The “Trans + Gender” Project

This timeline provides a way to visualize and interact with primary source materials related to the development of the trans+gender lexical compound from 1965–1985. Though there are a great many related terms with interesting histories (eonisttransvestite, transexual, femmiphile, transpeople, and androgyne, to name a few), in this project I have narrowed in on one particular compound: trans+gender. This project dovetails on the article that Cristan Williams and I published in Present Tense: “Transgender*: The Rhetorical Landscape of a Term.” As the tag lines above show, there have been six primary variations on the term that this project tracks: transgenderism, transgenderal, transgendered, transgender, transgenderist, and transgenderous. I’ve narrowed the period to pre-1985 because after that date, roughly speaking, there is a dramatic increase in instances of the compound. I’ve also (mostly) omitted cases that employ trans+gender to mean both male and female in a general sense. I am hosting this project online as a way of representing, sharing, and inviting collaboration on the ongoing research into the etymology and rhetorical landscape of trans+genderFeel free to contact me <kjrawson @ holycross dot edu> with any feedback, questions, and/or additional research.

The artifacts I have included here have been collected during many years of research in a number archives with the support of countless people. I am particularly grateful to the following archives for allowing me to work with their collections: the University of Victoria Transgender Archive, the Houston Transgender Archive, the Sexual Minorities Archives, the GLBT Historical Society, the University of Michigan Labadie Collection, and the Cornell Human Sexuality Collection. I am also incredibly grateful to Cristan Williams for igniting and continuing to share a passion for the linguistic history of “trans+gender,” and to Cecilia Wolfe and Rachel Greenberg, who have been tremendously helpful research partners.