Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Aram Goudsouzian

Committee Member

Beverly Bond

Committee Member

Sarah Potter

Committee Member

Cookie Woolner


This work examines the barriers faced by both well-known and lesser-known black transgender women and gender nonconforming women of color have faced such as harassment, marginalization, and violence. It takes a look into the lives of twelve individuals and assesses the marginalization, harassment, and violence that they faced because of their gender identity, labor, class, and radical tools of resistance they employed to challenge systems of oppression and surveillance. Spanning a large historical era, from the early-to-mid 19th century through the 20th century, this dissertation discusses these individuals as they took to the courts and the streets to demonstrate their political awakenings and crucial roles in the fight against discrimination, marginalization, harassment, and violence. The presence of these individuals highlights alternative political voices within African American and queer communities. Centering black transgender black women and nonconforming women of color not only expands ideas and understanding of black womanhood, but also highlights the areas where they are oppressed and their arenas of activism, which include sex work, violence, and the entertainment industry. In the face of these issues, they have proven themselves to be resistors and liberators fighting to decriminalize their existence in the labor economy and in society.Queer and African American communities have often assigned cisgender males as those with the power to decide as to whose narratives are placed at the forefront, which has rendered obscure the narratives of black transgender women and gender nonconforming women of color. This dissertation employs oral history, archival records, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and documentary films as well as secondary literature to add a new piece of work that furthers our understanding of African American and queer histories. These sources encourage us to think more broadly about the boundaries of women and gender within these fields. By assessing black transgender women and gender nonconforming women of color, this work seeks to clarify their historical impact upon society. Finally, this project hopes to center black transgender women and gender nonconforming women of color in their own stories rather than at the margins of narratives of white queer history and cisgender African American history.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest