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Timeline of Significant Moments in Transgender History (2003)

This unattributed and undated piece was written by Robin Pinnel and published as part of the marketing materials for The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. It is notable for what Bailey and Joseph Henry Press include. Bold item was in the original.

Timeline of Significant Moments in Transgender History

In recent years, transgendered people have grown from a marginalized population to an increasingly major part of our mainstream culture. Slowly but surely, transgendered, transsexual, and intersexed individuals have claimed not only their legal rights, but their place in the public eye. Below is a timeline of some significant moments in transgender history during the past 10+ years.


  • Release of The Crying Game
  • Veronica Vera opens Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls


  • The first appearance of RuPaul on MTV
  • Minnesota passes the first law prohibiting discrimination against transgendered people. The Minnesota statute establishes protections for transgendered people under the rubric of sexual orientation.
  • Cheryl Chase founds the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA)


  • Release of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert


  • Release of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar


  • Release of The Birdcage


  • Theater debut of Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • California becomes the second state to amend its state hate crimes law to include transgendered and transsexual people. The California legislation adds “gender” to the list of protected categories. Since then, Vermont, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have also amended their state hate crimes statutes to include transgendered people.


  • PBS debuts the documentary You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men.
  • Release of Boys Don’t Cry
  • The first annual Transgender Day of Remembrance to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.


  • Release of the movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch CBS debuts The Education of Max Bickford, a drama about a college professor going through a midlife crisis. Included in the cast of regulars is Erica, who used to be the title character’s best friend, Steve. This is the first transgendered person to appear regularly on a major network television program.
  • Rhode Island becomes the second state with a non-discrimination law explicitly protecting transgender people. The state’s non-discrimination statute isamended to explicitly include “gender identity or expression” as a protected category.
  • Two transgender-themed movies (Hedwig and Southern Comfort) receive awards at the Sundance Film Festival. Southern Comfort wins top honors for best documentary and Hedwig’s director, John Cameron Mitchell, wins the dramatic directing award.


  • Dame Edna becomes a regular on Ally McBeal
  • A new WB program, Everwood, features a male child who was born a hermaphrodite, neither a boy nor a girl.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides writes Middlesex, in which the main character (Calliope Stephanides) is a hermaphrodite.


  • A Florida judge awards custody of two children to a transgendered father, a man who was born and started out in life as a female.
  • The California Assembly honors the first transgendered recipient of its “woman of the year” award.
  • HBO airs Normal, in which Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson plays a middle-age Midwest factory foreman who’s celebrating his 25th anniversary with wife Jessica Lange when he blurts that he can only continue living if he can live as a woman.
  • Joseph Henry Press, trade publisher for the National Academies, publishes The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism by J. Michael Bailey
  • Showtime debuts its fact-based A Soldier’s Girl, in which a male Army recruit falls for a transgendered nightclub performer who is living as a woman.