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Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Populations

The scope of this guide is meant to inform all who interact with it on related issues to transgender and gender non-conforming populations.

History of Gender Identity

Despite Western culture and its patriarchal understanding of gender as a binary (male and female), this is not the case for all cultures. There are several other cultures across the world who recognize and name other gender expressions outside of a binary lens. See the image below for a few examples. Note - many of these identities do not have a firm spot to place on a timeline, as they have existed for centuries (and, in some cases, milennia)!

Featuring cultures that have always had genders outside of the binary. The Māhū from Hawai'i and Polynesia "In Polynesian cultures, in addition to kāne (man) and wahine (woman) the term Māhū exists as a term to recognize transgender identities. This term dates back to ancient times." Bugis in South Sulawesi, Indonesia "The Bugis people have terms for five separate genders. These include makkunrai (cisgender man), oroani (cisgender woman), calalai (born in a female body, taking on male roles), calabai (born in a male body, taking on female roles), and bissu (neither male nor female)." Knuntha, Mukhannathun, and Khanith in Arabia "The Arabic language has terms for male-born, female-expressing individuals (khanith), gender non-conforming individuals (mukhannathun), and intersex (khuntha) individuals. Some of these terms have historically been used in derogatory ways. In recent years, however, members of the LGBTQ+ community in the Middle East have been reclaiming the term."  Hirja in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh "In Hinduism, a third gender exists. Individuals expressing this identity are called Hijra. This includes transgender, intersex, and non-binary individuals. Hijra have been recognized through much of history, including precolonial times."

Timeline of Trans and Gender-Nonconforming Identities and Health Care

While this timeline is meant to show the long-standing history of trans and GNC identities, it is not a comprehensive history. The majority of events, laws, and public figures listed in this timeline are from or relating to the United States as Duquesne University is an American university.

Because of the nature of this timeline, some of the terminology used may not reflect current standards of how to refer to transgender and GNC populations. While terms used may be considered offensive, it is important to acknowledge the history behind them. The goal of this timeline is not to offend, but to educate on the prevalence of transgender people throughout history.