This is a general resource. It pulls information from many sources but is not cited. It’s not meant to be a source you cite when doing research but more of a general collection of information that you can use to further your own research. A Place to look to gather ideas in one general place.
Gender diversity is a complex and multifaceted concept that has existed throughout human history and across various cultures. Despite the increasing awareness and acceptance of transgender individuals and communities, many societies still struggle to recognize and respect gender diversity. This resource aims to explore the historical and cultural context of gender diversity and provide a list of words in various languages that refer to intersex, transgender, non-binary, eunuchs, third or fourth genders, and similar concepts.
Historical and Cultural Context:
Gender diversity has been recognized and accepted in many societies throughout history. For example, in ancient Egypt, some deities were depicted as having both male and female characteristics, and individuals who changed their gender presentation or roles existed. In ancient Greece and Rome, some myths featured gods and mortals who changed their sex or gender, and some individuals cross-dressed or lived as another gender. Ancient India recognized the concept of tritiya prakriti, which encompassed various forms of gender diversity, including hijras, kliba, napumsaka, and shandha. Pre-colonial African societies and indigenous North American tribes also recognized and accepted gender diversity, and some individuals engaged in same-sex relationships or marriages or performed roles associated with another gender.
Despite the acceptance of gender diversity in many historical and cultural contexts, many modern societies and nations still struggle to recognize and respect gender diversity. For example, Hungary passed a constitutional amendment in 2020 that effectively banned legal recognition of transgender people, and many local governments in Poland declared themselves as “LGBT-free zones” in 2019 and 2020, sparking protests and international condemnation. Russia enacted a law in 2013 that prohibited “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” among minors, effectively banning any public expression or support of LGBTQ+ rights. Indonesia experienced a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and violence in 2016, fueled by religious conservatives
Overview Timeline of Transgender History
- Ancient societies, such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, and India, recognized gender diversity and featured gods, mortals, and historical figures who crossed-dressed or changed their gender presentation or roles.
- Pre-colonial African societies and Indigenous North American tribes had cultural acceptance and specific terms for third-gender or gender-variant roles.
- Mainstream Christianity historically discriminated against transgender people, but in recent decades, some denominations have become more accepting and supportive.
- Many modern societies or nations have increased opposition, denial, and discrimination against transgender and LGBTQ+ communities in recent years.
Detailed Timeline of Transgender History
- Ancient Egypt: Some deities were depicted as having both male and female characteristics, and there are records of individuals who changed their gender presentation or roles.
- Ancient Greece and Rome: Some myths featured gods and mortals who changed their sex or gender, and there are historical accounts of individuals who cross-dressed or lived as another gender.
- Ancient India: The concept of tritiya prakriti (third nature) was recognized in Hindu scriptures and law codes. This term encompassed various forms of gender diversity, including hijras (male-to-female transgender people), kliba (intersex people), napumsaka (eunuchs), and shandha (hermaphrodites).
- Indigenous North American tribes: Some people fulfilled a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in their cultures, known by different terms depending on the tribe, such as winkte among the Lakota, nadleehi among the Navajo, and hemaneh among the Cheyenne.
- Pre-colonial African societies: Some people engaged in same-sex relationships or marriages or performed roles associated with another gender, known by different terms depending on the society, such as inkotshane among the Zulu, boukonchana among the Basotho, and yan daudu among the Hausa.
- 20th Century: The modern transgender movement began in the mid-20th century, with the publication of the first known transgender magazine, Vice Versa, in 1947.
- 1966: Transgender activist and actress Christine Jorgensen publishes her autobiography, “Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography,” becoming one of the first openly transgender public figures.
- 1969: The Stonewall riots, a series of protests in response to a police raid on a gay bar in New York City, marked a turning point in the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, including transgender rights.
- 1975: The first known gender clinic in the United States, the Gender Identity Clinic of UCLA, opens its doors.
- 1980: The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is founded as an international multidisciplinary professional association dedicated to promoting evidence-based care for trans people
- 1990: The International Bill of Gender Rights is drafted by a group of activists at an international conference on transgender law and employment policy
- 1999: The first transgender Pride parade is held in San Francisco, California.
- 2004: The Gender Recognition Act is passed in the UK allowing trans people to legally change their gender without surgery
- 2015: The US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a landmark decision for the LGBTQ+ community, including transgender individuals.
- 2015: Caitlyn Jenner comes out as a trans woman on national television sparking widespread media attention and public awareness about trans issues
- 2016: North Carolina passed the controversial “bathroom bill,” requiring transgender individuals to use the restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, sparking widespread protests and boycotts.
- 2017: President Donald Trump issued a ban on transgender individuals serving in the US military.
- 2019: The US House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, a comprehensive federal LGBTQ+ rights bill that would provide protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations, among other areas.
- 2020: Hungary passed a constitutional amendment that effectively banned legal recognition of transgender people, and Poland saw many local governments declare themselves as “LGBT-free zones,” sparking protests and international condemnation.
- 2021: Several states introduce bills that would prohibit health care providers from performing gender confirmation surgery or prescribing hormone therapy to minors, such as Texas House Bill 1399², Arkansas House Bill 1570³, and Alabama Senate Bill 10.
- 2022: Arkansas becomes the first state to enact a law banning gender-affirming care for minors after overriding a veto by Governor Asa Hutchinson. The law is challenged in court by civil rights groups and transgender families.
- 2023: Some states propose bills that would also restrict access to gender-affirming care for adults, such as Tennessee House Bill 1215 and Montana Senate Bill 215. These bills would allow health care providers to refuse service to transgender patients based on religious or moral objections.
Words in various languages that specifically refer to intersex, transgender, non-binary, eunuchs, third or fourth genders and similar with the language/society they belong to and definitions:
- Inkotshane (Zulu) – “Male-wife” or “boy-wife”; refers to young men who married or had sexual relations with older men, and sometimes dressed as women or performed feminine chores.
- Winkte (Lakota) – “One who is inclined to be a woman”; refers to individuals who fulfilled a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in their culture.
- Nadleehi (Navajo) – “One who is transformed” or “one who changes”; refers to individuals who fulfilled a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in their culture.
- Hemaneh (Cheyenne) – “Half man half woman”; refers to individuals who fulfilled a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in their culture.
- Tertium genus (Latin) – “Third gender”; refers to the concept of a third gender that was recognized and accepted in ancient Rome.
- Hijra (Hindi) – Refers to male-to-female transgender people in India.
- Kliba (Sanskrit) – Refers to intersex people in India.
- Napumsaka (Sanskrit) – Refers to eunuchs in India.
- Shandha (Sanskrit) – Refers to hermaphrodites in India.
- Boukonchana (Basotho) – Refers to individuals who performed roles associated with another gender in pre-colonial African societies.
- Yan Daudu (Hausa) – Refers to effeminate men or cross-dressers in Nigeria.
- Two-Spirit (English) – Refers to a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role among some Indigenous North American cultures.
- Fa’afafine (Samoan) – Refers to individuals who fulfill a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in Samoan culture.
- Waria (Indonesian) – Refers to male-to-female transgender people in Indonesia.
- Kathoey (Thai) – Refers to male-to-female transgender people in Thailand.
- Sworn virgins (Albanian) – Refers to individuals assigned female at birth who take on a male gender identity and role in Albanian culture.
- Muxe (Zapotec) – Refers to individuals who fulfill a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in Zapotec culture in Oaxaca, Mexico.
- Hijra (Bengali) – Refers to male-to-female transgender people in Bangladesh.
- Takatāpui (Māori) – Refers to individuals who fulfill a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in Māori culture in New Zealand.
- Fa’atama (Samoan) – Refers to individuals assigned female at birth who take on a male gender identity and role in Samoan culture.
- Meti (French Polynesia) – Refers to individuals who fulfill a traditional third-gender or other gender-variant role in Polynesian culture.