How much do we know about early humans and gender?
Most people believe that gender equality is a product of modern times and that the gap between the sexes has decreased due to technology, advocacy, and contemporary social demands. We typically think about early humans as hunter-gatherers and assume that because of the natural capacity for male bodies to be physically stronger and more robust than female bodies, men were the ones primarily responsible for the livelihood and sustainability of a group. We have inferred that men were responsible for survival, and as such, they were likely leaders within groups, and the ones with the most power. We have assumed that women’s roles as gatherers were less critical than their male counterparts and thus less valued. However, more and more evidence points to these assumptions being incomplete and sometimes wholly incorrect. Instead, we are learning that gender roles in early human communities were probably far more egalitarian than what we originally thought.
In the Paleolithic Age, or the Old Stone Age, before the advent of agriculture, it is likely that men and women shared most responsibilities. While select activities may have been dominated by one gender or another, the vast majority of survival-based activities were likely performed together. There is no evidence that stone-age tools were made only by p. 31↵men. Similarly, a 2012 study evaluating stone-age cave paintings revealed that the majority of handprints were from female bodies, disproving the widely held belief that men were primarily responsible for Paleolithic art. Children were likely raised communally, sometimes through the practice of alloparenting, where unrelated community adults cared for them.
The Neolithic, or New Stone Age, was a time wherein hunter-gatherer communities moved less, starting to farm for the first time. Prior to the New Stone Age, private property and material means were concepts not yet applicable because movement was constant. A family may have been continually moving, and thus even the concept of a semi-permanent household didn’t yet exist. The move toward farming rather than hunting and gathering meant communities needed to remain in one place for months at a time. As such, ideas around the home and house became further defined. A new division of labor emerged wherein there was a delineation between duties that needed to be cared for within the house and home and outside. Often, gender determined who focused on what set of chores, creating clearer lines of segregation between what men and women did and how men and women would become valued.
One could argue that as communities became less nomadic and more invested in material value, gender roles became more distinct. A 2017 study examining gender inequities in the Central Plains of China during Eastern Zhou reveals a significant shift between the Neolithic Age and Bronze Age, just afterwards. By examining carbon and nitrogen isotopes in preserved bones, scientists were able to determine the types of plants and the amounts of animal products people ate in the decade preceding their deaths. Analysis revealed that in the Neolithic Age all individuals, regardless of gender, were consuming similar sources of nutrients. However, this changed in the Bronze Age, when new crops were introduced and domesticated animals became more prevalent. Men continued to live on traditional millet and animal products, while women p. 32↵relied mostly on wheat. Female skeletons became significantly shorter in the Bronze Age, presumed to be a result of childhood malnourishment—likely girls were the first to be deprived if there was a shortage of food. Researchers have understood this shift to be evidence that in the Bronze Age, men and women began eating differently and socializing separately. Further confirming this shift is the archaeological evidence uncovering Bronze Age inequities: Neolithic burial sites showed no clear evidence of gender inequalities, but in the Bronze Age, males began being buried with more riches.
Prior to the Bronze Age, males and females were dependent on each other for survival—both gender roles brought essential contributions to the group as a whole. Scholars attribute the decline in women’s social status to the introduction of new crop plants and domesticated animals, devaluing the functional roles women had participated in, therefore decreasing their standing in their communities.
The emergence of agriculture also allowed humans, perhaps for the first time, to accumulate significant resources. In this system wherein resources and power could be more effectively hoarded by just a few, it became more beneficial for male parents to bond with their male kin, yielding gains that could be passed along through generations.
Many advantages were lost when societies switched from nomadic to farming lifestyles. In addition to the obvious benefits for women in egalitarian societies, researchers have found that equality between the sexes may have provided a more robust social network with wider choice of mates, providing a genetic advantage among early humans. This model suggests that for our early human ancestors, gender equality was highly beneficial, compromised only when wealth and production became prioritized with the emergence of agriculture.
If gender equity was so beneficial, why have we for so long assumed that early human societies were male dominated and run? Until recently, much of our data has been derived from studying living hunter-gatherer societies, such as 19th-century p. 33↵indigenous peoples of the Americas. While these groups may not have had the same structures as earlier nomadic societies, their organization is also likely to have been interpreted through a patriarchal lens by colonizers, obscuring any egalitarian arrangements present. All research is affected by the point of view of the researcher, and cultural scholarship is no exception.
What does evolutionary psychology have to say about gender?
In the 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin argued that natural selection led to evolutionary changes by preserving the genes of those animals most fit to survive in their current climate. Those with the most useful features to propagate their genes passed them along to their offspring. This is how, the theory goes, we began to stand on two feet and the size and functionality of our brains diverged from common ancestors.
But not all humans alive today evolved in the same ways. There are ethnic groups where people tend to be shorter or taller, more or less hairy, darker or lighter skinned. Women and men from the same ethnic group also differ from each other. While there are tall strong women and short weak men, on average, men are taller and stronger. Women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat, likely to nourish growing fetuses, but there are also women with almost no body fat and men with much more. This, evolutionists argue, is a phenomenon called sexual dimorphism and is due to sexual selection, the theory that certain traits have evolved differently in men and women because they posed advantages to reproduction.
Evolutionary psychology theorizes that it is not just our physical characteristics that can evolve but also our psychological traits and behaviors. Human children, for example, are extremely good at learning languages, even if they have not been taught to them explicitly. It is likely that those people whose brains were better suited for learning language fared p. 34↵better than others in passing along their genes because they could communicate well.
When it comes to gender, evolutionary psychology is a hotbed of debate. Most scientists believe that men and women are, on average, physically different in some ways because of evolution. But are we also psychologically distinct due to evolution, or are our psychological differences a result of culture? Nonhuman animals show differences in behavior between the sexes, and they do not possess “culture” in the same way we do. In addition, certain traits appear to differ between men and women across many cultures. A well-known example is that men tend to be better at spatial tasks, and this finding holds steady when studies are done in many different places. However, there is also evidence that women who are primed to think that they are good at spatial tasks do better than those who are not and that women who play video games become better at spatial tasks, demonstrating that this trait may be influenced by learning and culture.
Where there is the most debate is around behaviors that are stereotypically male and female. Are men more aggressive, or women more nurturing, on average, because of evolution or because of social norms? Is it “natural” for men to want to sleep with as many women as possible, but for women to want to find steady partners, because these are the ways in which we can propagate our genes most successfully? Are men, by nature, more aggressive than women, because in the past they needed to be? Does this mean we should “allow boys to be boys?”
In addition to discussions about male versus female evolutionary traits, there are also questions about the evolutionary purpose of same-sex attractions and transgender identities. If the goal of attraction is to carry on our genes, isn’t it counterintuitive to spend energy and resources on same-sex attractions? And where do transgender people fit in? How is it evolutionarily helpful to have an identity that does not match assigned sex?
p. 35↵Evolutionary psychologists have suggested a number of theories to explain homosexuality and bisexuality. One idea is that the same genes that tend to lead to same-sex attractions and decrease reproductive fitness in one person might boost the reproductive fitness of others in their family. Sickle cell trait is a good example of a gene that did not seem to have an evolutionary purpose until it was discovered that having two copies of the gene for sickle cell disease causes the disease itself, but having one copy helps to protect against the illness malaria. Using this reasoning, the genes that contribute to a man being gay might also be more likely to make his straight brothers or sisters more attractive to another sex. Arguments have also been made that genes involved in same-sex attraction can cause increased interest in nurturing siblings’ children, therefore propagating a person’s own genes indirectly.
Sexual practices and the evolutionary role of monogamy continues to be heavily debated. In 2018, Wednesday Martin published Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, attempting to debunk the belief that women have an instinctual drive to partner monogamously. Her argument highlights that, while data sets are difficult to validate, women may have just as much of a desire to have sex outside of their primary, presumed heterosexual and monogamous relationships as their male counterparts.
Gender diversity has existed throughout time, inclusive of individuals who have held identities that are incongruent or not fully inclusive of the genders associated with their sex assigned at birth. Evolutionary psychology actually supports subset diversity, as communities simply would not be able to sustain themselves over time if all members subscribed to one of only two narrowly defined roles. Individuals who fit into a third gender, or transgender identity, historically have been entrusted with critical community responsibilities that fell outside of the domains of men’s and women’s work, respectively.
p. 36↵It is unlikely that we will settle the debates about evolutionary psychology anytime soon. Human behavior is extremely complicated and is likely influenced by a combination of genes, social influences, and personal experiences. It is possible that there are some average differences between men and women related to our evolutionary past, but it is also evident that in modern society we are capable of making choices that contradict our genetic make-up. Whether or not we carry with us our evolutionary past, we can make decisions about our future. For example, even if it were true that men were naturally more aggressive than women, would we want to live in a society that tolerates violence? Evolution is dictated by survival of the fittest, but in today’s world, shouldn’t life be about more than just survival?
What is patriarchy?
Patriarchy is a social system in which men have power over women. Patriarchy may exist within households or within the greater society and government. The vast majority of societies today are patriarchal. Most patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that family names, titles, and property are passed down through the male side of the family.
Patriarchy is reinforced through sets of beliefs about men and women, specifically that men are superior to women. Rationalizations for patriarchy typically include arguments that men are biologically suited to lead, while women were created to serve or follow. Most justifications for male rule are based around contentions that men have a superior intellect and ability to rationally approach problems. Women are stereotyped as more emotionally driven and less intelligent than men. There are also religious rationales for patriarchy. In evangelical Christianity, for example, God is viewed as male, and followers believe that God created separate gender roles for men and women, with men expected to lead the household and the church.
p. 37↵Until 100 years ago the legal system in the United States prevented women from voting and participating in other civic activities such as sitting on juries. Women were considered the property of men, and married women could not own their own property. It was not until the mid-1970s that a man raping his wife was considered a crime in any state. To this day, in some states, there are separate laws for marital and nonmarital rape.
Have human societies always been patriarchal? Many anthropologists argue that hunter-gatherer groups were more egalitarian, both in general social structure and also with regard to gender roles, than the farming societies that developed more recently. There is some evidence that hunter-gatherer groups surviving into modern times do participate in more shared decision-making, including women’s voices alongside those of men. The reasons for this difference are not completely clear. It has been suggested that a hunter-gatherer lifestyle meant that members of a band or tribe were highly dependent on one another. Often, survival hinged on food that could be gathered, usually by women. Hunting was less dependable and made up a smaller portion of calories. An argument has also been made that for a particular person or group of people to sustain power, they must have control over resources. In agricultural societies, land and food supply could be controlled, but in hunter-gatherer societies, there were not similar ways to accumulate wealth and therefore consolidate power.
Whatever the reasons for this shift from more egalitarian societies to our current, economically unjust and patriarchal societies, we have now been living under patriarchal rule for over 10,000 years. In that time, we have developed belief systems about male superiority that pervade almost every aspect of our lives.
What is matriarchy?
Greek mythology cites the Amazons, a tribe of women warriors, as an ancient matriarchy. Historical accounts document p. 38↵women leaders across the globe, some who fought alongside their male counterparts, others leading them in war. The modern day Wonder Woman, a Marvel comic, embodies the Amazon archetype, along other fictional and real-life characters that shape the way we understand gender, power, and leadership. But has a true matriarchal society ever existed?
Among the Mosuo (also called Na) people, a small group of about 40,000 living in China near Tibet, children are raised in large households by their mother’s side of the family. Lineage is traced through the female side, and property is passed down the same way. Men live with their mothers’ families, and couples have “walking marriages,” where women choose their partners, walking to the man’s house to spend time together and then walking home to stay with her own family, never living together. When a couple has a child, the child lives with the mother and her family. The father stays to live with his own mother’s family and assists in raising his sisters’ children.
The Mosuo are one of just a few existing societies considered matriarchal—where women rule. Others include the Minangkabau of Indonesia and the Akan of Ghana. However, a closer look indicates that while these societies are matrilineal (names and property are passed down through the female side of the family) and often matrilocal (spouses and children live with the female side of the family), they are not technically matriarchal, as their political systems are typically run by men. In certain groups, women have the power to remove male politicians they do not feel are acting appropriately, but these men are still replaced with other men. It is debatable whether there are any sincerely matriarchal societies in existence today.
It is also not clear whether there ever were any truly matriarchal societies in the past. Many of us share a collective myth that there was a time in history when matriarchal societies were the norm and that they were supplanted by patriarchal societies later. However, the historical record and anthropological evidence do not support this idea. Just as there are societies today that are matrilineal and matrilocal, these did exist in the p. 39↵past. Some worshipped goddesses and saw women as focal points in society. Native American groups such as the Hopi tribe have been described as matriarchal, because women ran the household and lineage was through the female side of the family. The Hopi are also said to have highly valued women’s contributions to political decisions and to have included women in their governing bodies. Even this kind of a society falls short of matriarchal, though, and is likely better described as egalitarian, as women participated in government but did not rule it.
What did gender diversity look like in North America during colonization?
Individuals who today might consider themselves transgender have existed throughout time. Prior to colonization, many indigenous tribes in North America included a third gender category broadly referred to today as Two Spirit. Before the 1990s, Two Spirit individuals were commonly referred to as berdache by white, western society. The term is now considered offensive.
People in the Two Spirit tradition were vast and varied. According to the National Congress of American Indians, many served as mediators and were responsible for naming children, matching love partners, and serving as healers. Some were thought to be able to predict the future and bring good luck and peace. Many led puberty ceremonies. Varying by tribe, sex assigned at birth, and community needs at the time, the Two Spirit identity was diverse. So too were the words used to describe these individuals. The Blackfoot used the words Aakíí’skassi and Saahkómaapi’aakííkoan; the Cherokee, nudale asgaya and nudale agehya; the Lakota, Winkte and Bloka egla wa ke; and the Navajo, Nadleeh and nadle. At least 150 tribes are thought to have had names for Two Spirit individuals.
p. 40↵Colonization brought an abrupt and violent halt to many freedoms Two Spirit people had lived with for centuries. Historical accounts present the confusion early colonizers had upon meeting them. Missionaries were often cruel and inhumane and are reported to have fed Two Spirit people to the dogs, forced them into the clothing and hairstyles of a cisnormative and eurocentric standard, separated them from family, and altogether erased their histories. Whereas many Native Americans did not view gender as strictly male or female, european settlers came with the understanding that gender variation was unacceptable.
Early white settlers approached gender variance within their own communities similarly. Historical records show that a person named Thomas(ine) Hall, a Virginian servant who was likely intersex, was brought into court in 1629 after wearing varying male and female clothing. Hall was not given the choice to dress as they chose and was instead ordered by the Virginia court to wear both a man’s breeches and a woman’s apron and cap. Other court records confirm that gender expression was highly regulated in colonial society. In 1692, Mary Henly of Massachusetts was charged with illegally wearing men’s clothing, “seeming to confound the course of nature.”
How has the history of transgender people in the United States evolved since the country’s founding?
During the initial century after the founding of the United States, gender diversity remained, for the large part, hidden from public view and was seen as aberrant. Some people did live lives we might consider transgender today. Assigned female at birth in 1829, Joseph Lobdell lived as a man for 60 years prior to his arrest and incarceration in an asylum after his birth-assigned gender was revealed. During the Civil War, in the 1860s, over 200 people assigned female at birth donned men’s clothing and fought as male soldiers. Some p. 41↵were transgender and lived the rest of their lives as men, including Albert Cashier, an Irish-born immigrant who served in the Union Army.
In 1879, We’wha, a lhamana of the Zuni people, befriended anthropologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson in a Zuni pueblo in modern day New Mexico. The lhamana were third gender people who were male-assigned but lived performing more feminine roles in their communities. Per report, Stevenson did not realize that We’wha was not a cisgender woman until years after their friendship began. In 1886, We’wha visited Washington, DC, with Stevenson and several others and was introduced as “an Indian Princess” to 22nd and 24th U.S. President Grover Cleveland.
Late in the 19th century, gender-diverse individuals, not yet using the term transgender, began to organize. In 1895, a group of self-described “androgynes” in New York City organized a club called the Cercle Hermaphroditos, based on their wish “to unite for defense against the world’s bitter persecution.” Jenny June, one member of Cercle Hermaphroditos, wrote The Autobiography of an Androgyne (1918), The Female Impersonators (1922), and a third volume of memoirs (1921) that was not published until 2010. These texts continue to be regarded as rare, first-hand accounts of gender diversity in the early 20th century.
In 1917, Alan L. Hart, working with psychiatrist Joshua Gilbert, was the first trans man in the United States to undergo a hysterectomy and gonadectomy, steps taken to live his life as a man. Hart was a physician, radiologist, tuberculosis researcher, writer, and novelist. He pioneered the use of X-ray photography in tuberculosis detection and helped implement tuberculosis screening programs that saved thousands of lives.
Progress toward legitimacy and nonpathologization for transgender people has not been linear. Despite respect for Hart’s medical expertise, his transition and leadership within the medical field did not bolster the overall rights of transgender people during his time. In 1945, trans woman Lucy p. 42↵Hicks was tried in Ventura County for perjury and fraud for receiving spousal allotments from the military, as her dressing and presenting as a woman was considered masquerading.
Other people who would likely identify with the label transgender today lived in secret, at least when it was possible to do so. One notable example is American jazz musician Billy Tipton, who lived as a man in all aspects of his life from the 1940s until his death. His own son reportedly did not know of his past until Tipton’s death. Tipton’s sex assigned at birth was revealed across multiple media outlets in the days following his passing.
More well-known is the case of Christine Jorgensen, who in 1952 became the first widely publicized person to have undergone gender-affirming surgery. Jorgensen was a recent veteran, with access to travel to Europe for her surgeries. Despite fame, Jorgensen was denied a marriage license in 1959 when she attempted to marry a man. Her fiancé, Howard J. Knox, lost his job when his engagement to Christine became public knowledge.
Virginia Prince, who lived in San Francisco, developed a widespread correspondence network with transgender people throughout Europe and the United States in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Prince believed that the binary gender system harmed both men and women by keeping them from their full human potential, advocating for increased inclusivity and awareness across the fields of literature and social sciences. Prince worked closely with Alfred Kinsey, PhD, founded Transvestia magazine, and started the Society for the Second Self. Prince was one of the first people to use the term transgender, which, to her, referred to people like herself who lived full-time in their identified gender without the intention of having genital surgery. Prince was one of the first to distinguish between sex, sexuality, and gender identity. While her work was criticized for being too heavily reliant on gender norms and stereotypes, she continues to be regarded as one of the major pioneers in modern transgender history.
p. 43↵Other community-based organizations began to mobilize at this time. A wealthy transgender man named Reed Erickson founded the Erickson Educational Foundation in 1964, providing free information to transgender people, family members, and professionals. The Erickson Educational Foundation also funded the earliest symposia for professionals who worked with transgender people, a group that later emerged as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, which is today called the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. In the late 1960s in New York, Mario Martino founded the Labyrinth Foundation Counseling Service, and in 1972, Angela Douglas started TAO (Transsexual/Transvestite Action Organization). TAO grew into the first international transgender community organization, fighting against the pathologization of transgender people as mentally ill.
As trans people began organizing, so did their visible and vocal fight against transphobia. In 1959, the Cooper Do-nuts Riot in Los Angeles marked one of the first LGBTQ uprisings in the United States. Six years later in 1965, 150 people protested at Dewey’s Coffee Shop in Philadelphia, which was known to have refused service to people in “nonconformist” clothing. In 1966, trans people in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district protested at Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, and in 1969 in New York, the Stonewall Riots marked one of the most violent and also mobilizing events in LGBTQ history.
Led by transgender women of color, the riots came in response to New York City police raiding the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village. “Solicitation of homosexual” relations was then illegal in New York City, and there was a criminal statute that allowed police to arrest people wearing less than three “gender-appropriate” articles of clothing. On June 28, 1969, armed with a warrant, police officers entered the club, roughed up patrons, and, finding illegally sold alcohol, arrested 13 people, including employees and people violating the state’s gender-appropriate clothing p. 44↵statute. Provoked by violent arrests and lifetimes of social ostracization and discrimination, bar patrons and nearby locals fought back. Within minutes, a full-blown riot began. The protests, at times involving thousands of people, continued in the area for six days.
The Stonewall Riots, as well as the Cooper Do-nuts Riot and the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, served as a catalyst for the transgender rights movement in the United States and around the world, ultimately serving to progress legislation, services, and visibility. Following the riot at Compton’s, a network of transgender social, psychological, and medical support services were established, culminating in 1968 with the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, the first peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world. Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, both present at the Stonewall Riots, went on to found the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). The organization, established to provide housing for LGBTQ youth, opened the first “STAR House” in a parked trailer in Greenwich Village in the early 1970s. STAR House was the first LGBTQ youth shelter in North America, the first trans woman of color led organization in the United States, and the first trans sex worker labor organization.
By October 1979, the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was held, drawing between 75,000 and 125,000 LGBTQ people and allies to demand equal civil rights and urge the passage of protective civil rights legislation. The march was organized by Phyllis Frye, who later became Texas’s first openly transgender judge.
In the last two decades of the 20th century, transgender people became increasingly visible, by way of both increased scrutiny and responsive mobilization. In 1986, transgender activist Lou Sullivan founded the support group that grew into FTM International, the leading advocacy organization for transmasculine individuals. In 1991, the inaugural Southern Comfort Conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the first and largest of the time, the conference served to bring p. 45↵together trans community from across the United States to share resources and information, build community, and ignite advocacy.
In 1998, Karen Kopriva became the first American teacher to transition on the job. In 1999, Monica Helms created the modern day version of the transgender pride flag, which is now flown with pride at events all over the world. By the end of the 20th century, there was increased visibility of transgender people, and transgender legal rights became had become a focal point in modern American politics.
What has trans activism looked like in the 21st century?
Despite many of the advances made by trans people in the 20th century, the path toward visibility and acceptance has not been straightforward and has, in fact, harbored violent backlash. In 1988, trans woman and legendary ballroom performer, Venus Xtravaganza, was strangled to death in New York City. In 1993, 21-year-old Brandon Tina was raped and murdered in Falls City, Nebraska. Today, homicides of transgender people, particularly trans women of color, continue to escalate. The Human Rights Campaign tracked at least 21 murders of transgender people in 2015, followed by 23 in 2016 and 28 in 2017. Transgender communities memorialize these deaths every year on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester.
As the 21st century has moved forward, trans communities have pushed for change in every area of advocacy, including work to change social opinion, increase legal protections, and create policy to advance the rights of transgender people across the country.
In 2004, the first Trans March was held in San Francisco, and in 2005, transgender activist Pauline Park became the first openly transgender person chosen to be the grand marshal of the New York City Pride March. In 2006, Kim Coco Iwamoto p. 46↵was elected as a member of the Hawaii Board of Education. At the time, Iwamoto was the highest ranking openly transgender elected official in the United States. In 2008, Stu Rasmussen became the first openly transgender mayor in America, and in 2009, Diego Sanchez became the first openly transgender person to work on Capitol Hill, where he was a legislative assistant for Barney Frank. In 2010, Amanda Simpson became the first openly transgender U.S. presidential appointee, the same year Victoria Kolakowski became the first openly transgender judge. Sarah McBride was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, becoming the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention in American history. By 2017, transgender woman Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. The same year, Tyler Titus, Phillipe Cunningham, and Andrea Jenkins, three transgender people, were elected into public office in the United States all on the same night.
Media and academia followed suit. Kye Allums became the first openly transgender athlete to play NCAA basketball in 2010. Chaz Bono made headlines when he came out in 2011 as a transgender man. In 2014, actor Laverne Cox became the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time, and, in 2015, Caitlyn Jenner came out in a television interview as a transgender woman. In 2014, Transgender Studies Quarterly, the first nonmedical academic journal devoted to transgender issues, began publication with two openly transgender coeditors, Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah. The same year, Mills College became the first single-sex college in the United States to adopt a policy explicitly welcoming openly transgender students.
Acceptance of transgender people in the United States has a long way to go. With record high rates of violence, transgender people today are regularly denied employment, housing, adequate medical care, and basic respect. Yet slowly, progress is being made. Policy has become largely more inclusive in the last decade. Cultural institutions like the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of America, as well as major p. 47↵religious communities, have begun to institutionalize acceptance of transgender people. Progress has not been linear. In 2016, the Obama administration issued guidance that clarified Title IX protections for transgender students, which were later rescinded in early 2017 by the Trump administration. We have yet to see what trans activism will look like in the 2020s, but we can be sure that trans communities will continue to work toward a more just and respectful world.