Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Storrs, Landon

First Committee Member

West, Isaac

Second Committee Member

Schwalm, Leslie

Third Committee Member

Heineman, Elizabeth

Fourth Committee Member

Warren, Stephen


Transgender law and politics may seem to have been nonexistent prior to the 21st century. This dissertation argues that the timeline of transgender progress should begin much earlier and the measure of success should be recalibrated. As early as 1955, states enacted legislation allowing transsexual persons to change their legal sex status. By the end of the 20th century, over half of America’s states had such statutes. I argue that these should be acknowledged as LGBT civil rights successes as significant as any other.

Most early sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws omitted protections for trans people, based either on a belief that they were not attainable or that trans issues were not even a proper gay rights concern. Often engaging in direct confrontation, trans people in Minnesota demonstrated that that exclusion was not the only possible civil rights path, securing inclusion in local law in 1975 and in state law two decades later, while other states still maintained an exclusionary mindset.

The lesson trans people learned was that if they were not included in such legislation from the outset, the likelihood of being added later was slim. They applied this knowledge to civil rights efforts at the state and federal levels. Gradually, more states did become inclusive, but not until 2007 did a federal proposal include trans-inclusive language. Paradoxically, the circumstances of its failure exacerbated fissures within the LGBT community but also brought most of the community together in favor of inclusion to a degree previously unimaginable.


birth certificates, civil rights, gender identity, law, sexual orientation, transgender


xvii, 397 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 368-397).


Copyright © 2018 Katrina Cordray Rose

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020

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