University of Exeter give their top trans trivia for Trans Awareness Week
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS/UNIVERSITY OF EXETER, IMAGE VIA BROADLY GENDER SPECTRUM COLLECTION
University of Exeter have today released their top 10 most important trans history facts, for all walks of life to know, in order to mark this year’s Trans Awareness Week.
Researchers from The University of Exeter recently launched a two-year project in collaboration with University of Portsmouth, unveiling never seen before trans history in order to educate the general public.
These facts are perfect for teachers when trying to educate students on diversity and minority groups, but are also essential pieces of knowledge that everyone in the UK should be aware of. Check out some of the top trans trivia below!
There are countless examples of people living outside of conventional gender binaries across the world, including Hijra communities in South Asia or Baklâ communities in the Philippines. Often, indigenous ways of understanding gender as non-binary were violently suppressed as a result of Western colonialism.
Under the Roman Empire many real life stories circulated about people assigned female at birth who transitioned – this was often thought to happen spontaneously. The Roman encyclopaedia writer Pliny the Elder claimed to have witnessed such a transformation with his own eyes in Africa, and many other similar occurrences were recorded in Italy and Syria in the official Roman records. The poet Ovid’s famous celebration of Iphis’s transition to manhood on his wedding day may have been inspired by these tales.
In 18th and 19th century Britain and America, the term “female husband” was used to describe a person who was assigned female at birth and who was married to a cisgender woman.
In Europe, people started to coin a range of new labels for different gender and sexual identities as early as the 1860s. Terms like “sexual invert”, coined by British sexologists Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds, or “Uranian” by German jurist and campaigner Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, often conflated ideas about a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.
The term “trans” originates in Latin, meaning “across”. German-Jewish sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld coined the term “transvestite” (cross-dresser) in 1920. This inspired German-American sexologist Harry Benjamin to coin the term “transsexual” in 1966. Today, we often use the term “transgender”.
The first European clinical centre supporting trans people opened in 1919 when Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology in Berlin was founded. In addition to providing clinical support for trans people, the Institute included a museum and archive and a lecture theatre where people could access sex advice, marriage counselling and birth control. The Institute was raided and destroyed by the Nazis in 1933.
In the 1910s and 1920s, Magnus Hirschfeld would work with the police to issue so-called “Transvestitenpässe” (transvestite passes) to his patients to make it easier and safer for people to present in a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth in public.
Sexologists Magnus Hirschfeld and Harry Benjamin went to visit some of the famous trans and queer night clubs in Berlin together. Benjamin recalled: “I especially remember the ‘Eldorado’ with its drag shows, where also many of the customers appeared in the clothing of the other sex.” Berlin’s vibrant trans and queer bar and club culture came to a violent end with the rise of Nazi power in the early 1930s.
In 1946, British physician Michael Dillon published a book called Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology. This was one of the first books about trans identity written by a physician who was also trans himself. Dillon sought gender-affirming hormonal treatments and phallophastic surgeries in the late 1930s and 1940s.
Lucy Hicks Anderson, a Black American business owner and chef, was one of the first trans people to fight for her right to be married to a cis man in 1940s America. She argued in court: “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have dressed and acted as just what I am – a woman!” Anderson was found guilty of impersonation and fraud and her marriage was annulled, but she continued to live with her husband until her death.
All of these facts can be found in the Adventures In Gender And Time podcast that has recently launched to unveil the importance in trans history.