The Albany Speech: Building Alliances and Community

This is something like an approximation I’m giving of the speech in Albany. Like I mentioned before, I can’t memorize, so I often end up writing a speech, then outlining it, and then speaking from my outline and notes.
But I think you’ll get the gist of it.
Thank you so much for inviting me up here. I’ve only been to Albany a few times, and this is much nicer than freezing on the Capitol’s steps. Much, much nicer.
I want to thank all of the groups who brought me up here, with an especial thanks to Rhea, who did so much of the legwork. I think by now she’s discovered that if you want to see something happen, you usually have to do it yourself. I had to warn her that if she kept on, she’d end up having herself whisked away to State Museums to speak to people, since that’s how it happened to me. Writers generally like the company of cats and computers, and I think it’s a mean joke that after you actually get a book published, the first thing that happens is you get yanked away from your cats and computer and told you need to stand in front of a room full of people and talk.
But still, that’s how it happens. I never intended to be writing or talking about trans subjects at all; after all, I’m not even transgendered, and I’m only honorarily GLBT. I ended up here because I wanted something that didn’t exist, so I had no choice but to create it. That something was a community – a community that Betty and I would belong in, where – when people saw us together, hand in hand – we wouldn’t have to explain who or what we are. I went online and found stuff for transpeople, but little for partners. There were places reserved for crossdressers’ wives, but only ones that implied I should be unhappy. When I went to the Manhattan GLBT center I was asked what exactly I was doing there, and I didn’t really know the answer, except to say “because I need help, and friends, and people who understand.”
Those of you who have been involved in support groups or organizations know what I’m talking about. If everything that needed to be done, was, we could spend our time discussing the finer points of medieval art, or fly fishing, or collecting miniature railroads. But in the meantime, there’s too much to be done.
When I hear about a transwoman who doesn’t want crossdressers in her group, or about crossdressers who don’t want to hang out with gay men, or lesbians who won’t let transwomen into their spaces, I always remember that old joke about academia, where the politics are bitter exactly because the stakes are so low. I worked in environmental politics for a while in my early 20s, and it was true there too. Likewise for third parties, and sadly, it’s true for the trans community as well. There are arguments online and in person about how to define transgender, who is transgendered, who in the trans community suffers the most or the least. There is gossip, naysaying, and a lot of holier-than-thou attitudes. When one person says “we should protest” there are three who say, “if we protest they’ll think we’re crazy.”
Well, they already do.
If there’s one thing the trans community can be clear on, it’s that society thinks transpeople are either invisible, crazy, or perverted. Sometimes all three at once.
In some ways, what we have is a luxury of lack. There is so much to be done, so many to be educated, so much ignorance to enlighten. Transitioning, or living openly as genderqueer, trans, or as a crossdresser requires a PhD in gender, practically. We learn to teach, to explain, to show. We grit our teeth and explain ‘trans 101’ over and over and over again. Betty and I can’t go to a party without knowing that at some point in the evening, we’ll be cornered by someone who just wants to ask questions. We try to ignore what it feels like to be poked with sticks, to be looked at as if we just landed from another planet.
And yet as a community we still have time to argue with each other, to tell someone she is not transgendered, to gossip that so and so isn’t full-time, to ask – like the ignorant do – who’s had surgery and who’s on hormones.
It’s no wonder then we never get to talk to others, or that we get angry when others get the pronouns wrong. We go out in the world to fight the good fight, but we do so already worn out with the in-fighting, the gossip, the insecurities of people who not only have to explain themselves to the rest of the world but to their sisters, their community, their potential allies.
We can’t afford it.
We’ve got trans teens being thrown out of their homes, and young transwomen and men being killed. We have closeted crossdressers who are about to lose their wives, and maybe custody of their children, if they come out. We have transitioned people who fear that someone will notice a larger-than-average hand or a smaller-than-average one. We lose our jobs to discrimination, have to rewrite resumes so they pass, spend our lives saving money just in case. We live with ridicule, open hostility, and little legal protection. We are not considered the same as other American citizens, and our love is the target for groups that find us immoral.
And yet we talk about whether or not he’s really transgendered, or if she is.
And what I’d ask you is: will the bullies care? When some ignorant fool with a violent streak sees me and Betty walk down the street hand in hand, is he going to stop to ask me if I’m heterosexual, or if we’re legally married? When he sees a crossdresser coming home from her local support group, is he going to wonder if there’s a wife and kids at home? Is he going to wonder whether or not some other trans person considers that trans person legit or not? Will he ask a gay man if he’s got a 401K plan, or if he’s legally unioned? Will he bother to ask a lesbian if she birthed her own children?
You know the answer. We all do. Bigots don’t see a difference between the white picket fence GLBT and the queers. But we still fight amongst ourselves, wearing each other down with criticisms and oughts. We go out in the world wounded and full of pride, and we’re already exhausted when our partners, mothers, clergy, coworkers make jokes about faggots. Who has the energy to fight the good fight with genuine energy after spending all day fighting a useless one with someone who should be a friend?
I have a weird lens on some of this stuff because I used to be heterosexual. I say “used to” because people just do NOT see Betty and I as straight, anymore. But I used to be, and I remember what it felt like to receive the validation, and status, and approval of being in that world. The loss I’ve felt has been keen, noticing that lesbian couples aren’t physically affectionate in public spaces, that gay men might kiss in the West Village but have to look around first before they kiss anywhere else. Aside from my own sense of anger at feeling restricted, it makes me sad. Sometimes I don’t think we even realize the ways we hide ourselves. And sometimes I think we’re so busy worrying about gay marriage – which is worth worrying about – that we forget that the goal is to be able to have our love be socially acceptable. Right now, it’s still rough going. There’s a reason transsexuals go stealth and that crossdressers stay in the closet. They don’t want to lose that, because it’s a lot to lose. I know a little too well how much it is to lose.
If gays and lesbians could marry legally I wouldn’t have to worry about Betty changing the gender marker on her license, because then it wouldn’t matter if people saw us as two women or not. But the reason the trans community needs to help make gay marriage legal is because it’s the right thing to do. Too often, trans people live in the loopholes, and that’s no way to live. Focus on the Family wants to tighten those loopholes: they’re disgusted by people like me and Betty being legally married, as disgusted as they are by Vermont and Massachusetts and New Paltz.
But there are other things too: employment discrimination and child custody issues and higher risks of suicide in our teens. We have to worry about harassment, physical violence, and – according to Amnesty International – we even have to worry about whether or not the police will hurt us when we look to them for help.
Plenty to do, indeed. But to me some of the most important stuff we have to do is not just GENDA – but we have to change the hearts and minds. And that’s the hard part, isn’t it? It’s so vague, so much less countable than 32 pieces of legislation nationwide. I get exhausted thinking about the very idea of it – all the Americans who voted for gay marriage bans out there, hating. Politicians who play their fear, their moral superiority. But the same as we don’t have time for infighting, we don’t have time for exhaustion, either.
Like I said before, I ended up here accidentally, looking for community where there was none. Because I was okay with my husband being trans didn’t mean I had friends who understood one iota of what our life is like. I wanted to find other people like me to talk to.
The first people in our lives who knew were gay and lesbian and bisexual. It wasn’t an accident or a coincidence, either. We were given Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg by one lesbian friend, The Drag Queens of New York by another. One friend who’d been active in the early days of Act-Up told us not to come out over the Thanksgiving holiday, that “mom, please pass the stuffing to the homosexual” was inappropriate and ineffectual. We found guidelines for coming out on the HRC website, GLBT legal history on the Task Force’s, and a model for friends and family on P-FLAG’s. What we found is that the GLB is not just it’s organizations, but it’s resources, the gay and lesbian and bisexual people we already knew, who knew themselves what it was like to be in the closet, what it was like to be misunderstood, what it’s like to be told you’re immoral because of who and how you love.
We came to understand that we were in the same boat and had been all along. We’d been sitting up front watching the spray while others were minding the course. But slowly, as we came out to others, we realized that we already had a crew, we were already onboard, and that all we had to do was say “Is there anything I can do?” for us to feel fully welcomed. And boy were we welcomed! Because all the people on that boat knew too that plenty of the world was out to sink it.
To me, that’s the nature of community and alliance. Not sitting back and saying “what have you done for me lately?” but saying instead, “tell me about what you need.” When disparate groups do that for each other, something really remarkable happens. I’ve found it amazing at how easy it can be, by just wanting to know someone else’s story, someone else’s struggle. And yet, it’s like we have trolls at the foot of the bridge. And we have to be wary of the trolls.
Not very long ago, Betty and I were out with a friend at a very trans-friendly, gay business, a bar and restaurant. It had gotten a boost when it had first opened by having a drag queen and some friends of hers throw weekly parties in their largely unused upstairs room. The people came, because drag is hip again, isn’t it? And the business grew, and being right near a movie theatre, it drew a diverse crowd. But it was always trans friendly; the T-girls would gather at the bar every Saturday for dinner or drinks or both, and then head off to a somewhat infamous trans night at another bar. This one night when we were there, the bartender, a gay man – pulled one of the transwomen aside and told her that the T-girls were becoming a problem, not by being there, but because they’d started to use the place as a community center: changing in the bathrooms, bringing their own flasks of alcohol to cut down on costs, etc. The brouhaha that ensued was remarkable for its sound and fury but made almost no sense. The bar, the bartender, and anyone who sided with THEM were accused of being transphobic. After the trans contingent huffed away, Betty and I wandered over to the bar to hear more about what the fuss had been about, and what we heard was that transpeople were behaving badly. After talking to the bartender for a while we found out he didn’t really know much about transfolk. He told us what it was like to grow up a bear in the mid-west and we told him what it was like to be trans. And we talked about why transwomen might use the bathroom to change in, and why they might get a little too drunk too fast (because they’re nervous as hell), and he nodded, and we nodded, and then we came home to find out that some of the transwomen were involved were talking about a lawsuit, and stayed up until a very late hour writing emails to any of the local community leaders who might be able to put a stop to their foolishness.
And it was foolishness: not because gay people can’t be transphobic (or trans people be homophobic) but because if we can’t figure out how to be accepted, and acceptable, to one another, then we don’t have a shot with the rest of the world. And as much as we all can be self-ghettoizing, the rest of the world is still out there: discriminating employers, judgmental pharmacists, and of course the Federal and State governments, who still don’t seem to understand why gender markers are about as valid now as race markers are.
And then there are the groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America. They have our number now. They know about couples like me and Betty who slipped through a loophole in the ‘legal marriage’ debate. We watched with millions of other GLBT Americans as state after state voted in the last election to make our love and commitment illegal. We know what Fred Phelps thinks of us. He doesn’t care if you played Sulu or have your own television show or play Pro Ball. You know what a bigot calls a gay doctor? I’m sure you do.
But still we fight amongst ourselves about whether or not crossdressers and transsexuals have anything in common. They do, folks. They’re all in the same boat that lots of people want to sink. Passing transwomen are embarrassed by the “man in the dress.” Crossdressers think transsexuals have just gotten carried away with themselves. And every single minute that we make these accusations of each other, the Religious Right find a few hundred more people who are willing to boycott a company for hiring gay men or funding a pride parade. They’ve got money and power and membership and visibility and politicians’ ears.
And we can’t sit together in a room long enough to even hear about pending legislation.
The thing is, there’s a lot to be done. If you don’t like to deal with politicians or don’t like the kind of legislation that’s being sponsored, do something else. You don’t have to be a lawyer or a politician – just a citizen, just a person. If you don’t like the way a group is run, volunteer to run it instead. Start a second night of a group you’re in if you’re having debates about whether or not talking about hormones is okay or not. If you think others are cheap, spend your time fundraising instead of complaining. If you’re lonely, go answer the phones for a GLBT suicide prevention line. You could print out a ‘trans 101’ flyer and put it under every windshield wiper of your local mall. Every time you want to say something mean about someone else, donate another $50 to a GLBT organization for the privilege of having a computer and a safe place to start a flame war from, instead.
No matter how you do it, find a way to cut it out. Because there’s really way too much to be done. We don’t have time for your ego. What we need is hands, legwork, and someone to answer the phones.
I canvassed for the NY Public Interest Research Group. Door to door, forty doors a night. It’s an eye-opening experience. I had one woman thrown a nickel at me, and I had one quite superior type ask me bluntly how much it would cost him to get me off his doorstep. “Just tonight or all week?” I asked. He wanted me gone all week. And he paid, in cash, to get me gone. But I’d also have the people who wanted to argue with me about how I was wasting my time, that politicians were all crooked, and that the world was going to hell in a handbasket. Others wanted to debate me on the finer points of third parties or recycling programs. And what I found was that the people who wanted to debate me, or the people who slammed the door in my face, were better off left alone. Because for every five of them, there was one person who would invite me in, and offer me tea if it was cold, and give me a check or sign a petition. I would go back to work the next day instead of feeling burnt out and exhausted. I’d get to tell people a few things they didn’t know, and they’d get to tell me their concerns, for their children or their neighborhood.
And what I realized was that that is the nature of community, that shared conversation, that intent to find commonality. Politics is as much about the way people share their lives as it is about the laws that get passed; it’s about how people understand what they share, what their common goals are, what makes their own lives and the lives around them a little easier. It’s what I was looking for when I showed up at the GLBT center’s doors. It’s what I was looking for when I went online. And I found that I could spend all my time getting into arguments, just as I could have done canvassing. But I wouldn’t be here tonight if that’s what I’d spent my time doing. Instead, I listened to stories and told mine. I asked questions. I learned, I read, I looked for a commonality of experience. And what I found was this community – not just the trans community, but the whole of the GLBT. It’s a remarkable community. Sometimes others tell me they can’t see it, that they don’t believe in it, that we’re not unified. My feeling is that we don’t all have to agree. We have different priorities, different causes, different experiences and world views. But what we can do is talk to each other, offer each other a safe place in a world that is not really that safe for any of us.
After that, it’s hard not to see how much has to be done, and how much disagreement, and gossip, and nitpicking, comes out of our fear, our insecurities; how much comes out of the very fact of how unsafe and unvalidated GLBT lives are. This life isn’t easy on any of us, and although we have differences, we can only work for common goals if we can see past our differences, and focus on the issues that concern all of us. Right now, the choice is quite simple: we need to learn about each other, to talk about how we are. We need to educate others that we exist. We can’t do that when we’re exhausted from hearing gossip or arguing as to whether we’re transgendered or not. We need somewhere to come home too, a safe place where we can recharge and commiserate.
Mostly what we need is to be gentle with each other, so that we go back out there and fight the good fight.
Thank you.

Sidney on Katrina

This piece was written by Sidney, a friend of a friend. She can be reached at
These are random thoughts, feelings.
I’ve been immersed in this because my dearest friend of 40 years, and her family, live in Gulfport and there’s no way of knowing for sure whether they’re alive or not. She’s a life-long resident and a minister. I change my mind every second about whether she left or stayed, lived or died. The emotional roller coaster is text-book, but because it’s me, I’m feeling desperate and crazed.
If I’m feeling crazed, as safe, dry, fed, watered, and well as I am, and with all the support in the world that I need, I can begin to comprehend the desperation they and all the dear souls in New Orleans and on the Coast must be feeling.
I can’t express my shame and rage that this is occurring in my country. Past the grief and shock of the natural disaster is the utter shame at the boggling incompetence in response to, and the chaos in New Orleans. I can’t. I stammer. I find it hard to breathe. Sometimes I feel such rage and frustration that I think my chest will burst.
At last I hear somebody REAL on TV. CNN’s Jack Cafferty said something like “. . . and the elephant in the living room that nobody’s willing to talk about, the race and class factor going on here.” I could weep for relief that the glad-wrapped whiteout is finally beginning to break down. You know and I know that if this were Dallas, we’d be seeing a totally different play. That it took a — what, what do you call this? “Disaster?” I think frankly that we’re past that now — if it took an obliteration of this size to reach the flinty little hearts of the corporate newsfaces absolutely appalls me, but I’ll force myself to find the good news: At least it is happening now. Long may it reign.
I heard our ghoulish new national Director of Homeland Security first thing this morning give a press conference on how September would be “preparedness month.” The mind congeals. I heard the president say that looters should be dealth with ruthlessly. I had to laugh. I didn’t hear him say that about what’s happening in Baghdad. I had to laugh, for the first time in days. It wasn’t a happy laugh.
My questions are without end. I imagine Europe looking on. I imagine a whole world led for decades to believe that the mighty USA could clean up a mess like this in 24 hours, looking on in a wonder of grief and disillusion, slightly disoriented by the disconnect between what we’ve been told and what we are seeing. I imagine that they, like me, see themselves in the stinking, deadly soup that’s suffocating New Orleans. I imagine Osama tapping his bony fingers, thinking “Now would be a good time.” I imagine that all the world, like me, wonders what will happen to us when the big one comes. I fear I’m seeing the future. I think I’m watching the chickens coming home to roost.
This morning I opened one of the survivor link-up sites. I had posted two search messages there, one for each of my friends. The site format limited what I could say to listing the names and locations, and a drop-down menu of “alive,” “dead.” “missing,” and “unknown.” I had chosen “unknown.” I opened the site this morning, dully, numb and despairing, and clicked on my post for Jane Stanley, expecting what I’ve found for two days : no news. But someone has changed “unknown” to “alive.” I feel something shift inside. My heart ca-thunks. Ca-thunks again. I am clinging to this, using every power of faith I can muster to believe it. Believe. Believe. Believe. Don’t let go.
Memories of the Coast. The beach where caskets lie like pill boxes today is the beach I walked on almost every day for two years. I remember the sounds of the surf, the smell at low tide, the lovely pale sunrises. Girls in their whites around a huge bonfire. Happier days. My then best friend could watch the sea like no one else I’ve ever known. She seemed to meld with it, finding in it a consolation for wounds that no one knew but she. I learned something about that from her in that first year there.
My favorite teacher and I crossing 90, heading back to campus, when a dog darted across in front of us. I knew it would be hit. It was, and yet it fled too fast to rescue.
The very first time I ever got drunk was on that beach, the first week of my freshman year. I wasted no time sowing my wild oats. A pack of Keesler men had come to hunt us, bringing inner tubes with holes sewn closed on the bottom, to serve as coolers. They’d tie a rope to the tube and float it out into the water to chill the gin and Southern Comfort, vodka, bourbon, rum, and coke. Who knew not to drink in the hot sun? Who knew not to mix the liquors? Who knew even how much to drink? Certainly not I. There are half a dozen women alive now who may remember dunking me in ice cold water in the tub until I was sober enough to take the carefully meted-out hazing that the upper class dispensed at any act of serious idiocy. This particular act could have cost my parents their tuition and me my education, because drinking there was a shipping offense.
I remember walking west on 90, past the little Catholic church on a Sunday morning, to Little Man’s, the tiny cafe where we hid out from mandatory church attendance. We called it “St. Little Mans.” The damp chill of a wintry Coast morning. The sound and feel of the sand on the pavement under my feet, or in my dorm room. The glint of Biloxi lights on a moonlit night, and the scent of gardenias mixed with orange blossom on a warm Coast night.
I sit in wonder at the wealthy white men who are right this minute making decisions that will seal the fate of thousands of my countrymen and women, and, like every other American, I suppose, I wonder where I’d be if my fate depended on their wisdom and, dare I say it, compassion. I have a better sense where I’d be now than I had last week, that’s for sure.
I see Perry hogging the limelight for Texas, and while I am grateful for the aid, I want to ask him: “Governor Goodhair, do you plan to house queer refugees in your astrodome?”
I just heard that the Speaker of the US House, Dennis Hastert, thinks it’s a waste of good money to rebuild the Big Easy. What does that mean? I mean, What. Can. That. Possibly. Mean.
Somehow the Red Cross was able to pre-position — word of the week — its “assets.” Somehow the Coast Guard was able to get in there and get in gear. Wonder why the US government wasn’t? You know, it’s 5:47 pm, Thursday, September 1, 2005, and I STILL DON’T SEE THE GUARD in New Orleans. I STILL DON’T SEE 500 B-52s offloading troops, cots, blankets, medicines, food, water, toilets, walkie-talkies.
These guys can set up a rally on the Mall for 250,000 in 24 hours, but they can’t fly in a few large speakers and microphones to begin to coordinate communications in New Orleans?
My mind spins one moment and melts to aspic the next.
I called McCain’s office. At the end of my enraged tirade, I said, “I suppose you’ve gotten lots of calls today.” “Yes,” she said. “Callers saying, ‘O I just LOVE George Bush! I think he’s the BEST president in US history!'” She said, “Not exactly.”
Copyright JS Oliver, 2005. All rights reserved.
“In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.”

Ladies' Room?

There are many meaningful things said about the gender divide vis a vis bathrooms, but I didn’t expect to be blogging about it. Still, a couple of recent articles – one in The New York Times, and the other in The NY Post – have brought up all the usual issues and complaints.
If we allow crossdressed men to go into a ladies room, the end of civilization is upon us. Pedophilia will occur at mind-boggling rates. Women will no longer feel safe.

    A few things have occurred to me.
    1) The reason women already go to the bathroom in pairs (other than a chance to gossip) is safety. So it’s apparent they already don’t feel safe going alone to the ladies’ room, trannies or not.
    2) One of our loyal bloggers actually did some research on the incidence of men crossdressing in order to assault children in bathrooms, and after an evening of making himself heartsick with horrible stories, found only one incidence – which turned out, after all, to be a mistake.
    3) It strikes me that the easy answer to this problem is to legislate that new buildings need to include one single-occupancy bathroom. Period. So that the transperson, or woman-raised-female, or child-and-parent (fathers take their kids to the bathroom, too) can use a room that is lockable and private. Other buildings could be required over a period of time to retrofit their own bathrooms for similar use.
    4) I wonder often at the people who spew such fear and hatred of strangers, or the unknown. I wonder how they ever feel safe in their worlds.
    5) The first time I shared a ladies’ room with a drag queen the only thing that upset me was that she’d remembered to stop at a mirror to freshen her lipstick and I hadn’t.

Not to make light of the situation: women are vulnerable to unprotected spaces, and getting stuck behind a locked door. But I don’t think crossdressers are the men who are going to be assaulting them, and I don’t think the average sex assailant would be willing to emasculate himself to that degree in order to assault women. Transpeople are usually just as scared as women are of assault from men.
Since stalls create the privacy, why aren’t ladies’ room doors transparent? I don’t have a problem with someone watching me put on lipstick or make sure there’s no toilet paper stuck on my shoe (and maybe the clear doors would shame more people into washing their hands – like they’re supposed to). Extra eyes help cut down on violence.
So the real issue is: why don’t women feel safe in restrooms?
My guess is that it’s because we don’t take crimes against women seriously enough – no matter who perpetrates them. They say you can judge a society by how well it treats its women and children, and by those standards, we’re not getting a passing grade. ABC reports an increase in child abuse that’s ‘epidemic’ and the stats on violence against women stay the same year after year. If women don’t feel safe in their own homes, why on earth would they feel safe in a public bathroom? And while you might say these are two different issues, the late Andrea Dworkin said:

By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air; it is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it, and most of the time we do not even notice it. Instead of “I am afraid,” we say, “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t know how,” or “I can’t.”

So why are women afraid of transfolks in restrooms? Because women are afraid. While they may not understand that transpeople are not the ones who will assault them, they don’t expect their boyfriends and husbands to assault them, either. And they do. They do. And as usual, what can be feared (because it is unknown, sometimes unknowable, and new) will be feared instead. Their fear is legitimate. Transpeople’s need for accomodation is legitimate. But once again, we’ve got this tiny sliver of pie, and no one’s getting enough to eat. The issue again is male violence – male violence against gay men, transpeople, and women. When we all realize that we’re in this together, maybe, maybe, we’ll take back the night.
Resources: The NY Post and NY Times articles can be found on the MHB Boards, and there’s some sensible legal consideration given to the issue by Michael C. Dore of


In the middle of a recent thread about the term transvestite, Betty and I were both challenged as to our use of it. A lot of people are offended by the word and its connotations of mental illness and perversity. As I mention in the glossary entry in my book, however, Betty and I never saw it that way, for several reasons: 1) because without transvestite you couldn’t have transsexuals or transgenders – because it was the first of the three coined, and the others were coined from it; 2) because the rest of the world uses the term; 3) because the man who coined it had no such judgments of perversity or mental illness in mind when he coined it – all that came later, and 4) for Betty there was always a sexual aspect to crossdressing, and taking that out was the equivalent of white-washing the sexual aspect.
Someone even mentioned that they think first of Glen or Glenda when they hear the word “transvestite” – and I wondered, are we ashamed of Ed Wood?
Transvestites scratch the itch of gender dysphoria through crossdressing, and that’s all. Transvestites are not in the DSM (only fetishistic transvestites are, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who fits that description). As Donna, one of our MHB board faithful clarified, “…the word “transvestite” was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld circa 1910, was used as a broad, entirely non-judgmental term that would encompass what today would really be considered the entire tg spectrum, and was *not* invented by the psychiatric profession to pathologize or perversify people.” It just wasn’t Hirschfield’s style.
So in a sense, the word transvestite is a link to the whole of the T community’s history. That it’s become a word with negative connotations is due to the lack of education, the silence surrounding the word, our own willingness to disown people like Ed Wood and maybe even Eddie Izzard for not being exactly as we’d like them to be. But if there’s anything the queer community has taught me, it’s that discovering your history as a community is vital and important work. Do gays disown Rock Hudson because he was closeted or because he died of AIDS? Joe Orton because his lover killed him, or because he was famous for having anonymous sex in bathrooms? Of course they don’t. Because when you’re out there, trying to show people you exist – and that you always have existed – you need to find the figures from history that provide proof.
The Chevalier D’Eon, Ed Wood, Virginia Prince, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf: none of them are perfect examples. I’ve been asked a few times how it is I can like Virginia Prince for some things and excoriate her for others, and the answer is easy: she’s human. But what she did for herself, for all trans people everywhere, is more than mind-blowing. Did Charlotte von Mahlsdorf inform for the Communist Party? Only she knows, and she’s taken that secret to the grave. Ed Wood looked on the 60s, as an old man, with envy in his heart, for a decade where sexuality might be freer, gender a little more blurred. He made some of the best bad movies ever. But all of them, in their own way, made transvestites a little more visible; they gave people the idea of it, at least.
I understand that older crossdressers cringe when they hear it; they found that word in adult bookstores, in pulp erotica, and on the covers of sensationalist magazines. Betty found the word in the dictionary at a library growing up, and thought, ‘I guess that makes me a freak, but I know I’m not the only one now.’ Tri-Ess introduced “crossdresser” instead, to get rid of the negative connotations. The only problem is, I don’t see how the use of ‘crossdresser’ over transvestite really changes people’s minds; I can’t imagine any word that would describe a man dressing as a woman that wouldn’t be offensive to someone – especially to people who don’t like any kind of boundary-crossing, much less crossing the boundaries of sex or gender.
I’ve been in crowds shouting we’re here / we’re queer/ get used to it and I know what it does. It takes a word that was used to hurt – a word more full of negative connotations even than transvestite – and turns it around.
Now it’s in the title of a popular TV show. Believe me, no one would have imagined that even ten years ago, much less 20 or 50 years ago. But it happened. And it didn’t happen because queer people made themselves less queer. It happened because queer people made themselves visible, and got angry, and got organized, and demanded that even perverts are people, too.
Because today, in America, a show for kids gets taken off the air because a rabbit went to visit a little girl in Vermont whose parents happen to be lesbians. The show was funded in order to provide diversity education, if you can believe that, but as we well know, lesbians are still a little too diverse for some people. They’ve got their civil unions; they’ve changed the language to make themselves more palatable, and you know what? They still can’t be shown on a children’s television show about diversity.
Either people are going to respect you for who and what you are or they won’t. Cleansing ourselves of negative connotations is not as simple as word choice. If only it were that easy! But Tri-Ess started using “crossdresser” instead of transvestite a few decades ago, and I don’t see that it’s opened the doors of mainstream acceptance. Instead I saw Sam Walls go down in flames when he ran for office in Texas once it was shown he was a crossdresser. No one even called him a transvestite, mind you: all they needed were pictures of him en femme. A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.
And once they have that picture, it doesn’t matter what thousand words you use to try to explain it. Not saying the “L” word didn’t save Buster from getting bumped. Calling Sam Walls a “crossdresser” didn’t make him more palatable to voters (neither did explaining that he wasn’t a homosexual). Had he stood up and said “Yes, I’m a transvestite” could that have harmed him any more?

Glitz Speech

Our trip to Phoenix and the Glitz was a little nutty thanks to the usual trans community in-fighting. I’d written this speech about partners and family, but when I got there I realized an entirely different speech was needed.
So I never delivered this one (though I will use it for an upcoming speech elsewhere, no doubt).
* * *
Thanks to G____, B_____, and to all the people of Transgender Harmony who put the Glitz together for inviting me to speak tonight. An especial thanks for the excellent timing – even a few days’ escape from a NY winter is more than welcome!
There are moments when I’m at an event like the Glitz, talking to another wife while our pretty husbands share beauty tips, and I wonder, “How did this happen? How did I get here?” and then “What did I do to deserve this?”
Do you ever have those moments? Times when you’re just astonished at how things have turned out? I don’t know how many years you have to go back, but I’m sure all of you can remember a time when the only place you went en femme was from the bathroom to the bedroom. Your heels had never walked on pavement. Maybe there was a time when your wife didn’t know, or your best friend – maybe they still don’t. But everyone in this room has made some kind of progress to be here – whether this is your first time out (first timers? Where are you?) or if you’re in the middle of your real life test. How big a step, or how many you’ve taken, isn’t always the important thing.
One of the things a wife has a really good view of is how hungry for progress you are; it’s the thing that scares the dickens out of us. More than one CD has gone from telling his wife that he likes to wear women’s clothes to him planning their annual vacation around a trans conference, so he can spend a week en femme. You can call it euphoria, or kid in the candy store syndrome, but no matter what you call it, it makes wives nutty. That’s especially true when they’re initially accepting, in any way, because somehow, coming out as a crossdresser, or a transsexual, affects your ability to measure, and every mile only looks like an inch. As a result, we start to feel like we’ve been taken advantage of, with the ever-escalating needs, the ever-increasing purchases. There are times now I feel surprised when I see a man WITH underarm hair.
And of course it’s not just wives. For some of you, the loved one you drive most crazy might be a close friend, a parent, or a child. No matter who it is, there’s almost no doubt that your need to express yourself will make them a little crazy remembering the right pronouns. I’m here to tell you – we need your help.
A very mature but young transman told me recently that he dreaded telling his mother he’s going to live as a man. He wasn’t worried about her being accepting – in fact, he was pretty sure she would be – but he understood what he was taking away from her, and how much he was pushing her. He said to me, “She already accepted me as a lesbian, and lost all of her dreams of planning my big-white-dress wedding, and now she’s going to lose her daughter altogether.” And I thought, when he told me, that all of us should be raised as women until a certain age, where some of us can then decide to live as men. Transmen are – in my experience – the coolest guys ever. I like to joke with Betty that if I’d known about transmen when I was single, we might not have ever met. But my point is – he got it. He got the loss, the change, the sense of feeling that we have to accept more and more – that sometimes, it feels like the changes never stop.
What that transman knew and understood was that his transition wasn’t just about him, and that his own happiness was also the cause of his mother’s disappointment. His concern for her had the potential to enable him to help her through his transition. It gave her the chance to have a good relationship with her new son.
It’s not just people living fulltime who need to help their loved ones through change. A wife who is told her husband is a crossdresser has to adjust just about everything in her life as well. Her ideas of her marriage, her man, and her future all change. Her sex life might change. She has to start thinking about gender and so-called “deviance” in ways she probably never has before.
The thing is, I hear too many stories of things not working out. Whether the cause is transition or euphoria, I don’t really hear much in the greater trans community about how to think about others as part of your self-expression, and what I do hear seems to be kind of condescending, along the lines of “how do I get this person on board for what I want and need?” Which is not quite the same thing as “how do I help this person I love deal with the changes I’m about to thrust upon them?” or even “how do I modify my needs in order to keep this person I love from running as fast as she can?”
There are workshops on fast track transition, but never any on transitioning slowly enough so your partner can keep up. There are workshops for CDs on how to remove hair but never one on how to do your wife’s makeup, so she can feel glamorous too. Endless makeovers, photo shoots, and receipts – all add up to a lot of time and energy and money, and the wives, and girlfriends, – especially the ones who are willing to be here, or join an online support group, deserve to feel pampered too. Look at it this way: if you spend as much on your partner as you do on your femme self and you won’t run out of closet room so fast. Honestly, would you go to a week-long conference for whatever her gig is? Would you want to be around a bunch of women who scrapbook, knit, write fiction, do yoga? Do you know as much about her as she does about both of you?
The bottom line is that your loves ones are your best allies – potentially. If you can help them understand, they can become the people who will stand up and say you’re not crazy, and that this isn’t a joke. We don’t have the shame to get past, we don’t have the internal conflict. Once we’re on board, we’re on board. You want us on your side. Nurturing our change – along with yours – will go a long long way toward getting us there.
I don’t say all this only because I’m a wife. I say it because I don’t want to see anyone else end up on the other side of the mirror alone. I say it because I’ve seen too many relationships – romantic, familial, friendships – strained to the breaking point. I know it’s not easy – that you’re impatient, that the revelation of who you are is HUGE. It’s easy, when you’re online, reading message boards or mailing lists, and coming to events like the Glitz, to think that everyone knows about gender. But they don’t. The education isn’t out there – on TV, transsexuals are still shown as serial killers when they’re seen at all. Crossdressers are still a joke. You know that when you tell family and friends, you have to start with transgender 101. I’ve yet to meet someone trans who isn’t on their way to a PhD in trans studies, which means, of course, that you’re way ahead of us, a Chief Financial Officer of a global corporation teaching someone how to balance a checkbook. The chasm between is what causes the difficulties. What we need – as your potential allies – is to get you to slow down, and yes – please repeat that.
We can all do something to help couples and families through. When a married CD friend says, “I went shopping,” you can ask: “what’d you get your wife?” When your favorite transwoman starts listing her hormones, WITH dosages, ask her how her mother, father, wife, or child is. Remind each other that you’re not in a void, that you’re not alone, and amazingly enough, that there’s more to life, and gender, than hose, heels, and hormones.
You deserve for there to be more. You deserve love, and happiness. Being trans is not easy – not ever. You’re reinventing yourselves in ways that are mind-blowing, but you innately understand why you need to. We don’t. We’ve never thought about gender. You have no choice. Most partners can get that. We can see the difference, even when we don’t like it. Sometimes we know it even when we know we can’t go with you. The liberation – the sheer joy – y’all exhibit is obvious. Hold onto it in your dark moments. Hold onto it when your mom screws up your pronouns for the Nth time. Hold onto it when you look in the mirror and don’t see what you want to see. Hold onto it when your wife cries about her loss. For you, there’s struggle and joy, but for us, it’s just struggle and loss. You need to find a way to let your joy, your liberation, infect us, recharge us. It’s your joy, your freedom, that will win over not just partners, but friends, employers, family – and the rest of society. And it’s way better than Angry Tranny Syndrome.
When most of us can’t make up our minds how to cut our hair or quit a job, you’ve gone and imagined the impossible – and started making plans to have it happen. If you give your loved ones a minute, once in a while, to catch their breath, they’ll be there for you when things look bleak. Your wife will remind you not to tuck your dress into your pantyhose. Your best friend will help you figure out the line between being a man’s man and a macho jerk. Your mom might be the one to see that after all, you DO look like her. Give us time, give us love, and give us hope. Some of us will get lost, or stuck. But lots of us – I mean look at this room! – will be the ones who help you go forward with grace, confidence – and far from alone.
* * *

Transmale Nation

(I thought perhaps many of us on the MTF side of things don’t know much about the FTM side of things, & I thought this article did a decent job of it.)
25th Annual Queer Issue
By Elizabeth Cline

Transmale Nation: Remaking manhood in the genderqueer generation

June 22nd, 2004 10:00 AM
A digital call to action spread on last month, and a crowd of tranny boys descended on the East Village gay dive the Boiler Room. It was the very first Manhunt, a party for transmen and their admirers.
When several dozen genderqueers crashed the place, a few of the bar’s gay patrons threw a tantrum. They tried desperately to sort out who was a dyke and who was a dude by rating the tranny boys – with their flat chests, short hair, and male posturing – according to who still “looked like girls.” But eventually, these hecklers were outnumbered by some of New York’s au courant
gender outlaws, a mix of young masculine-identified dykes, bois, and trans guys clamoring for a space of their own. By the end of the night, the trans folks and the gay guys had made peace, and Riley MacLeod, a 22-year-old, gay-identified tranny boy, even stole a kiss from the bartender.
Just a few years ago, the transmale community was still underground, connecting with each other in group therapy and chat rooms. How things have changed. Some of the city’s hottest queer parties are fundraisers for chest-reconstruction surgery, tagged with names like “Take My Breasts Away.” Ethan Carter’s Trans*Am party has gotten so popular it has outgrown its digs
at the lesbian watering hole Meow Mix, and Manhunt plans to carry on through the summer.
By now, there are hundreds of personal Web pages, chat groups, and surgery-comparison sites by and for transmen. (Check out , ,
, or the more than 200 Yahoo groups that pop up under a search for FTM, meaning female-to-male transgender.) Brown University, Sarah Lawrence, and Wesleyan have gender-neutral dorms, bathrooms, and sports teams. New York’s LGBT Community Center has expanded its Gender Identity Project to include eight groups for the gender questioning.
Five years ago, if you were a transmale, you were FTM (or female-to-male) and you would probably change your name, go on testosterone, move to a new city, and perhaps consider sex reassignment surgery. Most of those FTMs wanted the world to know them and see them as real men. But there’s a new trans generation. They’re college-educated, raised on gender deconstruction, and not so interested in realness.
Today, most transmales don’t plan to have “bottom surgery,” which constructs male genitalia out of the labia and clitoris. For some, it’s a matter of cost (ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, which still doesn’t buy you a fully functioning, realistic penis). But a lot of trans guys say they’re doing just fine without one.
“I do not want a cock,” says K.J. Pallegedara, an 18-year-old tranny boy who hides his breasts by binding them with Ace bandages. “I know a couple of transmen who see their masculinity in their dick. But my masculinity is in my head.” K.J. does plan to take testosterone, and he’s saving up the outrageous $8,000 for “top surgery,” which removes the breasts and constructs a male-appearing chest. Dr. James Reardon, one of the nation’s best-known chest reconstruction surgeons, says he performs at least one such procedure a week – up from one a year in 1974, when Reardon saw his first patient.

Photo of: Rowan Foley, Stephen Alexander, Evan Schwartz, Tom Leger, Riley MacLeod, Patric Peter, Ian Lundy, K.J. Pallegedara, Eli Greene, and Ethan Mase
As visibility grows, more transmales are changing their pronouns and hormones to fit their masculine gender identity, and many are starting the transition at a very early age. (A recent Oprah episode featured transmale guests as young as 11.) Along with this emergence has come an extensive lexicon. In addition to FTMs, there are female-bodied masculine-identified people who don’t consider themselves men. They include tranny boys (who feel and look, well, boyish), transfags (who act effeminate), bois (dykes who “play” with masculinity), genderqueers (an umbrella term for folks who challenge their gender) and the list is still growing.
In this brave new world, you can be a transmale who goes “no-ho” (meaning no hormones) or “low-ho,” and “no-op” (no surgery) – or you can be a genderqueer who has top surgery, identifies as a woman, and goes by the pronoun he. The possibilities are endless.
America has always been the land of self-invention, but lately that concept has been applied to the body in unprecedented ways. Thanks to technology, transmales can now invent the body they feel comfortable with. In the new thinking, gender and orientation are a highly personal creation, and while some transmales still strive for “realness,” the new generation is heading far beyond the appurtenances of masculinity. This isn’t about having a beard or chest hair. These guys look boyish, yet butch.
But in the end, the transmale identity can’t be described within the binaries of man/boy, butch/femme, or gay/straight. Says transman and performance artist Imani Henry, “It’s all about self-identity.”
As Manhunt and Trans*Am (meaning amorous) imply, transmales are on the prowl for folks who are willing to break the mold of gender and sexual orientation – or at least go out with someone who does. Along with this evolution has come a new breed of queer women who like dating trannies and who gag on the word lesbian. “I don’t give a shit if people read me as lesbian or straight,” says Alana Chazan, 24, a femme queer woman who has dated both dykes and transmen. “For me, it’s about respecting my partner’s gender identity.”
It remains to be seen whether gay men can respect a tranny boy in the morning. But there are same-sex couples who weren’t born that way. Some transmales call themselves transfags because they express femininity in a very gay-male way. And some of them are open to dating women. “I don’t define fagginess by who I fuck, because I’ve dated all over the place,” says Bran Fenner, 22. “I define it by how I demonstrate femininity.”
Bran has a crew of transfags of color that he met through a Yahoo group he started with a friend. Most of its members, like Bran, would call themselves pansexual. Riley, on the other hand, wants to date biological men (called bioguys), a hopeless prospect, he says, because of “male ignorance” about transmen. But those walls are coming down. The Center has started a new group for LGB trans people, and there’s now trannyfag porn featuring trans and bioguys, surprise, getting it on.
Whatever their sexual orientation, most transmales remain in queer women’s spaces because they feel safe there. Acceptance is growing in this community, but there still are dykes who gripe that all butch women are turning into boys, and feminists who label transmen misogynists out to gain male privilege. It’s true that some transmen ridicule women, but no more than “real” men do – and there are feminists and lesbians who ridicule femininity. So what’s the difference?
We live in a time when the attributes of manhood reign supreme, and not just for men. Women are appropriating the power and aesthetic of masculinity to redefine themselves, to the point where even our heroines – Uma Thurman comes to mind- kick ass harder than your average dude. Masculinity is no longer an exclusively male endowment, but it’s still a very desirable one. This explains why the stakes are higher for transwomen (MTFs) in the world at large than they are for transmen. It also explains why the new generation of genderqueers accords more status to the male-identified. And perhaps why there are so many queer women, as opposed to queer men, ridding themselves of their female identity.
Yes, the status of transmen is enjoying a boost thanks to our macho obsession. But the way this scene understands itself and the world challenges that hierarchy. Feminism and gay liberation made it OK to feel comfortable with yourself as the world labeled you. But the genderqueer
generation proposes a new reality in which the world doesn’t label our identities and our bodies; we do. If you spot these transmales at the Pride parade, or in your local bar, you have seen the future – and it’s very queer indeed.

NY TG Bathroom case
Uphold New York Gender Identity Protections Court Urged
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 19, 2004 8:02 pm. ET
(New York City) In the first transgender discrimination case to reach a New York state appeals court, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged the court not to deny transgender New Yorkers protections against discrimination.
“The laws of New York State clearly protect transgender people from discrimination, yet our opponents are trying to take those protections away,”
said ACLU attorney Edward Hernstadt.
“We asked the court to make it clear once and for all that gender identity discrimination is not somethingNew York will tolerate.”
Hispanic AIDS Forum, an AIDS service organization represented by the ACLU, brought suit against its former landlord after it was evicted because other
tenants complained that HAF’s transgender clients were using the “wrong” bathrooms.
The landlord banished all transgender people from the common areas of the building, including all restrooms.
Although the landlord’s lawsuit centers on the claim that transgender people are not protected by the state’s civil rights laws, the ACLU points out in its brief that trial courts in four previous cases have all held that discrimination against transgender people is illegal in New York.
“The landlord argues that transgender people are completely without civil rights protection in New York State,” said James Esseks, Litigation Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian & Gay Rights and AIDS Projects. “This could place transgender New Yorkers in jeopardy of losing their jobs, their housing, and even their
lives, if they are unable to receive public health services – all because someone wants to keep them out of the so-called ‘wrong’ bathroom.”
The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of HAF in June 2001 after the agency was forced out of its home of 10 years in Jackson Heights, Queens – an epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in U.S. Latino communities. HAF repeatedly tried to negotiate with the landlord to reach an agreement over the use of the restrooms that
would be acceptable to all parties, but the landlord refused to renew the lease, saying he didn’t even want the transgender clients in any of the common areas of the building.
“This case shows all too clearly the far-reaching effects of prejudice and discrimination,” said Heriberto Sanchez Soto, Executive Director of HAF.
“Kicking us out of our home didn’t just hurt our transgender client but made it much more difficult for many Latinos and Latinas living with HIV and AIDS to
receive treatment.”
Transgender people living in New York City are protected from discrimination under the city’s human rights law, which was amended in 2002 to clarify that
it covers gender identity. The state human rights law does not explicitly address gender identity, but previous trial court rulings have held that transgender individuals are covered under the law’s sex and disability provisions.

'As Nature Made Him'

Gender change victim dies
WINNIPEG – A man who was born a boy but raised as a girl in a famous nurture-versus-nature experiment has died at age 38.
David Reimer, who shared his story about his botched circumcision in the pages of a book and on the Oprah TV show, took his own life last Tuesday.
His mother, Janet Reimer, said she believes her son would still be here today had it not been for the devastating gender study that led to much emotional hardship. “I think he felt he had no options. It just kept building up and building up.”
After the circumcision accident as a toddler, David became the subject of an experiment dubbed the John/Joan case in the ’60s and ’70s. Janet said she still harbours anger toward a Baltimore doctor who convinced her and her husband, Ron, to give female hormones to their son and raise him as a daughter, Brenda.
Kids were cruel to Brenda growing up in Winnipeg.
This gender transformation was widely reported as a success and proof that children are not by nature feminine or masculine but through nurture are socialized to become girls or boys. David’s identical twin brother, Brian, offered researchers a matched control subject.
But when David discovered the truth about his past during his teenage years, he rebelled and resumed his male identity, marrying and becoming a stepfather to three children.
David recently slumped into a depression after losing his job and separating from his wife. He was also still grieving the death of his twin brother two years earlier, their mother said.
Continue reading “'As Nature Made Him'”

TransNews: Corporate Protections article

This article appeared in Forbes magazine
FEATURE-Transsexuals new focus of companies’ legal protection
Reuters, 11.09.03, 10:55 AM ET
By Daniel Sorid
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Corporations and lawmakers are expanding protections against sexual harassment and discrimination to cover transsexuals,
cross-dressers and others who fall outside the traditional notions of gender identity.
In the last two years, 19 companies in the Fortune 500 — including Bank One Corp. and Microsoft Corp. — have banned discrimination based on “gender identity and expression.” Sixty-five cities and counties have similar protections, with 16 ordinances passed in 2002.
The measures extend protections to men perceived as effeminate and women viewed as masculine.
“There is a sense that laws specifically based on sexual orientation are not capturing everyone,” said Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for work-place issues at the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest lesbian and gay political organization.
In August, California’s recalled governor, Gray Davis, signed legislation banning discrimination in housing and employment based on gender stereotypes or
transgendered status. Three other states — Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Mexico — have similar protections.
Another four states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts — have had either court or administrative rulings that could be interpreted as banning discrimination against gender expression or status as a transsexual, according to Human Rights Campaign.
Socially conservative groups have opposed the measures, arguing they force owners of religious businesses to support a way of life they morally oppose, and would hold up transsexuals as role models for children.
At some companies, however, the protections are seen as a straightforward way to comply with a patchwork of statutes that protect transsexuals in some cities and states, as well as to reduce taunting and discrimination against those whose appearances clash with more traditional beliefs.
Proponents see the trend as a natural progression from the protections for women and gays against harassment.
“Gender identity and expression was the next step,” said Maria Campbell, director of diversity at SC Johnson & Son, based in Racine, Wisconsin.
Transsexuals are disproportionately pushed out of jobs, kicked out of housing, and beaten up or murdered, according to studies. Excluded from a society confused and sometimes disgusted by their way of living, they tend to get less education and are more likely to lack health insurance, studies show.
A survey funded by the District of Columbia in 2000 showed that most “gender variant” residents earned less than $10,000 a year, with one in three saying
they had been a victim of violence or crime brought on by hatred of gays or transsexuals.
In a poll of 392 male-to-female transsexuals in San Francisco in 1997, nearly half the respondents reported facing job discrimination, while a quarter said they faced housing discrimination.
“Even though it’s only a patchwork, at this point this is how civil rights proceeds,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition in Washington, D.C. “Ten years ago there was none of this. All this has happened very quickly.”
A growing sense of protection among transsexual workers is tangible in a city like San Francisco, considered one of the country’s most liberal places to live. Indicative of that is the experience of Ina Fried, a technology reporter who in May came out to colleagues and business contacts as transsexual.
Fried (pronounced Freed), who was born male and had always used the name Ian at work, said she wanted to feel “whole” in her life.
Her employer, CNET Networks Inc., said it has made a conscious effort to accommodate employees “transitioning” from one gender to another. When
designing its new headquarters building in San Francisco, for instance, it included unisex bathrooms to accommodate transgendered employees.
“I think I’ve been very lucky,” Fried said in an interview. “For a lot of people the experience of being transgendered is still greatly more difficult.”
The term “transgender” is often a term appended to the name of gay and lesbian groups, even though many transsexuals and cross-dressers do not consider
themselves gay. But it is the gay community’s success gaining protection and prominence in government and private-sector jobs in recent decades that has, in
part, led to calls for expanded transgender protections.
“Transgender issues are really seen as the next frontier, as a way to really make the work place safe for everyone,” said Selisse Berry, executive director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, based in San Francisco.
“People are finally much more comfortable with the words gay and lesbian,” Berry added. “They’re not familiar with what the word transgender even means,
and sometimes people’s only connection is either drag queens, prostitution, or some movie.”
Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service

Transgender Rights Case in New York

Helen’s asked me to post some of the links to “transnews” that I come across occasionally, and here’s an article about a recent court decision in New York favorable to transgender rights, rejecting the defendant’s argument that state and city human rights laws do not apply to transgendered people. (The lawsuit, which has been around for awhile, arose from a landlord’s eviction of a non-profit group from its building for allowing mtf transgendered clients to use the women’s bathroom.)