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Transgender issues are issues that appear to only have appeared as of recently, and while it seems that the issues they face aren’t gave at all, they face more fierce issues in their daily lives than any of the normal population. However, problems against transgenders have existed for dozens of years. Transgender people have a history dating back to the 1950’s.
One such person and the first widely known (not first) transexual person in the United States was Christine Jorgensen. Christine (Originally named George Williamson Jorgensen, Jr) was born on May 30, 1926 in San Clemente, California. As a kid, George was always bothered by feelings and thoughts of being a woman trapped in a man’s body. After serving in the army from 1945-1946, he relocated to Denmark where he received many treatments and hormone injections that ultimately led up to his gender reassignment surgery.
After having sex reassignment surgery in 1952, Christine gained national attention in the United States and created awareness for the issues that transgenders face. She wrote an autobiography adequately titled, “Christine Jorgensen”, which mainly focused on her thoughts throughout her life when she felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. The book later on became adapted into a movie in 1970 titled, “The Christine Jorgensen Story”.
She lived out her life enjoying her bold decision and unfortunately lost a tough battle against cancer in 1989. Her story helped many other people with the same feelings as her find themselves and live their life the way they want. However, these transexual people have faced many issues regarding transphobic protesters and anti-trans groups.
One of the biggest and most well known revolts against the LGBT community is the raiding of the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall Inn was a gay club in Greenwich village in New York. The raid, done by the NYPD, sparked 6-day long string of protests and violent clashes with the local law enforcement that became known as the Stonewall Riots.
Huge groups of members of the LGBT Community lined up outside the bar where the raid occurred. There, they encountered law enforcement and with each encounter both sides became more and more aggravated. Harsh events unfolded when a police officer hit a lesbian woman over the head while trying to force her into a paddy wagon. She called to the nearby crowd to act and the crowd threw whatever they could at the police and slash their tires which therefore started the first of many riots that became known as the Stonewall Riots.
At around 4 A.M. on June 28th, the police barricaded themselves inside the very bar they raided, forcing the city’s Tactical Patrol Force (TPF) to arrive, furthermore escalating the events. Rioters outsmarted the TPF by going around the block and coming up behind them. For the first few nights, there were no deaths or major injuries dealt to either side, however, the Stonewall Inn was reopened and supporters gathered around outside the Inn and continued to protest outside. Once again, the police were called back to restore order and they beat and tear gassed members of the protest groups. In the end, the protesters won against the law enforcement due to the media being on the side of the protesters. 13 of the protesters were arrested and around 5 police officers were injured. After the events of Stonewall, Transgender Activist Groups started forming in order to make the LGBT COmmunity feel safe.
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson, two transgender activists who participated in the Stonewall Riots, formed STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries) in 1970 which is thought to have been the first transgender activist organization. They made a safehouse out of an abandoned tractor trailer and while STAR itself was a short lived organization, it paved the way for many more transvestite activist groups later on. Both Sylvia and Marsha went on to expand their beliefs and transvestite activism which helped many of the known transgender actvists come about and grow.
Many years passed and many transgender activists and activist groups gained recognition; these years were peaceful, for the most part, until 1993 when teen Brandon Teena was raped and brutally murdered by his circle of friends. Teena was a biological female who decided he wanted to be a man. In his early years, Teena lived with his sister under their single mother. After he and his sister were allegedly sexually abused by their uncle, Teena rejected traditional female roles in society and categorized himself as male. He led a lowly life working minimum wage jobs and at times resorting to petty crimes until he decided to move to California in 1993. There, he made a small group of friends to whom he claimed to be male. While in California, he was put on trial for check fraud where his birth name and gender were revealed. When his friends found out, they raped him and murdered him in an act of hate crime.
Transvestites are a group of people that, while they have been greatly oppressed by the population, continue to fight in order to be able to just live their lives the way they want. They are truly no different from other human beings and therefore fight for the right to live like a normal human being everyday.
- Britannica. (2010). Christine Jorgensen. Christine Jorgensen, 1. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Christine-Jorgensen
- McQuiston, J. T. (1989). Christine Jorgensen Bio. Christine Jorgensen. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/04/obituaries/christine-jorgensen-62-is-dead-was-first-to-have-a-sex-change.html
- Stonewall Riots. (2017, May 31). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/the-stonewall-riots
- Pruitt, S. (2019, June 13). Stonewall Riots Timeline. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/stonewall-riots-timeline
- Doc Zone. (2018). Transgender Timeline. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/doczone/features/timeline-transgender-through-history
- New York Public Library. (n.d.). 1969: The Year of Gay Liberation. Retrieved from http://web-static.nypl.org/exhibitions/1969/revolutionaries.html
- National Center for Transgender Equality. (n.d.). Transgender Issues. Retrieved from https://transequality.org/issues
- Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Understanding the Transgender Community. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/understanding-the-transgender-community
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