Holly Boswell

Holly Boswell, the creator of the first transgender symbol, died of heart failure last week at the age of 66.

Boswell is credited with designing the symbol in 1993. In an article she published in 1991, she was one of the first to use the term transgender.

In her article, she wrote that not every transgender person is interested in sex reassignment surgery.

“The middle ground I am referring to is transgenderism,” she wrote. “I realize this term (heretofore vague) also encompasses the entire spectrum: crossdresser to transsexual person.”

She continued:

“Transgenderism serves as a bridge of consciousness between crossdressers and transsexual people, who feel unnecessarily estranged within our own subculture. And in the vast majority of instances, we are not so much ‘gender conflicted’ as we are at odds — even at war — with our culture.”

Even earlier, Boswell co-founded Asheville’s Phoenix Transgender Support Group. According to NewNowNext, that group was one of the earliest organizations to welcome people of all gender identities and continues to operate today.