Who joined?

After the Trans Rights movement materialized, the issue at hand for the movement became clear – what was the identity of their movement? More specifically – what defined the spectrum of individuals who believed the fight for Trans rights was their fight? Sex reassignment was not common or available to just anyone, and so the earliest forms of advocacy was for cross-dressers. It was also perhaps in an effort to provide a palatable introduction to the movement’s ultimate goals of creating the freedom of gender expression.

Throughout the 70s and the 80s, Male cross-dressers joined the movement – most likely because most felt they were not directly included in the vagueness of the newly formed gay rights movement. and they sought solace in the support groups that the trans community provided. Later, women cross-dressers joined as well. The main attraction of the community was the steps the movement took to ensure trans visibility, but those who did not identify outside of their culturally assigned gender/sexuality did not participate in the movement’s liberation of cross-dressing. As seen on the cover of Transformation Magazine (which has been in publish since 1969), it was a magazine “created for men who enjoy being women” – the gender identity in cross-dressing had not been defined.

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Transformation Magazine, Issue No. 7

It was finally in the 90s that the movement became diversified in participants. Leslie Feinberg’s work opened the movement to the public. She urged all people to participate in the deconstruction of the gender binary and her writing shed light on the cultural restraints of gender in the western world. She also strongly believed that the trans community should take control over the vocabulary and language of the movement in order to ensure solidarity in the members of the movement who are divided through oppression. Her writing, specifically her pamphlet “Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come,” evoked a more inclusive picture of the movement. People within the movement began to create dialogue about the hardships of trans people of color. One in twelve trans women will be killed violently, but for trans women of color, it’s one in eight.

A popular but heavily debated slogan for the movement is “Trans Rights are Civil Rights.” One imagines that this slogan targets both the bystanders and the opposition, and that the message is one against the current violations against trans rights (and therefore human rights). It points out that at one point, rights for black Americans didn’t exist either, and that today, the arguments against the Civil Rights Movement are deemed absurd, if not incredibly racist and degrading to people of color. But the faces of the Civil Rights Movement were black Americans who fought and struggled for rights even a century after their emancipation, and the direct comparison of both movements’ struggles are not appreciated, especially by people of color in the trans community. And so emerged a new slogan that invited all:”Trans rights are human rights.”

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– Kat

Links used:

1993: The Life and Times of a Gender Outlaw: An Interview with Leslie Feinberg








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