A Look Back at Y2K Trans Websites thumbnail

A Look Back at Y2K Trans Websites

Published 2021-02-19

Content warning: transphobia, sexual topics, psychiatric abuse

As I'm writing this, the United Kingdom is having a bit of a civil rights uproar regarding transgender people. Multiple famous celebrities and other influential voices such as J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series), Graham Linehan (co-creator of various BBC sitcoms), and various others have spoken out against the rights of transgender people. Additionally, actor Elliot Page's recent announcement that he is transgender has been met with pushback. (To be clear, transphobia is an issue worldwide, but the UK seems to have the loudest pushback of transgender people asking for rights.)

I'm not here to go debunking TERF talking points, and this article will assume the viewer has some familiarity with the struggles of trans people, but I will say this: Transgender people aren't new. Far from it. One of the more famous examples of a historical trans woman is Christine Jorgenson, who received gender affirmation surgery in 1952. Likewise, the 1952 film "Glen or Glenda?" was a semi-autobiographical movie about the struggles of a "transvestite". (It is also considered one of the worst movies ever made, for whatever that's worth.)

There are countless more examples, but the point is, things have changed for the better recently. With the rise of the internet, transgender people were no longer forced to attend secret meetings in person to meet other trans people. They could just log online and have a quick internet chat, or read a webpage about the subject.

Some contemporary video games attempt to recreate the experience of being trans on the internet. Secret Little Haven focuses on a closeted trans woman who discovers and works through her identity in some internet chats while dealing with the transphobic pressures of reality. Likewise, Anthrotari is a much more lighthearted game where you play as a queer furry in the early 00's who has recently found their old 90's PC and uses it to chat and play an online MMO with friends they had at a city they moved away from.

While I have no clue what sorts of discussion happened on 90s chatrooms, as that was well before my time, what I can look at is what transgender people were up to on the internet. Services like Geocities had absolutely no problem hosting that kind of content, so we can go take a look back at the social landscape of the day.

We'll be looking at websites and other resources from around the year 2000, simply because that's a pretty interesting period where trans people were just starting to take a foothold online. There was earlier activity on places such as Usenet or BBSes, but those archives are either buried or lost, and frankly, the websites are more interesting to look at.

A Medical Background

Let's quickly overview what the general perception and medical treatment of transgender people was at the time.

Microsoft Bookshelf 1998

Someone completely isolated from the LGBT community, assuming they even heard of such a thing as a "transsexual", would have a pretty bleak picture. Here's an entry from the encyclopedia included in Microsoft Bookshelf '98, which was very typical for the time and also easy for me to reference.

Transvestism, practice of wearing the clothing of the opposite sex for emotional or sexual expression. Transvestism does not include all instances of wearing such clothing; when a person cross-dresses to make a comment on society or to entertain, it is not usually referred to as transvestism.

Transvestites tend to perceive themselves either as women with masculine predispositions, or as men with feminine predispositions. For most transvestites, sexual behavior is involved only slightly or not at all; instead, the transvestite gains emotional satisfaction from dressing in the clothing of the opposite sex. Transvestites often describe their behavior as expressing those aspects of the identity and roles of the other gender that they feel are important aspects of their self-definition.

Transvestism is more common among men than among women and is more common among heterosexuals than among homosexuals. Current scientific opinions about transvestism are divided. Some see transvestism as a symptom of failed gender socialization; others view it as a normal expression of the desire to blur the social distinctions between women and men.

There is no record for "transgender" or "transsexual". This is the best you're getting. It's an oddly clinical and detached view that notes, correctly, that there are some people that tend to want to cross-dress, and almost gets correct the reason why, but refuses to make that final leap. That second paragraph is the weirdest, it's almost exactly describing a transgender person getting gender euphoria from presenting as their gender, and how it correlates with their gender identity, but yet it's still filed under "transvestite"? The "current scientific opinions" are also both horribly wrong, and feel as if the scientists in question never once bothered to ask a "transvestite" why they cross-dressed.

(As an aside, the rest of the encyclopedia gets a lot of other medical conditions wrong. ADHD, for instance, is listed as "Hyperactivity", a condition found in 'some young children" whose treatment is "controversial and includes drugs ... [which] may not improve learning and may have side effects", and then claims that hyperactivity often improves by adolescence. There is so much wrong with this definition that I don't know where to start, but in summary read my ADHD article.)

DSM-IV

Quite a bit more illuminating, however, is to look at the DSM-IV, published in 1994. The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders", published by the American Psychological Association, is the manual that compiles all current physiological research. Psychologists and the like use this manual to learn about and identify psychological disorders in their patients. It discusses trans issues in two sections: "Transvestic Fetishism" and "Gender Identity Disorder".

"Transvestic Fetishism" (very nicely tucked in between voyeurism and "sexual sadism", thanks) describes men who keep a collection of female clothes and uses them to cross-dress and get off to. It then states in the second half of the definition that this often just subsides into general gender dysphoria or more generally "an antidote to anxiety or depression or "a sense of peace and calm", and that individuals mostly seek treatment when gender dysphoria occurs or it otherwise causes significant distress or impairment. This has me really scratching my head at why it was included in the first place. Frankly, the explanation could be as benign as "the bedroom is the only safe place to experiment with these things, because I can just pass it off as a kink", but I guess this warrants a whole DSM entry. Also, notice the very blatant focus on male-to-female cross-dressers here.

The more relevant and less nonsensical section is "Gender Identity Disorder". This was renamed to "Gender Dysphoria" in the 2013 DSM 5 because "Gender Identity Disorder" implies the disorder is the gender identity, not the dysphoria caused from an incongruent one. The definition here is applicable to children, adolescents, and adults, and is (supposed to be) diagnosed after repeated statement that one is of the opposite sex, cross-dressing, desire to be the opposite sex, persistent discomfort by their current sex, and proof that it causes "clinically significant distress". (I guess non-binary people are left out of the rain here...)

This is quite a bit more thought out than the TERF line that treatments are given out to children like candy. (Indeed, NHS clinic waiting times in the UK are measured in years.) This, for the time, is a pretty darned decent definition. (The DSM 5 update was sorely needed, though...) However like every DSM entry it makes absolutely no recommendation as to how to treat this.

Harry Benjamin Standards of Care

For that, we have to look towards the "Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association's Standards Of Care For Gender Identity Disorders", which is today known as the "Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People" published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which is one heck of a mouthful but thankfully can be shortened to "WPATH-SOC".

The Harry Benjamin Association was started by none other than Harry Benjamin, which, putting it bluntly, was the only doctor willing to help trans people transition for years starting in 1948, effectively pioneering the field. He's a very good person. The HBIDGA, named in his honor, promoted his cause of helping treat gender dysphoria among trans individuals.

Among many other things, the HBIDGA published the Standards of Care, which were international clinical protocols that outline the recommended assessment and treatment of gender dysphoria. The modern WPATH-SOC gets a lot of flack for forcing transgender people to go through the hoops of discussing their intentions with a therapist for multiple months to receive a letter of recommendation to present to an endocrinologist. The "informed consent" model, where the trans person just reads some paperwork, signs a form and receives treatment, is rapidly becoming more popular as people realize that no cisgender person would willingly undergo hormone replacement therapy. But even the WPATH-SOC are a blessing compared to the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care.

The fifth edition of the HBIGDA-SOC, published in 1998, is a 31 page document that tries its darned best but falls way short. Along with requiring one psychologist letter for hormone treatment and two letters for surgery (which is still standard as far as I know), the SOC mandates the "Real Life Experience", where before starting any hormonal treatment, the trans person is question is required to live their daily life cross-dressing for three months. This is intended to be a "test" of whether or not a transgender person is really trans and has the social, economic, and psychological supports to continue, or should just pack their bags and go home. It's also worth noting that trans healthcare at the time was abysmal. A 1993 speech by a transgender activist denounces systematic atrocities such as forced drugging, electro-shock therapy, and forced institutionalization of transgender patients.

It cannot be understated how dangerous this is to a trans person who almost certainly doesn't pass yet without hormones, let alone individuals who aren't interested in being walking stereotypes of the opposite gender. I personally know plenty of trans men who occasionally wear dresses and other feminine clothing, and plenty of trans women who just rock a t-shirt and jeans and merely want the correct name and pronouns with their hormonal treatment. Also, it's worth mentioning that non-binary people exist. Being forced to present as hyper-feminine (or hyper-masculine) to be allowed treatment was a common theme at the time.

A Web 1.0 Primer

I understand that some people reading this might be mostly used to social media sites, so I'm just going to quickly explain the format of a classic website. I'll be using my website as an example, because this is a classic homepage.

My links page

The first page you land on is the index page, which briefly explains the purpose of the site, shows any new updates, and provides links to other sections of the site. (They usually don't look nearly as fancy as this one.) Whether directly or through sub-indexes, you can reach all content on the website from the index page.

My index page

To find other websites, you go to the Links page, which contains links to other related websites. The practice of going from site to site through these links pages was known as 'surfing the internet". Often websites would be members of webrings, which placed your site in a "ring" where a visitor could go "left" and "right" to other sites on the ring. The Hotline Webring or the 1MB Club are good modern-day examples of this.

Resource Sites

Let us begin our internet archival dig with some general purpose resource sites. These usually present an explanation of transgender people along with links to resources, pictures of people who have completed transition, and generally provide a beacon of hope and reassurance.

Lynn Conway's Homepage

Lynn Conway's index page

Webpage Link

I'm going to start out very strong here with the homepage of quite possibly my favorite person in academia, Lynn Conway. She has an autobiography on her website, but the short story is that pre-transition, fresh out of grad school, she did research at IBM in the 60s, she discussed her gender dysphoria with Dr. Harry Benjamin (the founder of that institution that published those standards of care, and really the first doctor to give a crap about trans rights in general). She began transition in 1967, and then was promptly fired in 1968 on the basis of being trans.

After losing everything, she decided to begin work anew as a contract worker and slowly made her way back up the ladder until she was at Xerox's famous Palo Alto Research Center (home of the first GUI) and pioneered VLSI fabrication, which allows for sophisticated integrated circuits like we have today. After years of being a professor at the University of Michigan, she was outed in 1999 by computing historians looking at old IBM records. She took this in stride and made a website chronicling her journey and providing resources for transgender people. In short she's amazing and I have so much respect for her.

Her website, beyond a lot of biographical info, includes a length description of gender dysphoria and related topics (pictured above) which, while outdated by today's standards, is a very comprehensive and well-written resource, and a valuable insight onto the issues and struggles of transitioning around the early '00s. There's one cool part where she does calculations on the number of people who have received sex reassignment / genital correction surgery and determines that the DSM-IV is wrong on its estimates of prevalence by two orders of magnitude (which, comparing to much more recent data, was correct!)

Timelines of various trans individuals

Additionally, she has timelines and photographs of people who have undergone hormonal treatment and/or facial feminization surgery. I can't help but think that this much have been a huge source of hope and inspiration back in the day. She also provides links to treatment providers, trans activist organizations, and even trans webcomic artists!

Point is, Lynn Conway is awesome and you should check out her site. But I still have a few dozen more sites to discuss, so let's move on.

Transsexual.org

Transsexual.org index page

This site, last updated in 2009 but still up and running somehow, is Jennifer Diane Reitz's attempt to provide information about transsexual people.

Amazingly, her personal site was last updated in "Aptil" 2016. She published multiple very nicely drawn webcomics, including Unicorn Jelly ("a vast philosophical science fiction manga strip"), Pastel Defender Heliotrope ("the fully hand-painted story of a mysteriously animated artificial being and her quest for identity within a strange universe with unique physical laws"), and "The Conversion Bureau" (a fanfic series where Earth is being destroyed due to being absorbed by Equestria from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and the only way to survive is to be transformed into ponies.) They're all interesting takes on what it means to be human, to discover and develop one's identity, and the impact of individuals on society. Her creations are unique and charming and honestly it's that flavor of old internet goodness that I just adore.

Her website on transsexuality is full of equally charming things, with a few ugly black marks. I'll get to the elephant in the room here in a second, though, as I don't want it to overshadow the value the rest of the site has.

Her first page is a quick, readable summary of what transsexuality is. It's a very well presented and accurate overview of the topic, covering why trans people transition (or die trying), and the history of trans people since the ancient world. The next page on the site continues this, giving a more personal and empathetic explanation.

She also provides an in-depth explanation on how to transition (20 years ago, anyways), detailing every excruciating step of the process, pages on how to cope with and cherish being trans, a recounting of both her own and others transition stories, what to expect long term, what it's like to be trans, how to cope with self-doubts and anxieties, how to create self-worth, how to date, and other very reassuring and helpful resources. I won't go into detail on each and every page, but this was a good website!

Transsexual.org's COGIATI

Where things start falling apart is when she starts talking about how to know if you're trans. She, understandably, is very concerned that someone might get the wrong idea and transition even if they're not trans. (How they'd stumble upon this page otherwise, I have no idea, but that's besides the point.) Her "What can I do about this?" page is, to put it bluntly, pretty fear-mongery. It pushes the myth that hormones are almost useless after the age of 30, and tries to push people to transition as early as is feasible. On the other hand, she warns that if you get this decision wrong, it is "tantamount to suicide", and that "YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO CHANGE YOUR SEX". (No pressure!)

She knew that this would be a predicament, so beyond some simple (and good, imo) advice to just try out hormones for a bit to see how they feel, she created a test designed to test if you're transsexual. We're discussing none other than the infamous COGIATI (COmbined Gender Identity and Transsexuality Inventory), Jennifer's attempt at creating a scientific test of your gender identity.

She does put on some disclaimers that it's not to be used as a legitimate diagnostic tool, that it is an amateur attempt, and that her primary motivation is to inspire professionals to create a clinically valid variant. Unfortunately, I found that many external hyperlinks to the page skip the warning screens and jump straight to the test. But surely the test isn't that bad, right?

Some very sexist questions on the COGIATI

This is trash. I'll be blunt and harsh; you cannot determine gender identity based on someone's ability to do math or remember who people are. I'm decent at math and crap at remembering people I just met, but I'm sure there's lots of people of all genders who feel the opposite way.

Broadly speaking, all of the questions follow into these general categories:

I get what she was going for. She looked at scientific studies, noted conclusions like "Men are better at X than women, and women are better at Y then men", then thought that those most be innate difference due to gender identity. It's not a bad theory, but unfortunately she failed to account for other reasons these might have arisen.

Is your ability to reverse a car into a narrow parking spot (seriously, that's question 11) solely because of your "brain sex", or is it a stereotype, or is it from a lack of training? It could be any of those things, or more. Is your ability to pinpoint the location of a bell hampered by hearing loss, or hyper-sensitivity, or other unrelated issues? Do you just not like hugging random strangers of a meeting, regardless of what sex they are? Do you have crap memory? And, more importantly, are any of these variables because of "brain sex", or because of the effects of sex-specific hormones? Would hormone replacement therapy make people better at some skills than others? None of these concerns are answered. And honestly, Transgender Map wrote a better counterargument than I could here.

An extremely long-winded question asking the test-taker to visualize an object in their heads and do spatial reasoning with it

It is this question, number 16, that I think describes the failures of the test best. The ability to read, comprehend, and analyze this paragraph of a question has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you should transition. (This is also very verbosely written for no reason. TL;DR: red cube on bottom, blue cube on top. They switch places three times. What's on top, and what's on bottom?)

For the heck of it, despite totally not being the target audience, I took the test. My score was exactly 100, which was scored as "GOGIATI classification THREE, ANDROGYNE". This is despite answering "yes, I want to transition, I would die if I were forced to be a man" at every possible opportunity. I can assure you I am not agender (although I have tried out she/they pronouns with friends, and I kind of liked that), so I wouldn't call this test accurate from my own perspective.

Elsewhere hidden away on the site is the Informal Gender Identity Self-Discovery Provocateur, which just gives the reader some very good questions to ponder. This is a significantly better "test" because it actually asks questions ABOUT the causes, effects, anxieties, and fears surrounding gender transition.

Ultimately, this is one of the pitfalls of community-provided support. It's the blind leading the blind, and while that's certainly not always a bad thing, sometimes it backfires in nasty ways like this. The good thing, though, is that there's a lot of online resources to pick and choose from, so you can easily choose to ignore this if you want.

Transgender San Francisco

Transgender San Francisco's old homepage

Archive Link

This one is particularly interesting because it's an example of a local community support group. Transgender San Francisco (TGSF) was initially formed as Educational TV Channel (ETVC) in 1982 and became a non-profit organization in 1994. It provided (and still provides!) various services and group activities such as monthly socials and educational seminars, a telephone hotline, and a newsletter.

TGSF reporting on one of their pride parades

They also occasionally throw on more extravagant events such as annual beauty contests, Halloween parties, and pride parades. This must have been such an important stable of the LGBT community back then. They're still doing good work today, which I respect and appreciate.

A section of TGSF's Resources Catalog, showing safe places to get clothes

What I find really cool is the Transgender Resources Catalog, which details a list of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, clothing, shoe, and makeup stores, hair removal places, hotels, general and specialized doctors, psychologists, lawyers, photographers, etc. that are explicitly friendly to transgender people. There's a very underground feel to the whole thing, like this is a secret list passed around to those most vulnerable and in need of support. For the record, when people refer to 'safe spaces", this is what they're talking about. Places where people can just exist without being harassed, ran out, or worse.

TransBoy Resource Network

Index page of the TransBoy Resource Network

Archive Link

A lot of the sites we've looked at have been oriented towards trans women, so here's one targeted specifically at young trans men. It is a well-crafted and incredibly comprehensive directory to useful sites for a young trans-masc person, including legal tips, "passing" advice like how to tie a tie or buy a suit, and resources to assist in the coming out process. They also seemed to be accepting submissions to an anthology, which unfortunately seems to have been finished.

What particularly strikes me about all of these "resource networks" and "informational projects" is how many of them exist and how diverse they are. I could have just as easily featured the TransMan's Information Project or the FTM Informational Network or even "A Gay FTM Website". All of these sites are just individuals trying their best to inform and educate, and it's just heartwarming.

Personal Websites

Mostly what we've been looking at so far are general information websites, or websites of activist organizations. We'll switch gears now to personal homepages, created by average people using free or inexpensive tools such as Microsoft FrontPage or Netscape Composer and published on free or cheap web hosts like Geocities or Angelfire.

Rachel's Mental Crawlspace

Rachel's index page

Archive Link

Here's Rachel's website. She's a young thirty-something (as of the early 00's) in the San Francisco Bay Area, and she's trans! Her website has lots of pics of herself and plenty of short stories and articles she wrote. Her creative works and site in general mostly deals with trans-related topics. She also constructs scale models as a hobby, which she's posed into a few Photoshopped images. It's all nice and simple and quaint.

Paula's RainbowGyrl Web Site

Paula's homepage

Archive Link

This is Paula Funatake's website on "becoming real". She's a transgender woman with a pretty nice website. On her site, she publishes an online journal (an early "web log", if you will) discussing and documenting her transition and her experience as a trans woman, her first experiences calling a trans support foundation on the phone and awkwardly asking for help, dealing with anxieties buying clothes for herself, joy when expressing her gender identity, participating in Halloween celebrations, dealing with therapists and butting heads with the DSM's outdated definitions, and other things. It's honestly a really interesting read.

Beyond that, she has an online book, The Splendor of Gender, in which she attempts to tackle the fundamental issues of gender itself. She also has a page of people she's grateful for, which is super sweet.

Transsexual Artists' Guild

Homepage of the Transsexual Artists' Guild

Archive Link

Here's something a bit different; a web ring! It seems to be a group of mostly trans-masc artists who appear to have met on Geocities. The site oozes fun quirkiness in a way that isn't really seen these days. There's lots of little injokes and silly fun pages, as well as a bunch of links to the guild's members and other FTM resource pages.

Nathan / willoweepr

Nate's homepage

Archive Link

Here's one of the artists from the guild. On his website he includes some trans resources such as a (brief) transition diary and photographs of the effects of testosterone and top surgery on him. While almost none of those photographs seem to survive in the Internet Archive, a few remain, and they show just how well his transition went and how it helped him be who he wanted to be. He even has pictures of him and his wife on their honeymoon, which is just sweet. I must imagine this would have been inspiring to whoever stumbled across this page back in the day.

An art piece by Nate, 'Yin ang Yang'

He also showcases an art gallery, as he is in fact an artist. And, in all honesty, this art slaps. Only two paintings seem to be archived, but they're oozing with originality and passion. Here's hoping Nate's still doing well today.

Jennifer's TG Igloo

Landing page for Jennifer's TG Igloo

Archive Link

Last site for this article. I particularly like this one. Jennifer is a Canadian trans woman who has really fleshed out her site. Beyond the ususal autobiography, images, trans resources, etc. she also uses her site to host essays, poems, and rants that both she and others have written. These writings mostly concern trans issues of the day, and give a very insightful view of the past.

In particular I want to highlight her article entitled Gender Enhanced Male, an alternative term being kicked around on a BBS of the time. A lot of this article is dedicated to describing the history of this BBS (Tri-ESS) and Jennifer's experience using it during the early to mid 90s. To quote her,

When I discovered this BBS I quickly became hooked on the communication between the many gals who frequented this oasis of Transgender freedom. I can safely say that in a short time I learned more and developed my femme self far beyond all the development that had occurred previously. My participation in this forum was the third important event in my TG life after admitting to myself that I was TG and admitting the same to my SO.

Over the 3-4 years that I actively used this service I was amazed again and again by the generosity, intelligence, and empathy of the users of the BBS. The numbers of registered, active users swelled from a few hundred to almost a thousand before this, as many other BBS's, were supplanted by the Internet. While this was probably inevitable I miss the comradery I felt existed @ the BBS.

The Internet by its ease of access and global nature does tend to blur the focus of many forums and lower the average quality of information stored and shared within its environment. In the BBS days it was DAMN hard to get anywhere and you required a significant amount of smarts to make any use of the service. This limitation did however keep the quality of the information sharing fairly high. If this is viewed as an elitist statement I offer my apologies. I won't change my view but I offer my apology nevertheless.

That sure is a thought to ponder on. And I think it makes an excellent spot to wrap up our little internet safari.

Conclusion and Thoughts

There is so, so much more of these old websites to uncover, but this article is getting pretty long and redundant, so I'll cut it short.

The key point of this big internet tour is that the transgender community thrived in the online wild west. Having the ability to throw up a webpage with simple and accessible tools led to a lot of insights, resources, and support to a very marginalized community in dire need to have their voices amplified.

Victoria Rose, the creator of Secret Little Haven, once tweeted something very pertinent to this subject:

Web 1.0 was - ideologically - the most healthy model for the internet we have ever seen, as it was decentralized and far less constrained by the jaws of capitalism.

Web 1.0 was a glimpse into a sustainable, communal, anarchist internet that was promptly crushed by capitalism.

Fan sites and webrings were communities in the real sense of the word - individuals voluntarily banding together in mutual interest and group aid to build a network stronger than the sum of its parts.

It may sounds silly out of context, but webrings were actually a brilliant model of anarchist web communities - a show of support for your comrades and a pledge to assist each other when needed and in turn promote crossover.

Giving people accessible/open tools and space to make their own websites and connect them together will always be healthier and more sustainable than closed, locked-down platforms run by capitalists.

The Advertising Industry upon which the modern web builds its unsustainable revenue models is cultural vandalism and a disturbing invasion of privacy.

The key takeaway here is that a diverse internet is one where ideas and communities flourish. Not that we've completely lost our way; /r/asktransgender, /r/traa, /r/transtimelines, and related subreddits are great resources, and there's still plenty of standalone websites and Tumblr blogs and such out there.

But the luxuries of the modern internet have come at a bit of a cost. You don't really see some dorky transgender woman showing off her Millennium Falcon model on the internet, or the diary and lived experiences of a trans man's life. You just see the blobby conglomerate of a subreddit's memes, or the tiny slice of time presented by a Twitter profile.

It would be preposterous and absurd to blame any current political issues on the lack of personal websites, and I'm not going to attempt to do so. But, having dug through dozens of these archived snapshots of people's lives, of their whole beings, and their struggles to live in the bodies that make them whole, I can say that's its humbling. I'm very glad that fewer people today has to deal with anywhere near the levels of intolerance that people routinely did even 20 years ago. But we've still got a long way to go, and 280 characters isn't going to cut it.

Currently, the increasingly mainstream visibility of trans people and its corresponding pushback from right-wing groups seems to be the community's biggest threat. Beyond the aforementioned UK issues, there is also a rise of multiple "transition assistant" apps such as those produced by Euphoria, a company that produces apps which intend to capitalize on trans people. These include, among other things, Solace (an app to gamify your transition by following steps in a specific order; even though transitioning isn't a set process like that), Bliss, (a "revolutionary savings app for the transgender community"), and Clarity, (a sort of mood tracker that ranks your gender and sexual attraction from a masculine to feminine scale, which again, is not how gender or sexuality works.)

The trans community has, for decades before the BBC or venture capitalists had any say in the matter, been self-sufficient with creating community resources and assistance. The underground, decentralized approach, while flawed at times, seems to be much more effective at actually assisting with and encouraging transition compared to selling merchandise with colorful stripes on it. Marginalized communities are helped when we give them ways to amplify their voices and be activists for their own rights.

Granted, this argument also applies to extremist right-wing groups who stand to oppose marginalized individuals. Parler, Facebook, /r/the_donald, 4chan, and 8chan all played an instrumental role in creating the environment that led to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6. But this was in large part due to algorithms, a hunger for ad revenue, and corporate influence actively pushing people down this path. That isn't a factor on Web 1.0, instead encouraging self-driven exploration of the internet and the ideas it contains.

The Internet is a very powerful and good tool, strangled by a constant need to monetize and profit. Some of the best things on the Internet, such as Wikipedia, open source software, and every trans person's old Geocities page, have greatly benefited humanity despite being entirely non-profit. Perhaps it is best we work towards a decentralized, non-profit internet again.

Other Links

I found a lot of websites in my research. Here are all of them I found, all from about 1999-2005. There are of course more, but I needed to stop eventually. Also, as a disclaimer, a lot of the information on these websites is likely to be out of date and no longer relevant or correct.

Directories

Forums and Message Boards

Comics

Articles

General TG Info

MtF

FtM

Further Reading

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