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Lynn Conway and transgender people

Lynn Conway is an American engineer and one of history’s most notable computer scientists. Conway is also a key figure in online transgender resources.


Lynn Ann Conway was born on January 2, 1938 and grew up in White Plains, New York. Conway enrolled at MIT in 1955, but dropped out. After working as an electronics technician, Conway enrolled at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1962 and 1963.

Conway began at IBM Research in 1964, helping to develop new supercomputer technology. After coming out as transgender in 1968, Conway was fired by IBM.

After making a gender transition, Conway worked at Computer Applications and Memorex before joining Xerox PARC in 1973 to develop new integrated circuits. Conway co-authored Introduction to VLSI Systems with Carver Mead in 1978. The book’s insights are widely considered one of the most important advances in microchip technology.

Conway left Xerox to join DARPA’s Strategic Computing Initiative. Conway joined the University of Michigan in 1985 as professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and associate dean of engineering. Conway was appointed Professor Emerita in 1998.

Conway has been in a relationship with engineer Charlie Rogers since 1987, marrying in 2002.

Transgender activism

Conway bought the domain in 2000 and began building a large personal website that included information about gender transition. Conway’s Transsexual Women’s Successes pages were an important early source of community inspiration, later expanded with a similar page for notable trans men.

Conway was a key figure in the transgender community response to the 2003 publication of the anti-transgender book The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. Conway methodically documented events as they unfolded, creating an important archive. Gender studies professor K. Surkan said our work “represented one of the most organized and unified examples of transgender activism seen to date.”

Conway also performed in our first all-trans performance of The Vagina Monologues in 2004.


Cramer, Maria (November 21, 2020). 52 Years Later, IBM Apologizes for Firing Transgender Woman. New York Times

Surkan, K. Transsexuals protest academic exploitation. In Faderman, Lillian (ed). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Events, 1848-2006. Salem Press, 2007, pp. 700–702.ISBN 9781587652653 [PDF]

Staff report (May 29, 2014). 21 Transgender People Who Influenced American CultureTime

Dodds, Io (December 4, 2023). ‘I was completely, manically joyful’: How a trans woman changed computing in the modern world. The Independent

Alicandri, Jeremy. IBM Apologizes For Firing Computer Pioneer For Being Transgender…52 Years LaterForbes

Paul Wallich (December 2000). Profile: Lynn Conway—Completing the Circuit. Scientific American

Conway, Lynn (2012). Reminiscences of the VLSI Revolution: How a Series of Failures Triggered a Paradigm Shift in Digital Design (PDF). Solid-State Circuits Magazine. Vol. 4, no. 4. IEEE. pp. 8–31. doi:10.1109/MSSC.2012.2215752.


Mead, Carver; Conway, Lynn (1980). Introduction to VLSI Systems. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0201043580

National Inventors Hall of Fame (April 14, 2023). Providing Freedom: The Lynn Conway Story.

Michigan Engineering (October 8, 2014). Lynn Conway reflects on her gender transition.


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