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18 September 2011

TG, word and concepts: Part 3: The full-blown usage after 1990

Part 3: The full-blown usage after 1990
Part 5: The Backlash    Part 6: Conclusions.

While there was not much of a pattern to the usage of ‘transgender’ before 1991, all of a sudden the term took off: essays by Boswell and Stone, a short book by Feinberg, and then almost immediately there was an activist group and a web forum. Feinberg’s usage, the late so-called umbrella usage took dominance, but the other four usages remained intertwined in the texts.

Anne Bolin (1994) proposes that the takeoff of 'transgender' resulted from 1) the closing of university gender clinics 2) grass-roots organizing 3)  "social alternatives to embodiments of femininity as somatic frailty".   One problem is that (1) applies only in the US.

While the new term was embraced by the transgender rights movement, it also proved popular amongst academics which allowed its opponents to later pretend that it was an elitist conception. The more conservative got left behind, and did not identify with the term.

The mainstream press was, as before, intermittently using the term, but usually still as it had been used before 1991, and failed to notice the birth of something new.

The new umbrella groups such as IFGE, which had stronger roots in the TV rather than in the TS side, were quick to follow the new style, and incorporated 'transgender' in their names or literature from 1992 onwards.

From 2004, the UK, Spain, Portugal and soon Argentina pass gender recognition laws that are primarily for transsexuals, but do not exclude the non-surgical transgender persons.

Holly Boswell, “The Transgender Alternative”, Chrysalis Quarterly, 1 (2): 29-31.  "When a transsexual sister of mine observed "So many of us simply stall out and fail to achieve our goal of sex reassignment surgery", my response seemed to be triggered instinctively: Maybe a lot of these people who apparently stall out have found a more comfortable and appropriate middle ground. Maybe there aren't so many transsexual people after all."  

Sandy Stone, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Post-transsexual Manifesto”, in K. Straub and J. Epstein, (eds), Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity, New York: Routledge, 1991. While not using the term, it articulates the coming movement.

Nexis, Chicago Tribune, 14 Nov, C2. “What’s being tagged ‘transgenderism’, ... a seeming increase in transvestites and crossdressers”. (OED)

Chrysalis Quarterly., Summer 31. “The transgenderist, whether crossing over part-time or full-time - even while masking their genital incongruity - gives honest expression to a reality that defies cultural norms”. (OED)

Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come. World View Forum, The first book with transgender in the title. The major call for transgender as an umbrella term.  No mention at all of Prince.

Transgender Nation was founded by Anne Ogborn, Susan Stryker and others in San Francisco modelled on Queer Nation. It made the local queer community very aware of transgender concerns. It organized a media-reported protest at the 1993 American Psychiatric Association, but failed to last beyond 1994.

alt.transgendered launched. Message 1: “for the discussion of transgenderism  (Gender Dysphoria) and the issues associated with it”.  Of over 28,000 messages in the group up to 2011, only 77 mention Prince.

Nexis, New York Times, 13 Feb, A18/1. “In the spirit of embracing diversity, gender is defined broadly to include ‘transgendered individuals’ ”. (OED)

Washington Times, 13 Jan, A8/2. “The bill has broadened the language pertaining to sexual orientation to bar specific discrimination against ‘transgendered’, or those who have had sex-change operations”. (OED)

Press for Change founded by Stephen Whittle, Mark Rees and others.  While not using the word 'transgender', the major result of their work, the Gender Recognition Act, 2004, would also permit recognition of non-surgical gender change.

Yvonne Cook-Riley responded to increasingly hearing the word ‘transgender’ by advocating for its use within IFGE, and with gay organizations. She would in 2011 claim that she and Prince had thereby created the ‘transgender movement’.

Phil Donahue used ‘transgender’ on his television show.

HRC refused to add ‘transgender’ to the name of the march in Washington, DC. Television host Phil Donahue on the stage shouted out the word. (Angela Brightfeather here & here)

International Bill of Gender Rights adopted by the Second International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy.

Vern L. Bullough and Bonnie Bullough. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Although this book spends a lot of time (some would say too much) on Virginia Prince, it does not claim the she coined 'transgender', or even associate her with the word.   They do use the word  when referring to Ariadne Kane.

JoAnn Roberts. Who's Who in the Transgendered Community: And, International Resource Guide. King of Prussia, PA: Creative Design Services. A pamphlet that has since completely disappeared.

Janice Raymond. “The Politics of Transgenderism”, the Introduction to the Second Edition of The Transsexual Empire. Teachers College Press.  Her examples of trangender persons are RuPaul, Leslie Feinberg and k.d. lang.

IFGE’s The TV-TS Tapestry was renamed to Transgender Tapestry with issue 074, at the initiative of Yvonne Cook-Riley.

Gordene MacKenzie. Transgender Nation. Bowling Green State University Popular Press.

KateBornstein. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. New York: Routledge.  "I know I'm not a man ... and I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably not a woman, either".

Anne Bolin . “Transcending and Transgendering: Male-to-Female Transsexuals, Dichotomy and Diversity.” In Gilbert Herdt (ed). Third Sex/Third Gender. New York: Zone Publishing. 447-485. “Transgenderist is a community term denoting kinship among those with gender-variant identities. It supplants the the dichotomy of transsexual and transvestite with a concept of continuity. Additionally, it highlights a growing acceptance over the past decade of nonsurgical options for physical males wishing to live as women.”(p461).

The formal foundation by Dallas Denny of the US National Transgender Library and Archives, although it had been active since the previous year.

The first mention of Virginia Prince in alt.transgendered by Kymberleigh Richards, editor of Cross-Talk who claims: "do remember that if she hadn't pioneered a lot of what we now take for granted, this newsgroup would probably not exist.  Nor would the transgender support networks we all take for granted. "

Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. Beacon Press. After using the term in its umbrella sense, Feinberg continues “But the word transgender is increasingly being used in a more specific way as well. The term transgenderist was first introduced into the English language by trans warrior Virginia Prince. Virginia told me, ‘I coined the noun transgenderist in 1987 or ’88. There had to be some name for people like myself who trans the gender barrier’ (p x) “. This is her only appearance in the book: Feinberg does not care to demonstrate Prince as a ‘trans warrior’.   This seems to be the major source from which people claim that Prince coined the word.  However there is no record of Prince using the word in 1987/8.

Z.I. Nataf., Lesbians Talk Transgender, London: Scarlet Press.

Virginia Prince.  "Gender Fundamentalists"Cross-Talk, October.  "It is strange but true that the ones who are most vocal, most in print and most publicly active are the transsexuals.  Their main point of attack is Tri-Ess because of the policy (which in their anointed wisdom they like to term "exclusionary") of selecting heterosexuals only, which conflicts with what they proclaim to be the only right way for a group to be ... open to all comers."  Prince is complaining that transsexuals are trying to include her and her group in an umbrella.

Dallas Denny (ed). Current Concepts in Transgender Identity. NY: Garland.

Pat Califia. Sex changes : the politics of transgenderism. San Francisco: Cleis Press.

Gianna Israel and Donald Tarver II, MD.  Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information, and Personal Accounts.  Temple University Press.

First issue of the International Journal of Transgenderism. The title was chosen ‘as more neutral on etiology’. (Ekins & King, 2006:19).

David Valentine, doing research in New York for his 2000 thesis and 2007 book, at what is billed as a transgender support group encounters “I’ve been gay all my life, been a woman all my life”. (Valentine 2007: 3-6).

Virginia Prince.  "Seventy Years in the Trenches of the Gender Wars".  P469-479 in  Bonnie Bullough, Vern L. Bullough, and James Elias. Gender Blending. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.  "As a matter of fact, I coined the words 'transgenderism' and 'transgenderist' as nouns describing people like myself who have breasts and live full time as a woman, but have no intention of having genital surgery.  Others soon took the term and it is now used, erroneously I think, as a collective term for all the various degress and kinds of cross-dressing.  This leaves no simple term for describing those who have changed gender without a change of sex.  In trying to come up with a new term to fill this vacuum, I am proposing 'transposeur', meaning one who sets over or rearranges the order of things or takes a position across from or opposite to his original position.  This adequately describes what a real transgenderist does - he sets himself up as 'herself' and thus rearranges all aspects of his former masculine life."  She does not say where or when she coined 'transgenderist'.

Kymberleigh Richards.  "What Is a Transgenderist?".  P503-4 in  Bonnie Bullough, Vern L. Bullough, and James Elias. Gender Blending. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. [The umbrella term]"does not negate the term 'transgenderist,' and I am still proud to call myself one.  Just remember that not everyone who is transgendered is a transgenderist."

Vanessa Edwards-Foster. "Hierarchy and Fragmentation: The Dismantling of the Transgender Community."

Kay Brown. Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex History. Online, no longer available.  The contents pane contains an entry for Prince, but it remains a stub and was never added.  Prince is nowhere mentioned, and especially not in the timeline.

Susan Stryker (ed). The Transgender Issue. Special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 4.2 .

Richard Ekins & Dave King. "Towards a sociology of transgendered bodies". The Sociological Review, 47:580–602’

Evelyn Blackwood and Saskia Wieringa (eds). Female Desires: Same-Sex Relations and Transgender Practices Across Cultures. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

Vanessa Foster met Virginia Prince. Foster later reported: "She was bemused by my use (and the community's) of the word transgender, and how the story affixed its authorship to her, even though she'd referred to it as transgenderist as a self-descriptor once she'd moved from occasional crossdressing to living as female, though not transsexual (she was quick to correct that!)"

Suzanne Kessler and Wendy McKenna, Who put the "Trans" in Transgender? Gender Theory and Everyday Life, International Journal of Transgenderism, 4: 3.

Phyllis Randolph Frye, Esq. “Facing Discrimination, Organizing for Freedom: The Transgender Community”. In John D’Emilio, William B Turner & Urvashi Vaid. Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights. Stonewall Inn Edition, 2002.

Viviane K. Namaste. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. “ ... individuals who live, work, and identify themselves as drag queens, transsexuals, or transgenderists”. ‘Transgenderist’ used 25 times without any connotation at all of Princianism.

Susan Stryker. “Transgender”. GLBTG: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender & Queer Culure. “The term is often thought to represent a post-modern epistemological framework that posits a break between the "signifier" of gender and the "sign" or "referent" of bodily sex, and it is rejected or embraced on that basis.”

David Valentine. "'I know what I am': The Category 'Transgender' in the Construction of Contemporary U. S. American Conceptions of Gender and Sexuality." Ph. D. Dissertation, Anthropology Department, New York University.

Susan Stryker. "Transgender Studies: Queer Theory's Evil Twin." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 10.2: 212-15.

Richard F. Docter.  From Man to Woman: The Transgender Journey of Virginia Prince. Northridge, Calif: Docter Press, 2004.  While referring to 'transgenderist' as Prince's word, Docter does not discuss where or when it was coined, or document anyone copying her usage.

UK Gender Recognition Act.  Provides legal recognition of acquired gender, and surgery is not a necessity.

Spain's PSOE formed the government after the election, quickly implemented an equal marriage law, but kept delaying the promised Ley de Identidad de Género until Carla Antonelli threatened a hunger strike.

Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) renamed to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

Richard Ekins & Dave King. The Transgender Phenomenon. London: Thousand Oaks; California: Sage.

Stephen Whittle & Susan Stryker (eds). The Transgender Studies Reader. Routledge.
J, Ari Kane-Demaios and Vern L. Bullough (eds) Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths Prometheus Books. The first book associated with the Princian tradition to have ‘transgender’ in its title.

David Valentine. Imagining Transgender: an ethnography of a category. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. “In the context of activism and social service settings, ‘transgender’ was seen as a way of wresting control over the meanings and definitions of gender variance from medical and mental health professionals to replace an assumption of individual pathology with a series of claims about citizenship, self determination, and freedom from violence and discrimination. Just as importantly, it was seen as a way of organizing a politics of gender variance that differentiated it from homosexuality.(p33)”

Spain's Ley de Identidad de Género, similar to the UK Gender Recognition Act.

Susan Stryker. Transgender History. Seal Press.

Portugal's Ley de identidad de género.  Similar to Spain's 2007 law.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous30/9/11 11:46

    In the mid-90s, the term was current in more or less radical UK circles without well-meaning cis-people being entirely clear on what precisely it covered. When LIBERTY (the National Council for Civil Liberties) was making submissions to the UN about the state of play in the UK, the original draft submission, which I -as a trans woman who was also Deputy Chair of the organization - helped write, was restricted to the rights of transexuals because that was all the organization's policy covered. It was good solid stuff about name change, marriage rights, access to medical help from hormones to surgery, anti-discrimination and so on.
    At the very last moment, the Director came across - in some radical context or other - the term 'transgendered' and believed that it was merely a more politically radical synonym, and did search and replace on the document just before it went to the printers.
    He mentioned this to me, at a point when the printing was in train, and I explained to him that as far as I was concerned, it was a more general though inclusive term covering all sorts of gender-non-conforming people irrespective of medical diagnosis, surgery and so on. However, I suggested that, rather than pulp the document and submit it later than all the other documents, since the Annual General Meeting was about to happen, I propose a policy switch which retrospectively validated his alterations by extending appropriate rights to all gender-diverse, or transgender, people.
    I can be accused of opportunism on this, but I was already aware that there were so many categories of people whose rights we needed to be defending that a big umbrella term was useful. A year or so later, Press for Change came along and asked Liberty to introduce a pro-trans policy and I had to explain to them, politely, that they were knocking at a door that was not only wide open, but had nice varnished wedges keeping it that way...


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