Monday, January 02, 2017

The Trouble With Lists

Is that you are going to leave off someone important and no  matter who you have on your list someone is going to disagree with some of the people on your list.
11 incredible trans people from history you won’t learn about in school
Pink News
By Benjamin Butterworth
30th November 2016

These amazing trans people have helped shape the world we live in today, whether through their activism, visibility or setting new legal precedents.

Schools hardly feature LGBT people in history class – let alone the history of the struggle for LGBT rights – so PinkNews has compiled this list of trans people you won’t read about in school who shaped history.
Well the first person is someone who I had heard about but didn’t know much about her,
1. April Ashley
April was outed as a transgender woman by the Sunday People newspaper in 1961 and is one of the earliest British people known to have had gender reassignment surgery.

In her early days she served in the Merchant Navy with future British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Following a suicide attempt, she was given a dishonourable discharge and a second attempt resulted in Ashley being sent to the mental institution in Ormskirk aged 17 for treatments. She eventually transitioned in a seven hour op in Morocco after spending years saving the then huge £3,000 cost.

April went on to be a successful underwear model, appearing in the pages of Vogue and taking considerable amounts of money. However after she was outed as trans, her career disappeared practically overnight and she was subject to intense criticism. In 2012 she was awarded an MBE by the Queen for her services to transgender equality.
The entry I knew about and I am sure most U.S. also knew; Sylvia Rivera. The third person on the list is,
3. Michael Dillon
Dillon became the first transgender man in history to have a phalloplasty (the construction or reconstruction of a penis, or the artificial modification of the penis by surgery).

He later wrote the book Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics, which is considered the very first book on transgender identity, advocating for medical and hormonal help over psychotherapy for trans people.
The next three I knew about; Lucy Hicks Anderson, Chevalier d’Eon, and Marsha P. Johnson. I hope that everyone knows about Chevalier d’Eon whose life is very interested and makes you wonder what the real  story is about her.  But Roberta Cowell I heard her name but didn’t know the details of her life,
Born in 1918, Roberta Cowell was a British fighter pilot. After her service in the British air force had come to a close, Cowell would become the first British woman to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

In March 1954, news of her gender reassignment broke, gaining public interest around the world. In the UK, she was paid a fee of £8000 to tell her story to a magazine (equivalent to more than £200,000 in 2016, when adjusted for inflation). She was a close friend of Michael Dillon, who helped her obtain access to the surgery.
Then we have Renée Richards, if you don’t know about her then I suggest you read “Second Serve” her biography.

Then we have two more British trans people; Coccinelle and Sir Ewan Forbes. The article says that Coccinelle was “one of Europe’s first women to undergo gender reassignment surgery” I wonder if they included Lili Elbe.

About Forbes they wrote,
Forbes was able to legally re-assign as male in 1952, getting his birth certificate changed. However this caused a huge row for who would inherit the vast family estate and title. Only sons could inherit the estate, and as his elder brothers had all died it was due to go to a male cousin.
And I have to wonder is he is related to the founders of Forbes’ magazine.

The last entry was Christine Jorgensen.

I do a workshop every year at the Ture Colors conference in March about trans history and one of the hardest tasks that I do every year is to decide who to keep, who to delete in the presentation and who add to the list. I have to keep the workshop to ninety minutes and it is a real challenge because there’re so many deserving trans people out there that it is very hard not to acknowledge.    

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