Trans+ History Week founder says ‘we’ve always been here’

An edited image of Marty Davies in front of a Trans+ History Week banner.

The first-ever Trans+ History Week has begun and its founder, Marty Davies, wants everyone to know that trans people have always existed.

The calendar holiday initiative, created by Davies and nonprofit QueerAF, launches for the first time between 6 May to 12 May.

The week-long awareness campaign seeks and celebrate the rich and significant history of transgender and non-binary events and figures and to educate the public on the historical existence of trans identities, with huge billboards going up in cities across the UK.

Davies, who founded the holiday in late 2023, and planned for this year, told PinkNews that the primary take away should be that trans people have “always been here.”

“Seeing the contributions of trans people across time and space shows that, you know, we have contributed magnificent things to our society’s rich history,” Davies says. “We’re not just limited to one part of our identity … we’re more than just trans.

“And then, you know, it’s also about remind our community that we’re stronger together by surfacing lessons from our past. It’s so important in this current climate [to know] that we are unified as a community when there are forces that are trying to splinter us.”

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‘The language of our community is to create awareness’

The idea for a week-long awareness holiday centred around the historical feats of trans people across the globe came initially from an article written by Davies on the infamous book-burning raid by the Nazi Party at the Institute of Sexology – a trans+ clinic in Germany – in which over 20,000 books and resources in the far-right party’s first public book burning.

To Davies’ shock, as well as QueerAF founder Jamie Wareham’s, the article became something of a resource for members of the community looking to share the historically significant book burning and its relation to trans lives with others.

“[Jamie Wareham] pointed out to me that they kept seeing it be used on Twitter in order to shut down the idea that we’re new or somehow a trend,” Davies says. “I thought it was really interesting that it was being used as a tool.

“It kind of started from this idea of, like, what if we could create more stories about our history, and just by celebrating our history, we would be helping our community in this moment. And then we thought, well, we need a space for people to actually learn these stories and feel inspired to want to engage in these stories.

“What does our community do when it wants to do that? The language of our community is to create awareness.”

Nazis burning books in the party's first public book burning of 1933.
Nazis burning books in the party’s first public book burning of 1933. (Getty)

To help jumpstart what Davies hopes will be a Libary of Alexandria’s worth of resources on the rich and significant history of trans people, an array of articles, podcasts, and a workbook by QueerAF are set to be released over the coming week.

A series of billboards showcasing collages of historical photographs across major UK cities including Manchester, Liverpool, London, and Newcastle are also available during the holiday.

Wareham told PinkNews in a statement that QueerAF is “humbled” to have had a hand in creating Trans+ History Week and hopes it will become a beacon for members of the community to shine a light on trans people’s existence.

“Watching a QueerAF article about one of the first and most infamous Nazi book burnings taking place at the world’s first sex and gender clinic and quickly becoming a regular tool used to shut down ‘transgender trend’ chatter online was fascinating,” he said.

“It was immediately evident we needed more stories, told in the same way – to do the same. That meant investing in Trans+ talent. The success of the first article, and the content since is a testament to the power of trusting people with lived experience to guide creative projects.”

Marsha P. Johnson among the many names Marty Davies wishes to celebrate during Trans+ History Week

While there are too many names, stories, and moments in history that Davies hopes are able to be talked about during the week, she told PinkNews that, of all the historical figures to be celebrated during the first ever Trans+ History Week, American activist Marsha P. Johnson is amongst the most important.

“I think it’s really important that we highlight the contribution of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera,” they say. “They are two trans+ people that, you know, we the birth of our modern Civil Rights Movement and they didn’t get their flowers in their lifetime.

“They didn’t get to benefit from all the changes that they were pursuing. You know, Marsha P. Johnson’s murder is still unsolved, Sylvia Rivera was homeless at the end of their life. They both had tragic ends but they achieved so much.

Marsha P Johnson photographed walking through a busy street.
Marsha P Johnson photographed walking through a busy street. (Getty)

“Marsha P. Johnson has this sort of iconic, revered [legacy] but I think a lot of people don’t really know a lot about Marsha and exactly what their achievements were … There’s a kind of mythology around some of these iconic figures. But, you know, the true story is really interesting to get into.”

Trans+ History Week already seems like its gearing up to be an exciting and significant awareness holiday each year, with Davies saying that the reception from the community has already been great.

“I think people connected to the idea immediately,” Davies says. “I felt that we needed to explain the reason for doing it, but people just kind of seemed to get it immediately – If we talk about our history, that shuts down this idea that we’re somehow new or that there’s a transgender trend.

“The more interesting thing about the response from the community was that the origin of Trans+ History Week is about understanding that history can be powerful, but that overlooked possibly the most powerful thing about learning history and that’s that it instils such a great sense of wellbeing to know that your community has always been here.”