Transgender: A Brief History of Transgender in the USA

Explore the history behind “transgender” in the USA and how transgender people have been accepted by society throughout history.

What are Transgender People?

Transgender is the term used to describe men and women whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth. A transgender man is a man who was identified as a woman at birth and chooses to live as a male. A transgender woman is a woman who was identified as a man at birth and chooses to live as a female.

Transgender people may choose to have a variety of “gender corrective” surgeries such as:

  • Vaginoplasty
  • Augmentation mammoplasty
  • Facial feminisation surgery
  • Voice surgery
  • “Top surgery”
  • Metoidioplasty
  • Phalloplasty
  • Scrotoplasty
  • Hysterectomy
  • However, other transgender people choose to keep the genitals they were born with and use hormone therapies instead. Hormone therapy can reduce facial and bodily hair growth in transgender women, for example, or used to encourage hair growth for transgender men.

    When did Transgender People First Appear in the USA

    Transgender - despite what your grandparents might think - is nothing new and has a long history across the globe. Graves of transgender men and women have been identified as 4500 years old In Europe - but what is the history of transgender people in the USA?

    The first mention of transgender people in the Americas comes from the 1600’s during the colonization period. However, it wasn’t until 1800 that the practice became more common. Many notable women lived lives as men to work in the military service, and many of them transitioned completely later on in their lives.

    The earliest documented transgender surgery took place in 1906 in Germany. However, the doctor’s work was destroyed by the Nazi’s during World War II, and it wasn’t until 1952 that the public transition of an American transwoman took place, creating widespread awareness and encouraging the movement towards acceptance of transgender people in the USA.

    Timeline of Acceptance of Transgender Men, Women and Couples

    In 1959 at the Cooper Donuts Riots, gay and trans people in the USA fought with police for gay and trans rights in the USA. These riots were often considered the catalyst in the movement for LGBT and particularly trans rights. In the following years, several notable rallies and riots helped to raise awareness, including:

  • 1966 Compton's Cafeteria Riot
  • Multi-day Stonewall Riots of 1969
  • In the early 90’s - following the awareness brought by Gay Pride - the Transgender Day of Remembrance was started to remember the transgender men and women who have been murder due to transgender violence.

    In current society, being transgender in the USA is widely accepted. With the advances in surgeries - the numbers of straight men interested in dating transgender women and vice versa are always increasing (if you’re interested, try online dating to get started!)

    Famous Transgender People in History

    The USA has a long history of famous or notable transgender people, and European transgender people had lived in the United States since the 1600’s when the first explorers arrived.

    In Native American history, transgender people are historically given a “third gender” in many tribes, and many other tribes don’t have “western binary” ideas on gender. They consider individuals to be both male and female.

    Since the Europeans settled in the USA, there are several notable transgender people:

  • Joseph Lobdell (born as a woman, lived as a many for 60 years before being arrested and sent to an insane asylum)
  • Mary Jones (born as a man, lived as a woman - was arrested for living as a woman, prostitution, and pickpocketing in New York City)
  • At least 240 female-at-birth people disguised themselves as men and fought in the war. Many chose to continue to live as men after the war, notably Albert Cashier
  • Murray Hall (politician for 25 years in New York, was discovered to be female-assigned-at-birth after his death.
  • Billy Tipton (born female, lived as a male - was a popular jazz musician, who’s own son didn’t know about his transition until after his death.
  • In the 1950s and 1960s, the first transgender publications and organizations started, and being transgender has slowly become more and more accepted in society ever since. Now the USA is considered one of the safest places to transition or live as a transgender person.

    How to Meet Transgender People in the USA

    If you live in the USA are interested in dating transgender women or men - or you’re transgender yourself and want to start dating - online dating is the best place to start. Check the site ratings before you sign up, or read our reviews to find the best transgender dating site before you try online dating. What are you waiting for?