Someone recently asked me to breakdown the link between the TERF opinion leader Janice Raymond and insurance policies that exclude trans care. Here’s the link to the original article. This article meticulously exposes a few less than truthful fact assertions Raymond has made, but it’s quite long.
So, here’s the TL;DR article excerpt version:
It was Raymond’s NCHCT report that allowed the OHTA report to assert that trans medical care was ethically “controversial”.
Therefore, exclusionary health policies which appeal to Raymond’s “controversial” claim constitute Raymond’s fingerprint. Consider the following:
1.) In 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Departmental Appeals Board reversed the HHS rule banning trans medical care. In the document, HHS reviewed the reason HHS had originally banned trans care:
The HHS Appeals Board Decision continues (NOTE: “NCD” = National Coverage Determination):
The NCHCT’s May 6, 1981 memorandum, the 1981 NCHCT report, and the notes of the HCFA Physicians Panel meeting on May 11, 1982, are the materials in the NCD record containing analysis by HCFA or PHS of the issue of Medicare coverage of transsexual surgery. Although the NCD was not issued until 1989, it is clear that the NCD was based on the NCHCT report and memorandum from 1981.
In other words, HHS has concluded that it was the 1981 report that HHS used to issue an NCD banning trans services.
2.) Recall that Raymond’s controversial claim is the very first sentence in HHS’ review of how and why trans services were banned from public health insurance policies. What follows is from a 2009 United Health policy banning trans services:
Note that the exclusionary language in this private insurance policy is the same word-for-word language as the exclusionary language from the HHS’ public insurance policy, as quoted by HHS:
This then, is the smoking gun. Here we have a private insurer quoting word-for-word a governmental policy which relied on Raymond for 1/3 of it’s findings; specifically, it’s finding that trans care is ethically controversial. Thus we can easily follow the timeline for Raymond’s part in the decimation of trans care in America:
1979: Raymond writes in her book, “I contend that the problem of transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.”
1980: Raymond is contracted by the NCHCT to write a report on the ethics of trans medical care because the NCHCT must, by law, report on the ethical implications of medical technologies. In Raymond’s 1980 NCHCT report footnotes, her second citation reads, “See Thomas Szasz, review of THE TRANSSEXUAL EMPIRE: THE MAKING OF THE SHE-MALE by Janice G. Raymond, New York Times Book Review, June 10, 1979, p. 11.”
1981: Raymond’s NCHCT report and Raymond’s own citation are used to make the ethical case that trans medical care should be excluded from public insurance policies because it’s “controversial.” Thomas Szasz’s review of Raymond’s 1979 book (in which she calls for trans care to be morally mandated out of existence) is also cited.
1989: The National Coverage Determination (NCD) to exclude trans care from public insurance is published in the Federal Register.
1989 – 2013: Trans medical care is routinely excluded from both public and private health insurance plans.
2012: The State of California finds that barriers to trans health care “was a more reliable predictor of suicide than depression, history of alcohol/drug abuse treatment, physical victimization, or sexual assault.”
2013:HHS finds that the 1981 rational for excluding trans care is “no longer reasonable.”
2014: Private healthcare providers, citing HHS’s ruling, begin rolling back their trans healthcare exclusions. Janice Raymond sets up a webpage to publicly diminish her role in the revocation of trans health care (to which this fact checking article is a response). Raymond clarifies that when, in 1979 she wrote, “I contend that the problem of transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence,” she meant, “that I want to eliminate the medical and social systems that support transsexualism…”
Here’s an excerpt from titled Radical Inclusion: Recounting the Trans Inclusive History of Radical Feminism published in TSQ by Duke University Press:
This article reviews the ways in which radical feminism has been and continues to be trans inclusive. Trans inclusive radical feminist opinion leaders, groups, and events are reviewed and contrasted against a popular media narrative that asserts that radical feminism takes issue with trans people. Reviewed are historical instances in which radical feminists braved violence to ensure their feminism was trans inclusive.
In this article, I will review some of the ways in which the inclusion and support of trans people by radical feminists has been hidden from trans and feminist discourse, thereby creating the perception that radical feminism isn’t supportive of trans people. John Stoltenberg, a radical feminist author and long-term partner of the pioneering radical feminist opinion leader Andrea Dworkin, wrote (pers. comm., February 13, 2015), “The notion that truly revolutionary radical feminism is trans-inclusive is a no brainer. I honestly do not understand how or why a strain of radical feminism has emerged that favors a biology-based/sex-essentialist theory of ‘sex caste’ over the theory of ‘sex class’ as set forth in the work of [Monique] Wittig, Andrea [Dworkin], and [Catharine] MacKinnon. Can radical feminism be ‘reclaimed’ so that its trans-inclusivity—which is inherent—is made apparent? I hope so.” It is to this hope that I wish to draw attention to in this article.
To this end, I will utilize the feminist term trans exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) to distinguish the “biology-based/sex-essentialist” ideology Stoltenberg identified as being different from the analysis of the radical feminist opinion leaders he explicitly noted. In 2008, an online feminist community popularized TERF as a way of making a distinction between these two types of feminism. While this lexical distinction is useful, online TERF activists sometimes assert this term to be a slur, since some Internet users have used it in derogatory ways. Internet conflicts aside, I use this term in a manner consistent with its widely known original context, as asserted by the progenitor of the term, cisgender feminist Viv Smythe (Williams 2014a): “It was not meant to be insulting. It was meant to be a deliberately technically neutral description of an activist grouping. We wanted a way to distinguish TERFs from other RadFems with whom we engaged who were trans*-positive/neutral, because we had several years of history of engaging productively/substantively with non-TERF RadFems.”
Absent this distinction, much has been written of the various ways in which “radical feminism” is critical of the trans experience. It is commonplace to find popular media outlets assert that “radical feminists” take issue with trans people. The Globe and Mail asserted (Wente 2014), “In fact, the most bitter battle in the LGBT movement today is between radical feminists and the transgender movement.” The New Yorker recounted (Goldberg 2014) how a conference calling itself “Radfems Respond” was “going to try to explain why, at a time when transgender rights are ascendant, radical feminists insist on regarding transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women’s facilities, such as public rest rooms, or to participate in events organized exclusively for women.” The National Post said (Kay 2014) that radical feminism and Paul McHugh are of one mind when it comes to trans people: “True sex change is simply not possible; you end up as a ‘feminized man’ or a ‘masculinized woman.’ Which is exactly what the radical feminists believe.”
Lost in these popular representations of radical feminism is its long and courageous trans inclusive history…
“I have been somewhat overwhelmed with J’s dominating conversations and manipulative style. J’s comments rarely bring any positive discussion and seem to frequently derail conversation. I feel like they threaten the safety of the group for the voices of transwomen and people of color.” – Complaint made to me from a PoC TCP group member yesterday
As many of you know, I’m involved with a historical project that seeks to uncover an erased trans-inclusive radical feminist hirstory. This effort is called The Conversations Project (TCP). Here’s what TCP clearly says that its purpose is:
From TCP’s “About” page
I personally think that it’s important to reclaim the voices of those women who risked even physical violence (from TERFs) to make sure that that trans women were included in their fight for the liberation of all women. As a primer, check out the feminist courage that can be found in the trans-inclusive radical feminist hirstory TCP is interested in examining:
In upcoming interviews, you’ll hear how a Black Lesbian radical feminist MichFest ride organizer related to Camp Trans. You’ll hear how TERFs destroyed one of the early militant radical feminist groups. In fact, there’s a year’s worth of upcoming interviews still to come.
As a historian, it’s hugely problematic that these stories appear nowhere else in feminist hirstory. Instead, we (especially trans people) are taught to believe that “radical feminism” is anti-trans and that “radical feminists” are transphobic. Such narratives go a long way towards erasing the very real courage of radical feminist women who risked their groups, organizations, and even put their own bodies in harm’s way to ensure that their feminism was trans inclusive. That courage should have its place in feminist hirstory.
Some disagree. Some, in the name of “radical feminism,” think those voices need to remain lost; they say time spent examining those voices is wasted time.
MAAB: Male Assigned At Birth
Primary Emergency: This is the term Andrea Dworkin used to language the primary problem facing the trans community. Andrea identified this problem as being exclusion from the women’s liberation movement.
SET: Sex Essentialist Theorist
TCP: The Conversations Project
TERF: Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist; a feminist term used to acknowledge that some “radical feminist” identified people seek to exclude trans people from some/all aspects of the women’s liberation movement.
Here’s the long and short of a drama that’s been unfolding around TCP for months now. The project has a FaceBook group whose purpose is quite clearly spelled out:
The pinned TCP FB group guidelines.
Part of TCP is the serialized publication of a discussion between John Stoltenberg and I that began more than a year ago. This conversation is important because it represents a trans feminist and a radical feminist (finally) coming together to have an in-depth talk about radical and trans feminist hirstory and how that hirstory has affected the lives of just about every trans person in America. Through that context, a lot of radical and trans feminist content is covered. I know of no other book-length discussion like this. In some significant ways, this is what reconciliation between radical and trans feminism looks like.
John Stoltenberg is a radical feminist author and was the life partner of Andrea Dworkin. That John would be willing to break ranks and engage in a conversation like this with me, a trans woman and editor of the TransAdvocate, has been viewed as (in certain circles) a heresy of the highest order. For John’s (perceived) betrayal, TERFs have spent the last couple of months character assassinating John. Here are the basic BS criticisms of John and, of course, TCP:
John didn’t really know Andrea the way that her friends knew her. A couple of people who knew Andrea (and who tends to think that Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys had powerful insights into what they call “transgenderism” and “transgender ideology”), think that they, not her life partner were privy to Andrea’s true feelings towards trans folk.
A friend of Andrea used Andrea to submit her anti-trans screed to a publisher who rejected it and this proves that she was anti-trans. Nikki Craft asked Andrea to please submit Nikki’s anti-trans essay* to Psychology Today. Because Andrea did this for her friend, this proves that, contrary to what Andrea herself wrote, Andrea was anti-trans. Moreover, passing along an essay, means that Andrea actually co-wrote the essay. Yup, physically touching a paper to hand it off to someone else is apparently now enough to bestow full co-author status to Andrea, thus proving that Andrea didn’t support trans people accessing trans health care.
Talking about what Andrea wrote in Woman Hating about trans folk is wrong because Andrea actually later repudiated it. Where? Nobody seems to be able to actually point to anything specific, but I’m told that if I “read Dworkin’s other books” (which I have, more than once) I’ll see that this is true.
People of color won’t participate in TCP because it’s all about white people. (*cough* quote at the beginning of this post *cough*)
I’m not going to innumerate that attacks against me because they’re just the same stuff TS Separatists used to say about me when I was researching “transgender.” Except now they’re saying it about “radical feminism.” Basically, it’s all different shades of this nonsense:
So, Julian Real is someone who has been publicly open about being a member of TCP group. Julian is also a supporter of the cis woman who’s promulgating many of the above claims. After numerous group member complaints and innumerable moderation incidents relating to Julian’s posturing within the group, Julian was recently removed from the group by unanimous consensus of all six group moderators. As a result, Julian (a white non-trans woman MAAB) is now running around bemoaning TCP’s purpose and talking up how much more radical and feminist their understanding of everything is and how the voices of TCP are really just neoliberal pablum.
So, for the record, here’s how things went down:
Julian attacked a commentary about a specific passage in a specific book that was written in a specific historical context… for not being commentary about something other than that specific passage of that specific book in that specific historical context. Then, after being confronted for trying to derail yet another group conversation, Julian began to again posture in the group. Here’s the response to Julian’s behavior that I posted:
Your reply is erasure from a place of privilege.
You’ve privileged yourself in deciding for poor trans women of color that exclusion -as full Sisters- from the women’s liberation movement should be subordinate to your ideas of how to overcome “capitalism, colonialism and patriarchy” (as if we’re talking about fundamentally different things). The irony is that you rhetorically subordinate their inclusion from women’s liberation from an asserted position of speaking *for* them. It’s sometimes a bit like hearing the rich of the USSR tell the poor -in the name of anti-capitalism/colonialism/patriarchy- that work will make them free.
Your persistent effort to, in violation of the boundaries of this group, advocate that its members should to spend their group time thinking about the rationals SET “feminists” cite when projecting, popularizing, and promoting their anti-trans fears, anxieties, and animus is an act of hostility against this group and its membership. Moreover, it’s an act of profound the group members and the erased, hidden, and silenced inclusive radical feminist hirstories we meet here to respect.
I 100% reject your premise that focusing our group on the radical feminism that bravely fought to include trans women as Sisters in women’s liberation = being pro-capitalism/colonialism/patriarchy. Additionally, I think the fact that you are not a trans women whose existence has been defined by the (as you privilege yourself in seeing it, irrelevant) actions of a “few white lesbians” (as you call it), contributes to the problematic ways you’ve engaged in this group. While I also reject this characterization as being patently false, that you state it as fact provides some insight into the place of (apparent) unexamined privilege you engage from.
As a trans woman who lived through deaths and hardships caused by the very ideology you claim must be considered, in the name of life and liberation no less, I experience your verbal gesticulations as a (possibly clueless) hubris born of privilege that is very toxic.
It’s not only me that experiences your privilege as toxic, numerous individuals of various racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have, since your arrival in this group, contacted mods to express exasperation with the position/way you approach group participation. In fact, I’ve noticed that we’ve lost members and that *many* others no longer participate.
It’s not that people are turned off by the theory you sometimes share. I very much enjoy some of the books, resources, etc. that you share. I think they enrich the experience of this group. That’s not the problem that I and others have with your participation… It’s the way you privilege yourself to define for others what their primary emergency is that’s the issue. From what I see, the fact that you’ve not shared that primary emergency seems to color much of the way you interact with this group.
At this point, I find the sound and fury coming from the side that wants TCP to just go away ridiculous. It’s a bunch of wasted time and energy. Do these people really think that we’re going to stop interviewing the people who were on the ground in the 70s and 80s? Do they think we’re just going to stop publishing those hirstories?
If anything, as evidenced by this very post, their hyperbole just brings attention to the very thing they wish to mandate out of existence. Yes, their blogosphere chamber might well echo, but really… Why lie about Andrea co-authoring anti-trans screeds? Why spend months personally attacking and defaming John? Why use (as in, appropriate) the oppression and pain of POC as a tool to disrupt conversations about silenced feminist hirstory? How does any of these online teapot tempests advance the liberation of women as a sex class? How can they claim to do all of this in the name of feminism?
Personally, all of this feels very familiar to me. It feels a lot like the pushback I faced when researching the history of “transgender”. When I was researching the history of “transgender,” the demonstrable historical record conflicted with the history a certain identity was founded upon and they attacked. Now I’m researching the historical narrative that asserts “radical feminism” wants to mandate trans bodies out of existence. Both John and I have faced significant pushback for our efforts.
Even so, I expect that what will happen is that, regardless of these attacks, this hirstory will become part of the feminist hirstorical record. I expect that it will become harder for international news outlets to propagate the false narrative that “radical feminism” is anti-trans. I expect that those who are fighting to keep an erased feminist hirstory lost will find that people are actually interested in what these silenced voices have to say:
So, hopefully this will be my one and only post regarding the hyperbole spewing from a certain section of the internet.
*NOTE: The “anti-trans” essay Nikki Craft wrote was written upon the (absolutely wrong) premise that trans folk love Dr. John Money. Money was an ass who was willing to hurt people in furtherance of his bogus gender theories. He was willing to force children to live as the sex assigned them, telling them to accept their bodies. Moreover, Money promoted the ridiculous idea gender stereotypes and roles came from neurology, not culture. While it’s true that one must have a brain in order to become indoctrinated to sexism, Money was wrong; sexism isn’t innate to brains.
Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it
Which, based on what we know about medical research into transgender identity over the last 20 years is complete, and utter, bullshit. While a broken society is certainly a cause of the high suicide rate, it is not the primary one:Gender Dysphoria gets better with HRT even if the individual does not present or read as their identified gender.
^ That medical fact makes no sense based on a RadFem interpretation of gender and sex…
Radical Feminism is still stuck in 1970’s conceptions of what transgender people are and what gender dysphoria is, and seems to think it can “help” trans people by making society androgynous and then trans people don’t need to transition! We solved ALL THE THINGS!
Even in a perfectly androgynous society, trans people would still exist, HRT would still exist, SCS/SRS would still exist. Dworkin was wrong about trans people, and since then RadFems have been wrong about trans people.
Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it
I think you’re overlaying a sex essentialist narrative on Dworkin by taking her words out of context. Dworkin is referring to the “primary emergency” defining the trans experience of 1974. Page 186 of Woman Hating is almost always misquoted as:
“Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual.”
However, what’s actually written is:
“Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency (see p. 185) as a transsexual.”
Without this nuance, MANY TERFs* assert that the “primary emergency” is gender identity and that if gender goes away, Dworkin says that so will the transsexual. However, if you go back to page 185 (as Dworkin asked), the “primary emergency” that’s referenced is as follows:
How can I really care if we win “the Revolution”? Either way, any way, there will be no place for me. – A transsexual friend, in a conversation
Her phrase, “primary emergency” is the central issue of her book. On pages 22-23, she writes:
The analysis in this book applies to the life situations of all women, but all women are not necessarily in a state of primary emergency as women. What I mean by this is simple. As a Jew in Nazi Germany, I would be oppressed as a woman, but hunted, slaughtered as a Jew. As a Native American, I would be oppressed as a [woman], but hunted, slaughtered as a Native American. That first identity, the one which brings with it as part of its definition death, is the identity of primary emergency. This is an important recognition because it relieves us of a serious confusion. The fact, for instance, that many Black women (by no means all) experience primary emergency as Blacks in no way lessens the responsibility of the Black community to assimilate this and other analyses of sexism and to apply it to their own revolutionary work.
This analysis represents early intersectional feminism. Thus, Dworkin is speaking to the trans woman’s experience of “primary emergency” and the emergency is exclusionary practice based upon our transness. She’s saying that this defining social experience must be abolished.
Dworkin’s analysis is that the sex binary is BS and that we are a “multisexed.” Dworkin uses “androgyny” as a synonym for this reality.
Androgyny myths are multisexual mythical models. – p 153
The concrete implications of multisexuality as we find it articulated in both androgynous mythology and biology necessitates the total redefinition of scenarios of proper human sexual behavior and pragmatic forms of human community. – p 183
Substitute “multisexed” for “androgynous” in the snip you quote:
Three, community built on multisexed identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it.
You know what? She’s right. If the sex binary wasn’t the basis of our society, it would “mean the end of transsexuality as we know it.” Moreover, what would such a society mean for the “primary emergency” defining the trans experience of 1974? I dunno, but in the last line of that section she says that our “sexual identity” (our sexed identity) would would represent a “new mode,” something other than what it meant to be a “transsexual” back then. Again, she’s right.
On page 186, Dworkin says that claiming that trans people are the result “faulty socialization” is an untenable position to take. Instead, she says that which defines “transsexuality” is a “faulty society”. Again, she’s right. The state of being trans was, and continues to be, defined by a shitty society.
She wrote all of this in 1974, more than 40 years ago. Think about that a sec… This was during a time when leading psychologists were asserting as fact that being trans was caused by socialization. Her position was that making that fact assertion was BS. Back in 1974, trans people who got “sex changes” were told to go stealth, were taught – as part of their medical transition – to conform to sexist stereotypes, roles and hierarchies. Even so, Dworkin said that each trans person should be able to go through this process. That’s the exact opposite position of Janice Raymond, who said (in 1979) that she wanted to “morally mandate [transsexualism] out of existence.”
The only way to make Dworkin sound like a Raymond is to take her words out of the context of her time and dialectic. Please don’t help TERFs promote the falsehood that their BS represents the radical feminism of Dworkin. It doesn’t.
Remember, Dworkin and MacKinnon promoted very similar views and in 2015, MacKinnon said, “Male dominant society has defined women as a discrete biological group forever. If this was going to produce liberation, we’d be free.… To me, women is a political group.”
In Summary: the single line you quote is out of context. Dworkin is talking about the way society defines “transsexualism” through the “primary emergency” trans people face. She’s saying that if that BS went away and, moreover, if society abandoned the sex binary altogether, “transsexuality as we know it” would (thankfully) disappear and the energy we all waste trying to deal with the way society defines us would be better used.
Suchega_Uber responded, saying that while my response was illuminating, it really didn’t deal with the idea that if society became multisexed, being transsexual would go away. Here’s how I responded:
Yes, transsexualism “as we know it” would cease to exist. We’ve see this proven true as some of the ridged sex/gender roles, stereotypes and hierarchies have changed, so has the transsexual context of 1974.
While I’m not expected to learn how to wear high heels by my medical docs, that kind of training was part of “transition” back in 1974. While I’m not expected to be sexually stimulating to my doc’s eye, that was one of the metrics a trans doc noted that he used back then. I’m glad that I don’t have to pretend to be heterosexual and I’m glad that if you happen to be married, you’re not forced to divorce as part of your transition. In short, I’m glad that the transsexual model of 1974 is dead and I’m glad that the energy I would have put into learning to walk in heels, as a condition of my transition, was put to better use.
I would say either way, people would still be born with bodies they are inherently uncomfortable with.
I’d say that you’re very likely right and I would hope that trans medical care is alive and well for them!
I can only speak for my own experience; my issue was my body, not that l liked pink. I don’t know why at the age of 3 I was very aware of my body not being right and I don’t know why at the age of 5 I began to pray that god would fix my body or let me die in my sleep. All I can say is that it was the central crisis of my life from my earliest memories and that whatever gender performance I engaged in: macho, fem, genderqueer, it didn’t fix the issue. My sense of embodiment was never okay until after my physical transition.
Or is it saying that moving towards an androgynous society will make it easier for people to live by destigmatizing trans livelihoods in a broader sense?
This is correct.
The emergency Dworkin identified was that trans people are excluded in everything and in every way. The word she used was “despised.” She acknowledged that even with all the Revolutionary thought going on at that time, it didn’t include trans people.
Since Dworkin uses androgynous and multisexed interchangeably, my sense is that trans people wouldn’t have to deal with essentialist BS situated around being a “real man” or a “real woman” or grinding oppression in a multisexed society.
*TERF means Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. It’s a feminist term used to acknowledge that some “radical feminist” identified people seek to exclude trans people from some/all aspects of the women’s liberation movement (the precise “primary emergency” Dworkin identified). TERFs claim that this term is an inherent slur because social media uses the term in the same way that it uses homophobe, misogynist and racist. I use the term because it doesn’t matter what term is concocted to identify this group of self identified “radical feminists” because TERFs would simply come to assert that term is also a slur the moment social media began using it the way it uses homophobe, misogynist and racist. In this post I am speaking about “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists”.
This is from an interview I did with the out gay individual who collaborated with with the lesbians from Jefferys’ community to create the first gender treatment center in Australia. I want to thank Jeffreys’ community for both inventing and defending trans healthcare in her country!
[Transsexual surgery] could be likened to political psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I suggest that transsexualism should best be seen in this light, as directly political, medical abuse of human rights. The mutilation of healthy bodies and the subjection of such bodies to dangerous and life-threatening continuing treatment violates such people’s rights to live with dignity in the body into which they were born, what Janice Raymond refers to as their “native” bodies. It represents an attack on the body to rectify a political condition, “gender” dissatisfaction in a male supremacist society based upon a false and politically constructed notion of gender difference.
Recent literature on transsexualism in the lesbian community draws connections with the practices of sadomasochism. – Sheila Jeffreys, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker
Gee… Why do you suppose Jeffreys failed to mention the fact that out lesbians did all the transsexual surgeries in her country back when Janice Raymond published the book she’s quoting from?
I’ve been fighting the “transsexual” invasion in our Lesbian communities since 1973 when I first wrote about it in “Dykes and Gorgons,” and, more recently, in my article, “Defining Lesbians Out of Existence — the Pretenders — Part One: ‘Transwomen Are Merely Castrated Men.’” – BevJo, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker.
Official Souvenir Program of the 1979 National March on Washington, Page 1
“Gay is Good”
This slogan came out of the 1968 North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO). This meeting was largely funded by transperson, Lee Brewster (a forgotten trans badass who also funded the Mattachine Society, founded the Queens Liberation Front, funded and coordinated the NY anti-GLBT legal challenges that overturned NY anti-gay laws, published most of the early national trans magazines and newspapers, and fought early anti-trans RadFems like Jean O’Leary and Jill Johnston who wanted to erase trans folk from the queer rights movement). The meeting was attended by Houston activist, Ray Hill (who planned the March with Harvey Milk… Hill was the lead organizer of the March on Washington) along with several other transpeople – including Transgender Foundation of America’s Vice President, Alexis Melvin.
(I can’t help but snicker at – yet again – Houston’s fingers being all over queer history. BTW, that term “transpeople”… That was from Phyllis – who was using it before Prince, BTW.)
The following article was published in 1974. Note the way the overall public holds anti-trans views in contempt. Note the dismissive way the author of this article reports on TERF bigotry. I think this article serves as an important cautionary tale.
I can’t help but note that today, like in this 1974 article, most feminists and trans folk seemingly think TERF anti-trans dogma is ridiculously irrelevant. Please never forget the damage they’ve caused. Their hate adversely affected each American trans person and has led to the death and suffering of untold numbers of trans people. They are as hubris as they are cruel; TERFs have repeatedly shown that they take perverse pleasure in increasing the level of suffering within the trans population. The harm TERFs went on to inflict upon the trans community after this article was published is arguably without parallel.
BEBE INFILTRATES FEMINIST CONFERENCE
At a recent feminist conference, drag queen Bebe J. Scarpie successfully was able to infiltrate the question line, from which men were excluded, in order to challenge Jill Johnston, the radicalesbian columnist. Miss Johnston, is primarily noted for a recent letter to the National Organization of Women, in which she proposed that mothers neglect to care for male babies. She also attacked drag actress Holly Woodlawn, when the latter was making a public appearance. At this conference she wanted to allow only those males necessary for artificial insemination to exist. Bebe accused Jill of being a Neo fascist and dictating to women as well as men. At this point however, a radicalesbian recognized her from previous encounters, and screamed out, “Jill don’t answer it’s a male question.” The audience, composed 50% of college students and 50% of Jill’s entourage, was left in total amazement. It was interesting since with their close cropped hair and full denim outfits, the radical women were more transvestites than Bebe!
Finally one of the straight women present picked up Behe’s line of questioning. Jill again demonstrated an inability to build any logic sequence of thoughts and she succeeded in boring half the college students into leaving while she was trying to explain that sleeping with a male made a woman a male, to which this straight sister replied then it made her boyfriend a woman.
It was overheard by one of Babe’s friends that the radical panel had muttered that they couldn’t believe this was happening to them. Drag Power!
A note on Bebe Scarpie and early trans political advocacy:
TVs Excluded From Gay Civil Rights Bill
After a three-and-a-half-year battle, a bill to ban discrimination against homosexuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations was voted out of New York’s City Council’s General Welfare Committee.
The measure won approval of seven of the eight committee members on hand after an amendment was approved relating to transvestites. This was the fifth attempt to get the bill out of committee. The amendment stated that nothing in the definition of sexual orientation “shall be construed to bear upon the standards of attire or dress code.” The amendment was key to committee passage and the wording had been worked out carefully by Theodor S. Weiss and Carter Burden.
Bebe Scarpie, Director of Queens Liberation Front, met at City Hall with the sponsors and QLF’s attorney, Richard Levidow, a week prior to the voting on the bill. Ms. Scarpie and attorney Levidow submitted to the above wording as an alternative to getting the bill passed. The clause, according to Mr. Levidow is unconstitutional and won’t hold up in court because of the “equal rights” protection of the US Constitution. “QLF gave in on being included in this piece of legislation because politicians were using the transvestite as a ‘scapegoat’ for not passing the bill,” says Lee Brewster, former director and founder of QLF.
Queens Liberation Front won’t issue a formal statement on the bill until it is either passed or defeated, which looks possible as we go to press.
– Drag Magazine, 1973
Lee Brewster was trans and was behind a great deal of the early queer civil rights movement. Brewster involved in supporting the first American conference of “homophile organizations” in 1968, funded the QLF and provided most of the funding for the Mattachine Society.
Wonder why nobody knows that trans folk were so involved in early queer rights? Want to know more about that first national meeting made possible by a trans person?
You can thank TERFs and their transphobic gay counterparts for editing trans folk out of the struggle for queer rights.