Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some recent history, and its mythical transformation

I am a survivor, and my involvement in the gay movement goes back a long ways. In fact it started at a time when the current obligatory designation of "GLBTQ" could scarcely be imagined. We called ourselves homophiles in those days.

I was living in Los Angeles in the 1950s when Mattachine, the first significant homophile advocacy group was formed. I had other concerns in those days; getting through college and laying the foundations for my academic career. After having attended a few meetings, I finally joined the New York branch of Mattachine in 1968. Like many of my contemporaries I was energized by the events at the Stonewall Inn a year later. Not long after, I was became active in the gay committee of the American Library Assocation, and then became a founding member of the Gay Academic Union.

After I shifted from activism to gay scholarship, I realized that the history of the American gay movement needed to be written. I knew that the belief (still common to this day) that everything started with Stonewall in 1969 was mistaken. Accordingly, I journeyed to Los Angeles, where a number of the leaders of the original movement, which started in 1950, were still active. I was lucky enough to speak at length with such key figures as Harry Hay, Jim Kepner, Dorr Legg, and Don Slater. Over the years I have maintained a friendship with Billy Glover, a key figure in the early years who is still going strong in his late seventies in Louisiana. Billy is a kind of living record of those brave years.

I then gathered some biographical pieces on the early leaders, turning them over to the late Vern Bullough, who shaped them into an essay collection, entitled Before Stonewall (2002). This book is now the standard reference for the period.

I won’t rehearse any further my credentials in this area. I mention them because they are relevant to what I am now going to relate.

A strange new myth has arisen about the origins of the gay movement. This myth, fervently endorsed by some trans activists, holds that the gay and lesbian movement was, essentially and pivotally, the work of their group, the transgender people. The transgender folk were in the vanguard, gay men and lesbians followed meekly after. This bizarre claim in the opposite of the truth.

First of all, the term "transgender" is an anachronism, and as such revealing of the present-minded agenda of those who brandish it. To be sure, Christine Jorgensen had made headlines with her Danish surgery in 1953. Jorgensen, and the very few individuals who followed her example at the time, had little interest in gay matters, because they believed that they had truly become women. Jorgensen dated men and regarded herself as heterosexual. The same was true of Reed (formerly Rita) Erickson, a wealthy oil tycoon who helped fund several social-change organizations.

Let us then be honest. If we are to speak of a “transgender” contribution we must restrict ourselves to drag queens. They were the only transgender folks around in those days. None of them in fact made a major contribution to the movement.

It is true that Harry Hay sometimes donned a string of pearls, but that was as far as it went in those days. Among the lesbian stalwarts in Daughters of Bilitis, my friend Barbara Gittings was known occasionally to pull out her corncob pipe. Most of the time, though, Barbara wore a dress (gasp!). The demonstrations she and Frank Kameny organized annually in Philadelphia were known for their sartorial conservatism: dresses and skirts for women, and coats and ties for men.

The female impersonator Jose Sarria of San Francisco, who came along a little later, was the only exception in those early days. Quite a few years later Beth Elliott, a Bay Area male-to-female post-op, made a splash. Unfortunately and tragically, Beth was soon run out of the lesbian movement, for not being born a woman. Transsexuals remain controversial in the lesbian movement.

In reality, the “transgender” contribution was negligible in the early gay and lesbian movement. We started the French Revolution, so to speak, without these individuals. The claim of current trans activists rests, as far as I can see, on the slight foundation of two events, the Compton Cafeteria episode in San Francisco and the much more famous Stonwall Inn riots in New York City. (I will return to Compton's in a moment.)

As various accounts show, drag queens played a role in the Stonewall events--but only in the raucous aftermath OUTSIDE the bar. The actual patrons of the Stonewall Inn were for the most part gay men of middle-class origins (note Rivera's testimony below). For the real facts, see the definitive account in David Carter's 2004 monograph, Stonewall. Anyone who has not consulted this book does not know much about Stonewall. Some things just can't be "winged."

From the Greenwich Village event emerged a whole new cadre of leaders, who joined together to form the Gay Liberation Front. Not long after some of them seceded to create the Gay Activists Alliance. None of these leaders were in any way classifiable as transpeople.

There were, to be sure, two fringe individuals, the drag queens Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. While these two persons now enjoy iconic status among trans advocates, neither of them made a significant and lasting contribution to building the overall gay movement. They were pretty much doing their own thing. I knew both of them.

What then of the Compton Cafeteria event? One must step back a moment and realize that during the pre-Stonewall years confrontations with the police were routine. These stemmed from the vicious bar raids conducted by the men in blue. As a rule, one of two precipitating factors came into play: “cleanups” when an election was in the offing, and dissatisfaction on the part of the police that their payoffs (routine in those days) were insufficiently lucrative.

For the most part, the gay victims went quietly during these raids, resulting in a misdemeanor charge. These arrests could be career-ending, though. Doubtless this was one of the main reasons why the raids kept happening--to “keep the queers in line.”

In a few cases gays fought back. This was true, for example, of the Dewey’s restaurant raid in Philadelphia (1965), the Compton’s Cafeteria riot in San Francisco (1966), the Black Cat raid in Los Angeles (1967), and the Donut shop event in Los Angeles (May 1969). Thus the Compton occurrence, now lauded to the skies by trans activists, was but one of a series. Compared to Stonewall, all these episodes were of merely local importance.

What happened at Compton’s Cafeteria so long ago? The riot occurred in August 1966 in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. On the first night of the disturbance, the cafeteria management summoned the police when some drag-queen customers became obstreperous. When a police officer attempted to arrest one of the cross-dressers, the individual threw her coffee in his face. At that point the riot began, dishes and furniture flew in the air, and the restaurant's plate-glass windows were smashed. Accounts of the event indicate that the rioting and subsequent picketing of the cafeteria were a joint effort of drag queens, hustlers, Tenderloin street people, and lesbians. This occurrence was by no means a “transgender exclusive,” as it is often portrayed nowadays.

On this slender foundation--a San Francisco episode of purely local importance and the flare up of drag queens at Stonewall--today’s trans activists have built a whole elaborate myth. We are asked to revere a gaggle of crazy queens as heroic pioneers who were responsible for the foundation and progress of the gay movement. As I have shown, this contention is simply nonsense.

FOOTNOTE. Here is what Sylvia Rivera herself told the historian Eric Marcus for his book, Making History: "The Stonewall wasn't a bar for drag queens. Everybody keeps saying it was. ... If you were a drag queen, you could get into the Stonewall if they knew you. And only a certain number of drag queens were allowed into the Stonewall at that time." In fact, the night when the Stonewall riots began was the first time Rivera had ever even been to the bar, and then she only appeared outside the premises.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was out, openly, and actively gay for ten years in 1982 before I heard of Stonewall, and only because mythical tales by none other than Scott Smith, one of Harvey Milk's many widows, told me the narrative.

I have no doubt the Stonewall event was a significant event -- to New Yorkers, but the homophile liberation movement on the West Coast was largely unaware and indifferent to the event, such as myself, and many of us consider the White Night Riots a far more significant "date" than Stonewall.

Whatever Stonewall was, it is over-hyped and ethnocentric exaggeration by a few drama queens who assume everything west of the Hudson River is irrevelant. No chauvinism there, girls?

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, I expected more out of your short essay than a systematic devaluing of not only trans contributions to the beginnings of the gay rights movement, but the legitimacy of their identities and actions themselves. Unless you were to write an entire book with a chapter on trans people, half of what you brought up was wholly irrelevant other than to paint a normative picture of the transsexual and drag queen. Even while you acknowledge some contributions and clear and obvious trans involvement, you paint with a broad brush over it as either being not of importance, or insignificant. Perhaps it is a 'post-modern' sentiment, but all queer activities that stand up against a system that discriminates is important and should be valued for what it is within its context and the context of wider movements.

Your first few paragraphs were spent establishing your credibility, which you rely on to create a veneer of authoritative knowledge about anything involving Stonewall. However, the remainder of what you wrote came off as not only horribly biased, but an entirely unsourced collection of sociological imaginings of the gay rights movement nearly being entirely a gay male thing, giving bare mention to lesbian and trans contributions. I don't speak for any trans activist, but their scholarship is less an attempt to subvert and claim ownership of the gay rights movement than it is an attempt to dig out all the trans involvement that was swept under the carpet due to prejudice within queer communities. No, I don't believe the gay rights movement was driven by or started with trans involvement, but trans people were often the targets of police brutality and spoke out loudly with their gay and lesbian peers. Just because they never formed a cadre that became a center of power for the gay rights movement doesn't mean it remains okay for them to be devalued in gay male discourses.

I would also like to correct you on your blanket statement about transsexuals remaining controversial in the 'lesbian movement'. It is less lesbians themselves or any discernible 'lesbian movement' that remains cold to transsexual involvement; it is radical lesbian separatist feminists and some of their second-wave allies who remain unwelcoming of trans women in women's spaces, mostly because they're believed to be fundamentally men in women's clothing. Female-to-males are in turn considered misguided women who succumbed to the temptation of male privilege, rather than delusional, and willfully invasive like male-to-females are generally considered to be.

11:23 AM  
Blogger mm said...

You may be correct about the past, but you're sorely misinformed about the present. There is no longer a gay-only movement in the U.S. You're either going to have to recognize the existence of bisexual and transgender people or be shot down.

And "transgender" is not an anachronism. Transgender people have existed as long as people have existed - we just weren't always called transgender. The stone butches and drag queens of the 50's transgressed gender norms, just like the genderqueers and transsexuals of today.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Patricia Harlow said...

Wow. What an incredibly biased anti-trans piece from a clearly gay author. Amazing that you actually took the time to sit down and write out how you feel the horrible trannies are taking away 'your' history. More and more I get the feeling some GnLs are becoming upset they are no longer the 'in' thing. Ridiculous.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

The history was quite interesting if not baised towards the "gay" side of things.

However, I did notice the glaring omission of one 'big" event; the 1973 gay pride event in NY city. It explains why there was little involvement in the "gay civil rights movement from 1973 until 1995.

At the event a radical lesbian feminist spoke and demanded the exclusion of drag queens from the movement. By association all cds and ts folk were also excluded. This demand which was acted upon is all documented in a little known film titled "A Queer Blue Light".

Lee Brewster was present at the event. She strenuously objected to the exclusion. This is also in the film.

In 1993, at the March On Washington the exclusion of trans folks was again demonstrated. Towards the end of the march there as a delay as the organizers were making a decision about the transgender contingent in the march. I was there and I overheard two march officials discussing the delay. One of them said, "We don't want to confuse people about our purpose.".

When the march resumed, as the transgender contingent stepped onto the mall, we again halted and then march officials directed us away from the march path. We had our own march along the edge of the path towards the capitol building. The rest of the march proceeded to the right and eventually past the reviewing stands and the national news cameras covering the march. Recognition of trans participation was denied by the rerouting of our contingent.

It's little surprise that the gay/lesbian movement's history has little to say about trans participation.

Fast forward to 2007 when trans inclusion was jettisoned from ENDA. Instead of standing up with integrity for everyone, those in the position to make decisions decided that some people didn't deserve consideration. Hopefully this won't happen again!

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Tina (IL) said...

Wow! Another thrashing of the T community. This on the heels of the Bilerco opinion piece. I wish I could say I am shocked and disappointed. At least this article didn't openly accuse me of mutlitating my body.

Make no mistake about it- there are those in the gay community who wish to marginalize transgendered individuals. As a transgendered individual, I find this piece, while perhaps historically correct, completely devoid of facts related to being transgendered. There seems to be a growing feeling among some gay leaders that it is okay to trash us. It isn't. It is wrong, and it will come back to hurt you.

As Ben Franklin supposedly said, "If we do not hang together, we will certainly hang seperately." I will support gay marriage and gay rights. I hope that the LG community (the majority of it) will be euqally respectful of my rights.

2:09 PM  
Blogger idappaccayata said...

This is a real palm-to-face moment.

Why is it that you don't seem to know that the first mass-media effort to discuss GLBT sex/gender issues was a 1958 recording by a TG? I am, of course, talking about Christine Jorgenson's 1958 LP interview "Jorgensen Reveals"? I encourage you to do so because she takes apart your premise. In fact, the things she talks about are the same things the modern trans movement talks about. Also, how is it that you don't seem to know that the term "transgender" is 50 years old? How is it that you missed the term "transgenderist" from the 70s?

Look, the fact is that the TG community has been fighting just as long and just as hard. The problem was that a lot of the gays didn't want to be associated with the so-called "drag-queens". The TG community was treated like the ugly step-child of the queer movement. Just ask Ray Hill. It has always been the gender non-conformers who had the targets painted on their foreheads. They were the ones always and forever pushing the envelope. It is this simple fact that inspires a lot of TGs feel those gender non-conformers... those who transcended gender stereotypes... those, transgenders... were the tip of the arrow (so to speak) - the people who were out in front.

I've always felt that the gay community did absolutely benefit from the discussions inspired by famous trans-people like Marry Edwards Walker (1832 – 1919) or Lili Elbe (1882 - 1931).

You can't claim that the early gay community didn't get a lot of help from early TG people like Herman von Teschenberg (1866 - 1911) or Magnus Hirschfeld (AKA "Tante Magnesia" - "Auntie Magnesia").

My god... what about the old Molly Houses? Didn't that contribute in organizing the gay community?

Please just admit that TGs have been there - whether you wanted them there or not - every step of the way instead of pompously pretending that the trans people had negligible roles. What hubris!

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No wait, I think he's right. There were less trans people in the movement (and in the general population) than there were gay people. So reason dictates that trans contributions were negligible relative to those of gay men. Simple math, duuurr.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Suzan said...

I too have been around since the 1960s and co-ran an organization for transsexuals that grew out of the Compton Riot.

Transsexuals formed their own separate organizations that helped us with the process and were not part of the L/G movement unless like myself we came out as lesbian. Most post-SRS lesbians did not suffer the trashing Beth did.

I was in Berkeley at the time of Stonewall (having started to live full time as a woman that same month)and honestly the SDS/Weatherman split a few days earlier had more impact on me.

Much of the transgender movement of today grew out of the heterosexual cross dresser movement which ran in parallel with the gay movement and had to fight similar fights but did not do so in unison with the gay movement.

The whole attempt to insert the relatively new paradigm of transgender as some universal designation for different groups is ahistorical.

Those of us who were transsexual didn't form organizations with either the queens or with the heterosexual transvestites. Indeed the heterosexual TVs were seriously homophobic.

At the same time the bars that permitted queens and transsexuals in them were trannie bars and with few exceptions like Folsom Street's The Stud and some pre-discos we were not welcome in gay men's bars.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

I agree with Susan's comments. The role of the heterosexual cross-dresser movement has been, and remains, very important. Yet it attracts little attention or support from today's transgender activists. It does not fit their template--and is, of course, heterosexual.

Even so, I believe that there are advantages to allying with this large heterosexual group, based (as is often observed) on a common heritage of discrimination and stereotyping. Still, they are not gay, and such an alliance must be simply that, not a merger.

Missy has also made some good points. In my salad days as a gay activist--way back in the 1970s--I remember how radical lesbians told us, in no uncertain terms, how we were to regard drag queens. They were mocking women: that was their sole intention.

Sometimes I timidly asked why we shouldn't seek to learn from the drag queens what their intention actually was. Afrer all, lesbians and gay men reserve the right to define themselves. No, no, no, I was firmly told. We k n o w what they are doing.

Another source of prejudice stems from social conservatives like Bruce Bawer, who think that drag queens are damaging our image. As for myself, I always enjoy their presence in the Pride marches: they are, as has been observed herein, a major aspect of gay culture. I trust that this will remain the case.

As a linguist (see my online book Homolexis) I am naturally interested in the origin of words. All the same, the first citation of the term "transgender" is not relevant to the prevailing climate of discourse, where the term serves as a portmanteau label mingling very different groups of people, some of whom are homosexual or bisexual, and others neither. In that respect, it is somewhat like "Hispanic," an umbrella term that brings together quite disparate groups. "Hispanic" is a success. Whether "transgender" will be remains to be seen.

My impression (and it is an impression only) is that the participants in the present colloquy stem from two M2F groups: those who are transitioning to female, and those who assume the clothing and habitus of women but are not planning to alter their (male) genitals. It would be most interesting to learn the views of the F2Ms, and most especially the heterosexual cross-dressers.

6:44 AM  
Blogger idappaccayata said...

I want to make 2 points: you seem to be regionally bias and historically obtuse.

Regional Bias:

It seems that wherever Dyneslines is from, they are imposing their local experience over the *entirety* of the queer progress in America.

I come from Houston. In Houston, the GLBT community has been integrated and supportive of each other for a very, very long time.

When I listen to Ray Hill talk (gay activist from the 50s), I get the distinct impression that the national groups (out of CA, NY, DC) were the ones that didn't want TGs to be a part of the movement.


Houston's queer history seems to have been and ahead of New York and San Francisco in some significant ways. In other words, the cross dressing, transsexual, intersexed, gender queer, gay, lesbian and bi communities have, for the most part, been quite supportive of each other. In fact, the local crossdressing group of Tri Ess was always at odds with the national organization (based out of CA) for their acceptance of transsexuals and GLB people.

In Houston, we just don't have the type of divisions that seem to exists within the TG community and the GLBT community in other areas of the country - even though we have possibly the largest queer community in the nation.

Case in point: We just elected the first *openly* gay mayor of a major city, Annise Parker. Annise's first run for office more than a decade ago was largely organized by the TG community. She received her first campaign contributions from the TG community. Of course, Parker is the 2nd lesbian Houston has elected mayor. We elected the 1st gay mayor in 82 (Kathy Whitmire). In Houston, the militant leaders of the 70s resistance were Ray Hill (gay) and Phyllis Frye (TG).

Dr. Paul Walker - am out gay man - was the person who organized one of the first gender treatment programs in the nation... in the Houston area. He and his team, with the help of the local GLBT community, put together an outreach program and wrote the first standards of care and formed HBIGDA in the Houston area back in the 60s.

It is simply inaccurate to claim that *THE* GLBT community didn't work together to get to where it is. It may be possible that *YOUR* community didn't, but I know that *MY* GLBT community did.

In Houston, we went to jail together, we marched together and have supported each other in the last 50 years of queer history.

Historically Obtuse:

Where would the GLBT community be without TGs like Magnus Hirschfeld (a cross dresser) - who formed the first queer rights organization and who did most of the pioneering work that laid the rational foundation for the removal of homosexuality from the DSM?

Have you ever bothered to listen to Christine Jorgenson's shocking (for the times) statements of support of the GLBT community from her 1958 LP?

It is simply wrong to claim or infer that the contributions of trans people are negligible.

You seem to make that claim by only looking at recent queer history from the region of the country that you are familiar with. In this way, you are indeed being obtuse.

Look, we are tied together as a queer community because we all - in some way - violate cultural gender stereotypes and have, as a group, suffered for it. Some are boys who like other boys even when our culture gender stereotypes demand that boys only like girls. Some of us cross dress, others give up their cultural gender status and others transition from one status to the other. Dismiss that shared experience as post-modern hyperbole if you like, but it will not change the fundamental bond that the GLBT community shares. If one can't see and appreciate that, then they will probably feel out of step from the current queer community; one might even feel left behind and unvalued.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Suzan said...

Christine Jorgensen was not transgender. Just as I am NOT transgender.

She was like I am transsexual.

Transgender is a social construct. A political identity that grew out of the heterosexual transvestite movement founded by people like Virginia Prince.

This group was often violently homophobic and anti-transsexual.

It was particularly nasty towards those of us who were lesbian after SRS.

As it evolved it turned into IFGE, turned the paradigm from the transsexual one of changing sex into a mish mash of post modern "gender" babble.

As a Woman Born Transsexual and a Berkeley left wing militant I was largely indifferent to the Stonewall Riot when it occurred perhaps because the Bay Area Gay Liberation movement was in full swing for months prior demanding recognition of same sex partnerships, fighting sodomy laws, picketing a steamship line and generally acting like another part panoply of movements that were in bloom at the time.

Transsexuals were active in their own causes and while we were often friendly with, went to conferences with etc we were not really part of the gay liberation movement.

When we met at play the nexus was often the midnight performances by the Cockettes at the Palace Theater

10:31 AM  
Blogger idappaccayata said...

Okay, so in Cali you aren't a transgender.

In Houston, all gender-queer, intersexed, transsexual, transgenderist, bois, grrls, etc, etc, etc use the term, "transgender" in much the same why that one might say that they are both "human" and "female".

An intersexed person (who identified as transgender)helped me transition and taught me about SRS before I had it 15 years ago.

The crossdressing community (who also identifies as transgender) is really, really supportive of all the other trans-identified people and we are really, really supportive of them.

The butch lesbians, drag kings and transsexuals come to the FTM meetings - and they all identify as being transgender and they all work very well together.

Intersexed people come to the "TG" meetings and identify as transgenders.

I can only speak for my experience in my region. In Houston, there is a GLBT community. In Houston we seem to be very comfortable with being "transgender". In Houston, we know we are all in the same boat and we tend to work really well together and we tend to have a lot of pride about that fact.

Hell, in Houston, half of the transgender center's board of directors are gay and lesbian (do not identify as being trans) - which is really okay here. Also, TGs are on the GLBT community center board of directors.

We have 2 queer centers in Houston. One is specifically trans... and it works well because it seems that we in Houston really understand our commonalities while respecting our differences and we choose to work very well together.

I sometimes think that queer sociologists and anthropologists should study Houston to figure out why we seem to be so cohesive when other places seem to be so divisive.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Suzan said...

I'm not transgender in LA, SF, NY or Dallas where I currently live.

I had a sex change due to having been born transsexual.

I matter not one whit to me that a bunch of people came along years later and invented a social construct, a political identity that they embrace.

I expect my definition of self to be as much respected as they expect theirs. That does not mean a retroactive hegemonic colonization of my life experiences under the rubric of transgender.

The transwars of the past ten years have often been due to a refusal to respect the rights of people with transsexualism not to be involuntarily included in your political identity.

Calling us names is a crappy way to carry on a dialogue.

Trying to retroactively apply the label to people who lived their lives prior to the creation of the social construct "transgender" violates their lives.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

I was actually born in Fort Worth, but chose to get out of Dodge at an early age.

I fear that I am not a loyal son of my native state. Sometimes I maliciously think that it would be good plan to let Texas secede from the Union, as some chauvists have proposed. But then I remember that some good people live there.

3:40 PM  
Blogger idappaccayata said...

The transwars? What are the transwars? Please explain. For real. Seriously. I'd appreciate it. I never heard of it.

Are you talking about the whole HRC, Gender PAC, Its Time America thing from back in the 90s? Is this something local to you or was it a national-level thing?

On the whole transgender label, I suppose that it is just a culture thing. Houston just seems to have a trans-culture that is different than NY or Cali. I think that if you said those things in a trans meeting or event, people would look at you like you had lobsters crawling out of your ears. Apparently if I went to where you live and said that we are all transgenders, they would think I was just as strange.

I like the unity that exists in the Houston GLBT community. I like that we are all queer. I like that all the people with gender atypical history identify under the TG umbrella in Houston because I think that gives us a common identity to organize around. It seems to work for us.

I too am a transsexual woman. My earliest memories are about being trans. I had SRS years ago. I identify as being a transgender who is a transsexual.

Being called transgender, queer, fag, tranny, etc doesn't bother me in the least and I suppose I like it that way. My history makes me who I am and my history transcends gender stereotypes.

I am very aware of what a troll VP was. She was a misogynist and a homophobe. I think that she did a lot of damage on a national level (as well as some good). She was also a product of where she came from.

I also know that the local Houston chapter of tri-ess was always butting heads with the national organization because they let transsexuals in and networked with the gay community.

The Houston transsexuals I know who have been active for the last 40 years all identify as being transgender and they have always worked closely with the gay community.

I just think that Houston has a different history and culture and because of that, we approach things in a different way.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

Maybe its time for that secession after all. Then Texans, of whatever city, can revel in their delusion that they are the center of the universe.

In my youth there was a proverbial question that went as follows. What do you get if you take one of these big tall Texans and pour water on him or her?

ANS Instant bullshit.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Suzan said...

The transwars? What are the transwars?

I do not identify as transgender.

Indeed I get really pissy when people insist tat due to having had SRS I am automatically transgender.

You can discover the wars for yourself. Google HBS. Or go on many of the mailing lists.

For what it is worth I do not consider myself part of any sort of "Transcommunity" either.

My relationship with LGBT/T is as a lesbian.

At the same time I support hate crimes protections, inclusive ENDA and inclusive health care reform.

But my axes to grind are more about same sex marriage, media reform, anti-globalization/anti-corporate, anti imperialism than some sort of identity politics constructed fiction.

I'm nearly 40 years post-SRS and have followed the movement history for that long.

4:47 PM  
Blogger idappaccayata said...

Wow! You've resorted to name calling instead of dealing with the real historical data that I've put before you.

I pointed out the obtuse and hubris streak that ran through your post and you've highlighted that trait quite nicely now.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More people need to come forward and tell their stories, to preserve the truth from the tender mercies of the revisionists. Enough history has been lost already due to the passing of many of the people involved. If nobody steps forward to tell the truth, your life story will be written for you by queer theorists.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Zoë Suzanna said...

I find it annoying to be lumped into the alphabet soup. The TG movement would like to try and count me as part of their "T" But I am not a "T" There needs to be dialogue that Transsexual doe not equate to transgender.

Like Susan who posted before, I identify more with "L" but even still, I am not a letter is some soup; I am a human, I am a woman correcting my defect I was born with.

The TG movement is a nuisance for real transsexuals. Transgenderists would do better to find a different label to refer to themselves and not drag the rest of the world with them.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

No shortage TS of people in the big world who don't identify with transgenderism, or call themselves TG idappaccayata.

To my way of thinking human beings are, among other things, collections of identities.

People are free to adopt new identities and dispose of old ones as they see fit.

Over at OII it is strict policy not to police identities. Intersex people can and do identify as male, female, transsexed, transgendered, queer, gay, lesbian.

Some individuals have a mixture of the above.

Many transsexed people, myself included, reject transgenderism as an ideological construct. We argue the need for empirical evidence and do not accept the TG narrative, which we interpretas a pseudo-science, drawing what little substance it has from John Money's theories.

But, at the risk of repetition ... humans are collections of identities and we are free to choose or reject as befits our personal needs.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Post by "Kay Brown"


I'm probably the one that you should be directing your anger at. In the early '90s, I was that "transactivist" that began writing articles and even public protests of what I called "stolen history", the history of transsexual and similar people who had been wrongly claimed as "gay" but who had to live as the other sex in order to avoid homophobia. For example, the now well known FtM transman, Dr. Alan Hart, who was wrongly portrayed as a "lesbian" who passed as a man to avoid homophobia and have a career as a physician. I helped organize a protest of the "Lucille Hart" dinner that was used to raise funds by a transphobic gay rights organization in Oregon in 1993. This is the background to the story... your story that we are over-reaching in establishing our history. Au Contrare! In 1998, I put together a class at the Harvey Milk Institute in San Francisco, and posted my essays and my PowerPoint slides from the class on transhistory.net, now taken down, as I felt that it had done its job. Given that you are now arguing that our lives and contributions are over-hyped, I must have done a pretty good job.

Some of the previous posters have already corrected several mistakes... but I must add that you belittle our contributions on a false premise. I never argued that we were a "major" factor... simply that relative to our numbers, we made a proportionally greater impact. Example? When the gay community leaders of Los Angelos called on the community to participate in a protest against CBS for Harry Reasoner's homophobic documentary that opened with a crotch-shot of two gay men holding hands in public, in 1980, over half, honestly, I counted, over half of the protesters were transsexuals, mostly street kids like me. Further, you spoke of Mr. Reed, (w/ his birth name, wink... cheap shot that...) but failed to mention that the Los Angelos Gay and Lesbian Community Center is located at the building he donated for that purpose... or how much he contributed financially to the homophile movement back when. You also mention Beth Elliott, but dismiss her as having been run out of the lesbian community. Actually, the truth is far more complicated... as I found in my research, starting with a conversation, sitting on the rooftop of Beth's house, as she did some minor repairs (she was horrified later when she learned that I had acrophobia, but really wanted the interview). Ms. Elliott was a leader in the Alice B. Toklas Gay Democratic Party Caucus, working tirelessly for the end of anti-sodomy law in California, etc. She also wrote extensively in the gay press, exhorting gay people to become and remain politically active.

Again, it is true, that by shear numbers, transfolk weren't he majority of the leadership or even cadre... but in perportion to our numbers, we were more active than the average gay man or lesbian in the bars or ducking into tea rooms for a quickie. My effort to reveal our hidden history was to offer to a small minority that too often was made invisible by gay historians, that we do have a proud history. One that can stand up to even your belittlement.

- Kay Brown

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Christine Jorgensen was not transgender. Just as I am NOT transgender. She was like I am transsexual."

Looks like Christine Jorgensen publicly self-identified as transgender in the 1980s.

"I am a transgender because gender refers to who you are as a human."
CP, 1985

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to balance out the ethnocentrism that seems to be enjoyed here...


11:03 PM  

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