Queer activists share the trans history everyone should know about

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 7: Roz Kaveney takes part in the Trans+ History Week 2024 Community Event on May 7, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Klug/Getty Images)

In celebration of the inaugural Trans+ History Week, which runs until 12 May, LGBTQ+ activists have highlighted the history they want everyone to know. 

On Tuesday (8 May), at a community event at London’s Canary Wharf, Trans+ History Week brought together LGBTQ+ creatives to present the “trans+ history lesson we never had”. 

About 100 people gathered to learn and celebrate the history of transgender, non-binary, gender-diverse and intersex people. 

Trans trailblazing activist and author Roz Kaveney, who has been fighting for transgender rights since the 60s, told PinkNews that “in a weird way” she is “trans history” because “I’ve been around for 50-odd years on the scene”. 

Speaking of the biggest milestone in trans history, 74-year-old Kaveney said: “Everyone should know about the riot a couple of years before Stonewall. It was one of the first times that trans women and other queers stood up be counted when they were being thrown out [of] a cafe by the police.” 

Trans+ History Week
Roz Kaveney (pictured third from left) at a Trans+ History Week event in London. (PinkNews)

A group of trans women in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco stood up against harassment and abuse during what became known as the Compton’s Cafeteria riot in 1966.

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“I have the immense privilege of being a trans granddaughter of one of those women,” Kaveney revealed.

Meanwhile, non-binary activist Dee Whitnell told PinkNews that the burning of trans books by the Nazis must be remembered by everyone. 

Dee Whitnell.
Dee Whitnell wants everyone to know about the earliest Nazi book burnings. (PinkNews)

More than 20,000 books were destroyed by Nazi party members and supporters after they raided Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology – a Berlin institute with a global reputation for its pioneering work on what was then called transsexual understanding, and which called for equality for homosexuals and transgender people – just four months after Adolf Hitler had become chancellor of Germany in January 1933.

The devastating incident inspired the founder of Trans+ History Week, Marty Davies, to create the week of awareness. 

Sabah Choudrey.
Sabah Choudrey is proud of Trans Pride Brighton. (PinkNews)

Co-founder of Trans Pride Brighton Sabah Choudrey wants their own event to be remembered as a milestone in trans history. 

Since its launch in 2013, the event has “really changed a lot”, Choudrey said. “We’re increasing visibility in the UK. I’m really proud about it and I want everyone to know about it.”

Last year, more than 30,000 people took to the streets of Brighton to march for equal rights and celebrate trans joy at the annual celebration.

Jude Guaitamacchi
Jude Guaitamacchi sees Marsha P Johnson’s activism as pivotal to the Pride movement. (PinkNews)

Trans and non-binary advocate Jude Guaitamacchi told PinkNews they are still learning about trans history as there’s so much to discover. 

Marsha P Johnson spearheading the Pride movement which we celebrate every year across the world”, will remain a “pivotal moment for the entire community”, Guaitamacchi said.

Gay liberation activist Johnson, who died in 1992, remains a towering figure in LGBTQ+ history thanks to her relentless work, which included co-founding the Gay Liberation Front and helping set up the radical group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.