Page E02 - The transgender movement
Association Transgenre Wallonie
Page E00 - Website menu
Page E00 - Website menu

Being able to be yourself is a lifelong dream


The history of the transgender movement

Native American tribes

Before having contact with Europeans, some Native American tribes had people of a different kind in their society. This was only known after the arrival of the Europeans who named them the "berdaches". A pejorative term for people assigned male at birth and having a traditionally female role. This term "berdache" has its roots in Europe, and encompassed a range of third-gender people in the different tribes. It should be noted, however, that not all Native American tribes recognized transgender people.

One of the first accounts of transgender people in America was compiled by a Jesuit missionary who spent six years with the Iroquois Indians in 1711. He observed "women with manly courage who boasted of their profession as warriors,"  "as well as men which he felt were cowardly enough to live as women".

In 1990, at an international indigenous gathering of lesbians and gays, the term 'two-spirits' was adopted to encourage the replacement of the anthropological term "berdache".

This term has a spiritual role that is recognized and confirmed by the bi-spiritual indigenous community.

Although some have found this term to be a useful tool in intertribal organization, not all indigenous cultures conceptualize gender in this way, and most tribes use names in their own language.

The Hijra caste

In the Indian subcontinent, the term "hijra" designates an individual as being neither male nor female. They are mainly located in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The term "hijra" also refers to the caste or community of castrated boys, homosexuals or transgenders. The Hijras are a third gender caste, or transgender group, who live in a female role. A Hijra may have been assigned male or intersex, and some may have been assigned female.

The Hijras have a known history in the Indian subcontinent, starting from ancient times, as suggested by the Kama Sutra period. Hijras are viewed in India with respect and suspicion. Respect, because their castration is very symbolic by the fact that the male individual is the one by whom the family is perpetuated, and it confers on them a power of fertility for the Hindus.

In April 2014, the Supreme Court of India legally recognized a third gender including in particular the hijras who constitute a particular traditional South Asian social category: born in a male body, these people consider themselves women and live in a relatively hermetic community. Although many hijras are sexually attracted to men, sexual orientation is not a criterion for becoming a hijra. Despite this recognition, the hijra caste is on the verge of extinction.

And in the West

In Ancient Greece, and later in the Roman Republic, the goddess Cybele was worshiped by a sect of people who were castrated, and who later took on a feminine appearance. These people dressed in women's clothing and referred to themselves as women. These first transgender people inspired several authors who considered them the first gay role models.

Closer to us, in 1756, an illustrious transvestite, the Chevalier d'Eon, spy for King Louis XV, provoked questions from the nobility of the time, who thought they were really dealing with a woman.

But the idea of changing sex was unknown to most people. In 1930, a Danish painter was one of the first known people to have transitioned and to have benefited from reassignment surgery.

But it was in 1952, thanks to the media coverage of Christine Jorgensen's male-to-female sex reassignment surgery that awareness of trans identity spread in society. In 1953, the endocrinologist Harry Benjamin will introduce the term 'transsexual' designating people who feel they belong to the opposite sex and feel the need to modify their body. The American doctor suggests that transsexuals live 'in the wrong body'. The same was also thought of homosexuals at the time, the distinction between homo and trans was only made later. It was at this time that associations began to be created.

In the 1960s, transgender and gay activism began with riots in 1966 at the Compton cafeteria in San Francisco and in a defining event in 1969: the Stonewall riots in New York

Back to the top of the page
Back to language selection

Language choice

Back to website menu

Back to website menu
Back to website menu

The flags of the transgender community


This flag is called "Black trans" was created by activist and writer Raquel Willis. She created it as a symbol to represent the high level of discrimination, violence, and murder that the black trans community faces, compared to the larger trans movement. It was first used on August 25, 2015, by black transgender activists across the United States, as part of the first Black Trans Liberation Tuesday held in conjunction with Black Lives Matter, for black transgender women who have passed away. during the year.

Flag created by Monica Helms in 1999

It's called the "transgender pride flag".

The color blue represents boys.

The color pink represents girls.

White color represents gender neutral

Flag created by Jennifer Pellinen in 2002.

The color blue represents boys.

The color pink represents girls.

The purple colors represent the diversity of genders found in the community.