Transgender Rights Social Movement

 by V. Heeter & S. Wolf


Introduction: Transgender Rights Are Human Rights

‘Realness’ highlighted…because a lot of the girls from 1987 all the way until 2018 walk that category. It’s to embellish the many aspects of womanhood they have, whether it be their bodies or it be their face, their mannerisms.  It’s just a way of life and how womanhood is [represented] through our bodies.  It’s how womanhood knocked on our door and we said, ‘OK, we’re inviting you in.’ That’s how I receive it. (Decaille, 2018)

Transgender actress Mj Rodriguez spoke candidly in this Washington Post interview about her vision of her own identity as well as that of Bianca, the trans-woman character she portrays on the Ryan Murphy show Pose.  Set in the 1980’s “ball scene” in New York City, Bianca struggles to establish her own “house” and provide a safe haven for her “children,” largely racial minority LGBTQ+ young adults who have been cast out of their families-of-birth.  In the ball scene, these chosen families are given an opportunity to shine, to be seen, to be valued for who they truly are.  The crux of that sentiment lies in being able to “pass” -- in being “real.”  What that means from a practical standpoint is that a transgender individual can go anywhere and be accepted as male or female -- to be accepted as the gender they feel they truly are. 

The term “transgender” is broadly encompassing.  According to Weiss (2009), it refers to “all gender-variant people and includes many identities… This definition is a useful starting place, but it obscures many complexities of transgender identity” (p. 27).  While there is no “one way” to understand individual gender, transgender populations, as a whole, have worked to band together to gain some momentum and be their own social justice platform.  Because of the comparatively small population size -- Hutchison (2019) estimates about 0.6% of the adult population while Crissman, Czuhajweski, Moniz, Plegue, and Chang (2019) estimate that 0.7% of youths ages 13-24 identify as transgender in the United States -- their platform merged with the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) movement, something that has conflated the general public’s understanding of what transgender is.  When the 1969 Stonewall Riots, thought of as “birthplace of modern gay rights movement,” launched this larger LGB activism, transgender rights were marginalized and considered “incidental, unintelligible, out-of-date, and embarrassing” (Taylor, Haider-Markel, and Lewis 2018, p. 28), even though the transgender community linked arms with this LGB cause.  Since Stonewall, transgender interest political groups haven’t been definitively positive and research regarding public opinion about advancing transgender rights is lacking (Nownes, 2014), which causes the movement to remain fringe, blurry, and often misunderstood. 

The goal in spotlighting the Transgender Rights Movement, then, is to better flesh out the social and theoretical importance of understanding gender identity and its impact on policy.  This can be done by honing in on the movement’s mission, milestones, and other achievements. The variance even within the movement can spark a debate over whether there is a singular transgender community at all (Weiss, 2009).  Knowing that level of nuance is a factor within the movement cannot be ignored or downplayed, but for the purposes of advancing broadly held understandings of the transgender movement, there are a number of platforms from which community members, activists, and allies can shout, including gender equality, allegiance to lesbian/gay/bisexual populations, equitable bathroom usage and other basic human needs, protection from violence, and transgender-specific health care rights, as well as governmental recognition of preferred gender identities (Weiss, 2009).  Each of these causes affirms the overarching stance that transgender rights are fundamentally human rights.  Affording this population its due respect, justice, and inclusion is the bare minimum effort charged to society.

History of the Transgender Movement

Historical evolution 

The word “transgender” first appeared in American print media in 1965 and didn’t gain widespread use until the 1990’s (Stryker, 2016).  Even though gender variance has existed in different societies from the beginning of time, the past few hundred years has broadly categorized it as deviant and even pathological (Stryker, 2016) which attaches stigma to the community, one of many reasons advocacy and better understanding is needed.

Social rise of the movement

The social rise of the movement can be traced back to the many prominent individuals throughout history who have identified as transgender.  Jazz musician Billy Tipton lived as a man until it was discovered after his death that his biological sex was female (Beemyn, n.d.).  Murray Hall was a prominent New York politician who also lived as a male until his 1901 death from breast cancer, an illness he delayed treatment for out of fear of being “discovered” (Beemyn, n.d.). Obviously, transgender individuals lived in the US prior to the usage of the word “transgender,” but they had to hide in one way or another.  Afraid of being outed in an unaccepting society and sick of hiding their identities, transgender and other LGBTQ+ individuals fought back during the previously mentioned Stonewall Riots.

Political rise of the movement

Transgender individuals are still relatively unprotected by the law in the majority of states across the US, though some progress has been made.  The first non-discrimination law protecting transgender individuals in employment, education, housing, and public accommodations was passed in Minnesota in 1993 (Boegeman, 2016).  In 2016, President Obama opened the first gender neutral bathroom in the White House (Boegeman, 2016).  Many states and communities have enacted laws protecting transgender individuals, but the current administration is trying to roll back federal policies on non-discrimination.  Early in his administration, President Trump rolled back protections for transgender students using the bathroom that matched their gender and tried to reinstate the ban on transgender people serving in the military (Peters, Becker and Davis, 2017).

Economic rise of the movement

With very few employment protections in place in regard to gender identity, transgender individuals, largely trans-women, were often denied employment in traditional sectors.  Many turned to sex work as the main form of financial stability, which lead to many transgender sex workers, particularly trans-women of color, being violently assaulted and murdered.  Because of this, transgender activists and their allies fight for the protection of gender identity in all forms of employment as well as additional protection for sex workers, including advocating for legalization (Schmidt and Lang, 2019).


More than 1.4 million American adults identify as transgender (Ford, 2016), making this a very small portion of the population.  Because it is such a small group, it makes this population particularly vulnerable.  Transgender people are from all economic and racial backgrounds, but interestingly, the percentage of transgender people of color is larger than the national percentage of all people of color: 66% of the population is white, whereas only 55% of the transgender population is white; 16% of transgender people are black or African-American and 21% are Latino or Hispanic compared to 12% and 15% of the population respectively (Flores, Brown, and Herman, 2016).  This may be due to different cultural backgrounds of different racial groups.

Major policy positions and tenets of the movement

The transgender rights movement and larger LGBTQ+ movement advocates for the fair and inclusive treatment of LGBTQ+ people in all aspects of life including employment, housing, education, public facilities, and government.  Activists are currently involved in many campaigns to ensure fair bathroom policies, the safety of transgender sex workers, protections by law enforcement in issues of sexual and physical assault, and healthcare policies that don’t pathologize and demean transgender individuals seeking medical care.

Oppression’s Effect on Transgender Populations

Social effect

Because of a wide variety of barriers, many transgender individuals have a lower level of education than the cisgender population. Lack of education is also related to the lower socioeconomic status reported almost across the board by transgender individuals (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  32% of trans-men and 22% of trans-women have less than a high school diploma (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017), far above the percentage of cisgender individuals with less than a high school education.  This signals a great disconnect between this group and the general population.  This disconnect extends beyond education to all public and private social structures and institutions.  Bathrooms are a hot button issue right now.  While many states and communities are enacting more inclusive bathroom and locker room policies, other states are rolling back previous protections.  The current administration in the federal government is trying to undo many of the Obama era protections for transgender individuals (Boegeman, 2016).

Economic effect

Transgender individuals have faced undeniable challenges in the traditional job market because of lacking legal protections related to gender identity which in part results in transgender people having higher rates of unemployment and homelessness. For many, that also means a shortage of access to healthcare.  Even if they have health insurance, many policies don’t cover gender-related procedures and the ones that do require lots of pre-approval and paperwork that might be too much of a barrier for some people (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  Even if a transgender individual is able to get a job by hiding their identity, they can still be fired in almost half of US states if their gender identity is discovered (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017). 

Political effect

Because many Americans ascribe to the political ideology of state’s rights, policies decided at the state and local level are drastically different across the country.  Without federal non-discrimination policies that cover gender expression and identity, more conservative states are free to discriminate in whichever way they see fit. Protections for transgender individuals should be well defined federal policies because human rights do not differ just because someone happens to live in a different state (Arenas, Gunckle, and Smith, 2016).

Physical effect

Oppression of transgender people is particularly evident when looking at the physical effect it has.  Transgender people face more barriers to healthcare than cisgender people, including access due to low socioeconomic status, refusal of insurance companies to pay for gender-related procedures, and endless paperwork required for procedures that insurance will pay for (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).

Transgender people face higher rates of violence, both random and interpersonal, and a are five times more likely to contract HIV than a cisgender person (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  Additionally, transgender people report avoiding public bathrooms due to discomfort, which leads to higher rates of urinary tract infections (Crissman et al., 2019), making it a social and political issue with a physical impact. 

Psychological effect

The psychological effect of oppression on the transgender community may be the most important and pressing one for those in service-oriented fields such as social work.  Because some people view being transgender as a disorder, trans-people are viewed as deviant and mentally ill, leading to higher rates of psychological distress (Crissman et al., 2019).  Some transgender people may even feel this way themselves, as many gender-affirming medical procedures require a mental health professional’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria.  40% of trans adults report at least one suicide attempt (Crissman et al., 2019).

Impacts for oppressor group 

There are benefits and drawbacks for the oppressor group when it comes to transgender individuals.  Many people oppose protection for trans-individuals based on religious freedom.  They feel that their religion is being oppressed when someone is allowed to live and be accepted fully in the world as transgender or gender non-conforming (Crissman et al., 2019).  However, some argue that the rigid gender binary supported by the oppressor group is a drawback for everyone.  Studies show that enforcing traditional gender roles leads to acts of male aggression that hurt everyone (Tharinger, 2008).

The Relationship of Feminist Theory to Societal Transgender Oppression


Feminist Theory argues that women deserve to be seen as socially equivalent to their male counterparts and examines how and why that historically has not been the case.  Transgender populations are asking for the same level of social equity and align readily with arguments demanding that level playing field.  As Rawson (2010) writes, “Is our definition [of ‘woman’] hinged on a simple, biological, anatomical, or chromosomal basis? If so, we might do well to keep in mind the disabilities studies concept of normate, which...might shed critical light on the privilege of people whose birth-assigned, anatomical, biological, social, and psychological genders are all neatly and questionably aligned” (p. 41).  Ultimately, one’s gender identity should matter little when considering status, privilege, and other human opportunities.


Studies have shown that women and the more educated are more likely to exhibit positive feelings towards transgender people (Flores et al., 2018), which shows a compassionate alignment between a population that understands patriarchal oppression and those who are generally knowledgeable about the broader world.  With greater education, exposure, and empathy, the likelihood of acceptance increases.  Rawson writes, “I would suggest we might benefit from engaging with historical and political projects that define and locate ‘woman’ as a complex identity production and performance” (Rawson, 2010, p. 41).  Certainly, that notion is relatable when considering the gender spectrum and the inclusion of transgender populations.  

The potential issue here is articulated by activist Sandy Stone, a transsexual woman, who says that transsexuals “currently occupy a position which is nowhere, which is outside the binary oppositions of gender discourse” (Bettcher, 2014).  Such discourse bleeds into the Transgender Paradigm, which reflects a recognition of gender-based oppression, the problem of situationing transgender individuals within the binary construct of male/female, and the subsequent politics that such verbage implies (Bettcher, 2014).  As feminist activist Judith Butler says, “To treat queer gender practices as simply repeating or miming non-queer practices without any significant change in meaning is to understand all gender practices in a way that assigns dominant heterosexual meanings to it” (Bettcher 2014). The pivot, then, towards ultimate equality involves erasing the lines between the balance of power gender creates and allow for a truly even playing field, which is a major tenet of the feminist movement.


While gender equality is such a foundational piece of the feminist puzzle, hardcore activists believe deeply in the rights and protections of women, some of them limiting the definition to biologically born females.  In 1979, gay rights/feminist activist Janice Raymond took a still highly controversial stance against transgender women, specifically.  She wrote, “All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact and appropriating this body for themselves” (Bettcher, 2014).  This aggressive stance is transphobic and displays a general lack of understanding for what it truly means to be transgender.  What it also does, however, is illustrate how protective some women are of the feminist movement and narrowing its confines of protection not to include gender non-conforming individuals who otherwise align with the feminist movement’s causes.

Interesting to note is the prioritization of sexuality over gender.  Research shows that “attitudes about transgender people are significantly more negative than attitudes about gays and lesbians” (Flores et al.2018, p. 88).  Tangentially, little focus has been put on individuals who, regardless of their gender identity, are specifically attracted to transgender individuals. Stallings (2015) writes, “Some are now theorizing transattraction and transorientation for individuals attracted to transgender men or women.  Yet even these differentiations between cisgender and transgender attraction do not provide enough of a shift to change thinking since the same problems of embodiment remain… These are all crises created by sexual and spiritual colonization” (Stallings, 2015, p. 208).  As the trans-woman activist and writer Janet Mock says, “We have not created a space for men to openly express their desire to be with trans-women… In effect, we are telling trans-women they are only deserving of secret interactions with men, further demeaning and stigmatizing [them]” (Stallings, 2015, p. 208). 

The potentially fearsome result of the conflation between standard patriarchal understandings of both gender roles and “normal” sexuality is violence. Weiss (2009) states that “privately, homophobic people who unwittingly become acquainted with transgender people and later learn of their transgender status, have committed assault and murder, often claiming panic in defense of their actions” (Weiss, 2009, p. 31-32).  The brutal accompanying truth is that police in jurisdictions where gender nonconformity is deemed unacceptable will ignore and downplay complaints by or on behalf of transgender victims (Weiss, 2009).  Ultimately, such abuses stem from defying gender norms (Taylor et al., 2018), which challenge this very foundational understanding of social construction.

The Relationship of Ethnic Conflict Theory to Societal Transgender Oppression


Ethnic Conflict Theory explores the relationship between ethnicity and social positioning.  In the United States, this largely applies to the elevation of white populations (especially white male populations) and the discrimination against people of color.  Stallings (2015) writes, “Racialized bodies function in a trans necropolitics where the discursive construction of the transgender body -- and particularly the transgender body of color -- as unnatural creates the precise moment where we...might apprehend a biopolitics of everyday life where the transgender body of color is the unruly body” (p. 205). Studies show that transgender and gender non-conforming adults were more likely to be nonwhite, sexual minority, and socioeconomically disadvantaged compared to cisgender adults (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017), so it is simple to link the relationship between ethnic conflict theory and the transgender movement.


Janet Mock has extensively written and spoken publicly about her time as a sexworker.  She says, “Yeah, there is shame...and stigma attached to being a sexworker but there’s also the other things I got from that… a sense of community, of sisterhood, resiliency, resources, strength… it was like our underground railroad” (Stallings, 2015, 205).  The comparative link here is black men’s and women’s practices related to sexuality and the “question of freedom as one about how we inhabit our bodies” (Stallings, 2015, 205).  Mock is introducing a power comparison of different kinds of escape from enslavement -- of the physical body and of the mind -- in concert with the help, support, and empowerment of ethnic brothers and sisters as well as other allies.


People of color already experience such palpable marginalization, oppression, and discrimination, it only compounds when such an individual is also transgender.  As a result, African-American communities are often seen as less open to accepting LGBTQ+ populations within their constructs. Stallings (2015) discusses how such narrow understanding could use some assistance with “filling in the silences and blanks produced by Western embodiment and colonial histories of empire, gender, and sexuality in political and public spaces” (Stallings, 2015, p. 206).  One solution is to hand transgender people of color the microphone or the camera or a piece of paper to tell their stories.  Stallings (2015) writes, “Recovering more black transgender narratives means making peace with improper bodies and texts” (p. 224). Through stories, through real experiences, so will grow understanding and acceptance.

Strategy and Advocacy Effort #1: The Debate Over Public Bathroom Rights


Schools have become ground zero for clashes on transgender rights (Arenas et al.2016).  Students desiring to use the restroom or locker room that aligned with their gender identity became a hotly debated topic, especially in 2016 when North Carolina enacted the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2), which, among other things, stipulated that transgender students use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates (Arenas et al., 2016).  The Obama Administration then refuted the law by pointing to Title IX which mandates schools receiving federal funding may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status (Arenas et al., 2016).  At the time, now former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “It is about dignity and respect we accord fellow citizens.  It’s about the founding ideals that have led this country -- haltingly but inexorably -- in the direction of fairness, inclusion, and equality for all Americans” (Arenas et al., 2016, p. 24). Even though in 2017 the Trump Administration pushed back on the Obama Administration’s support in this case (Crissman et al., 2019), this shows that the law is interpretable in protection of trans-rights.


What the Trump Administration reversal of the Obama Administration’s decision does is confirm what perhaps doesn’t need confirming: transphobia and bias still exists.  Weiss (2009), writes, “Education, which holds the key to social and economic success, is often very difficult for young people who exhibit gender variant behaviors.  Homophobia and severe harassment coming from teachers and administrators and other students is common and this makes schools unsafe environments” (p. 32).  Arguments against allowing transgender students using the restroom of their choice still abound.  Some of the popular reasons for dissension are head-scratching, like suggesting that transgender students using the bathroom of their choice violates others’ religious beliefs (something easily dismissed in that public schools are not faith-based institutions) or that schools cannot afford to make gender-neutral signs for the designated restrooms (something undeniably inexpensive and simple to do).  Other arguments are more off-the-mark in terms of who is actually being threatened, like saying that transgender girls compromise the safety of cisgender girls in a locker room.  Arenas et al.(2016), writes, “If personal safety is the issue, schools should be more concerned about transgender students.  Based on a 2013 national survey, 61% of transgender students where verbally harassed, 29% were physically harassed, and 15.5% were physically assaulted… 75% of all transgender students feel unsafe in school, compared to 26% of cisgender females” (p. 21).  More education is needed for the general public to understand transgender members of the broader community to debunk myths and cultivate a safer environment for all.

How this could be expanded/strengthened

The advocacy around gender-aligned bathroom usage continues and, with it, the hopes that those attempting to undermine the legal victory transgender individuals have won will soon abate.  Until such a time arrives, The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment makes schools liable for failing to protect best interests/rights/safety of all students (Arenas et al., 2016).

Strategy and Advocacy Effort #2: Transgender Medical Needs and Awareness


With the medical field being ripe with funding for research, studies related to transgender populations have aided in estimating the number of people who identify as such in the United States (Taylor, Lewis, and Haider-Markel, 2018).  It also revealed common health concerns for gender non-conforming individuals, including HIV, mental health disorders, suicide attempts, cigarette use, alcohol consumption (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017). According to a 2015 US Transgender Survey, HIV was five times more prevalent than general population; 40% had attempted suicide, compared to 4.6% of general population (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  Additionally, some recent studies have narrowed in on other physical and behavioral quantifiable differences between transgender and cisgender individuals (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  Awareness about such issues will certainly lead to additional studies and a deeper understanding of the medical needs of this marginalized group.

Also recently debunked is the pathologization of those who identify as transgender.  Gone are the days when the DSM-5 lists “gender identity disorder,” which implies illness or dysfunction to the population, and instead contextualizes it as gender dysphoria (Arenas et al., 2016). This reclassification “recognizes that not every transgender person experiences negative feelings related to their gender identities” (Arenas et al., 2016, p. 21). While it is not ideal to pathologize being transgender, keeping this sort of listing in the DSM-5 allows for those who identify as such to qualify for medical support for any ailments linked to their gender identity.


Even though The Affordable Care Act banned discrimination by qualified health providers on the basis of gender, transgender adults are “more likely to be uninsured and have unmet health care needs and less likely to have routine care, compared to cisgender women” (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017, p. 726). Applying for Medicare or Medicaid may present unexpected hurdles, like not having (or being able to get) the required legal documents that reflect their preferred name or gender identity (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).

Beyond that, many health plans do not support or cover surgical procedures or hormone treatments necessary for transgender individuals.  While not all transgender people “transition” in that physical sense, many do, and out-of-pocket expenses can cost $100/month for hormonal therapy and over $100,000 for some comprehensive transition procedures (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  Determinations about coverage are left up to the individual insurers and health care facilities, who may be ignorant of the importance of these medical needs for transgender people.  That is further reflected by Gonzales and Henning-Smith’s report (2017) that transgender people may have difficulty identifying trans-affirmative providers. In 2015, approximately one-third of transgender adults reported a negative experience, ranging from doctors who refuse to take them on as patients to harassment to having to educate the provider about transgender health care (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  More work needs to be done to strengthen transgender health awareness for both insurers and medical professionals.

How this strategy could be expanded/strengthened

More research is needed to better medically serve transgender populations.  Federal surveys have just started to include questions related to sexuality, but most do not currently inquire about gender (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  Even such a simple opportunity to express one’s one sense of self on a federally-mandated form empowers the population to declare who they truly are.  Taking such steps helps normalize the social construct of gender for all people living in the United States.

Strategy and Advocacy Effort #3: Pop Culture Normalization


While shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, Transparent, and others provide platforms for a pop culture integration of transgender people, Pose is a standout example of how to embrace the normalcy found at the fulcrum of intersectionality.  Almost every cast member is a person of color and every transgender character is played by a transgender actress.  And the stories portrayed? According to Rayner (2018), “The show is not all sex, disco, and identity politics.  Pose presents itself, quite explicitly, as a family drama.”  Going on, Rayner writes, “Crucially, the show presents trans-women not as faintly dotty comedic fall guys… but as rounded human beings.”  Shows like Pose almost effortlessly remove the stigma of being transgender by allowing viewers access to the people behind the identity. 


Outside of a few examples, transgender lives are still vastly under-represented in pop culture.  The associated movement has “criticized the media for failing to report on the truth of transgender lives, for painting transgender as gay, or otherwise erasing them” (Taylor et al., 2018, p. 30). Finding more and more ways to incorporate transgender characters into pop culture will help make tremendous strides in normalizing transgender and gender nonconforming populations and heighten mainstream awareness.

How this strategy could be expanded/strengthened

As increasing numbers of shows like Pose are green-lit and make their way to the big and small screen, more and more people who are either resistant to those who are gender nonconforming or simply unaware of what such an identity is will ideally come around and view transgender people with growing understanding, compassion, and, at long last, normalcy.

Methods to Promote Social Justice and Further the Social Movement

Macro social work methods

In order to improve the lives of those in the transgender community, social workers must advocate at a macro level for policies relating to equality in all facets of life.  There must be a push for inclusive bathroom policies in all public institutions.  There must be advocacy for federal health surveys to include transgender identifiers to more accurately assess what is going on in the medical field relating to gender (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017).  There must be a push for insurance companies and the medical field to get rid of unnecessary barriers to gender related procedures. In addition, the medical field must stop pathologizing transgender individuals and treat being trans- or gender non-conforming patients with the same degree of respect and professionalism as cisgender patients.

Micro social work methods

As micro level social workers, there is much to be done to improve the physical well-being and psychological functioning of transgender and gender non-conforming clients.  There should always be the use of proper terms with clients and respect granted for everyone’s pronouns.  A good way to normalize the usage of correct pronouns is to get used to identifying yourself with your pronouns and asking others what theirs are, no matter if they appear cisgender or not.  Social workers should take a stand for fair bathroom policies.  If a given work environment does not have an inclusive bathroom policy or gender-neutral bathroom options, social workers must advocate for such a change.

Leadership and Social Action Plan

Continued learning opportunities

More research is needed to better support transgender populations, especially in medical realms and social awareness spheres.  As previously discussed, federal law does not explicitly protect against employment-based discrimination (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017) and, as a result, a 2015 study conclude that 35% of transgender respondents had a full-time job and 15% were unemployed -- three times the national average (Gonzales and Henning-Smith, 2017). Such a challenge may result in transgender people resorting to “the shadow economy of prostitution” (Weiss, 2009, p. 32).  Such a risky profession can lead to increased potential for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, which may or may not receive treatment, depending on individual access to health care, and, thus, the loop has come back around and fused.  As research expands, so will better action-plans to prevent discrimination and health-risks for transgender populations.

Leadership options/opportunities

Leadership can materialize in a variety of ways, ranging from lobbying for policy or legal cause-advancements to heading up advocacy organizations.  Even further, it can be expressed by refusing to stay quiet and by telling the stories of transgender people, especially those who lost their lives simply by daring to be who they were.  Stallings (2015) writes, “If transgender and transsexual history and culture depend upon what has been published, visible, legible, and authorized enough to be archived, then we might query what has been omitted as a result of the conditions of illiteracy, criminalization, and poverty” (p. 224). Ultimately, more activism and community involvement is needed for transgender rights to advance.

Social action opportunities

As of 2014, “over a dozen nationally active transgender advocacy groups in the United States and perhaps hundreds more operating in states and locations across America,” which indicates that “transgender advocacy is alive and well in the United States” (Nownes, 2014, p. 83). Though that often means alliance with LGB groups, Taylor et al.(2018) concludes that by joining gay rights groups, transgender rights advocates are still greatly benefitted.  What will further the cause is holding LGB activists accountable for their promise “not to forget about them” now that marriage equality is a federal protection (Taylor et al., 2018) and standing firm on the ground that transgender activism is that of human activism -- the want is the same across all socially constructed barriers -- to be safe, happy, and free.




Arenas, A., Gunckel, K. L., & Smith, W. L. (2016). 7 reasons for accommodating transgender students at school. Phi Delta Kappan, 98(1), 20-24. Phi Delta Kappa International.

Beemyn, G. (n.d.) Transgender history in the United States. Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. Oxford. 

Bettcher, T. (2014). Feminist perspectives on trans issues. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from

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Crissman, H. P., Czuhajewski, C., Moniz, M. H., Plegue, M., & Chang, T. (2019). Youth perspectives regarding the regulating of bathroom use by transgender individuals. Journal of homosexuality, 1-16.

Decaille, N. (2018). “Mj Rodriguez of ‘Pose’ talks ballroom culture, representation of trans black women and realness.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Ford, Z. (2016). “The American transgender population is larger than we thought it was.” Think          Progress. Retrieved from

Flores, A. R., Brown, T. N. T. & Herman, J. L. (2016). Race and ethnicity of adults who identify as transgender in the United States. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved from

Gonzales, G., & Henning-Smith, C. (2017). Barriers to care among transgender and gender nonconforming adults. The Milbank Quarterly, 95(4), 726-748. Milbank Memorial Fund.

Hutchison, E. (2019). Dimensions of Human Behavior. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Nownes, A. J. (2014). Interest groups and transgender politics: Opportunities and challenges. Transgender rights and politics: Groups, issue framing, and policy adoption, 83-107. University of Michigan Press.

Peters, J. W., Becker, J. & Davis, J. H. (2017). “Trump rescinds rules on bathrooms for                       transgender students.” The New York Times. Retrieved from                                      

Rawson, K. J. (2010). Queering Feminist Rhetorical Canonization. Rhetorica in Motion: Feminist Rhetorical Methods and Methodologies, 39-52. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Rayner, A. (2018). “Strike a Pose: Why Ryan Murphy’s new show about voguing is TV at its most fearless.” The Guardian. Retrieved from

Schmidt, S. & Lang, M. J. (2019). “Transgender sex workers feel under attack. These women are working to protect their own.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from 0f250cc91758_story.html

Stryker, S. (2016). Transgender history in the United States and the places that matter. LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History. National Park Service. Retrieved from

Taylor, J. K., Haider-Markel, D. P., & Lewis, D. C. (2018). Rise of the Transgender Movement and LGBT Rights. The remarkable rise of transgender rights, pp 26-57. University of Michigan Press.

Tharinger, D. J. (2008). Maintaining the hegemonic masculinity through selective attachment,           homophobia, and gay-baiting in schools: Challenges to intervention. School Psychology Review 37(2), 221-227.

Weiss, J. T. (2009). Teaching Transgender Issues. A Twenty-first Century Approach to Teaching Social Justice: Educating for Both Advocacy and Action, 358, 27.


Research paper written in pursuit of my MSSA (2019)

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