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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017

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“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Every 20th of November, we remember transgender individuals who lost their lives over the year as a result of violence, fear, and hatred all over the world. It is an opportunity for us to educate others about the transgender experience and raise awareness to the struggles and hardships we face as a community. This year the deaths have reached a new high in many nations, with more murders occurring throughout the globe than any one of the last five years. Many of these deaths go unmentioned by media and only a handful of their murders are thoroughly investigated by police. For those that are investigated, their killers rarely are caught or convicted. In 48 of the 5o states in the U.S. "trans-panic", the feeling of being so shocked at the discovery that someone is transgender that you were u…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Tracey Africa Norman

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Tracey "Africa" Norman is an African-American transgender woman best known for her modeling career. She was born in 1951 and is originally from Newark, New Jersey. Norman described her feelings of being different for a cover story for New York Magazine saying that it went back as far as she could remember and that she just felt as though she was living in the wrong body. She had a difficult life at home, as she had a father who was battling cancer and was afraid to come out to her family. She kept her feelings a secret for quite some time, finally working up enough courage to come out after she graduated. She has described that her mother was the hardest person to tell, but was relieved when her mother reached out and gave her a big hug, admitting that she had always known.

Once she came out to her family she wanted to begin the transition process but was unsure of how to start. One day she reconnected with a former classmate who had been through the process and discovered …

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Sylvia Rivera

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Sylvia Rivera was a gay liberation and transgender activist. She was born in 1951 and raised in New York City, spending the majority of her life in or near the city. Early in her life, her father walked out on the family, later she became an orphan when her mother committed suicide. Afterwards, she was raised by her grandmother who did not approve of Sylvia's effeminate behavior, especially when she began wearing makeup. She started living on the streets at the age of 11, working as a prostitute and taken in by a group of drag queens who named her Sylvia. She has been described as the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement. She considered her gender very fluid, referring to herself in a variety of pronouns at different times in her life.


Rivera was present during the civil rights movement and later in anti-war protests during the Vietnam War. She also participated in the feminist movement of the mid-1960's. In 1969 she was among the rioters in the Stonewall Inn Riot whi…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Laverne Cox

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Laverne Cox is an American transwoman best known for her role in Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She is an actress and LGBT advocate and activist. She was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1984. She was raised by her single mother and grandmother along with her twin brother. When she was 11 years old, she made a suicide attempt because she was often bullied for not "behaving someone who was assigned male at birth was meant to behave." and for noticing that she was developing feelings for her male classmates. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts where she studied creative writing and dance. She also attended Indiana University Bloomington and transferred to Marymount Manhattan College in New York City from there where she studied acting. She has appeared in a variety of television shows and films and is one of the most successful transgender actresses in the industry.  She has also received a large array of awards both related and unrelated to her activism for …

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Jazz Jennings

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Jazz Jennings is an American transgender girl. She is a YouTube personality, spokesmodel, and LGBTQ+ rights activist. She was born in South Florida in 2000 and was diagnosed in 2004 with gender identity disorder. This makes her one of the youngest people to be identified as transgender. She made it very clear at a young age that she was female, asking for feminine clothing instead of gender-neutral clothing. By the age of six, she was appearing on various news programs and talk shows with her parents discussing the difficulties of living as a young transgender person. Her parents founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, an organization that assists transgender youth, in 2007. She has also had a few books published that discuss her life and transgender rights in general.


A documentary about her life entitled I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition, aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011. It discusses the entire experience she and her family have had during her transition. That sa…

Trans Timelines (1500-1900): Anne Bonny & Mary Read

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When most people think of pirates, they usually think of buried treasure, swashbuckling, "argh matey blow the man down", sloops, a blunderbuss, talking parrots, jolly rogers, the black spot, Davy Jones, being marooned, sea shanties and probably Johnny Depp. They also tend to think of men traversing across the seven seas for months even years in a scurvy-ridden sausage party. Depending on what age of piracy is examined, the fact that the practice was dominated by mostly men is pretty accurate. This is particularly true for the time period that comes to most people's minds, the Golden Age of Piracy.

Yes the Golden Age of Piracy was dominated by men. What did you expect? That time period was pretty oppressive to women. But that doesn't mean there weren't any female pirates. Matter of fact there was about a handful of them. Most of them didn't last long or only have a few sentences of recorded history to reference. But there were two particular female pirates th…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Janet Mock

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Janet Mock is an American transgender woman from Hawaii. She was born March 10, 1983 (hey, we share a birthday!). She is a bestselling writer, TV host, and transgender rights activist. She spent most of her youth in Hawaii, but also lived in Oakland, California and Dallas, Texas. She began her transition as a freshman in high school, funding it as a sex worker in her teens. She had gender confirmation surgery at the age of 18 in the middle of her first year of college.

Mock attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising in 2004, later she attended New York University earning a Master of Arts in Journalism in 2006. She was the first member of her family to attend college.She has also received a variety of awards including the Sylvia Rivera Activist Award in 2012, was included in the Trans 100 a list of influential Transgender activists in 2013... it's first year. She received the GLSEN Respect Award and the Feminist Press honored …

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Holly Woodlawn

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Holly Woodlawn was a Puerto Rican transgender woman known for her work as an Andy Warhol Superstar. She was born in 1946 in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico and grew up in Miami, Florida. She came out at a young age and adopted the name Holly after the heroine from the film Breakfast at Tiffany's and added the surname later after it appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy. She would tell people that she was the heiress of Woodlawn Cemetary, even though it wasn't true. In 1962, at the age of fifteen, she left Florida and made her way to New York. She recalled this experience in her memoirs, A Low Life in High Heels."I hocked some jewelry and ... made it all the way to Georgia, where the money ran out and ... had to hitchhike the rest of the way" to New York City. At the age of 16, when most kids were cramming for trigonometry exams, I was turning tricks, living off the streets and wondering when my next meal was coming." In 1969 she considered gender confirmation surgery bu…

Trans Timelines 1500-1900: Chevalier d'Eon

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Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont...(another long name) usually known as Chevalier d'Eon, was a French spy, diplomat, freemason, and soldier who fought in the Seven Years War. d'Eon was born in 1728 in Tonnerre, Burgandy, France. The Chevalier d'Éon claimed to have been assigned female at birth and demanded recognition by the government as such. D'Éon claimed to have been raised as a boy because Louis d'Éon de Beaumont could only inherit from his in-laws if he had a son. Though exhumation and examination of his body by scientist later confirmed that d'Eon was born male, but also had some distinct female characteristics. Many have speculated the d'Eon was intersex. A few of the characteristics described in d'Eon's death certificate were "unusual roundness in the limbs" and "remarkably full breasts".Havelock Ellis coined the term eonism to describe similar cases of transgender behavior though it …

Kristelle's Story: Lost in the Woods

After leaving the suicide watch facility, I stayed with my aunt again for a short while. I returned to cosmetology school and went to therapy once a month. The doctor responsible for prescribing my depression and anxiety meds was an absolute robot. He never made eye contact... Not even once. He just asked his questions in a tone that would make Ben Stein die of boredom, stirring his coffee occasionally while I explained how the meds were making me feel.
Numb. Depression meds kind work. No one wanted to help me in the way that I really needed it.I  say that because they do help you from feeling sad and depressed...well they did me anyhow. But don't be disillusioned. Sure,  I wasn't feeling sad. Matter of fact was that I wasn't feeling much of anything at all. Just... numb. It's a strange feeling not feeling at all. Forgetting the very emotions that once made me human.  I found myself having to emulate others emotions to fit into my everyday life. Sometimes over exagger…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Gigi Gorgeous

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Giselle Lazzarato (better known as Gigi Gorgeous.) is a Canadian transwoman best known for being an internet personality through the medium of YouTube, but also is an actress and model. She has appeared in music videos, internet television series, a variety of traditional television shows (mostly news programs, reality series, awards shows or interviews.), three short films, and a documentary about her transition entitled This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous. Lately, she has inspired controversy among her following for a variety of reasons. Some follow her loyally despite her missteps, while others feel she has lost touch with her own community and has subsequently abandoned their support of her. Regardless of how you feel about her recent actions, comments or public presence...Lazzarato does a great deal of work for the transgender community. Most of which fly under the radar of even her followers. While her internet personality may be a tad outrageous at times, her work behind the sce…

History Transcending: Transgender Candidates of 2017

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In 2017, a number of transgender candidates won races in their respective states and districts for various positions of public office.  Many trans candidates have run for public office this year. While most have lost their races, never made it through the primaries or dropped out before the election; four candidates have won their respective races, two are to be determined and the stage has been set for many other candidates in 2018.

Danica Roem, is the first openly transgender candidate to win a seat in a state legislature in American history. She ran in the state of Virginia against incumbent Bob Marshall, who held the seat for 25 years. Roem ran on local issues, campaigning for infrastructure, teacher pay, equality, and jobs. Marshall mostly ran against his opponent, placing ads on TV misgendering Roem. He also considered himself the state's "homophobe-in-chief", lauding his own version of the anti-LGBT legislation which would have prevented transgender people from u…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Gavin Grimm

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Gavin Grimm is an American transgender man from Gloucester County, Virginia. (That's not far away from my hometown!) He is a teenager who received a doctor's note in order to use the male restroom at his high school. After a member of the community complained, the school prohibited him from using the bathroom that associated with his gender identity. The event coincides with bills that had been proposed in other southern states that prohibited transgender people from using a public restroom that best represents their gender identity, An issue that became highly controversial in 2015.


The issue starts with the issuance of Title IX in the United States Education Amendments of 1972 which "prohibits discrimination "on the basis of sex" in educational programs that receive financial assistance from the federal government." This description was intentionally written very brief, and left the interpretation of the amendment up to the executive in power. In 2010, …

Ancient Transgender History: King/Queen Hatshepsut

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Ancient Egypt has a long and glorious history, rivaled only by the Roman and Holy Roman Empires. It was traditionally ruled by men, whom were given the title of King or Pharaoh. However there were a handful of female rulers, with Nefertiti and Cleopatra being more prominently known in today's day and age. However, there is one ruler in Egypt's history that is commonly considered by history scholars and archaeologists as the most successful of it's ancient rulers, the King-Queen Hatshepsut. As with many other transgender figures in ancient history, surgery and hormone replacement therapy were not viable options in terms of treatment. Therefore many of these figures are connected to transgender history based on their behaviors and social status. Hatshepsut is the earliest known occurrence of transgender behavior in recorded history, and can be more accurately described as a gender non-binary person based on artifacts, written history, and hieroglyphics depicting the ruler&#…

Profiles Of Transgender Courage: Carmen Carrera

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Carmen Roman (better know as Carmen Carrera) is an American transgender woman best known for her appearance in the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race and it's spin-off series RuPaul's Drag U. She is an actress, model, burlesque performer and reality television personality. While she presented as a male during her initial appearance in the drag competition, ABC News reported that she was trans in 2012. She began her transition after she completed filming the third season of Drag Race.
Carmen was born in New Jersey in 1985 and is of Puerto Rican-Peruvian descent. She was the second contestant on Drag Race to return to the show after being eliminated and was featured as a professor on Drag U.
In 2011, Carrera was featured in the magazine, W, as a part of series of realistic advertisements for fictional products. Her set featured her as the face of the fictional fragrance La Femme. She also appeared in a commercial for Orbitz, a site related to travel. She has appeared in a m…

Profiles Of Transgender Courage: Chaz Bono

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Chaz Bono is an American transgender man that was born in 1969 to American entertainers Sonny Bono and Cher. He is an advocate, musician, writer, and actor. He began a short music career in 1988 and was a member of the band Ceremony, which released one album in 1993 entitled Hang Out Your Poetry. The album was received with mixed reviews, being labeled by some as a "mildly psychedelic take on early 90's pop." I personally enjoy it. His parents even provided vocals on a few tracks. Before transitioning, Bono was outed as a lesbian in 1995. This event led to an interview for a cover story with leading monthly gay magazine, The Advocate. In the interview, Bono self-identified as a lesbian and discussed the repercussions of being outed and brought awareness to the struggles of LGBT people in society.

Chaz has authored four books, the first of which is Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians and Their Families which was published in 1998. The book…

Profiles Of Transgender Courage: Chelsea Manning

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Chelsea Manning is a former United States Army soldier who was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act by court-martial in 2013 after disclosing 700,000 classified and/or sensitive documents to WikiLeaks. She is a transwoman who made her first public appearance as a female in 2010 while on leave from military duties.

There is quite a lot of controversy surrounding her decision to leak the information she had acquired during military service to WikiLeaks. There is far too much information to discuss it here. The basics of which involve information on various airstrikes, Afghan and Iraq war logs, diplomatic cables and Guantanamo Bay prison files. Some people view the leak as a catalyst for the Arab Spring, a series of violent and non-violent protests, riots, coups, and civil wars in North Africa and the Middle East. Some people view her as a traitor while others view her as a hero that stood up against suppression and wrong-doing by the U.S. Government. Regardless of what you thin…