History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - People - Bios

michael munson


Primary Involvements:






A biographical panel was created by the Milwaukee LGBT History Project about michael munson, and was featured in a display first appearing at PrideFest 2011. The text from that display is as follows:

    michael munson is a co-founder of FORGE, a Milwaukee-based organization dedicated to moving fragmented communities beyond identity politics and forging a movement that embraces and empowers our diverse complexities.

    As a teenager, michael presented as female and dated both men and women. During the late 1980s he identified as a dyke because of the term’s radical, sexually liberated connotations. After a brief stay in New York, michael returned to Wisconsin and made Milwaukee his home. In the late 1980s he began to explore the social, emotional, and medical implications of transitioning from female to male. michael worked with gender therapist Gretchen Fincke of Pathways Counseling Center to access the medical and legal components of his transition. michael says that he experienced “hardly any difficulties” with transitioning, which he attributes to having a positive attitude, being easy-going, and allowing others time to adjust to his trans identity.

    michael was at the forefront of the FTM (female-to-male) movement, which emerged in force in the mid-1990s. According to him, “Movements start with people who are on the edge already.” Connecting with other female-born, masculine-identified people in the Midwest who were also challenging the gender binary and yearning for resources, michael and his partner organized meetings where trans people and loved ones could discuss gender and FTM issues, and in 1994 FORGE was born. During its early years FORGE met in Chicago and co-sponsored Milwaukee meetings and events with the MTF (male-to-female) group, Gemini Gender.

    Two important events in Milwaukee’s trans history occurred in 2007: FORGE sponsored the first national FTM/SOFFA conference to be held in the Midwest, and the City of Milwaukee banned discrimination based on gender identity and expression in private and public employment, housing, and some public accommodations. michael was centrally involved in both activities. He is most passionate about his anti-violence work, which addresses the intersections of transphobia, homophobia, racism, classism, and other forms of prejudice. “I don’t consider myself a trans activist,” michael says. “I do work that I am passionate about and sometimes that happens to benefit other people.”

(Note that michael intentionally has spelled his own name in all lower case letters.)

By the initiative of Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson and Supervisor Peter Burgelis, some forty individuals and organizations were recognized by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and presented citations in a special meeting on June 22, 2023. "Today, we recommit Milwaukee County to supporting and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, celebrating those who make a substantial positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community in Milwaukee County," Supervisor Burgelis stated. "Today we are making up for lost time. We have dozens of people to recognize, not because so much has been done in the past year, but because decades and even years ago, there was little to no recognition of the LGBTQ+ community. I am thankful to work with a Chairperson who enables our County Board to honor these well-deserving individuals."

Recognitions were made in the categories of "Community Leaders and Activists," "Government Leaders," "Business and Cultural Leaders," and "Health and Wellness Leaders". Munson's citation (in which he is largely self-described, and in which his name appears capitalized) read as follows:

  • WHEREAS, Michael Munson is the co-founder and Executive Director of FORGE, a Milwaukee-based organization dedicated to creating a world where all voices, people and bodies are valued, respected, honored, and celebrated and where every individual feels safe, supported, respected, and empowered; and
  • WHEREAS, Michael Munson co-founded FORGE in 1994, with the purpose of connecting trans-masculine individuals living in the Midwest to provide resources, support and community, and to build partnerships and relationships with physicians and mental health providers to meet the needs of the Midwest’s transgender community; and
  • WHEREAS, Michael Munson and FORGE noticed an alarming trend of sexual abuse and sexual assault experienced by the transgender community, and secured funding to focus help and services on survivors of all types of violence, and to research effective ways to increase the cultural competency of the providers who serve these survivors and loved ones; and
  • WHEREAS, Michael Munson, in his work at FORGE, helped develop an extensive and easily accessible online archive of training webinars and technical assistance publications to help victim service providers better serve transgender and non-binary survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, also providing resources and support for transgender and non-binary survivors; and
  • WHEREAS, Michael Munson's reputation for providing exceptional care, resources, and assistance for transgender and non-binary communities has made FORGE a national organization with invitations to participate in White House events, a leadership role in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender arm of the Office for Victims of Crime and the National Resource Center for Reaching Victims, which has expanded FORGE’s reach and impact nation-wide; and
  • WHEREAS, Michael Munson works collaboratively with numerous other LGBTQ+ organizations to promote acceptance, visibility and equality, including the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, the Lesbian Alliance, the Milwaukee Film Festival, the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and SAGE, among many others; and
  • BE IT RESOLVED, the members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, on the motion of Supervisor Peter Burgelis, along with Supervisors Ryan Clancy, Priscilla E. Coggs-Jones, Caroline Gómez-Tom, Willie Johnson, Jr., Juan Miguel Martinez, Shawn Rolland, Steven Shea, Liz Sumner, Sequanna Taylor, Sheldon A. Wasserman, Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson do herewith commend Michael Munson for his dedicated efforts and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community, and wish him prosperity, happiness, and continued success in all his personal and professional endeavors.


Biographical panel created for PrideFest 2011

Credits: Bulk of Bio panel research by Michael Doylen;
website concept and design by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: June-2024.

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