Billy Tipton and the Question of Gender

Gender is strange, and when looking back in history it can seem doubly so. Between constant language shifts, the erasure many transgender people suffered from cisgender historians, and—for safety and privacy reasons—trans people themselves staying hidden, it can seem impossible to identify transgender people in history. With transgender men, there is an additional wrench thrown in the works.

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Alvin Baltrop

“I can tell a story and I try to tell my whole feelings--the touch, the smell, and feelings. All I’m afraid of now is being like a few other guys I know who took photographs. When they die, maybe the family comes in and sees all this work they can’t do anything with, and they just shove it into the garbage. I want people to see these photographs and say ‘this is something from my time.’” Alvin Baltrop

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Hamish Henderson

Hamish Henderson is not widely known, despite his contributions to Scottish culture. Despite being a proud bisexual, and greatly contributing to LGBT activism, this facet of his identity is largely ignored in discussions of the man himself. A folklorist, poet, and activist, Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) was one of the major forces in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th Century, a period of time where Scottish art and political thinking flourished. His song ‘Freedom Come-All-Ye’ is probably his most well known piece of work, has been suggested as an alternative national anthem and was sung at the Scottish Commonwealth Games in 2014. Beyond this, his contributions to the promotion and preservation of Scottish Culture can still be seen today. 

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Defining Identities in North America, Part 2

Reaching the second part of our series exploring the words people in North America have used to describe the experience of being assigned a gender that was not correct, we look at a more well known and discussed term; transgender. To look at the history of a word, as we are about to, it must first be acknowledged that there is a difference between dictionary definitions and community ones. While analyzing how official sources from that mainstream society defined certain words is without a doubt invaluable, it is important to recognize the definition the people who actually used the words gave them, and that is what we will be exploring now.

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Defining Identities in North America, Part 1

All throughout history, one thing has remained true: everything changes. This universal fact also applies to something so fundamental to humanity as language. From the evolution of definitions to the evolution of the words themselves, we have seen drastic changes to our languages even within the past decade. And while it is hotly debated whether the new additions to our collective vocabularies are beneficial or not, the fact is that the additions exist, whether or not old white men writing think pieces for the New York Times like it. Within the queer community, these changes are particularly evident, with new names for old identities being revealed by the day. For now, though, we focus on one letter of the LGBT community: the T. This week, we are releasing a two part series focusing on the transgender community within North America, and the different words and definitions that have existed throughout the history of the continent.

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Alan Turing

There are a myriad of accounts about Alan Turing's life. You can read biographies, watch films, and browse entire websites dedicated to the man dubbed 'the father of artificial intelligence'. But many of these accounts fail on a number of fronts. Some downplay his sexuality, others ignore it outright, and only a handful recognize that Alan Turing's achievements are as much down to his early romantic experiences as they are to his intellectual prowess.

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Alan L. Hart, Part 2

In a continuation of our last article, we move forward in our exploration of Alan L. Hart’s life post transition. Hart’s gender confirmation surgery along with his medical degree allowed him significantly more freedom in his career path than he would have experienced otherwise. He eloped with a woman named Inez Stark, and they moved to Oregon where he was given a job in a hospital. Underneath his success trouble soon breached the surface again.

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Alan L. Hart, Part 1

The study of queer history, like any study, is complicated. There is a significant amount of nuance that needs to be addressed, and because of this, it can become difficult to come to final answers. It is important to recognize that final answers are not always meant to be reached. This is particularly evident in the case of Alan L. Hart (1890-1962), the doctor and novelist who we look at this week.

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Annemarie Schwarzenbach

This week we explore the life and times of a writer, a photographer, a traveler, Annemarie Schwarzenbach an all in one woman. Though her life was rather short, it still managed to be rather full. Born in 1908, she died in 1942, but between those thirty-four years, she was able to find more life and growth than others have throughout their entire lifetime. Growing up in Switzerland through the beginning and growth of World War Two we look at a divided woman in a divided world, and we will explore the nuance of this division with you all now.

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Frank Kameny

In 1957, a man named Frank Kameny would go on to lose his position as an astronomer at U.S. Army’s Map Service. He, like many others, was a victim of the Lavender Scare - a menace that destroyed the lives of queer people in the United States. It resulted in dismissal from your station and destroyed hopes of finding another job in your field or any job for that matter. But Kameny, never one to sit down and take anything, protested his treatment. He took his case to the Supreme Court, but his petition got denied. This one act of injustice would start Kameny on a mission. Not to change things for himself, but to change things for his entire community. Some would say he was too radical or militant, and for his time, he most definitely was. But, it’s that kind of radical militancy that helped him change the lives of his people.

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Sophia Parnok, Russia's Sappho

For our last article in this year’s women’s history month celebration, we focus on a woman known throughout Russia as one of their first openly lesbian poets. Sophia Parnok was a Jewish poet born in Russia in 1885 and has grown a small reputation for being one of the first out lesbian poets in her home country. Though her work is not widespread, it is impactful. And while the government tried to curb that impact with censorship, today we will work to continue to spread that effect by sharing her story.

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Maryam Khatoon Molkara, a Woman who Changed her Country

For our third article in women’s history month, we will look at a pioneer for transgender rights in Iran, a woman who changed her country and the world, Maryam Khatoon Molkara. As a transgender woman of faith Maryam represents an often ignored sector of the queer community. To help fix this we will shine a light on the story of a woman who in 1987 faced religious leaders to change how transgender people were viewed within the Muslim community and the laws regarding transgender people in Iran. So now we are proud to look into the life of the woman responsible for changing the discussion around transgender rights in Iran.

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