Oregon Trans Timeline

Currently edited by Gage Rutherford and Shir Bach
With suggested input from George T. Nicola, Danni/y Rosen, Athen O'Shea, others
(Formerly edited by Danni/y Rosen and Ampersand Crates through mid-2017)
The Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN)
Last updated 4/24/2020

Links to:

Oregon LGBTQ Timeline 1806-1969
Oregon LGBTQ Timeline 1970-Present
Oregon LGBTQ Youth Timeline

This article is a chronological listing of some but not all major events that have affected trans Oregonians. This is not meant to be a comprehensive history, but a starting point from which more detailed research can be done. 

The term “trans” can include people who are transgender, transsexual, gender non-conforming, gender queer, cross-dressers, or others whose gender identity or expression differs from their gender assigned at birth. 

Anyone may make recommendations for additions to this article. But any addition must be approved by at least one of the above listed editors, all of whom are trans identified.

Please send suggested edits and questions to

Usually, the URLs provided are the sources of the information. However, parenthetical non-URL wording might also be the source. Parenthetical names that are not part of URL’s are usually the person who provided the item for input.

1811:  A report is published about a woman in the Kutenai tribe in Oregon who dresses like a man and has a “wife.” (“Oregon Gay History Timeline”)

1917: Alberta Lucille Hart (born 1890) graduates from the Portland based University of Oregon Medical School (now called Oregon Health and Science University or OHSU). After graduation, Hart undergoes a hysterectomy and lives the rest of his life as a man, Dr. Alan L. Hart, marrying twice.  Hart is among the first female-to-male transsexuals to undergo surgery in transition.  Dr. Alan L. Hart dies in 1962. (“Oregon Gay History Timeline”)

1961: Dr. Ira B. Pauly, a psychiatrist with the University of Oregon Medical School (now called Oregon Health and Science University or OHSU), becomes supportive of sex reassignment surgery "after soul-searching deliberation”. Pauly is credited for undertaking the first global review of the published outcome data on transsexualism in 1965. In the mid-1960s, he begins collaborating with endocrinologist Harry Benjamin, who cited Pauly's work in his 1966 book The Transsexual Phenomenon. The two later work to popularize their research in the lay press. Pauly is president of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, now known as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, from 1985 to 1987.

1962: A group of cross-dressers meets regularly in Portland. (Information provided by Nestor [Olivia] Perala, later a cofounder of Northwest Gender Alliance.)

1968: Trans pioneer Virginia Prince meets with people at the University of Oregon Medical School in grand rounds, a practice in which particular medical cases are presented to doctors, residents, and medical students. (Transvestia Magazine, Volume 53, pages 72-86)

1972: The Oregon Journal publishes an article about a trans woman named Stephani who petitioned Portland’s fair hearing unit for access to sex-reassignment surgery at OHSU. The Journal interviews Dr. Ira Pauly and gynecological surgeon Dr. Raphael Durfee, members of an OHSU team that assessed potential patients for sex-reassignment surgery. In the article, Dr. Pauly states that 12-15 people had “undergone gender identity operations” since the team started work a few years previously. (“Portlander Asks Sex Change Surgery,” The Oregon Journal, September 25, 1972.)

1974: The Oregon Journal publishes a four-part series written by a trans woman about her transition, from childhood to receiving sex-reassignment surgery at OHSU. The author introduces herself as Parish, and photos from the articles indicate that she is the same woman written about in 1972 under the name Stephani. Though the Journal interviewed Drs. Pauly and Durfee for the 1972 article, in 1974 they decline to name any physicians involved, citing the program head’s request for anonymity. (Parish, “A Boy Made of ‘Sugar and Spice...,’” The Oregon Journal, March 18, 1974.)

1980: The Northwest Gender Alliance (NWGA) is founded. NWGA is a non-profit social, support and educational group for trans individuals, historically for those who identify themselves as transgender (TG), transsexual (TS) or as crossdressers (CD).

1985: The Northwest Gender Alliance reaches out for new members with an ad in the Portland newspaper Just Out, a Portland newspaper that primarily serves gay men and lesbians. (“Oregon LGBT Timeline Starting in 1970”)

1996: Phoenix Rising receives a $9,000 grant to serve transsexual and transgender young people. (“Oregon LGBT Timeline Starting in 1970”)

1996: Dr. Toby Meltzer, a surgeon who first performed sex-reassignment surgeries at OHSU under the direction of Robert Demuth, opens a private practice out of Eastmoreland Hospital. He begins to offer chest and genital surgery for trans men and women, and at the peak of his practice, half of the patients at Eastmoreland Hospital are under the care of Dr. Meltzer.

1998: Benton County passes an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  This appears to be the first law in Oregon which makes it illegal to discriminate against transgender people. (“A History of Oregon LGBTQ Equality Law Since 1970”)

2000: The Portland City Council votes unanimously to add “gender identity” to the city's 1991 civil rights ordinance which already bans employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination based on sexual orientation. ("City Expands Rights Ordinance to Transgenders”, The Oregonian, Dec. 14, 2000)

2002: Eastmoreland Hospital is bought out by Symphony Healthcare, an out-of-state company that revokes Dr. Meltzer’s operating privileges. Unable to find another hospital in the state willing to house his practice, Dr. Meltzer moves to Scottsdale, Arizona. Eastmoreland Hospital struggles to fill beds without Dr. Meltzer’s business, and in 2004 the hospital is shut down.

2003: Laura Calvo testifies in an Oregon legislative hearing for a bill that would ban discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.  It is the first time an openly transgender person testifies for an Oregon civil rights bill that covers gender identity.  (Information provided by Laura Calvo.)

2006: TransActive Gender Center is founded by transgender pioneer activist Jenn Burleton. Jenn remains the organization’s Executive Director. TransActive’s stated mission: “TransActive Gender Center provides a holistic range of services and expertise to empower transgender and gender nonconforming children, youth and their families in living healthy lives, free of discrimination.”

2006: Trans therapist Reid Vanderburgh publishes the first edition of his book Transition and Beyond: Observations on Gender Identity. He began his counseling practice in 2001, retiring from private practice in 2010 to focus on writing and teaching.

2007: The State of Oregon enacts the Oregon Equality Act which bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, and some other areas. New York State did not adopt gender identity non-discrimination protection until 2015, when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo put special regulations into effect. 

2008: Stu Rasmussen is elected Mayor of Silverton, becoming the first openly transgender mayor in the United States. Ramussen uses the pronoun ‘he’ and mainly identifies as a man, but presents as female in dress and appearance. Ramussen had previously served as mayor from 1984-1996, before he openly identified as transgender.

2011: Colin Wolf becomes the third openly-trans therapist in Portland, opening his practice Queerapy. The second was Marc LeJuene, who worked at Outside In as a social worker during his transition in the mid-2000s. Colin is in private practice, as is Reid Vanderburgh, so Colin is the second trans therapist in private practice in Portland. (Info provided by Reid Vanderburgh)

2012: The Portland City Council votes unanimously to cover fully inclusive and medically necessary transition related health care for transgender city employees. Trans activist and Basic Rights Oregon Communications Manager Sasha Buchert is the major advocate for the new policy.

2012: Oregon State’s Insurance Division releases an insurance bulletin prohibiting heath care providers from discriminating based on actual or perceived gender identity.  This means that health insurance plans sold in Oregon can no longer deny care to transgender policy holders procedures which are provided to cisgender policy holders.  Trans activist and BRO Communications Manager Sasha Buchert provides the major advocacy for this important advance.

2012:  Latina transgender pioneer Laura Calvo is elected Democratic National Committee Member, Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO). Previous to that, Laura had held a number of other positions in the DPO.

2012: Sasha Buchert is appointed to the Oregon State Hospital Advisory Board by Governor John Kitzhaber. She is the first transgender Oregonian to hold a public appointed position. In 2013, Sasha leaves Oregon to take a position with the Transgender Law Center in California. (

2012: Transgender woman Simone Neall is appointed by Governor Kitzhaber as a member of the State Construction Contractors Board.

2013:  In early 2013, Governor John Kitzhaber signs House Bill 2093, making Oregon just one of a handful of states to remove the onerous surgery requirement imposed on transgender Oregonians seeking an accurate birth certificate.  As a result, transgender Oregonians are now able to access a legal change of gender without costly, undesired, or unobtainable surgeries.  Basic Rights Oregon’s contract lobbyist played a lead role in lobbying the bill, while BRO Transgender Justice Program Manager (at that time) Tash Shatz and TransActive Executive Director Jenn Burleton advocated for it. 

2013: The Oregon Health Plan announces that beginning October 1, 2014 it will cover the cost of pubertal suppression treatment for transgender adolescents and teens. Oregon joins California as the only two states to provide this coverage, which enhances the quality of life of transgender youth by giving them the option to develop physically in a way that more accurately represents their gender identity.  Prior to initiation of puberty suppression therapy, adolescents must fulfill eligibility and readiness criteria and must have a comprehensive mental health evaluation. The lead in advocating for this was TransActive. BRO provided additional support.

2013: The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) orders Portland bar owner Chris Penner to pay $400,000 to the T-Girls, a group of transgender and crossdressing people whom Penner asked not to return to his bar the previous year. The penalty is the first imposed under the 2007 Oregon Equality Act which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public places. On August 29, 2013, The Oregonian newspaper reports that “investigators announced that the bureau found substantial evidence of discrimination against the transgender patrons.” 

2013: The State of Oregon settles with Alec Esquivel in his case Esquivel v. Oregon, by agreeing to remove the exclusions that denied coverage to transgender people for transition-related health care. This applies to the State of Oregon’s employee health plan. It sets a crucial legal precedent for the other 49 states.

2014:  Reid Vanderburgh publishes his second book Journeys of Transformation: Stories from Across the Acronym.

2014: Portland Trans Pride becomes an official event during Pride Weekend. Organized by a planning committee of independent trans community organizers in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Stonewall, the event is supported by Pride Northwest and draws 400 trans people and allies to downtown Portland. (Information provided by Athen O'Shea)

2014: Jayce, a 20-year-old male transgender student files a complaint against George Fox University in April after officials said he couldn’t live with other men on campus during his junior year. The university lobbies to obtain a religious exemption allowing the Quaker college to deny Jayce’s housing request, even though Jayce is recognized as male legally. George Fox is granted that religious exemption by the U.S. Department of Education on May 23, and a complaint against the exemption is denied. Jayce declines the offer to live in a single apartment, which he feels would isolate him from the support of his friends.

2014: TransActive founder Jenn Burleton receives the Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Committee's (CIC) seventh annual Sy Award for her work on behalf of transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth in Multnomah County and beyond. The Sy Award is presented to one citizen every year for a lifetime commitment to justice, equality and facilitating access to and transparency at all levels of government.

2014: The Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), which is charged with overseeing the prioritized list of services in Oregon’s Medicaid program (the Oregon Health Plan), votes to approve the coverage of medically necessary healthcare for transgender people. Transgender Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan should be able to receive hormonal and surgical healthcare prescribed by their physician starting in 2015.
2015: The Oregon Health Plan makes good on its commitment and begins transgender health care coverage as of January 1.

2015: The OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University) Transgender Health Program is established to provide “safe, comprehensive, affirming health care for the transgender and gender nonconforming communities.” Program Supervisor is Amy Penkin.

2015: With the support of GLAPN, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) conducts an extensive interview with pioneering trans advocate Ira Pauly, who had once been on the university’s staff.

2015: For the second year in a row, the Portland Trans Pride March is organized as an official event during Pride Weekend, this year featuring a community open mic. The trans march planning committee quadruples in size, and so does attendance from the previous year, drawing as many as 2000 trans, nonbinary, and intersex people to downtown Portland. The organizing committee later names itself Greater Portland Trans Unity, with the mission of "organizing community events to build awareness, share resources, and foster solidarity among transgender, intersex, non-binary, and two spirit people and our allies"

2015: A November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance event held at the Portland Community College (PCC) Cascade Campus draws a large crowd. It was sponsored by the Northwest Gender Alliance, PCC Cascade Queer Resource Center, and PFLAG Portland Black Chapter. Keynotes were given by Alyssa Pagan, Devon Rose Davis, and Nghia Nguyen. (Information provided by Debra Porter)

2015: Portland Q Center is restructured to make it more responsive to the community. Staff member Stacey Rice, a trans woman, is appointed Co-Director, a position she shares with Justin Pabalate, a cisgender queer person of color. Trans people on the board at this point are Gee Lewis, a trans woman of color; Trystan Angel Reese, who is also a gay male; and Athen O’Shea who serves as board Chair.

2015: Veteran trans activist Danni/y Rosen, an editor of this article, is appointed to the board of Basic Rights Oregon (BRO). Andrea Zekis, co-founder of the ArTEC, Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition, is hired as BRO Policy Director. Trans activist Mikki Gillette is hired as Donor Outreach Coordinator.

2015: Trans activist Mia Macy is the recipient of Pride Northwest's first annual Spirit of Pride Award. Her lawsuit, Macy v. Holder, led to the EEOC ruling that transgender discrimination is sex discrimination.

2016: Trans and genderqueer people who were selected as GLAPN’s 2016 Queer Heroes NW include Stacey Rice, Neola Young, Jackie Stone, Geeta Lewis, Joe LeBlanc, and Jaycen Marcus.

2016: Kate Kauffman, a cisgender non-conforming female, opens Brave Space, LLC. Brave Space is a social services community whose activities include counseling and more.  Kate was formerly with TransActive, who no longer offers direct counseling.

2016: The Third Annual Portland Trans Pride March is organized by Greater Portland Trans Unity during Pride Weekend. This year's event features a rally highlighting disparities in housing, healthcare, and employment for trans people, particularly people of color, youth, seniors, and people with disabilities. Alyssa Pagan of Portland Jobs with Justice delivers the keynote, and the march is led by the Portland Two Spirit Society. An estimated 2,500 trans, intersex, nonbinary people and allies march through downtown Portland in support of trans rights.

2017: Transgender counselling center Brave Space, LLC is given the Mental Health Heroes Award by Trillium Family Services.

2017: A transgender day of remembrance event is held at Portland’s Q Center.

2017: Transgender, two spirit, and nonbinary people who are selected as GLAPN’s 2017 Queer Heroes NW include Gisella Contreras, Tessa James Scheller, Jeralyn Dee O’Brien, adem m cardona, Emily Newberry, Gene de Haan, tash shatz, Kaig Lightner, Tashia Harris, Lorne James, and Dr. Angela Carter.

2017: In May, a video of Queer Hero Kaig Lightner coming out as transgender to the kids he coaches goes viral.

2017: The 4th Annual Trans Pride March is held on June 17th. Under the new political administration, the march has a theme of "Keeping our Flame Alive" and asks: "how do we keep our hearts whole and our communities safe and healthy, even in the face of relentless oppression?" This year's keynote speaker is Neola Young, speaking on the history of trans liberation and the need for collective justice, not "just us." (Information provided by Athen O'Shea)

2017: Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) helps pass the first standalone transgender equity law, creating an administrative option for Oregonians to update their birth certificates.  BRO helps usher in a third gender marker on state IDs through the Department of Motor Vehicles, making Oregon the first state to legally recognize non-binary, intersex and agender people on ID cards. Basic Rights Oregon also helps pass an Equal Benefits law requiring Oregon state contractors from discriminating against their women, people of color, and transgender employees. (Information provided by Diane Goodwin)

2017: The Equi Institute begins to provide health services, including mental health counselling, to LGBTQ clients, primarily transgender people. It operates at Q Center, 4115 N. Mississippi, Portland.

2017: There is a considerable pushback to President Donald Trump’s decision to exclude transgender people from the U.S. military. Portland transgender activist and combat veteran Shannon Scott gives an eloquent response on YouTube. Shannon has served nearly twelve years in the U.S. military and had been deployed all over the world. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign.

2017: Trystan Angel Reese, a Portlander and a gay trans man, gives birth to a baby with his husband and partner of seven years, Biff Chaplow. The couple were already parents, having adopted Biff’s niece and nephew. Reese tells Fox 40 news: “I’m OK with my body being a trans body. I’m OK being a man who has a uterus and has the capacity and capability of carrying a baby. . . The reason why you have a kid is because you want to see more love in the world, and remembering how difficult that’s going to be, it’s hard.” Reese also tells Fox 40 that since baby Leo was born, the couple has received an outpouring of support on Facebook and media attention from around the world.

2019-2020: Nikki Kuknhausen, a 17 year old trans woman from Vancouver, Washington was murdered in a hate crime by a man she met up with for a date. A grassroots group of transgender activists and parents of transgender children form the Justice for Nikki Task Force, and organize a vigil for Nikki. They also lobby for the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act, which would ban the trans and gay panic defense from being used in Washington. On March 5th, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee signs the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act into law.

2020: Shir Bach presents his paper on the history of trans surgery in Portland at the reception for the 2019 George T. Nicola LGBTQ+ History Fellowship.

2020: The annual Transgender Day of Visibility is honored on March 31. A physical event had been planned at Portland City Council, but has to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler issues a proclamation honoring the observance. The mayor also tweets: “Today is Transgender Day of Visibility. Wish we could’ve held a bigger celebration at City Hall, but wanted to still let our friends know we’re thinking about them!”


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