A Transgender History Quiz

| Oct 7, 2019
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A Quiz For The Card-Carrying Transgender Individual…

or Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The World’s View of Transgender Behavior

By Dr. Barbara Anderson

Following is a brief history of the world’s understanding of transgender behavior and how it has been viewed and dealt with over time. It is in the form of questions, both to get the little gray cells working and to give me material for next month’s column, in which you will find the answers.

Q: The first documented movement for the civil rights of crossdressers and transgenderists occurred in the early 1900s in what country?

Q: Homosexuality, Eonism, androgyny, sexual perversion, psychic hermaphrodism and transvestism are early terms for what we now call_____________?

Q: What German sexologist, and himself an openly gay crossdresser, distinguished the concept of “transvestism” from homosexuality in 1910?

Q: Who, developing the above theory, further distinguished transsexuals from transvestites?

Q: When and where did the first recorded modern attempt to surgically transform a man to a woman occur?

Q: What era in American politics so fueled a movement of conformity that anyone violating well-defined gender boundaries was targeted as a threat to national security?

Q: Who first used the term “transsexual”? When?

Q: In 1953 Alfred Kinsey proposed a wide-ranging study of the actual occurrence of TGism in the U.S. What happened to that proposal?

Q: Who was luckier. He had his transsexual research generously funded by a private foundation and eventually became known as the “American father of transsexualism.”

Q: “Ex G.I. George Jorgenson returns home as blonde bombshell, Christine Jorgenson” was the big headline in American newspapers in what year?

Q: Where was the first official gender identity clinic in the U.S.?

Q: What was the first crossdressing organization in the U.S. and who was the founder?

Anyone who knows a majority of the above answers needs to get out more! However, one can learn about the present and prepare for the future by knowing one’s past. I am indebted to Gordene Olga Mackenzie whose book, Transgender Nation offers much more than a history of the phenomenon of TGism.

Don’t cheat! See if you can answer the questions and then check the answers below.


Individuals have crossdressed and cross-lived for all of recorded time. During the early study of the transgender phenomena, little distinction was made between sex and gender and, therefore, sexual orientation and transgender identity were intertwined and considered similar phenomena. Such behaviors were indiscriminately referred to as homosexuality, Eonism, androgyny, sexual perversion, psychic hermaphroditism, and transvestism.

Initially, individuals presenting with gender concerns were considered moral degenerates. Later they were viewed as criminals and by the dawn of the 20th century had advanced to the questionable pinnacle of being considered mentally disordered. Throughout these periods they were disdained and persecuted.

While the treatment of transgendered people in the U.S. reflected the above attitudes, in Germany, progressive sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, himself a self-identified homosexual and crossdresser, fought for the rights of the transgendered and influenced the police to issue permits allowing such individuals to cross-live and dress. He was the first to separate the concept of “transvestism” from homosexuality in 1910. Following upon his work, Havelock Ellis further distinguished transsexuals from transvestites. In 1920 the first recorded modern attempt at SRS occurred in Denmark. A genetically male artist, Einar Wegner, underwent several procedures in an ill-fated attempt to become a woman, Lili Elbe.

The 1950s in America marked an exciting time in the study of the transgender condition. Bear in mind that it was the era of McCarthyism, a time in which conformity was raised to a position of sanctity and anyone violating well-defined gender boundaries was targeted as a threat to national security. But ironically, the 1950s also gave voice to Harry Benjamin, “father of transsexualism,” Alfred Kinsey, and the most newsworthy event of 1953, the return of Christine Jorgenson from a “sex-change” in Denmark.

Although Harry Benjamin is often credited with the coining of the term “transsexual,” the honor belongs to Alfred Kinsey who used it in his 1948 ground-breaking book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. However, this new term was totally overshadowed by the public’s hysterical reaction to Kinsey’s findings that 37% of all males had experienced a homosexual experience. Kinsey had studied various aspects of transgender behavior throughout the 1940s and in 1953 proposed a wide-ranging study of the the phenomenon. A year later, all funding was withdrawn from the Kinsey Institute, allegedly due to pressures from political conservatives, and instead the money was awarded to another group to develop “vital religious leadership.”

Harry Benjamin was luckier. He had his research funded, presented a paper on transsexualism at a major medical conference and paved the way for the acceptance of transsexualism as a distinct medical entity. Defining transsexualism as an illness both served to elicit sympathy for the condition as well as to pathologize those who experienced it.

The 1960s saw the opening of the first official gender identity clinic at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. In 1966 Benjamin published The Transsexual Phenomenon, the first guide to the treatment of transsexualism and a vigorous proponent of SRS.

Dr. Virginia Prince, the “grand dame” of the trans community coined the term “transgenderist,” connoting the person who cross-lives without obtaining SRS. She formed the first crossdressing organization, Tri-Ess and published the first such journal, Transvestia.

Dr. Barbara Anderson contributed to TGForum in the 1990s. This transgender history quiz originally appeared in Devil Woman, the newsletter of the Diablo Valley Girls. It was published on TGForum in 1996. Like to make a comment? Login here and use the comment area below.

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