What an old edition of Encyclopedia Britannica can tell us about the erasure of trans and queer people

I came over the 1942 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, a publication that was — at the time — considered the most extensive repository of human knowledge available.

I did a search for trans and queer issues, using the terminology of the time. Here is what I found:

  • “Lesbian.” Not listed.
  • “Homosexual.” Not listed.
  • “Transsexual.” Not listed.
  • “Transvestite.” Not listed

There was nothing in any of the 24 large volumes referring to these topics. I could not find the term “heterosexuality” in the index either.

At the time, the societies queer and trans people lived in invalidated them. The encyclopedia erased them.

How can you accept your own feelings and identity, if there are no words to describe this important part of you?

This is why homophobes and transphobes want to ban LGBTQA+ literature from schools, libraries and bookstores. They want to make it impossible to describe queer and trans peoples’ existence.

More here: What an old edition of Encyclopedia Britannica can tell us about the erasure of trans and queer people

Notes

Originally published at https://trans-express.lgbt.

Writer and news curator looking at everything transgender, nonbinary, “gendery” and queer.