On this final day of Women’s History Month, we also mark the observance of International Transgender Day of Visibility. It is a moment to honor the contributions of transgender individuals whose achievements often remain useen. Though progress has been made in the acceptance of the transgender community since the days of figures like Alan Hart and Sylvia Rivera, the journey towards full recognition and equality remains ongoing. Tragically, many transgender individuals continue to face systemic discrimination and violence. Thus, today and every day, it is imperative that we not only celebrate the diversity of transgender and non-binary individuals worldwide but also actively confront the misinformation, prejudice, and hostility that threaten the well-being and rights of our trans neighbors.

Renée Richards

Born August 19, 1934

Dr. Renée Richards gained fame as an activist for transgender rights when she challenge a United States Tennis Association decision banning her from competing in the women’s category at the 1976 U.S. Open.

The New York Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Richards’ favor, a landmark victory for trans women athletes. Richards, now 86, is a practicing ophthalmologist. 

Alan L. Hart

Born October 4, 1890

Alan L. Hart was a pioneering American physician, radiologist, tuberculosis researcher, writer, and novelist. He revolutionized tuberculosis detection by using X-ray photography and headed mass screening programs, notably in Connecticut. Hart, a fiction author, penned novels integrating medical themes and drama. Notably, he underwent one of the first documented female-to-male transitions in the US, seeking surgery to eliminate menstruation and adopting the name Alan. 

Marsha P. Johnson

Born August 24, 1945

Marsha P. Johnson, a key figure in the 1960s and 1970s gay rights movement, advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and supported homeless youth and those affected by H.I.V. Born in 1945, she faced adversity growing up, experiencing bullying and assault. Moving to New York City, Johnson embraced her identity, co-founding Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and engaging in activism, notably during the Stonewall uprising. Despite personal struggles, she remained a vibrant advocate until her death in 1992. Her legacy lives on through monuments, documentaries, and ongoing recognition of her contributions to LGBTQ+ rights and visibility.

Sylvia Rivera

Born July 2, 1951

A beacon for transgender rights, Sylvia Rivera fought tirelessly for inclusion and visibility. Born in 1951, she played a pivotal role in the Stonewall Inn uprising, co-founding the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and later establishing Transy House to support transgender individuals. Despite personal struggles, Rivera’s legacy lives on through the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, advocating for equal rights. Recognized with a street renaming and inclusion in the National Portrait Gallery, her impact reverberates globally. 

Ben Barres

Born September 13, 1954

Ben Barres, an American neurobiologist, made groundbreaking contributions to glial cell research in the 1980s. His findings redefined the role of glial cells in brain function, challenging conventional wisdom. Barres, a transgender man, advocated strongly for diversity and women in science, speaking candidly about his experiences with sexism pre-transition. As the first openly transgender member of the US National Academy of Sciences, he paved the way for others in the field. Reflecting on his transition, Barres said: “When I decided to change sex I didn’t have role models to point to. I thought that I had to decide between identity and career.”

Brian Michael Smith

Born January 29,1983

Brian Michael Smith, an American actor and LGBTQ+ advocate, gained recognition for his role as Paul Strickland in “9-1-1: Lone Star.” Raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by his mother, Smith challenged gender norms from a young age, excelling in athletics and academics. After studying acting and video production at Kent State University, he pursued a career in acting, eventually landing roles in notable TV shows like “Queen Sugar” and “The L Word: Generation Q.” As an advocate, Smith uses his platform to promote better trans representation in media and supports LGBTQ+ youth through mentoring programs and public speaking engagements.

Sarah McBride

August 19, 1990

Sarah McBride made history as the first openly transgender person elected to a state senate in the United States. Known for her advocacy work, McBride has fought for LGBTQ+ rights and played a pivotal role in passing anti-discrimination legislation in Delaware. Despite challenges, including the loss of her husband, LGBTQ activist Andrew Cray, to cancer, she continued her activism and became a national figure, delivering a TED Talk and addressing the Democratic National Convention. In 2020, she won a seat in the Delaware state senate, making her a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ youth across the country. She’s running again this year.

Michael Dillon

Born May 1, 1915

Laurence Michael Dillon was a pioneering figure in transgender medicine, known as the first trans man to undergo phalloplasty and a double mastectomy. His transition, detailed in his autobiography “Out of the Ordinary,” impacted his familial standing and career. Raised in England, Dillon’s journey included hormone therapy and surgeries while concealing his past. As a surgeon, he assisted Roberta Cowell, the first British trans woman to receive gender confirmation surgery. Later, Dillon embraced Buddhism, changing his name to Lobzang Jivaka. He authored Buddhist texts before passing away in 1962. His autobiography was published posthumously, shedding light on his remarkable life and contributions.