The History of ‘Coming Out’, from Secret Gay Code to Popular Political Protest

Where the term comes from and how the meaning has changed. Introduction You probably know what it means to “come out” as gay. You may even have heard the expression used in relation to other kinds of identity, such as being undocumented. But do you know where the term comes from? Or that its meaning[…]

LGBTQ history in the United States since the 18th Century

LGBTQ history in the United States spans the contributions and struggles of individuals as well as the coalitions they’ve built. 18th and 19th Centuries With the establishment of the United States following the American Revolution, such crimes as “sodomy” were considered to be a capital offense in some states, while cross-dressing was considered a felony[…]

How the New York Media Covered the Stonewall Riots

The coverage of Stonewall is a reminder of what’s lost when alternative media outlets wither away. Introduction The Stonewall riots were a six-night series of protests that began in the early morning of June 28, 1969, and centered around the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. Four days earlier, on June 24,[…]

Exploring the History of ‘Coming Out’

In the 1950s, ‘coming out’ meant acknowledging sexual orientation. Today, the term is used by a broad array of social movements. Introduction You probably know what it means to “come out” as gay. You may even have heard the expression used in relation to other kinds of identity, such as being undocumented. But do you[…]

Transgender Lives in the Middle Ages through Art, Literature, and Medicine

In primary texts, figures are addressed by medieval authors using both male and female pronouns interchangeably and by how they present. Introduction The exhibition Outcasts: Prejudice and Persecution in the Medieval World drew our attention to the story of Alexander the Great’s lover, the eunuch Bagoas (Bagoe). Bagoas’s gender was changed from male to female[…]

Transgender History in the United States

The history of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the United States is one of struggle, but also of self-determination and community building. Introduction Can there be said to be a “transgender history,” when “transgender” is a contemporary term and when individuals in past centuries who would perhaps appear to be transgender from our vantage[…]

The Genderless Eighteenth-Century Prophet

In 1776, a 24-year-old Quaker woman named Jemima Wilkinson died of fever, and came back to life as a prophet known as the Publick Universal Friend. By Livia Gershon Understanding gender as a spectrum is a part of life in twenty-first century America. But gender-nonconforming people have always existed. Historian Scott Larson takes a look[…]

Dardanella and Peter: What Does Microhistory Offer to the History of Sexuality?

During the past two decades, historians of twentieth-century Britain have delineated the landscape of a “modern sexual and gender regime.” What does a microhistorical approach, based upon the subjective experiences and writings of individuals, offer the history of sex and love in early twentieth-century Britain? This was the central question guiding research following the discovery,[…]

The Cinaedus: Transgender Soldiers in the Ancient Roman Army

An ancient Roman fable imagines a cinaedus, well-known for his brazen effeminacy, fighting heroically. Introduction On August 25, 2017, Donald Trump signed a directive banning transgender people from joining the U.S. military. This officially reverses the inclusive policies introduced during the Obama regime. Trump’s decision was, he claimed in earlier tweets, based on the burdensome medical costs and disruption that[…]

An Overview of the Study of Transgender History

From activist and academic roots, a field takes shape. By Dr. Kritika AgarwalManaging EditorPerspectives On HistoryAmerican Historical Association While in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, history department in the 1980s, Susan Stryker wrote a dissertation on the development of Mormon identity and community. Just as she was finishing up her PhD, she[…]