History of transgenderism in the United States
History of transgenderism in the United States addresses the history of transgender people in the United States.
- 1 Prior to 1800
- 2 1800-1950
- 3 1950s and 1960s
- 4 1970s and 1980s
- 5 1990s and 2000s
- 6 2010s
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
Prior to 1800
Prior to western contact, many[quantify] American Native tribes had third-gender roles. These include "berdaches" (a derogatory term for genetic males who assumed a feminine role) and "passing women" (genetic females who took on a masculine role). The term "berdache" is not a Native American word; rather it was a European definition covering a range of third-gender people in different tribes. The proper term for these individuals is Two-Spirited. Not all Native American tribes had transgender people.
A white person, Joseph Lobdell (born in 1829 as Lucy Ann Lobdell), lived as a man for sixty years and due to this was arrested and incarcerated in an insane asylum. He was, however, able to marry a woman.
During the American Civil War (1861–1865) at least 240 biological women are known to have worn men's clothing and fought as soldiers. Some of them were transgender and continued to live as men throughout their lives. One such notable soldier was Albert Cashier.
Jennie June (born in 1874 as Earl Lind) wrote The Autobiography of an Androgyne (1918) and The Female Impersonators (1922), memoirs that provide rare first-person testimony about the early-20th-century life of a transgender person. The words "transsexual" and "transgender" had not yet been coined, and June described herself as a "fairie" or "androgyne", an individual, she said, "with male genitals", but whose "physical constitution" and sexual life "approach the female type". In 2010 five sections of her third volume of memoirs (dated 1921 but never published), previously lost, were discovered and published on OutHistory.org.
In 1895 a group of self-described androgynes in New York organized a club called the Cercle Hermaphroditos, based on their wish "to unite for defense against the world's bitter persecution".
Billy Tipton (born in 1914 as Dorothy Lucille Tipton) was a notable American jazz musician and bandleader who lived as a man in all aspects of his life from the 1940s until his death. His own son did not know of his past until Tipton's death. The first newspaper article about Tipton was published the day after his funeral and was quickly picked up by wire services. Stories about Tipton appeared in a variety of papers including tabloids such as the National Enquirer and Star, as well as more reputable papers such as New York Magazine and The Seattle Times. Tipton's family also made talk show appearances.
1950s and 1960s
The 1950s and 1960s saw some of the first transgender organizations and publications, but law and medicine did not respond favorably to growing awareness of transgender people.
The most famous American transgender person of the time was Christine Jorgensen, who in 1952 became the first widely publicized person to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, (in this case, male to female), creating a worldwide sensation. However, she was denied a marriage license in 1959 when she attempted to marry a man, and her fiancee lost his job when his engagement to Christine became public knowledge.
Virginia Prince, a transgender person who began living full-time as a woman in San Francisco in the 1940s, developed a widespread correspondence network with transgender people throughout Europe and the United States by the 1950s. She worked closely with Alfred Kinsey to bring the needs of transgender people to the attention of social scientists and sex reformers.
In 1952, using Virginia Prince's correspondence network for its initial subscription list, a handful of other transgender people in Southern California launched Transvestia: The Journal of the American Society for Equality in Dress, which published two issues. The Society that launched the journal also only briefly existed in Southern California.
In 1960 Virginia Prince began another publication, also called Transvestia, that discussed transgender concerns. In 1962, she founded the Hose and Heels Club for cross-dressers, which soon changed its name to Phi Pi Epsilon, a name designed to evoke Greek-letter sororities and to play on the initials FPE, the acronym for Prince's philosophy of "Full Personality Expression". Prince believed that the binary gender system harmed both men and women by keeping them from their full human potential, and she considered cross-dressing to be one means of fixing this.
In the late 1960s in New York, Mario Martino founded the Labyrinth Foundation Counseling Service, which was the first transgender community-based organization that specifically addressed the needs of female-to-male transsexuals.
In 1965 150 gender non-conforming people came to Dewey's Coffee Shop in Philadelphia to protest the fact that the shop was refusing to serve young people in "non-conformist clothing". After three protesters refused to leave after being denied service they, along with a black gay activist, were arrested. This led to a picket of the establishment organized by the black GLBT community. In May another sit-in was organized and Dewey's finally agreed to end their discriminatory policies.
The following year, in 1966, one of the first recorded transgender riots in US history took place. The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The night after the riot, more transgender people, hustlers, Tenderloin street people, and other members of the LGBT community joined in a picket of the cafeteria, which would not allow transgender people back in. The demonstration ended with the newly installed plate-glass windows being smashed again. According to the online encyclopedia glbtq.com, "In the aftermath of the riot at Compton's, a network of transgender social, psychological, and medical support services was established, which culminated in 1968 with the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit [NTCU], the first such peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world".
Transgender people were also heavily involved in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York. These riots are widely considered to have begun the LGBT rights movement in America. Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera was among those involved.
Aside from publicized activism, transgender people also gained some exposure through popular culture, in particular Andy Warhol. In the 1960s and early 1970s the transgender actresses Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling were among Warhol's Warhol Superstars, appearing in several of his films.
Though transgender activism began on a larger scale in this period, it was also a period of heavy discrimination for those who were known to be transsexual, a term that was coined by cisgender American physician Harry Benjamin in 1957.
In 1966 the first case to consider transsexualism in the US was heard, Mtr. of Anonymous v. Weiner, 50 Misc. 2d 380, 270 N.Y.S.2d 319 (1966). The case concerned a transsexual person from New York City who had undergone sex reassignment surgery and wanted a change of name and sex on their birth certificate. The New York City Health Department refused to grant the request, and the court ruled that the New York City and New Jersey Health Code only permitted a change of sex on the birth certificate if an error was made recording it at birth, so the Health Department acted correctly. The decision of the court in Weiner was affirmed in Mtr. of Hartin v. Dir. of Bur. of Recs., 75 Misc. 2d 229, 232, 347 N.Y.S.2d 515 (1973) and Anonymous v. Mellon, 91 Misc. 2d 375, 383, 398 N.Y.S.2d 99 (1977).
In 1968 a transgender person again sought a change of name and sex on their birth certificate in the case of Matter of Anonymous, 57 Misc. 2d 813, 293 N.Y.S.2d 834 (1968). The change of sex was denied, but the name change was granted. The same occurred in the case of Matter of Anonymous, 64 Misc. 2d 309, 314 N.Y.S.2d 668 (1970).
1970s and 1980s
Many support organizations for male cross-dressers began in the 1970s and 1980s, with most beginning as offshoots of Virginia Prince's organizations from the early 1960s.
Three organizations formed in 1970. The most well-known is Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) - later renamed Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries - which was founded by two transgender women, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, to provide shelter and clothing. Rivera later said, "STAR was for the street gay people, the street homeless people, and anybody that needed help at that time...Later we had a chapter in New York, one in Chicago, one in California and England. It lasted for two or three years." Transvestite activists Lee Brewster and Bunny Eisenhower founded the Queens Liberation Front, and Brewster began publishing the transgender women's magazine Queens. Angela Douglas founded TAO (Transsexual/Transvestite Action Organization), which published the Moonshadow and Mirage newsletters. TAO moved to Miami in 1972, where it came to include several Puerto Rican and Cuban members, and soon grew into the first international transgender community organization.
Another significant event for activism occurred in 1979, with the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights held in Washington, D.C. on October 14. It drew between 75,000 and 125,000 transgender people, lesbians, bisexual people, gay men, and straight allies to demand equal civil rights and urge the passage of protective civil rights legislation. The march was organized by Phyllis Frye (who in 2010 became Texas's first openly transgender judge ) and three other activists, but no transgender people spoke at the main rally.
In 1986 transgender activist Lou Sullivan founded the support group that grew into FTM International, the leading advocacy group for female-to-male transgender individuals, and began publishing The FTM Newsletter.
A few other scattered positive developments also occurred in this period. In 1975 Minneapolis became the first city in the United States to pass trans-inclusive civil rights protection legislation. In 1977 Renee Richards, a transgender woman, was granted entry to the U.S. Open (in tennis) after a ruling in her favor by the New York Supreme Court. This was considered a landmark decision in favor of transgender rights.
Other legal cases continued to consider the issue of changing the gender marker on one's official documentation, but cases in this period also considered other issues of anti-transgender discrimination. In 1975 in the case of Darnell v. Lloyd, 395 F. Supp. 1210 (D. Conn. 1975), a Connecticut court found that substantial state interest must be demonstrated to justify refusing to grant a change in sex recorded on a birth certificate. However in 1977, in the case K. v. Health Division, 277 Or. 371, 560 P.2d 1070 (1977), the Oregon Supreme Court rejected an application for a change of name or sex on the birth certificate of a post-operative transsexual, on the grounds that there was no legislative authority for such a change to be made.
In 1976 the first case in the United States that found post-operative transsexuals could marry in their post-operative sex was decided. In the New Jersey case M.T. v. J.T., 140 N.J. Super. 77, 355 A.2d 204, cert. denied 71 N.J. 345 (1976), the court expressly considered the English Corbett v. Corbett decision that disallowed such a marriage, but rejected its reasoning.
Also in 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected the appeal of a transgender plaintiff, Paula Grossman, in a sex discrimination case involving termination from her teaching job after sex reassignment surgery. Another sex discrimination case in 1984, Ulane v. Eastern Airlines Inc. 742 F.2d 1081 (7th Cir. 1984), concerned Karen Ulane, a transsexual pilot. The Seventh Circuit denied her Title VII sex discrimination protection by narrowly interpreting "sex" discrimination as discrimination "against women", and denying Ulane's womanhood.
Other key moments in the 1970s and 1980s concerned the inclusion of trans women within the lesbian and feminist communities, an issue that continues to the present day, and the classification of transgender people as a group.
In 1973 lesbian Beth Elliot was ejected from the West Coast Women's Conference because she was a transgender woman, despite having served as vice-president of the San Francisco chapter of the lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis and having edited the chapter's newsletter Sisters. Then in 1979 writer Janice G. Raymond, herself a lesbian, wrote the anti-transsexual book Transsexual Empire, in which she characterized female-to-male transsexuals as traitors to their sex and to the cause of feminism, and male-to-female transsexuals as rapists engaged in an unwanted penetration of women's space. In response to this book, Sandy Stone wrote the essay, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto”, published in 1987. Her essay has since been cited as the origin of transgender studies.
The term "transgender" as an umbrella term to refer to all gender non-conforming people became more commonplace in the late 1980s. In 1987 Sandy Stone, an American transgender woman, published the essay “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” in response to the anti-transsexual book Transsexual Empire. Her essay has been cited as the origin of transgender studies.
1990s and 2000s
In 1991 a transgender woman named Nancy Burkholder was removed from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival when security guards realized she was transgender. Every year since then, there has been a demonstration against the Festival's women-born-women only policy. This demonstration is known as Camp Trans.
1991 was also the year of the first Southern Comfort Conference. The Southern Comfort Conference is a major transgender conference that takes place annually in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the largest, most famous, and pre-eminent such conference in the United States.
Several transgender organizations were founded in the 1990s and early 2000s. Transgender Nation, an offshoot of Queer Nation's San Francisco chapter, was one of the early transgender organizations, lasting from 1992–1994. Transsexual Menace was another such group, founded in 1994 by Riki Wilchins. In 1999 the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition was founded by a group of experienced transgender lobbyists, who discovered after lobbying Congress in May 1999 that other organizations ostensibly supportive of rights for transgender people had been lobbying against the interests of the transgender community. The Transgender Foundation of America was founded in 2001, followed by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in New York in 2002. Still in existence today, SRLP was named after transgender activist Sylvia Rivera with the mission "to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence". In 2003 the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) were founded.
The LGBT rights group Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), founded in 1972, also became more supportive of transgender people at this time. In 1998 gender identity was added to their mission after a vote at their annual meeting in San Francisco. PFLAG was the first national LGBT organization to officially adopt a transgender-inclusion policy for its work. PFLAG established its Transgender Network, also known as TNET, in 2002, as its first official "Special Affiliate," recognized with the same privileges and responsibilities as its regular chapters.
At this time the transgender community became more visible. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, an American transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Massachusetts in 1998. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every year on November 20 and now memorializes all those murdered due to transphobic hate and prejudice. The most prominent version of the Transgender Pride flag was created in 1999 by trans woman Monica Helms. The flag was first shown at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona in 2000, and Jennifer Pellinen created an alternative design in 2002. In 2009 the International Transgender Day of Visibility was founded by Rachel Crandall, also the founder of TransGender Michigan; it is an annual holiday occurring on March 31, dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.
Transgender visibility in the LGBT community also gathered force in the 2000s. In 2002, Pete Chvany, Luigi Ferrer, James Green, Loraine Hutchins and Monica McLemore presented at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Health Summit, held in Boulder, Colorado, marking the first time transgender people, bisexual people, and intersex people were recognized as co-equal partners on the national level rather than gay and lesbian "allies" or tokens. In 2004 the San Francisco Trans March was first held. It has been held annually since; it is San Francisco's largest transgender Pride event and one of the largest trans events in the entire world. In 2005 transgender activist Pauline Park became the first openly transgender person chosen to be grand marshal of the New York City Pride March, the oldest and largest LGBT pride event in the United States.
Transgender history also began to be recognized. In 2008 Cristan Williams donated her personal collection to the Transgender Foundation of America, where it became the first collection in the Transgender Archive, an archive of transgender history worldwide. In 2009 the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History, an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, changed its name to the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History.
Transgender people also made groundbreaking strides in entertainment. In 2004, the first all-transgender performance of the Vagina Monologues was held. The monologues were read by eighteen notable transgender women, and a new monologue revolving around the experiences and struggles of transgender women was included. From 2007 to 2008 actress Candis Cayne played Carmelita Rainer, a transgender woman having an affair with married New York Attorney General Patrick Darling (played by William Baldwin), on the ABC prime time drama Dirty Sexy Money. The role made Cayne the first openly transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time.
The American transgender community also achieved some firsts in religion around this time. In 2002 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York the Reform rabbi Margaret Wenig organized the first school-wide seminar at any rabbinical school which addressed the psychological, legal, and religious issues affecting people who are transsexual or intersex. In 2003 she organized the first school-wide seminar at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College which addressed the psychological, legal, and religious issues affecting people who are transsexual or intersex. Also in 2003, Reuben Zellman became the first openly transgender person accepted to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he was ordained in 2010. Elliot Kukla, who came out as transgender six months before his ordination in 2006, was the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. HUC-JIR is the oldest extant Jewish seminary in the Americas and the main seminary for training rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal workers in Reform Judaism. In 2007 Joy Ladin became the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution (Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University). Emily Aviva Kapor was ordained privately by a Conservadox rabbi in 2005, but did not begin living as a woman until 2012, thus becoming the first openly transgender female rabbi.
Politics increasingly began to include openly transgender people. In 2003 Theresa Sparks was the first openly transgender woman ever named "Woman of the Year" by the California State Assembly, and in 2007 she was elected president of the San Francisco Police Commission by a single vote, making her the first openly transgender person ever to be elected president of any San Francisco commission, as well as San Francisco's highest ranking openly transgender official. In 2006 Kim Coco Iwamoto was elected as a member of the Hawaii Board of Education, making her at that time the highest ranking openly transgender elected official in the United States, as well as the first openly transgender official to win statewide office. In 2008 Stu Rasmussen became the first openly transgender mayor in America (in Silverton, Oregon). In 2009 Diego Sanchez became the first openly transgender person to work on Capitol Hill, where he worked as a legislative assistant for Barney Frank. Sanchez was also the first transgender person on the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) Platform Committee in 2008. In 2009 Barbra "Babs" Siperstein was nominated and confirmed as the first openly transgender at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, and in 2012 she became the first elected openly transgender member of the DNC.
In the 2010s transgender people became increasingly prominent in entertainment. Chaz Bono became a highly visible transgender celebrity when he appeared on the 13th season of the US version of Dancing with the Stars in 2011, which was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender. He also made Becoming Chaz, a documentary about his gender transition that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) acquired the rights to the documentary and debuted it on May 10, 2011. Also in 2011, Harmony Santana became the first openly transgender actress to receive a major acting award nomination when she was nominated by the Independent Spirit Awards as Best Supporting Actress for the movie Gun Hill Road. In 2012, Bring It On: The Musical premiered on Broadway, and it featured the first transgender teenage character ever in a Broadway show - La Cienega, a transgender woman played by actor Gregory Haney. That same year singer Tom Gabel made headlines when she publicly came out as transgender, planning to begin medical transition and eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace. She is the first major rock star to come out as transgender. Perhaps most notably, famous director Lana Wachowski, formerly known as Larry Wachowski, came out as transgender in 2012 while doing publicity for her movie Cloud Atlas. This made her the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender.
In the early 2010s transgender people also made more inroads in politics. In 2010 Amanda Simpson became the first openly transgender presidential appointee in America when she was appointed as senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security. Also in 2010, Victoria Kolakowski became the first openly transgender judge in America. In 2012 Stacie Laughton became the first openly transgender person elected as a state legislator in United States history. However, she resigned before she was sworn in and was never seated. It was revealed that she was a convicted felon and was still on probation, having served four months in Belknap County House of Corrections following a 2008 credit card fraud conviction. It was later determined that she was ineligible to serve in the New Hampshire State Legislature. Previously, in 1992 Althea Garrison had been elected as a state legislator, serving one term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, but it was not publicly known she was transgender when she was elected.
As for political organizations fighting for LGBT rights, in 2012 Allyson Robinson, who graduated West Point as Daniel Robinson, was appointed as the first Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, the association of LGBT people serving in the military, making her the first openly transgender person to lead a national LGBT organization that does not have an explicit transgender focus. 2012 also saw the country's first government-funded campaign to combat anti-transgender discrimination, held by the D.C. Office of Human Rights.
There were also two firsts for transgender people in sports in the 2010s. Kye Allums became the first openly transgender athlete to play NCAA basketball in 2010. Allums is a transgender man who played on George Washington University's women's team. In 2012 Keelin Godsey became the first openly transgender contender for the U.S. Olympic team, but he failed to qualify and did not go to the Olympics.
Three groups - the Girl Scouts, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, and the Episcopal Church in the United States - announced their acceptance of transgender people in this decade. In 2011, after the initial rejection of Bobby Montoya, a transgender girl, from the Girl Scouts of Colorado, the Girl Scouts of Colorado announced that "Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout."  Also in 2011, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance changed its policy to include transgender and bisexual players. In 2012 the Episcopal Church in the United States approved a change to their nondiscrimination canons to include gender identity and expression.
There were also two important advances in equal opportunity employment for transgender people at this time. In 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded upon these individual court cases by ruling that Title VII does prohibit gender identity-based employment discrimination as sex discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared, "intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination 'based on ... sex' and such discrimination ... violates Title VII". This ruling was for a discrimination complaint filed by the Transgender Law Center on behalf of transgender woman Mia Macy, who had been denied a job due to her gender identity. The ruling opens the door for any transgender employees or potential employees who have been discriminated against by a business hiring 15 or more people in the US based on their gender identity to file a claim with the EEOC for sex discrimination. Then in 2013 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in favor of a transgender woman (name not made public) who was subjected to physical and verbal harassment at her job with a federal contractor in Maryland. This, according to the LGBT rights organization Freedom to Work, is the first time in history that the EEOC has investigated allegations of anti-transgender harassment and ruled for the transgender employee.
Another significant change for transgender people occurred in 2013 when the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was released. This edition eliminated the term "gender identity disorder," which was considered stigmatizing, instead referring to "gender dysphoria," which focuses attention only on those who feel distressed by their gender identity.
Another important change that year was that California enacted America's first law protecting transgender students; the law, called the School Success and Opportunity Act, declares that every public school student in California from kindergarten to 12th grade must be “permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” 
In 2014 transgender people became more visible. That year Laverne Cox was on the cover of the June 9, 2014, issue of Time, and was interviewed for the article “The Transgender Tipping Point" by Katy Steinmetz, which ran in that issue and the title of which was also featured on the cover; this made Cox the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time. Also that year Transgender Studies Quarterly, the first non-medical academic journal devoted to transgender issues, began publication with Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah as coeditors. Also in 2014 a wooden racket used by openly transgender tennis player Renée Richards and the original transgender pride flag created by transgender activist and Navy veteran Monica Helms, as well as items from Helms’s career in the service as a submariner, were donated to the National Museum of American History, which is part of the Smithsonian. 
Marriage and parenting
In the 1999 case Littleton v. Prange, 9 SW3d 223 (1999), Christie Lee Littleton, a post-operative female transsexual, argued to the Texas 4th Court of Appeals that her marriage to her deceased male husband was legally binding and she was entitled to his estate. The court decided that Littleton's gender corresponded to her chromosomes, which were XY (male). The court subsequently invalidated her revision to her birth certificate, as well as her Kentucky marriage license, ruling "We hold, as a matter of law, that Christie Littleton is a male. As a male, Christie cannot be married to another male. Her marriage to Jonathon was invalid, and she cannot bring a cause of action as his surviving spouse." Littleton appealed to the Supreme Court but it denied her writ of certiorari on October 2, 2000.
In the 2001 case In re Estate of Gardiner (2001) the Kansas Appellate Court applied a different standard to the marriage of transgender woman J'Noel Gardiner, concluding that "[A] trial court must consider and decide whether an individual was male or female at the time the individual's marriage license was issued and the individual was married, not simply what the individual's chromosomes were or were not at the moment of birth. The court may use chromosome makeup as one factor, but not the exclusive factor, in arriving at a decision. Aside from chromosomes, we adopt the criteria set forth by Professor Greenberg. On remand, the trial court is directed to consider factors in addition to chromosome makeup, including: gonadal sex, internal morphologic sex, external morphologic sex, hormonal sex, phenotypic sex, assigned sex and gender of rearing, and sexual identity". Gardiner ultimately lost her case in the Kansas Supreme Court, which declared her marriage invalid.
In 2002 transgender man Michael Kantaras made national news when he won primary custody of his children upon divorce; however, that case was reversed on appeal in 2004 by the Florida Supreme Court, upholding the claim that the marriage was null and void because Michael Kantaras was still a woman and same-sex marriages were illegal in Florida. The couple settled the case with joint custody in 2005.
The 2005 case re Jose Mauricio LOVO-Lara, 23 I&N Dec. 746 (BIA 2005) considered marriage under federal law, as it pertains to immigration. The Board of Immigration Appeals (a federal body under the US Department of Justice) ruled that for purposes of an immigration visa: "A marriage between a postoperative transsexual and a person of the opposite sex may be the basis for benefits under ..., where the State in which the marriage occurred recognizes the change in sex of the postoperative transsexual and considers the marriage a valid heterosexual marriage."
In 2008 Thomas Beatie, an American transgender man, became pregnant, making international news. He wrote an article about his experience of pregnancy in The Advocate. The Washington Post blogger Emil Steiner called Beatie the first "legally" pregnant man on record, in reference to certain states' and federal legal recognition of Beatie as a man. Beatie gave birth to a girl named Susan Juliette Beatie on June 29, 2008. In 2010 Guinness World Records recognized Beatie as the world's "First Married Man to Give Birth."
Identity documents and status issues
In 2003 Conservative Judaism's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards approved a rabbinic ruling on the status of transsexuals. The ruling concluded that individuals who have undergone full sexual reassignment surgery, and whose sexual reassignment has been recognized by civil authorities, are considered to have changed their sex status according to Jewish law. Furthermore, it concluded that sexual reassignment surgery is an acceptable treatment under Jewish law for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
In 2010 the State Department amended its policy to allow permanent gender marker changes on passports where a physician states that "the applicant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender". The previous policy required a statement from a surgeon that gender reassignment surgery was completed.
In 2011 the Social Security Administration (SSA) ended the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). Therefore, the Social Security Administration no longer sends notifications that alert employers when the gender marker on an employee's W-2 does not match Social Security records, a practice that "outed" some transgender Americans in the past.
In 2012 the Veterans Health Administration declared that transgender veterans are able to change the gender marker on their medical records by providing a physician’s letter confirming gender reassignment.
In 2013 the Social Security Administration (SSA) removed its requirement that transgender people wanting to amend their gender on a Social Security card provide proof of gender reassignment surgery, instead stating that a transgender person wanting to amend their gender on a Social Security card must provide a passport or birth certificate reflecting their accurate gender, or a certification from a physician confirming that the individual has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.
In 2014 the American Medical Association adopted a policy stating that transgender people should not be required to undergo genital surgery in order to update legal identification documents, including birth certificates.
Also in 2014, the Social Security Administration (SSA) stated that although its "past policy was to refer all marriage-based claims involving transgender individuals for a legal opinion from the Regional Chief Counsel[,] [o]ur new policy allows us to process most claims...without the need for a legal opinion."  This change came soon after Robina Asti, a 92-year-old transgender woman, was denied survivor benefits by the SSA for two years after her husband's death, benefits she finally received on February 14th, 2014.  
Joanna Clark became the first person to successfully re-enlist in the U.S. military following sex-reassignment surgery in 1975. Clark, a former Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy, was honorably discharged after being diagnosed as a transsexual at Stanford Medical Center in 1973. Following surgery in 1975, and with full disclosure of her status, she was invited to re-enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve. She was sworn in on February 6, 1976, and in the following months served with the 49th Medical Battalion, 63rd ARCOM, and the 306th Psychological Battalion. Her enlistment was voided in August 1977, while undergoing review for promotion to Warrant Officer. She sued and won an honorable discharge and credit for time served.
In the 2004 case Smith v. City of Salem 378 F.3d 566, 568 (6th Cir. 2004) Smith, a female transsexual, filed Title VII claims of sex discrimination and retaliation, equal protection and due process claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state law claims of invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy. On appeal, the Price Waterhouse precedent was applied: "[i]t follows that employers who discriminate against men because they do wear dresses and makeup, or otherwise act femininely, are also engaging in sex discrimination, because the discrimination would not occur but for the victim's sex". This was considered a significant victory for transgender people, as the case reiterated that discrimination based on both sex and gender expression is forbidden under Title VII, opening the door for more expansive jurisprudence on transgender issues in the future. This case did not, however, eliminate workplace dress codes, which frequently have separate rules based solely on gender.
In 2008 the District Court of DC ruled in favor of Diane Schroer, who was denied a position as a terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress after revealing that she would be transitioning from male to female. The Court agreed that Shroer's case fell under sex discrimination regulations.
Also in 2008 the first ever U.S. Congressional hearing on discrimination against transgender people in the workplace was held by the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.
In 2011 Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman, won a lawsuit against then-Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby. Brumby fired Glenn in 2007 for deciding to transition genders on the job, and a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that Brumby had wrongly fired Glenn.
In 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded upon these individual court cases by ruling that Title VII does prohibit gender identity-based employment discrimination as sex discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared, "intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination 'based on ... sex' and such discrimination ... violates Title VII". This ruling was for a discrimination complaint filed by the Transgender Law Center on behalf of transgender woman Mia Macy, who had been denied a job due to her gender identity. The ruling opens the door for any transgender employees or potential employees who have been discriminated against by a business hiring 15 or more people in the US based on their gender identity to file a claim with the EEOC for sex discrimination.
Also in 2012, Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition of Columbia, Missouri, spoke to the Senate in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. His speech was the first-ever Senate testimony from an openly transgender witness.
Also in 2012, the FAA's Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners modified its medical certification procedures for transgender pilots to only require current clinical records, an evaluation from a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in transgender issues, and, if the pilot has had surgery, a post-operative report. Transgender pilots were previously required to undergo additional psychological tests such as personality, projective, and intelligence tests that cisgender pilots were not required to undergo.
In 2013 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in favor of a transgender woman (name not made public) who was subjected to physical and verbal harassment at her job with a federal contractor in Maryland. This, according to the LGBT rights organization Freedom to Work, is the first time in history that the EEOC has investigated allegations of anti-transgender harassment and ruled for the transgender employee.
Also in 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, adding "gender identity" to the categories protected against discrimination in hiring in the federal civilian workforce and both "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the categories protected against discrimination in employment and hiring on the part of federal government contractors and sub-contractors.
Also in 2011, the Veterans Health Administration issued a directive stipulating that all transgender and intersex veterans are entitled to the same level of care "without discrimination" as other veterans, consistent across all Veterans Administration healthcare facilities.
In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's ban on sex-based discrimination, which will take effect by January 2014, "extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity." 
Also in 2012, Beth Scott, a transgender woman from New Jersey, successfully appealed Aetna's decision not to cover her mammogram because she is transgender. Aetna eventually paid the cost of her mammogram and agreed to ensure that transgender people can access all necessary sex-specific care, such as prostate exams and gynecological care, regardless of whether they are categorized as male or female in insurance records.
Also in 2012, the American Psychiatric Association issued official position statements supporting the care and civil rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
In 2013, the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was released. This edition eliminated the term "gender identity disorder," which was considered stigmatizing, instead referring to "gender dysphoria," which focuses attention only on those who feel distressed by their gender identity.
Starting in January 2014, each American state must have a Health Benefit Exchange where individuals and families can buy health care plans, and no state's exchange may discriminate against consumers on the basis of gender identity.
In 2014 it was decided that transgender people receiving Medicare may not be automatically denied coverage by them for sex reassignment surgeries; this was decided in a ruling on the case of Denee Mallon, a transgender woman, but it applies to all transgender people receiving Medicare and not just her.
Also in 2014, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced an end to the ban on transition-related healthcare in Federal Employee Health Benefits plans (FEHB). This decision does not mean FEHB insurance providers are required to cover transition-related healthcare, only that they can if they wish.
In 2011 the FAIR Education Act (Senate Bill 48) became law in California, requiring the inclusion of political, economic, and social contributions of transgender people (along with lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and people with disabilities) in California's textbooks and public school social studies curricula.
In 2013 California enacted America's first law protecting transgender students; the law, called the School Success and Opportunity Act, declares that every public school student in California from kindergarten to 12th grade must be “permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” 
In 2012 United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced new regulations that require all housing providers that receive HUD funding to prevent housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. These regulations went into effect on March 5, 2012.
Violence against transgender people and their partners
In 1993 Brandon Teena, a transgender man, was raped and murdered in Nebraska. In 1999 he became the subject of a biopic entitled Boys Don't Cry, starring Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, for which Swank won an Academy Award.
In 1995 in Washington, D.C. Tyra Hunter, a transgender woman, died after being denied medical care by ER staff due to her gender identity. In 1998 her mother was awarded $2.8 million after the District of Columbia was found guilty of negligence and malpractice in Tyra's death. The Chicago area organization T.Y.R.A. (Transgender Youth Resources and Advocacy) was created in her memory.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, an American transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Massachusetts in 1998. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held every year on November 20 and now memorializes all those murdered due to transphobic hate and prejudice.
In 1999 Calpernia Addams, a transgender woman, began dating PFC Barry Winchell. Word of the relationship spread at Winchell's Army base, where he was harassed by fellow soldiers and ultimately murdered. Winchell's murder and the subsequent trial resulted in widespread press coverage and a formal review of the US "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) military policy, ordered by President Bill Clinton. The case became a prominent example used to illustrate the failure of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to protect LGBT service members. Addams' and Winchell's romance and the crimes of their abusers are depicted in the film Soldier's Girl, released in 2003. A subsequent New York Times article, "An Inconvenient Woman", documented the marginalization and misrepresentation of transgender sexuality even by gay rights activists.
In 2002 Gwen Araujo, a transgender woman, was murdered in California by four men after they discovered she was transgender. The case made international news and became a rallying cause for the transgender and ultimately the larger LGBT community. The events of the case, including both criminal trials, were portrayed in a television movie, A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story.
In 2008 Angie Zapata, a transgender woman, was murdered in Greeley, Colorado. Allen Andrade was convicted of first-degree murder and committing a bias-motivated crime, because he killed her after he learned that she was transgender. Andrade was the first person in the US to be convicted of a hate crime involving a transgender victim. Angie Zapata's story and murder were featured on Univision's "Aqui y Ahora" television show on November 1, 2009.
In 2009, due to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act being signed into law, the definition of a federal hate crime was expanded to include those violent crimes in which the victim is selected due to their actual or perceived gender or gender identity. Previously federal hate crimes were defined as only those violent crimes where the victim is selected due to their race, color, religion, or national origin.
Notable American transgender people
Ben Barres, M.D., Ph.D. is Chair of the Neurobiology department at Stanford University School of Medicine. His research focuses on the interaction between neurons and glial cells in the nervous system.
Chaz Bono became a highly visible transgender celebrity when he appeared on the 13th season of the US version of Dancing with the Stars in 2011. This was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender. He also made Becoming Chaz, a documentary about his gender transition that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) acquired the rights to the documentary and debuted it on May 10, 2011.
Jennifer Finney Boylan is an author, political activist, and professor of English at Colby College in Maine. Her 2003 autobiography, She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first book by an openly transgender American to become a bestseller. In 2013 Boylan was chosen as the first openly transgender co-chair of GLAAD's National Board of Directors.
Lynn Conway, a computer scientist noted for the Mead & Conway revolution in VLSI design and the invention of generalized dynamic instruction handling, came out as transgender in 1999. Her transition was more widely reported in 2000 in profiles in Scientific American and the Los Angeles Times, and she founded a well-known website providing emotional and medical resources and advice to transgender people. Parts of the website have been translated into most of the world's major languages.
Laverne Cox is an American actress, reality star, and transgender activist. Cox has a recurring role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black as Sophia Burset, a transgender woman who went to prison for credit-card fraud, and is the hairdresser for many of the inmates. Cox is best known for her role on Orange is the New Black, for being a contestant on the first season of VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy and for producing and co-hosting the VH1 makeover television series TRANSform Me (which made her the first African-American transgender person to produce and star in her own TV show). Cox was on the cover of the June 9th, 2014 issue of Time, and was interviewed for the article “The Transgender Tipping Point" by Katy Steinmetz, which ran in that issue and the title of which was also featured on the cover; this makes Cox the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time.
Laura Jane Grace, formerly known as Tom Gabel, is the first major rock star to come out as transgender, which she did in 2012. She is the founder, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me! 
Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. He came out as transgender six months before his ordination in 2006. He was the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the Reform Jewish seminary Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Later, at the request of a friend of his who was also transgender, he wrote the first blessing sanctifying the sex-change process to be included in the 2007 edition of the Union for Reform Judaism's resource manual for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inclusion called Kulanu.
Chelsea Manning is a United States Army soldier and whistleblower who was convicted in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after providing WikiLeaks the largest set of classified documents ever leaked to the public.
Billy Martin, known professionally as Poppy Z. Brite, is an American author. He initially achieved fame in the gothic horror genre of literature in the early 1990s after publishing a string of successful novels and short story collections. Martin's recent work has moved into the related genre of dark comedy, with many works set in the New Orleans restaurant world. Martin's novels are typically standalone books but may feature recurring characters from previous novels and short stories.
Kortney Ryan Ziegler is an award-winning filmmaker, visual artist, writer, and scholar based in Oakland, California. His artistic and academic work focuses on queer/trans issues, body image, racialized sexualities, gender, performance and black queer theory. Ziegler is also the first person in history to receive the PhD of African American Studies from Northwestern University.
Max Wolf Valerio is a Native American poet, memoir writer, essayist and actor. His 2006 memoir "The Testosterone Files" describes his experience as a female-to-male transsexual.
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