Transgender History at Rutgers

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender history at Rutgers “came out” in August of 1969, when Lionel Cuffie founded the Homophile League on College Avenue. The League, as it came to be called, was the first openly homosexual organization in the state of New Jersey and the first post-Stonewall gay college student organization in the country. “Gay,” as we know, was a broad bed in those early days. However, trans and gender nonconforming folks were active, and often led, demonstrations and support networks.

We can fast-forward to 1990 to Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, which questions the “foundationalist fiction” of gender, and then to Leslie Feinberg’s novel Stone Butch Blues (1993) and Kate Bornstein’s memoir Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (1995) to find trans people giving expression to their identities and their experiences.

In 1996 the University Senate at Rutgers voted to include “Gender Expression” in the University Nondiscrimination Policy. However, as an alternative, University Counsel, after consulting with gay and lesbian faculty, advised the Executive Vice President Joseph Seneca to administratively interpret the Policy to include and protect transgender students, staff, and faculty within the existing categories of “sex” and “sexual orientation.”

Since 2012, many shifts have occurred on campus including gender inclusive healthcare, the establishment of the first trans student group (Transmissions), gender inclusive housing/restrooms, and an on-campus name change process.