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While tolerance and acceptance of transgender people is slowly emerging in modern times. the last century was much less understanding. For transgender pioneer Lucy Hicks Anderson, those attitudes led her to jail after it was discovered that she was biologically male.

Born Tobias Lawson in Waddy, Kentucky in 1886, Anderson began identifying as a girl at a young age. At 15, she moved out on her own to Pecos, Texas and worked as a domestic. In 1920, she married Clarence Hicks in New Mexico then moved to Oxnard, Calif. While there, Anderson continued working as a domestic but also operated a brothel. She divorced Hicks in 1929, and married U.S. Army soldier Reuben Anderson in 1944.

Ventura County officials decided to bring forth charges of perjury against her after she signed the marriage license and failed to disclose that she was born male. Instead of getting jail time for the offense, Anderson was placed on 10 years probation.

Little Known Black History Month: Lucy Hicks Anderson  was originally published on

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