News Article

Remarkable Historical Figures Who Were Transgender

Trans Awareness Festival takes place over 13-24 November this year, and we want to highlight 5 transgender historical figures. 


Marsha P Johnson 

Marsha P. Johnson was a black transgender rights activist, whose work throughout the 1960s and 70s had a profound impact on the LGBT+ community. 

During this time, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness in the United States, and members of the LGBT+ community were regularly threatened and beaten by police. In June 1969, when Marsha was just 23 years old, police raided a gay bar in New York called The Stonewall Inn. Over 200 people were forced out of the bar and onto the streets with the use of violence and excessive force. 

Marsha was a key figure of resistance during the raids; resisting arrest and leading a series of protests and riots demanding rights for the LGBT+ community. News of these protests spread globally, inspiring others to join protests and rights groups fighting for equality. 


Lile Ebert 

You may have heard of Lile Ebert as the subject of the film “The Danish Girl”. She was born Einar Wegner in Denmark in 1882. Elbe began dressing as a woman regularly after she was asked to stand in as a model for her wife Gerda Gottlieb, an illustrator for various Paris Fashion Magazines. Elbe began accompanying her wife Geda about Paris, posing as her sister Lile. 

Suffering with mental health issues for over 15 years, Lile was eventually referred to the Dresden institute where doctors removed her male genitalia and implanted ovaries. She eventually divorced Gerda, but after commencing a relationship with Claude Lejaune, a French art dealer with whom she hoped to have a child, doctors implanted a womb transplant into her body in 1932. Tragically, Lile’s body rejected it, and she died from infection. 


Albert Cashier 

Albert Cashier, from Clogherhead in Ireland, moved to New York at the age of 16 in 1859. Although he was born biologically female with the name ‘Jennie Irene Hodgers’, upon moving to New York, he had adopted a new name and gender, Albert Cashier. In 1862, Albert enlisted in Abraham Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the American Civil War, fighting in approximately 40 battles, and was even captured by a Confederate soldier before escaping. 


Dora Richter 

Dora Richter was known as the first male to female sex change who was tragically killed by the Nazis. She was referred to the Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jewish-German doctor at the Institute for Sexual Research in Dresden, and was assisted with obtaining permits to wear women clothes and work for the institute as domestic help.  

In 1922, Richter underwent the beginning of a series of sexual-reassignment surgeries, the first of their kind. In 1933, the institute Richter worked and underwent surgery in was attacked by Nazis, and many patients, including Richter were killed. 


Michael Dillon 

Michael Dillon was known as the author of the first book on transgender identity. In 1939, he underwent testosterone therapy to prevent menstrual bleeding. Throughout the Second World War, he worked as a mechanic and air raid warden and encountered one of the world’s first plastic surgeons who performed a double mastectomy and gave him a note so that he could become Laurence Michael Dillon. Dillon ha thirteen gender reassignment surgeries in total and began to study medicine, before writing the first book on transgender identity: “Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics.”. 


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