The Guardian: 'Trans kids are not new': a historian on the long record of youth transitioning in America

Republicans seeking to restrict children’s lives claim trans youth are a ‘new phenomenon’. Jules Gill-Peterson explains how medical archives prove them wrong

A groundbreaking twentieth-century history of transgender childrenRepublican lawmakers pushing to restrict transgender children’s lives have repeatedly argued that trans kids are a “new phenomenon” and that gender-affirming treatments and policies are “experimental”.

But Jules Gill-Peterson, a professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies at the University of Pittsburgh, has found extensive evidence of trans youth in the US living as themselves and fighting to transition in decades-old archival documents. The records from American hospitals and clinics date back to the early 20th century, with examples across the US well before the existence of contemporary language on trans identity.

The Guardian recently spoke to the Histories of the Transgender Child author about her research and its implications as Republicans push legislation to restrict trans youths’ access to sports teams and outlaw gender-affirming healthcare. This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q&A at The Guardian.