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Transgender rights movement

A gender symbol commonly used to represent transgender people.
Pride London, 3 July 2010.

The transgender rights movement is a movement to promote transgender rights and to eliminate discrimination and violence against transgender people regarding housing, employment, public accommodations, education, and health care. In some jurisdictions, transgender activism seeks to allow changes to identification documents to conform with a person's current gender identity.


Statistics of oppressionEdit

In a survey conducted by National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey", respondents reported that 90% of them had experienced discrimination and harassment in the work place and at school. The trans community experiences rates of unemployment that are double the national average. Additionally, one out of every twelve trans women, and one out of every eight trans women of color, are violently murdered (the nature of these crimes is often perpetrated in such a way that attempts to dehumanize the victim).[1] (For more details refer to Transgender inequality).


Transgender people who belong to a different race, social class, age group, or sexual orientation may face different issues in securing rights than those of other groups.

People of colorEdit

Transgender people of color often face an identity that is under speculation, suspicion, doubt, and policing. Those within the community are often left out from the wealthy, able-bodied, American, and white experience that those in the non-trans community often focus on, and are subject to discrimination as a transgender and as a person of color.[2]

Some of the ways white transgender people have more privilege than those of their colored counterparts include racialized violence, better pay, better representation and benefits from the mainstream media movement. According to a National Transgender Discrimination survey, the combination of anti-transgender bias and individual racism results in transgender people of color being 6 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with the police compared to cisgender White people, two-thirds of LGBT homicide victims being transgender women of color, and a startling 78% attempt suicide.[3][4] The NCAVP survey also found that trans survivors were 1.7 times more likely to be the victims of sexual violence than cis-gender survivors.

According to the U.S. Current Population Survey and the National Committee on Pay Equity, white Americans earn higher wages for the same work.[5] In " Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community," Brad Sears and Lee Badgett explain that transgender people are "four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed" as most people in the U.S. Nearly a fifth of transgender people experience homelessness in their lifetimes, and 90 percent report having been discriminated against or harassed while on the job.[6] Transgender people of color are more likely to be poor, be homeless, or lack a college degree.[7]

The focus of the realms of trans visibility in pop culture and trans organizations has mostly been on white people, especially with Caitlyn Jenner joining the trans community.[7]


Identifying the boundaries of a trans movement has been a matter of some debate. Conventionally, evidence of a codified political identity emerges in 1952, when Virginia Prince, a male crossdresser, along with others, launched Transvestia: The Journal of the American Society for Equality in Dress.[8] This publication is considered by some to be the beginning of the transgender rights movement in the United States.[8] In 1969, transgender and transsexual people played an integral part in the Stonewall Riots, including Sylvia Rae Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, trans women who were instigators in the uprising. Rivera continued to be an advocate for transgender rights until her death in 2002.[9] After Stonewall, awareness of transsexuality grew considerably.[citation needed] Support groups for male cross-dressers were common in the 1970s and 80s.[citation needed] In the 1980s female to male (FTM) transsexuality became common.[10] Contrary to these sociohistorical boundaries, Leslie Feinberg explodes the boundaries of trans activism by extending the history of the movement back to antiquity, and broadening the community to form partnerships with all people who are oppressed by the apparatus of capitalism.[11]

In 1992 Leslie Feinberg printed and circulated a pamphlet titled "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come". Feinberg's pamphlet begins by calling on the trans community to compose their own definitions, invoking language as a tool that unites people divided by oppression. From here, Feinberg traces the emergence of oppression imposed by the ruling class by means of institutions. These institutions, run by the elite, enforce a gender binary at the expense of communal societies that encouraged liberal gender expression. Women were devalued and effeminacy was disparaged to promote patriarchal economic privilege. According to Feinberg, the gender binary is a contrivance of Western civilization. Having acknowledged this, Feinberg encourages all humans to reclaim the natural continuum of gender expression that identifies trans individuals as sacred. Feinberg concludes by empowering the working class to liberate themselves from the ruling class, which can be achieved by directing the labor of marginalized groups towards the common goal of revolution.[12]

On December 31, 1993, a trans man named Brandon Teena was murdered in Nebraska along with two of his friends. This murder was documented in the 1999 movie Boys Don't Cry starring Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena.[10]

Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual ceremony to commemorate those who lost their lives due to their gender identity, was first held in 1999 following the murder of Rita Hester in 1998. The "Remembering our Dead" web project was also set up in 1999.[13]

In June 2012 CeCe McDonald was wrongfully imprisoned for having defended herself against neo-nazi attackers with a pair of scissors, which resulted in the death of one of her assailants. Her story was publicized by a GLAAD Media Award winning article in Laverne Cox, openly trans actress on Orange Is the New Black, launched a campaign to raise consciousness of cruel prison conditions for incarcerated trans individuals and rallied to free CeCe. After serving for 19 months, she was released January 2014.

Left OUT Party Two signs summarize the feelings of protestors.

On March 26–27, 2013, LGBT activists gathered at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. to support marriage equality, but in the midst of these demonstrations one speaker was asked to edit their proceedings to conceal their trans identity, and the trans community was asked to lower their pride flags. This incident follows years of tension between activist groups, namely Human Rights Campaign and the trans community, because the trans community is often neglected or blatantly excluded from events and political consideration. The incident resulted in a backlash and public criticism by the trans community. In response, activists groups apologized for the incident, and in 2014 HRC promised to energize efforts for promoting trans rights.

In Florida in March 2015, Representative Frank Artiles (R-Miami) proposed House Bill 583, which would ensure that individuals who enter public facilities such as bathrooms or locker rooms designated for those who are of the "other biological sex" could be jailed for up to 60 days. Artiles claims that it was proposed for the sake of public safety.[14]


International organizations such as Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE), and World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) work specifically towards transgender rights. Other national level organizations also work for transgender rights, such as: in the United States, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), GenderPAC, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Transgender Law Center, and in the U.K., The Gender Trust, Trans Media Watch, and Press for Change.

In popular cultureEdit


Many celebrities have spoken out in support of transgender rights and often in conjunction with overall support for the LGBTQ community. Numerous celebrities voice such support for the Human Rights Campaign, including Archie Panjabi, Lance Bass, Tituss Burgess, Chelsea Clinton, George Clooney, Tim Cook, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sally Field, Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Hudson, Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Natasha Lyonne, Ellen Page, Brad Pitt, Geena Rocero, Bruce Springsteen, Jeffrey Tambor, Charlize Theron, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Wachowski.[15][16][17][18]

Laverne CoxEdit

Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox has been particularly outspoken about the importance of transgender rights. Being transgender herself, Cox has experienced firsthand the issues that surround those who are transgender and often uses her own story to promote the movement for transgender rights.[19] She sees her fame as an opportunity to bring awareness to causes that matter and that her unique position legitimizes the transgender rights movement.[20] Particularly, she believes that transgender individuals have been historically overlooked and sidelined not just socially, but in the fight for civil rights as well.[21] Cox acknowledges the progress that has been made for Gay rights, but that it is important to focus on transgender rights separately, seeing as it has historically been grouped together with other causes and used as an umbrella term.[22] In 2014, Glamour magazine named Cox Woman of the Year in recognition of her activism.[23]

Caitlyn JennerEdit

In April 2015, Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender.[24] The news had been speculated for months leading up to the announcement, but still shocked the public and received considerable attention.[25] Jenner expressed the desire to transition and to be known as Caitlyn Jenner and introduced herself for the first time on the cover of Vanity Fair.[26] Jenner's transition has been documented by the short-lived reality television series titled I am Cait.[27] Jenner was determined to make a difference and bring awareness to transgender rights, believing that telling her story can do so. Jenner did increase transgender visibility, however, her commentary and series were criticized for misrepresenting the struggles of the majority the trans community, who are much less privileged than her and face deeper problems.[28]

Janet MockEdit

Janet Mock is an author, activist, and TV show host who advocates transgender rights, sex workers' rights, and more among marginalized communities.[29][30][31] Mock uses storytelling as a way to diminish stigma of marginalized communities. [31] She has authored and edited many works addressing her personal struggles as well as exploring various social issues affecting various communities. [31] Mock acknowledged in an interview that her experience alone does not speak for all in the transgender community, but it can provide a platform for some to reflect upon. [32] She addressed and encouraged intersectionality and inclusiveness in the feminist movement at the 2017 Women's March. [31][30][29][33]

Other notable figuresEdit

Magnus Hirschfeld, a German physician and outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, probably did more than anyone else for half a century to support transgender people and their rights to live a normal life in their identity.

In the same vein, Harry Benjamin German-American sexologist, author of The Transsexual Phenomenon was a supporter of transgender rights and helped establish the medical procedures and Standards of Care for transgender persons in the United States.


  1. ^ Grant, Jaime M.; Mottet, Lisa A.; Tanis, Justin; Harrison, Jack; Herman, Jody L.; Keisling, Mara. "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 
  2. ^ "What trans people of color fear after the Bruce Jenner media circus". Fusion. Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  3. ^ "5 Ways White Transgender People Have Privilege Over Transgender People of Color". BGD. Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Bustle". Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  5. ^ "The Wage Gap by Gender & Race Timeline History (White, Black, Hispanic, Men & Women)". Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  6. ^ "Bustle". Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  7. ^ a b "5 Ways White Transgender People Have Privilege Over Transgender People of Color". BGD. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  8. ^ a b ">> social sciences >> Transgender Activism". glbtq. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  9. ^ "GLBT History Month". GLBT History Month. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  10. ^ a b ">> social sciences >> Transgender Activism". glbtq. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  11. ^ Feinberg, Leslie (1996). Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 128. 
  12. ^ Feinberg, Leslie (1992). Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come. World View Forum. 
  13. ^ "Transgender Day of Remembrance". 2005-11-20. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  14. ^ Wiesenthal, Nicole. "Controversial 'bathroom bill' leaves Florida transgender students, allies concerned". USA Today. 
  15. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "Celebrity Supporters | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  16. ^ "Human Rights Campaign: Celebrity Supporters". Look to the Stars. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  17. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "49 Celebrities Honor 49 Victims of Orlando Tragedy | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  18. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "Celebrities Come Out for Equality in 2015 | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  19. ^ Steinmetz, Katy. "TIME Cover Story: Interview With Trans Icon Laverne Cox". Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  20. ^ BREEN, M. LAVERNE COX: THE MAKING 0F AN ICON. Advocate. 1074, 52, Aug. 2014. ISSN 0001-8996.
  21. ^ "Laverne Cox says this one simple change will help give trans people equal rights". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  22. ^ University, Nico Machlitt Sophomore at Hofstra (2014-10-14). "The Next Civil Rights Frontier: How the Transgender Movement Is Taking Over". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-27. 
  23. ^ Post, James Nichols The Huffington (2014-11-05). "Laverne Cox Named One Of Glamour Magazine's Women Of The Year". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  24. ^ Editor, Cavan Sieczkowski Senior; Strategy, Content; Post, The Huffington (2015-04-24). "Bruce Jenner Comes Out As Transgender". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  25. ^ News, A. B. C. (2015-04-27). "Bruce Jenner: 'I'm a Woman'". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  26. ^ Bissinger, Buzz. "Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story". HWD. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  27. ^ "Watch the First Promo for Caitlyn Jenner's New Docu-Series on E!". E! Online. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  28. ^ CNN, Emanuella Grinberg. "What it's like to be transgender and not Caitlyn Jenner". CNN. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  29. ^ a b "Janet Mock calls for 'intersectional and inclusive' movement". The Washington Post. 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  30. ^ a b Vagianos, Alanna (2017-01-18). "Janet Mock: Sex Workers’ Rights Must Be Part Of The Women’s March". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  31. ^ a b c d "Janet Mock’s official website". Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  32. ^ Cox, Ana M. (2017-05-24). "Janet Mock Struggles With Being Called a ‘Trans Advocate’". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  33. ^ Lasher, Megan (2017-01-20). "Janet Mock Thinks Sex Workers’ Rights Need to Be Included in the Women’s March". TIME. Retrieved 2017-09-22.