The Transexual Menace

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The Transexual Menace
Typedirect action
PurposeTransgender rights

The Transexual Menace, or The Menace, was a transgender rights activist organization founded in New York City in 1993. It was the first direct action group of its kind, and grew to be a national organisation with 24 chapters.

History and activities[edit]

The group was founded in 1993 by transgender activists including Riki Wilchins and Denise Norris, in response to the exclusion of transgender people from lesbian, gay, and bisexual Pride marches.[1]

Media attention[edit]

The Transexual Menace organized groups of demonstrators outside courthouses during trials involving anti-transgender crimes, for instance in the rape and murder of Brandon Teena. The movement became the subject of iconic gay liberation filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim's documentary "Transexual Menace".[2][3]


The trademark image for the Transexual Menace was a Goth-styled black T-shirt with the group's name in blood-dripping red letters.[2] The Menace T-shirts were designed by Wilchins and Wilchins‘ then partner Montine Jordan, with a design emulating the Rocky Horror Picture Show logo. The T-shirts were significant in that they allowed transgender visibility at a time when passing as cis was highly encouraged and desired. As described by Wilchins in the book TRANS/gressive, "If you passed [as cis], you were safe. But pulling on the T-shirt screwed all of that forever".[4]

Pictures are available of the Pittsburgh chapter's T-shirts and the Texas chapter's T-shirts.

Esquire interview and response[edit]

Esquire approached the group to do a piece about transgender activism. It was published under the title "The Third Sex - Now the men who have decided they are actually women are on the march. Welcome to the transgender revolution" on April 1, 1995.[5]

The Menace members were angry and the group immediately picketed Esquire's offices; eventually the writer of the story came down to apologise. In her book TRANS/gressive, Riki Wilchins describes the incident as reflective of the climate at the time, with "friendly fire" coming from people or institutions that were not even actively hostile.[4]

The Gay Games[edit]

The Menace protested transgender women's exclusion from the Gay Games. Wilchins describes how transgender women, unlike the other participants, had to "jump through a series of demeaning hoops" including providing medical records, a hormone test and a full gender verification regime. Six members of the NYC chapter crashed the board meeting of the Gay Games and instantiated a change of these regulations. The transgender-exclusionary regulations were re-instated four years later.[4]


  • Alabama
  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland-Akron
  • Denver
  • Fort Wayne
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Louisville
  • Michigan
  • Milwaukee-Chicago
  • New Jersey
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Phoenix
  • San Antonio
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Tampa-St Pete[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Denise Norris - Andes, NY". MEUSA. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  2. ^ a b Stryker, Susan (2009-01-07). Transgender History. Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780786741366.
  3. ^ "Transexual Menace | UC Berkeley Library". Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  4. ^ a b c d Wilchins, Riki (2017-05-31). TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media & Congress… and Won!. Riverdale Avenue Books LLC. ISBN 9781626013674.
  5. ^ Taylor, John. "The Third Sex". Esquire Classic. Retrieved 2019-10-25.Taylor, John. "The Third Sex". Esquire Classic. Retrieved 2019-10-25.