Written by Maggie Baska
Writer, activist and academic Eli Erlick is fighting against the erasure of trans history, curating and sharing beautiful full-colour photos showing trans people throughout the ages.
Eli Erlick’s journey “starts with my story being a trans girl who came out in 2003 – before we were supposed to have existed, according to the mainstream media right now,” she tells PinkNews.
About a year ago, frustrated with the “erasure of trans history” and continued anti-trans narratives, she began writing a history book.
It spotlights underreported trans stories from 1850 to 1950, including some experiences that “haven’t been told in 120 years”.
“Unfortunately, a lot of history isn’t just withheld on purpose by the far-right but also by academics and publishing companies that want to maintain the intellectual property of our work,” Eli says.
“So I wanted to do something very public, very accessible and very understandable to the mainstream.”
In doing so, Eli has come across stories like that of a Black trans woman who had been recently freed from slavery, and was the “earliest case of the government approving a trans woman to live as a woman”.
Among these images, which Eli regularly shares to Twitter, are ones of the Stonewall Rioters, highlighting how it was “fought by a multi-racial, multi-gender group” led by Stormé DeLarverie, a Black butch lesbian and drag king.
Eli has also posted images of world champion athlete Mark Weston, who transitioned in 1936, and Christine Jorgensen, who was the first trans person to become widely known in the US for having gender-affirmation surgery.
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