Women's History Month Transwomen's Stories

Women's History Month Transwomen's Stories

It's Women's History Month!  Transwomen are women and this month we will be featuring stories of transwomen throughout history.  Be sure to check back as we add stories to this post all month and be sure to share your favorite stories of transwomen in history in the comments!

Marsha P. Johnson

Photo of Marsha P. Johnson with a sign that says "Power to the People"

Marsha P. Johnson was a Black transgender activist, artist, and drag queen who became a key figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. She was born on August 24, 1945, in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

In the 1960s, Johnson moved to New York City and became a prominent figure in the Greenwich Village drag scene. She was a frequent visitor to the Stonewall Inn and was present during the Stonewall uprising in 1969, which is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Johnson continued to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who were homeless, living with HIV/AIDS, or struggling with addiction. She co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with fellow activist Sylvia Rivera, which provided housing and support to transgender and gender non-conforming people in New York City.

Johnson also worked as an AIDS activist and was a member of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), a direct action advocacy group that fought for greater access to healthcare and better treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Sadly, Johnson's life was cut short when she was found dead in the Hudson River in 1992. Her death was ruled a suicide, but many of her friends and fellow activists believed that she was the victim of a hate crime.

Today, Johnson is remembered as a pioneering activist and a trailblazer for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Her legacy continues to inspire new generations of LGBTQ+ activists fighting for equality and justice.


Lea de Beaumont

Painting of Lea de Beaumont

Lea de Beaumont was a French diplomat, soldier, and spy who lived from 1728 to 1810. She is most well-known for her gender identity, as she lived for much of her life as both a man and a woman.
Born in Burgundy, France, Beaumont began her career as a diplomat and spy for King Louis XV. She was sent to Russia in 1755 to serve as a secretary to the French ambassador and became a close confidant of Empress Elizabeth of Russia.
In 1761, Beaumont was sent to London as part of a diplomatic mission, and it was during this time that rumors began to circulate about her gender. She was initiated into Freemasonry in 1766 and is considered the first transgender freemason. She was also a noted member of the infamous Hell Fire Club.
In 1785, she returned to France and was forced to undergo a medical examination to determine her sex. She was allowed to continue living as a woman if she agreed to wear women's clothing and live in seclusion.
She spent the rest of her life in relative obscurity, but she remained a fascinating figure in French history. In 1810, she died at the age of 81 and was buried in a cemetery in London.
In 1966, The Beaumont Society was founded in the UK in Lea de Beaumont's honor, originally as a secret support group that has evolved as a major organization providing help and support for the transgender community.
Today, Beaumont is remembered as a pioneering figure in gender identity and a symbol of the complexities of gender and sexuality. Her life and legacy continue to inspire discussions and debates about gender identity and the fluidity of gender roles.
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