Trans-Affirming Guide to LGBT History Month

Here at TransLash, our mission is to tell trans stories to save trans lives. Through podcasts, documentaries, live shows and more, we’ve told stories that have educated, entertained, and captivated. This October, we’re celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month (#LGBTHistoryMonth on Twitter) by spotlighting trans, non-binary, intersex, and two-spirit leaders and visionaries. LGBTQIA+ History Month must never erase trans and 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 explicitly demonstrate intersex & TGNC inclusion, check out the TGNC folks who made it onto this year’s list!

Althea Garrison, State Representative | Althea served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in the early 90’s, but was only able to serve one term. Garrison is also known as the first transgender person to be elected to a state legislature in the United States. She was outed against her will by the Boston Herald after her election in 1992. She has run for office more than 14 times since then. 

Ashley Diamond, Transgender Prison Activist | Ashley made national headlines in 2016 with the landmark win against the Georgia Department of Corrections, which allows for trans people to receive “constitutionally appropriate medical and mental health treatment,” according to the New York Times. She’s currently incarcerated and faces harassment, discrimination, and denial of healthcare. Instagram | Twitter | Website

Janelle Monae, Actress and Singer | Janelle Monae is a talented actress and singer, who’s connection to gender identity can only be described through the quote from the Steven Universe meme that caused Monae to tweet the hashtag #IAmNonBinary (though, they really don’t conform to a title), “I’m not a woman, I’m not a man. I’m an experience.” Instagram | Twitter | Website

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 was actually the person who discovered that tuberculosis could be detected through use of X-rays, which saved countless of lives worldwide.

Angela Morley

via Wally Stott

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 

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.”

Georgina Beyer

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

via Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe

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

@iamjarijones on Instagram

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

Julian Gavino

@thedisabledhippy on Instagram

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

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

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

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 

Submit any useful LGBTQIA+ History Month resource links that we may have missed here.

[Image Description: The New Pride Flag, overlaid with text that reads “This #LGBTHISTORYMONTH, don’t forget the Q I A +. LGBTQIA+ History Month must never erase trans and TGNC people.”]

Flag Credit: Copyright 2018 Julia Feliz/New Pride Flag, INC 501c3

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