LGBT History Month is an opportunity to remember that here at TransLash we tell trans stories to save trans lives. Through podcasts, documentaries, zines, and more, we’ve told stories that have educated, entertained, and captivated. This October, we’re celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month (#LGBTHistoryMonth on Twitter/X) by spotlighting trans, non-binary, intersex, and two-spirit leaders and visionaries. LGBTQIA+ History Month must never erase TGNC people.
The History of ‘LGBT History Month’
In 1994, Rodney Wilson — a gay high school teaching Missourian (along with a few community members) — founded “LGBT History Month” to give young LGBTQIA+ kids the opportunity to learn their history, and understand it as a mirror: seeing themselves in the people that came before them. They chose October as the month to celebrate because of National Coming Out Day, which is on October 11th.
Lgbthistorymonth.com, a project of Equality Forum since 2006, spotlights thirty-one LGBTQIA+ icons every year voted on by fans of pop culture, history, and more. While the hashtag #LGBTHistoryMonth doesn’t specifically center intersex & TGNC people, check out the TGNC folks who made it onto the 2023 list in the video below!
In case you missed it, here are the 2023 trans honorees:
5. Tessa Ganserer, Transgender German Politician
“Visible gender diversity will ultimately also be an enrichment for all people.”
Tessa Ganserer made history in 2021 as one of two transgender women elected to the Bundestag, the German federal Parliament. As a representative of The Greens party, she supports a strong environmental agenda and is a fierce LGBTQ rights advocate.
Ganserer was assigned male at birth in Zwiesel, Bavaria. She attended Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Science in Freising, Germany, where she studied engineering and forestry. She graduated in 2005. Ganserer presented herself publicly as male until she was 41.
At age 21, Ganserer joined Germany’s Alliance 90/The Greens political party. From 2002 through 2005, she served as the spokesperson for the specialist forum on ecology at the Federal Association of Green Youth.
Ganserer served as a district executive in the administrative region of Middle Franconia from 2008 to 2018. In 2013 she was elected to a seat in the Lantag of Bavaria (Bavarian state Parliament). There, Ganserer sat on multiple committees, including transportation, energy, and technology, and served as vice chair for public service from 2013 to 2018.
In 2018 Ganserer came out as a trans woman, making her the first openly transgender member of a German Landtag. She was “shocked” by the hatred she faced on social media, although she said, “It was definitely outweighed by the many positive messages.” In the Lantag, she fought to make legal name and gender changes easier.
When Ganserer ran for the Bundestag, she set her sights on federal reform of the country’s restrictive 1981 Transgender Act. She said she ran “so that transgender people can finally raise a voice in the place where the legislative decisions on this degrading transsexual law are made.” Elected in 2012, Ganserer and another female Greens candidate, Nyke Slawik, became the first two transgender members of the German federal Parliament.
In the Bundestag, Ganserer advocates for soil protection, reduced carbon emissions, and forest conservation. She champions health and gender-affirming care for LGBTQ people, the right of lesbian mothers to adopt children, and ending the ban on blood donations from gay men.
Ganserer has two sons and is married to Ines Eichmüller, a fellow Greens party politician
8. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Black, Transgender Activist who has fought for over fifty years for her trans/gender nonconforming community.
Major is a veteran of the infamous Stonewall Riots, a former sex worker, and a survivor of Dannemora Prison and Bellevue Hospital’s “queen tank.” Her global legacy of activism is rooted in her own experiences, and she continues her work to uplift transgender women of color, particularly those who have survived incarceration and police brutality.
Miss Major’s fierce commitment and intersectional approach to justice brought her to care directly for people with HIV/AIDS in New York in the early 1980s, and later to drive San Francisco’s first mobile needle exchange. As director of the TGI Justice Project, she’d return to prisons as a mentor to her ‘gurls’ inside. She now runs House of GG, a retreat center for trans and gender nonconforming leaders from the Southern U.S., in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her recent creative projects include executive producing the series Trans in Trumpland (now streaming everywhere), and Miss Major Speaks, a book on her life’s activism co-authored with Toshio Meronek (host of the podcast Sad Francisco), will be out in May 2023.
Miss Major is currently booking *limited* events for spring 2023 along with the release of Miss Major Speaks. Please email her with information about your event.
20. Stu Rasmussen, First Openly Transgender Mayor in America
Stu died at age 73 in November of 2021. Rasmussen was a self-described “gender anarchist” who used both he/him and she/her pronouns. Assigned male at birth, she served two terms pre-transition, beginning in 1988, as mayor of Silverton, a town of about 10,000 in western Oregon, near the state’s capital city, Salem. After coming out as trans, she was elected mayor again in 2008, making her the nation’s first known trans mayor. He served until 2014.
Historic Trans, Intersex, and TGNC Siblings
Alan L. Hart
Alan L. Hart was a pioneering radiologist and physician, as well as a tuberculosis researcher. He transitioned after completing medical school, and navigated a 15-year career of bouncing from one hospital to another, since people often still recognized him from school and would out him without his consent. Alan discovered that tuberculosis could be detected through use of X-rays, which saved countless of lives worldwide.
Angela Morley is an icon for many reasons: she’s a two-time Emmy award winner, was one of the few female composers of her time, and was also the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Academy Award. She left an incredible legacy, with a grandiose soundtrack.
Christine Jorgensen was a singer and performer from the Bronx, who catapulted into national recognition in 1952 after taking her first steps toward gender-affirming surgeries overseas, since they were illegal at the time in the US. Unfortunately, her medical transition was viewed more as a testament to medical advancements, and less as an affirmation of her identity, per societies view of her at the time. This journey resulted in her being known as America’s “first trans celebrity.”
Before becoming the first openly trans mayor and Member of Parliament in New Zealand, Georgina Beyer lived through life creatively, as an actor, cabaret singer, and sex worker. She changed the political mainstream culture through speaking on her life before political work in office, shifting the perspective on transgender people and LGBTQIA rights in NZ.
Hastiin Klah was a prolific master of sand painting, chanting, weaving, and healing. The Diné tradition honors multiple genders, and Hastiin was considered a Nádleehi (“one who changes”). Klah, according to historical sources, is believed to have been intersex. Hastiin single-handedly saved the Navajo weaving tradition in the face of religious persecution, and went on to be the co-founder of the still-active Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Klah passed away before the museum opened in 1937.
Jari Jones is a Black, trans model, actress, and activist, who spreads and exudes joy and inspiration everywhere she goes. She fronted the largest Calvin Klein Pride campaign, where she spread her message of hope and love. “I’m a mom to a whole bunch of queer youth,” she says. “…They have things against them — they’re of color, they’re queer, they’re trans, and I’m just there to be their support.” Instagram | Twitter
With the mission of representation backing him, Julian Gavino spreads light to the world as a model, a writer, a life coach and a social media influencer. His work as an activist sheds light on the discrimination people with disabilities face, and is also full of creativity, with him even taking his wheelchair down the runway at New York Fashion Week. Julian is sure to continue to smash the ceilings on his way up to change making. Instagram | Twitter
Nisha Ayub is a Malaysian trans activist. She co-founded The SEED foundation, a non-profit organization that provides support to transgender people, sex workers, and people living with HIV, as well as the group Justice for Sister, which organizes public talks to raise awareness about and take action against trans issues. In 2016, she became the first trans person to receive the International Women of Courage Award from the US Secretary of State. Website
Vanessa Warri is the first Black trans woman to be in the MSW program at the University of California, where she is studying with the goal of making the world a safer and more equitable place for Black trans women. Additionally, she also has a history of work as a strategist and consultant for nonprofits and community-based organizations that work to serve the LGBTQIA+ community. Vanessa has a bright future ahead of her, and will go on to impact so many people for the better. Instagram | Twitter
Walter Mercado was a TV astrologer, who went on to achieve international fame after starring in a telenovela in the 60’s, and was known for gender non-conforming, 15-pound capes and fashion, energetic readings, and overall positive energy. The Puerto Rican star has been described as asexual, stating “I have sex with life.” Mercado passed away in 2019, but is remembered with joy.
LGBTQIA+ History Month Resources
- TransLash Guide to Black History Month
- TransLash Guide to Women’s History Month: Black Trans Women to Follow and Support
- TransLash Guide to Hispanic Heritage Month
- In the Shadow of the Health-Care City: Historicizing Trans Latinx Immigrant Experiences during the Coronavirus Pandemic (2021) by Leo Valdes
- The Third Sex is likely the world’s first magazine devoted to trans issues. First published in Berlin in 1930, The Third Sex circulated in the final years of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic experiment between the wars. After the Nazis seized power, they destroyed the publishing house, and the magazine was largely forgotten. As a result, most accounts today name fifties America as the birthplace of trans periodicals. Learn more via The Paris Review.
- 5 up-and-coming Gen Z poets envision the future of queer writing in India during LGBT History Month, VOGUE
- 11 Latinx people who had an impact on LGBTQ rights in America that you may not know, LGBTQ Nation
- 20 Titles to Watch During LGBT History Month, Out Magazine
- Free Lesson Plans, Resources and Activities, Share My Lesson | Support LGBTQ students and engage in advocacy with these free lesson plans, activities and resources for preK-12 students.
- History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Social Movements, American Psychological Association
- LGBT History Month: A Reading List, Chicago Public Library
- LGBTQ Films To Watch In October, Gay City News
- Opinion: The Other Ten Months of Queer Pride, The Wild Hunt
- We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We Help Animals—PETA Honors Trailblazing LGBT Animal Rights Advocates, PETA
- Why Do We Celebrate Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October?, UCF Today
- New Pride Flag is a 501(c)(3) centering the LGBTQIA’s most marginalized by fundraising, raising voices, education, and advocacy for the rights, protection, and safety of Trans and Queer Black, Brown, and Indigenous People of MaGe (marginalized genders).
Submit any useful LGBTQIA+ History Month resource links that we may have missed here.
Flag Credit: Copyright 2018 Julia Feliz/New Pride Flag, INC 501c3
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