mark Rees, Stephen Wittle, Alex Whinnom, Sarah Rutherford, Myka Scott and one other.
  • 1993 – A trans woman, P, is dismissed for informing her superior of her intention to transition from male to female. She begins proceedings that would eventually become the landmark case P v. S and Cornwall County Council.
  • 1993 – Minnesota passes the first law in the US which prohibits discrimination against transgendered people. The Minnesota statute establishes protections for transgendered people under the rubric of sexual orientation.
  • 1993 – Cheryl Chase founded the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) to build awareness and offer support to intersex people.
  • 1993 – Transgender youth Brandon (posthumously called Brandon Teena) is raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska by members of his circle of friends, when they discover he was born female. This hate crime brought widespread attention to Transgender discrimination and violence and became the subject of the Oscar-winning film Boys Don’t Cry.
  • 1994 – Press For Change publishes their Mission Statement and Code of Conduct, and forms a panel of lawyers to bring test cases to challenge discrimination in the law.
  • 1994 – Lynne Jones, MP (Labour Party) and Alex Carlisle, MP (Liberal Democrat) set up the Parliamentary Forum on Transsexualism.
  • 1995 – The First All FTM Conference of the Americas organised by Jamison Green and Jason Cromwell.
  • 1996 – P v. S and Cornwall County Council, Case C-13/94, [1996] IRLR 347 – The Industrial Tribunal (now the Employment Tribunal) ruled that “dismissal of a transsexual for a reason related to a gender reassignment must be regarded as contrary to Article 5(1) of the Equal Treatment Directive.
  • 1996 – Alex Carlisle puts the first Gender Recognition Bill before Parliament. It is talked out of time and never reaches a vote.
  • 1996 – Prime Minister John Major discusses trans rights with his cabinet following the decision in P v. S and Cornwall County Council and the talked-out Gender Recognition Bill. This is the first time trans rights are discussed by the British Government.
  • 1997 – Trans activist Leslie Feinberg publishes Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman, a who’s who of Transgender people throughout world history that traces the roots of Transgender oppression.
  • 1997 – Milton Diamond and Dr H. Keith Sigmundson publish a paper that exposes John Money’s claims of success in the ‘John/Joan’ case. ‘John/Joan’ is David Reimer, who is not settling into his reassigned gender as ‘Brenda’ as well as Money believes. Sigmundson is David Reimer’s supervising psychiatrist at that time, and the two describe Reimer’s literal quest to regain his manhood.
  • 1998 – The word “Trans” starts to appear in British transgender activism.
  • 1998 – John Colapinto publishes As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl, which tells David Reimer’s story in depth.
  • 1998 – 28th November: Rita Hester is murdered at her home in Boston. Discussion about the transphobic violence that caused her death, and that of many others inspires activists (including Gwendolyn Ann Smith, who curates the list) to catalogue and commemorate these deaths in the form of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The first is held in San Francisco but soon becomes an annual event, commemorated annually on November 20th worldwide.
  • 1998 – Japan allows the first legal SRS to be performed on an FTM.
  • 1998Sheffield and Horsham v UK (31-32/1997/815-816/1018-1019) – The European Court of Human Rights hears the third case on whether the UK has an obligation to recognise a legal change of sex, and decides it does not. It votes 11-9 that Sheffield and Horsham’s Article 8 (privacy) rights were not violated; votes 18-2 that Article 12 (marriage) was not violated; votes unanimously that Article 14 (discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (privacy) has not been violated; and dismisses the complaints under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy before national authorities).
  • 1999R v North Lancashire Health Authority [1999] All ER (D) 911 – Right to treatment for gender identity disorder on the NHS is established.
  • 1999Littleton vs. Prang, in Texas. Christine Littleton, a post-op MTF transsexual loses her negligence case against the doctor who allowed her husband to die. Defence lawyers argue that she was never married to her late husband because her birth certificate, though now amended to read female, originally read male. The legal status of post-op transsexuals in the US is a legal limbo.
  • 1999 – The UK Sex Discrimination Act 1975 is amended in May to include protections on the basis of Gender Reassignment.

2000-2009

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 2000 – The UK Government’s interdepartmental working group on transsexuality receives evidence from Press For Change on the problems faced by transsexuals in Britain; and publishes a report that acknowledges the problems faced.
  • 2002 – Press For Change organises a street protest outside the Royal Society of Medicine, causing the abandonment of proposals that would set back the treatment of transsexuality. Consequently the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Royal Society of Medicine agree to set up an intercollegiate working party to develop new guidelines alongside trans stakeholders. The new guidelines are not published until 2013.
  • 2002Gwen ‘Lida’ Araujo is murdered by several party goers, who had discovered her male genitalia. The three men who were charged alternately resorted to panic strategies during their defence, trying to minimise or legitimise their actions because of their apparent shock at the discovery.
  • 2002Goodwin and I v United Kingdom (Application no. 28957/95) – The European Court of Human Rights votes unanimously that the UK has violated Articles 8 (privacy), 12 (marriage), 13 (right to a remedy before national authorities) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to recognise transsexuals’ legal change in gender.
  • 2002 – Following the decision in Goodwin and I v UK, the Home Office meets with Press For Change to discuss how to draft and enact new legislation. The UK Government announces its intention to introduce a Gender Recognition Bill.
  • 2003 – British transvestite potter Grayson Perry scooped the controversial Turner prize and collected £20,000 at a ceremony at Tate Britain in London, dressed as alter ego Claire.
  • 2004David Reimer, the subject of John Money’s ‘Joan/John’ case, commits suicide at the age of 38.
  • 2004 – The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is passed by both Houses of Parliament on 10th February and receives Royal Assent in July.
  • 2004 – The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed, coming into effect in 2005. The Act does not change the requirement for trans people to divorce before they can receive a Gender Recognition Certificate.
  • 2004 – The International Olympic Committee decides that transsexuals will be able to compete at the Athens Olympics if they have had appropriate surgery and are legally recognised as members of their new sex.
  • 2005T-Vox is founded in November by Zoë Kirk-Robinson and Jennifer Kirk.
  • 2006Gisberta, a Brazilian immigrant in Portugal, was murdered on 22 February. The Portuguese media reported her death in a heavily biased, transphobic manner. Only one of her murderers was imprisoned, while the others were sent back to their care homes.
  • 2006 – During a routine security upgrade on the T-Vox forum, corruption in both the backups and the forum software was discovered. Fixing the problem resulted in some loss of forum posts.
  • 2006 – The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act becomes law in the US. The bill, fuelled by the murder of Gwen Araujo and 2004 murder of Joel Robles (in which the defendant plea-bargained his way down to a 4-month sentence), prevents defendants from using panic strategies and potential biases against the victim to minimise their actions.
  • 2006 – The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association changes its name to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). The omission of the term ‘Social Care’ from the title angers many non-medical support workers worldwide.
  • 2007Spain passes one of the most progressive law regarding gender identity in the world. It allows for the change of documented identity just by requiring medical treatment for two years, and a medical or psychological certificate which proves a diagnosis of gender dysphoria; it does not require SRS.
  • 2007Jenny Bailey becomes the first transsexual mayor in the UK, taking office in Cambridge for the 2007-8 municipal year.
  • 2008Toiletgate – Stewards at London Pride illegally refuse to allow a trans woman to use the ladies toilets. Trans activists protested outside the toilet block; causing the steward to relent. The steward then called for help, saying they were being “attacked by a bunch of trannies”, at which point the police arrived and threatened to arrest the activists for forming an unauthorised demonstration (as well as illegally demanding that trans people have a Gender Recognition Certificate before they use sex-appropriate toilets, which is incorrect).
  • 2008 – The largest (so far) protest by trans people in the UK occurs in November outside the Stonewall Awards ceremony, in response to Stonewall nominating transphobic journalist Julie Bindel for “Journalist of the Year”. Bindel does not win the award.
  • 2009Trans Media Watch is founded, as a Facebook group.

2010-2019

The archive is a work in progress staffed by volunteers. We need your help to add information from this period. If you can help, please join us or email us with details.

  • 2010 – The Equality Act 2010 is passed, removing several rights provided under the Gender Recognition Act 2004; including the reintroduction of a right to bar transgender people from certain public services such as rape crisis centres.
  • 2012Richard Littlejohn writes an article humiliating trans teacher Lucy Meadows. The article is later referred to as a “character assassination” by the coroner at the inquest into Meadows’ suicide.
  • 2013 – Trans teacher Lucy Meadows is found dead, having committed suicide following a prolonged press campaign against her. At the subsequent inquest, the press’ intrusion into her life is heavily criticised.
  • 2013 – The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is passed, allowing gay couples to marry in England and Wales. The Act includes the Spousal Veto, which requires marries trans people to receive the consent of their partner before they can receive a Gender Recognition Certificate.
  • 2013 – Nikki Sinclaire (first Ukip, then Independent) became the first openly transsexual UK MEP. She lost her seat in the European Parliament in the 2014 elections.
  • 2013 – Strong campaigning against the Spousal Veto by Conservative and Liberal Democrat LGBT activists begins immediately upon the Spousal Veto clause being noticed by Lib Dem Councillor Sarah Brown.
  • 2013 – T-Vox commissions a survey into how the spouses of married transsexual people react to their partners coming out. The resulting report by Zoë Kirk-Robinson is used widely in campaigns to remove the spousal veto from the UK’s same-sex marriage legislation.
  • 2014The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 is passed, allowing gay couples to marry in Scotland. The Act does not include a Spousal Veto, thanks to strong campaigning by the Scottish Transgender Alliance.
  • 2014Chris Grayling, MP (Justice Minister) invites evidence from the trans community on how to deal with the Spousal Veto.
  • 2014 – 7 openly transsexual people stand for election to UK local councils, the largest number so far. None win. This marks the first time in 14 years that there are no openly trans politicians in the UK.
  • 2014 – T-Vox begins a wholescale conversion of its wiki to a more secure WordPress site, to remove the constant threats from hackers and spambots.
  • 2014April Ashley awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Diversity Awards on 02 October.
  • 2015 – 8 openly transsexual people stand for election to the UK Parliament, local councils or both. This marks the first time that all major UK political parties have put up at least one trans candidate for election. None win election to Parliament but Zoë Kirk-Robinson (Conservative) and Zoë O’Connell (Liberal Democrat) win election to Bolton and Cambridge councils, respectively.

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