Radical Inclusion: Recounting the Trans Inclusive History of Radical Feminism

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Here’s an excerpt from titled Radical Inclusion: Recounting the Trans Inclusive History of Radical Feminism published in TSQ by Duke University Press:

Abstract

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…

 

Internet Drama: The Handmaiden of Cis Fragility

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“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

Some Context:

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.

The Internet Drama

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:

“Cristan is a MAN and MUST be hiding something!!!! Also, let’s pretend that the TransAdvocate didn’t out the Woolbert story!!!”

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.

It’s ridiculous

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:

Presenting on The Conversations Project at Rice University

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.

A trans feminist perspective on the NY Times piece

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While the first half of the article titled There Is No Reason to Deny Trans People Necessary Medical Care does a good job at deconstructing the fraudulent, entitled and obtuse assertions featured in a recient NY Times piece, it is the latter half of the article that, I felt, is useful as a compacted overview of trans feminist thought. From Katherine Cross’ piece on Reality Check:

This is to say nothing of the fact that not all trans people want or need reassignment surgery—it is no longer as definitional of transsexual existence as it once was, and new generations of trans people are finding countless new and interesting ways of having a trans body. It’s a flowering deftly ignored by articles like Friedman’s, except inasmuch as he briefly uses the existence of such people to suggest that perhaps those of us who need surgery don’t. To truly respect trans existence would mean not trying to use our diversity to pit us against one another.

What afflicts us is not surgery but a world under the oceanic pressure of norms and prejudices.

Even leaving aside the more dramatic cases of trans women being murdered, we live in a world where we are seen as strange at best: something to stare at, something to passively exclude, some thing, rather than an equal person. Our bodies seem to exist as amusement parks for the fantastic curiosities of others. We are the conversation piece in cisgender society’s living room.

Ask yourself how that would make you feel, regardless of what medications you took or what surgeries you had.

Gender dysphoria as a whole—bodily and mental—is something imposed on us from without as much as something that manifests from within; it certainly finds its origins in deeply felt, physical sensations of wrongness, but it is also wildly exacerbated by the way trans people’s bodies are talked about, publicly possessed, and seen as inherently violable. In its subtle way, the Times editorial feeds that sense of objectifying entitlement.

This wider issue forms the foundations of all violence against us.

Men can often get away with doing absolutely anything to trans women in particular, especially if we do sex work: that double stigma is a brand that says “no one will miss you” in invisible ink all over our bodies. Even as men lust after us, they want to destroy us as an extraverted act of revenge against all womankind. Because they can.

They say we’re not “real women” and yet do to us the things they wish they could do to other women: their wives, their mothers, female politicians, the ball-busting boss, the ice queen who won’t date them. We are, in fact, the canvas of so many cisgender men’s own deeply unresolved psychological crises, which themselves never make it to the front page of theTimes’ Sunday Review in the form of handwringing editorial piety.

You live with that knowledge and you learn to make peace with it, uneasy as it may be, and hope for the best.

Time and again, well-meaning cisgender people tell me and my sisters, brothers, and siblings, that we are so very “strong” and “courageous,” as if they intuitively sense how poisonous our world’s atmosphere is for us.

For my own part, I’m simply trying to fashion a liveable life, partially through these words, partially through the perambulations of my career, and in every case I find that the freshest air I breathe in this world is the result of work done, past and present, to help cisgender people see my existence as a way of being human.

But I needed medical transition in order to breathe in the first place.

Cross’ review contextualizes some of the same themes my pithy TransAdvocate response to the same NY Times article did. I too spend the first half of my article debunking the nonsense pushed by the Times, but it’s the second half that contextualizes – through a trans feminist perspective – the deeper problems that support the type of behavior featured by the Times and other terribly concerned cis people who only listen to that which reinforces their apriori conclusions; namely, that the memes cis people create to think about the trans experience actually represents the trans experience and that structurally, their critiques of trans people are intelligible only to others who insist on misusing trans feminist language. From my TransAdvocate piece:

Friedman [ed: the author of the NY Times piece both Cross and I critiqued] remarks on the way transsexual brains are different from cisgender brains and opines that maybe if there were more freedom around gender roles, trans people wouldn’t really need to physically transition:

Of course, people should have the freedom to assume whatever gender role makes them comfortable and refer to themselves with whatever pronoun they choose; we should encourage people to be who they really feel they are, not who or what society would like them to be. I wonder, if we were a more tolerant society that welcomed all types of gender identity, what the impact might be on gender dysphoria. How many transgender individuals would feel the need to physically change gender, if they truly felt accepted with whatever gender role they choose?

I know this is terribly difficult for some people to understand, so let me make it very clear: gender identity, expression and orientation IS NOT the same thing as gender hierarchy, stereotype or role. Trans discourse is at a significant disadvantage when terribly concerned cis people like Friedman speak on behalf of the trans experience. People like Friedman seem to rely upon equivocation, credulity and ignorance when presenting their trans critical points to (usually) non-trans people. (* cough * Janice Raymond * cough *) Not only does Friedman seem to conflate gender role, gender and gender identity, his assertion that biological factors may drive trans people into new gender roles is highly problematic since gender roles aren’t biological.

Trans “Brain Sex” Side Bar:

I have for years asserted that I am largely agnostic to the claim that trans people have neurological brain issues which cause us to experience our bodies in the way we do. While I don’t think this is out of the realm of probabilities, I do think that we need more research. I myself interviewed Dr. Diamond whose twin studies made him conclude that trans people have an intersex condition in our brain. I am, and continue to be, interested in these studies. I think that just dismissing them all as BS (or for that matter, uncritically accepting them all as gospel) is a sign of ideological bias.

Having said that, I also recognize that brain sex studies in general are not infrequently problematic; that the specter of gender roles often asserts an unacknowledged force on brain sex study outcomes. Cordelia Fine’s 2010 book, Delusions of Gender does a good job at exposing this problem. However, even Fine herself stumbles when even she habitually conflates gender role with gender identity in her description of what she observes. In this way, Fine’s work suffers from some of the same problems I review below.

Moreover, some cis researchers – especially those who’ve assumed a place of authority with regard to sex and gender issues – seem to never acknowledge a simple truth trans advocates have pointed to since the 1950s: sex essentialism is a cultural construct. Whether it’s two boxes (male and female) or three boxes (male, intersex and female) researchers seem to be largely incapable of understanding that those boxes were constructed by their culture’s hands .

For decades, trans advocates have struggled to describe sex and gender from a trans perspective. Back in 1958, Christine Jorgensen challenged the concept of a natural sex binary in her interview LP Christine Jorgensen Reveals. At the 23 second mark, the non-trans interviewer asks Jorgensen if she’s a woman. Jorgensen replied, “We seem to assume that every person is either a man or a woman. But we don’t take into account the scientific value that each person is actually both in varying degrees. Now, this sounds a little evasive and I don’t mean it to be in actuality. To that, my only answer is that I am more of a woman than I am a man.” Working from within the confines of a 1950s pop lexicon, Jorgensen challenged the non-trans interviewer’s presumption of a natural sex binary and instead proposed that sex might be conceptualized as more of a spectrum. Later in the interview she challenged the idea that clothing habits have anything to do with sex. “One isn’t born to wear clothes, actually. Clothes are a habit that one accumulates.” Throughout the entire LP, Jorgensen is continually bumping up against binary sex and gender presumptions as she struggles to frame her answers in a way that the cisgender interviewer might grasp.

To be clear, within trans discourse should I speak in terms of identity, I am speaking in terms of personal and expressive form; should I speak in terms of role, I am speaking in terms of cultural function. I as a trans person did not transition in order to choose a new gender role. Being placed into a role is something that culture forcibly does to people; nobody can choose to live in a gender role. Should society deem that one is a male, that person will be placed into a male role by culture; should society deem that one is female, that person will be placed into a female role by culture. A gender role isn’t chosen, it’s inflicted and much of trans discourse is situated around ways of challenging and undermining those roles.

When trans people speak of their gender identity, we are speaking about any 1 of 3 things:

A.)   One’s subjective experience of one’s own sexed body attributes;
B.)   One’s sexed identification within the context of a social grouping; or,
C.)   Both A and B

(ProTip: Some trans people will sometimes refer to Category A as one’s “gender orientation.”)

So no, even if we had a billion new gender roles, that wouldn’t address the need of trans people to medically transition, nor would it help to force a billion people into a billion new gender role boxes. The motivation to medically transition was not about me living within a gender role box; it was about my subjective embodied experience.

“A Woman Trapped in a Man’s Body”

Cis people came up with this sophomoric way of describing the trans experience to each other and it has, in a Foucauldian sense, stuck to descriptions of the trans experience ever since. The earliest known usage of a phrase like this comes from page 236 of Emily Grant Hutchings’ 1922 book, Indian Summer: “David is a woman. More than that, Sydney, Mrs Trench is a man — trapped in a woman’s body. When nature makes a blunder like that, there’s usually the devil to pay.” In his 1966 book, The Transsexual Phenomena, Harry Benjamin tried to make the trans experience intelligible to the cisgender population. On page 19 Benjamin wrote, “The transsexual feels himself to be a woman (“trapped in a man’s body”) and is attracted to men.” Consider the way this meme was used on page 265 of the 1967 book Sexual Deviance:

While, as suggested, few lesbians become committed to this totally masculine role as a near-permanent life style, many more lesbians may experiment with this kind of strategy for a short period, particularly during the identity crisis that occurs at the time of the first self-admission of a deviant sexual commitment or at entry into the culture of the homosexual community. During this early phase of career development, it is not unlikely that many lesbians overreact because they are still imbued with the essentially heterosexual language of their earlier socialization and think of themselves as an accident of nature: a man trapped in a woman’s body.

I find it interesting that some contemporary gender pontificators are putting forward new iterations of this very argument. Here we find that should a lesbian step out of her gender role (function) within the context of heteronormative culture, it may very-well make her think that she’s a “man trapped in a woman’s body.” Friedman essentially makes the same (il)logical leap in his article: since it must be gender roles that are driving trans people to transition, instead of medical care, a better solution might be the creation of even more gender roles. Friedman assures his readers that “gender” shouldn’t be binary, “it [doesn’t] mean that conventional gender roles always feel right; the sheer number of people who experience varying degrees of mismatch between their preferred gender and their body makes this very clear.” * every facepalm meme ever goes here *

If people like Friedman (or Raymond for that matter) actually cared about the well-being of trans people (as they inevitably claim they do) maybe they could start by being honest about the data, stop conflating trans terminology to muddy the discursive waters and start honestly engaging with trans people about what their body experience is like.*

*And no, being trans isn’t the same thing as wishing to be paralyzed or to have sections of one’s body removed (body dysmorphic disorder). This “analysis” is popular with smug cis people who think trans people want to “chop off” parts of their bodies. If you think that trans surgery is about chopping off body parts, you probably need to sit down, shut up and listen to trans people talk about their experience without assuming that you understand it better than they can.

Michigan Womyn’s Music Fest is Evil

Views: 16197

I have a story that will be coming out sometime this month and it comes from several hours of interviews I did with members of the Lesbian Avengers. They told me about what happened to their group back in 1999, when a mob of violent Michigan Womyn’s Music Fest (MWMF) TERFs held a trans kid against her will and threatened to murder her.

I’ve already released some of the interview in a MWMF post I did for TheTERFs.com. The entire interview is very difficult for me to listen to. I mean, after the physical and mental mob assault happened, one of the MWMF womyn tried to get the trans kid to put out… directly after they had psychologically gang raped her in public.

When an activist friend of mine raised this issue with MWMF*, the Fest claimed that trans people are lying about what happened, that their victim was mentally ill and drunk. They said that what they did to her was for her own good.

What Happened

In 1999, Camp Trans was largely organized by the Lesbian Avengers. The group bought a 16 year old trans girl to the MWMF ticket booth and informed them that they were from Camp Trans and that they had a trans youth with them. While the MWMF sold everyone in the group tickets, the moment the group of Avengers entered the gates, TERFs began trailing the 16 year old trans kid shouting, “MAN ON THE LAND!” This continued until the group turned into a mob that had surrounded the youth, screaming at her until MWMF security moved everyone to a tent where the trans youth was made to stand in front of an enormous group of TERFs who spent the next 2 hours berating her.  One adult openly threatened the life of the youth without consequence. The youth was marched to the gates of the festival and expelled.

[Lesbian Avenger] S: About 10 TERFs were waiting for us when we came in. The whole ‘MAN ON THE LAND!’ started as soon as we walked in. I mean, at the time, we’re kids, we’re teenagers and these are all adults. I mean, when I think about it now, it was just so fucked up. We were trying to give out t-shirts and stickers about being inclusive. But, it was getting bad.

[trans girl in the group] K: A huge crowd of yelling people formed around us and I started crying at that point. It got so loud that Nomy Lamm, who was performing there as part of Sister Spit, came over and stood up for us… The crowd and me were walked over to a tent area. The way that it worked was that there was a queue of people who were going to get to say whatever they wanted to say. I remember, specifically, one woman looking right at me and telling me that I needed to leave the Land as soon as possible because she had a knife and didn’t know if she would be able to control herself if I was around her.

Cristan Williams: WHAT? How did people react to that death threat?

K: Because of the way they were queuing, as soon as one person stopped speaking, another would start, so nobody said or did anything about the death threat. At that point, I checked out. I was first I was sobbing and [B] was holding my face close to hers, telling me that it would be over soon, but then I just checked out.

S: The moderator did nothing. It was just a mud-slinging, hatred pouring out. It was just like one by one by one being like, ‘You’re a rapist! You’re raping the Land! You’re destroying womanhood! I don’t know what I’m going to do to you!’ – it was just violent, hatred, and I know that most of it was geared at [K]. I was up there being attacked, but I wasn’t getting the brunt of it. This went on for at least two hours.  At least 30 people were allowed to speak at us, but there were around 75 under the tent, and if you included the people around the tent who were watching and listening, well over 100.

 

mwmf-terf

 

How, exactly, did MWMF know that this kid was “mentally ill”? I spent hours doing interviews for this story and I’ve found no evidence to support this fact assertion. Moreover, the kid wasn’t “intoxicated,” the kid was terrified.  At one point K was telling me that her friend held her face in her hands saying, “Shhh… It will be okay. It will all be over soon. Just look at me. Don’t look at them.” Now, imagine that after all of this, one of them tries to get you to put out. This was psychological rape. Any adult who took part in harming this kid in this way should – at the very least – have the decency to be ashamed… and the truth is that I know that they aren’t.

A fucking mob of adults did this to a trans kid. Can you imagine being a kid and being made to stand in front of a mob of TERFs, yelling at you, pouring out hate at you, making no bones about how despised and disgusting they think you are and then being told that at least one of them has a weapon and wants to murder you? And then imagine that nobody cared to do anything about a fucking adult, threatening to murder a trans kid in public. Imagine if you were 16 and this happened to you. Now that the truth is finally coming out, imagine that your abuser said that you’re crazy, you must have been drunk and that you deserved it.

Before the full story comes out, I invite the MWMF to clarify how they obtained this kid’s mental health records and if they don’t have the kid’s medical records, I’d like them to explain why they’ve publicly claimed that this kid was mentally ill. I invite them to publish the evidence to support any of their claims. I invite them to issue a statement and explain to everyone why the kid deserved what the she got.

I’d love to see that MWMF has to say, especially since the 16 year old was a straight edge teetotaler who has never been diagnosed as being “mentally ill”.

I hope to have the whole story published on the TransAdvocate this month.

PS:

TERFs plan to harass HRC tomorrow (Friday, 10/3/14) because HRC joined the National Black Justice Coalition, the Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Nation Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the TransAdvocate (and many other social justice groups) in asking the MichFest stop their decades of trans discrimination:

So, apparently HRC owes MWMF an apology for asking that they stop discriminating against trans people.

Irony: These MWMF TERFs are appropriating the “Amazon” culture to promote their bigotry. The Amazons are based on the Scythians, a TRANS-INCLUSIVE culture.

Note: When I use “psychological rape” in this post, I’m talking about being forcibly positioned to accept a psychological violation that puts one in fear of their life. Moreover, I’ve used this term because the trauma was sexualized by a MWMF womyn when the kid was most vulnerable.

Update: *While the above twitter account exists to promote MWMF and organizing aspects of MWMF, after this post went up, this account now claims that it isn’t associated with MWMF.

Update 2: In addition to now claiming no affiliation with MWMF, the twitter account is now saying that they were referring to some other instance involving a trans kid.

Name The Problem

Views: 9545

A much older adult, who was famous in the eyes of a kid, talked the minor into exposing themselves to the adult. The adult then took a good long look – long enough to memorize the details of the kid’s genitals. The adult then wrote an article featuring the explicit details of what the underage kid’s genitals looked like.

While this might elicit a strident response from folks who care about things like the age of consent, the use of power, corrosion and exploitation, nobody seems to care in this case – especially the Philadelphia police department.

Yes, a minor really was talked into exposing himself to an adult but here’s the rub: the kid was trans and that, apparently, changes everything.

A reporter named Brownworth decided to do a story on a dangerous underground body modification scene which uses silicone injections to change the shape of the body. This practice is called “pumping.” It’s illicit because pumping kills. The resulting story was gritty. However, it was pushed into the lurid territory when the reporter went into explicit detail, recounting what the minor’s genitalia looked like:

“Devon tells me he should have been a boy… He’s handsome and, in the loose shirt, no one would ever guess he was born female… I ask him how old he is. He turns away as he mumbles “18″ and I subtract two, possibly three years.

Devon has been getting testosterone and steroids from Rolanda for over a year… Devon drops his pants and gets a cartoon-large injection in his thigh… Then Rolanda applies the breast pump to what was once his vulva and what is now being turned, slowly in this cut-rate plastic surgery clinic, into his scrotum. Rolanda says she is very pleased with how Devon is progressing.

It’s awkward, but I ask if I can look. Devon looks away and then asks Rolanda to remove the pump.

He turns toward me and places his hands on his thighs. There is thick black [CENSORED] and in the middle of this is a [CENSORED] — his [CENSORED] is growing from the testosterone injections and now looks like [CENSORED]. It’s very [CENSORED], but [CENSORED]. The [CENSORED] had become [CENSORED] also, and looks almost like [CENSORED]. I ask Devon how it feels. His right hand moves involuntarily toward the [CENSORED] and he smiles a little for the first time. “Good,” he says softly.” – Excerpt from Brownworth’s article

Here’s the original article. I’ve edited the part where she describes the 15-year old’s genitalia because it’s disgusting and likely criminal. The article is actually good – right up until Brownworth it gets into describing what the minor’s genitals look like for the sake of a little sensationalistic flair.

It should be noted that Devon, the minor in this story, made an explicit attempt to have some privacy. He never offered to let Brownworth see him. He never extended that invitation to her; rather, the adult who (is described by Brownworth as the “high priestess of the pump”) was supplying his testosterone and body modification made that invitation to Brownworth on his behalf:

…everyone is watching me, I’m equally sure that they would prefer I just leave so that they can just get on with it. But I don’t leave. I go to the kitchen, sit down on a chair and watch Rolanda prep her first patient, one of the boys. – Brownworth’s article

Brownworth clearly knew that the minor didn’t want her there. Devon tried to give himself some privacy. Devon turned his back to Brownworth. However, just looking at Devon’s back wasn’t enough to satisfy Brownworth’s morbid curiosity. She wanted to see it all.

Let’s be clear about Brownworth’s power and status in this moment. For Devon, Brownworth was a famous gatekeeper who was revered by the only person who he thought cared enough to help him transition (nevermind that this  “priestess of the pump” – this adult – was knowingly putting Devon’s life at risk for some quick cash). Brownworth had the power to tell Devon’s story and make even more people care:

Everyone in the room had been warned I was coming and apparently been told by the breathless Rolanda that I was “famous.” The pomegranate juice and the signed copy of one of my recent books that I had brought for Rolanda solidified my status.

Brownworth was someone that promised to tell people Devon’s story and she wanted him to give up the little privacy he had made for himself:

It’s awkward, but I ask if I can look. Devon looks away…

What does that body language tell you when you see it? When you ask a 15 year old something personal and they look away, what is that body language generally communicating to you?

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Our culture has a very strong bias towards believing that it needs to know – and/or has a right to know – what the genitalia of trans folks look like. I’ve found that this bias has influenced the way people have viewed this incident. For example, some feminists – who have an otherwise finely tuned moral compass when it comes to exploitation – have asserted that the 50 year old had a right to get the minor to expose himself. Others have excused any possible criminal activity on the part of the adult because it was a story about “pumping.”

When I made a report to the Philadelphia police about this incident, the officer asserted that the reporter had a right to have access to the minor’s genitalia because it was a “freedom of speech issue.”

I want you to pause just for a moment and let that sink in.

Fortunately, Child Protective Services viewed it differently. They said what the reporter had done is called “child exploitation.” The case has now landed in the DAs office… though I’m doubtful that it will go anywhere (more about that later).

For those of you who are still struggling with this because of the trans thing, ask yourself how you’d react if someone your 15 year old kid thought was famous asked them to show them their genitals – and worse, your kid did it. Then ask yourself how you’d react if they wrote an article which explicitly detailed what your child’s genitalia looked like? How would you as the parent feel? What would you do about it?

On July 2, this image [warning, graphic] made the front page of Reddit.  The older man in the image had looked into the window of a fully clothed 15 year old. Within 19 hours, the image had been viewed 638,562 times. The internet seems to think the pummeling this older man received was warranted.

However, quite a number of people seem to take no issue with what happened to the 15 year old Devon. I know I won’t ever forget hearing the Philadelphia Police Department endorse what happened to him.

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Strangely, the reporter at the center of this issue is the self-identified radical feminist journalist,  Victoria A. Brownworth. The newspaper that published the article is the Philadelphia Gay News newspaper. Here’s an article that they just published wherein they defend and support Brownworth.

Even more strange, Brownworth recently sent the motorcycle group, Rebecca’s Army a long and rambling diatribe about how she’s really the one who was victimized after they had sent her a very respectful email with simple questions about a recent article. A self-identifed radical feminist site known as GenderTrender came out in support of Brownworth and denounced the motorcycle group for bothering Brownworth with the few questions they asked, asserting that the group is anti-lesbian.

Also, here’s another very important detail: The article in question was published FIVE years ago. And in that time, apparently nobody thought there was any problem with Brownworth’s behavior:

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Name The Problem: Your Cisprivilege

Some self-identified feminists seem to think that there’s nothing wrong with a 50 year old requesting that a 15 year old give them access to their genitals:

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Victoria “I Don’t Know What Emancipated Minors Are” Brownworth

What’s Brownworth’s defense for gaining access to the 15 year old’s genitals?

Because: They asked me to.

Seriously.

Let’s revisit what Brownwoth wrote in 2008:

…everyone is watching me, I’m equally sure that they would prefer I just leave so that they can just get on with it. But I don’t leave. I go to the kitchen, sit down on a chair and watch Rolanda prep her first patient, one of the boys.

Now, in 2013, she claims that they wanted her to have access to their genitals.

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‘Because they asked me to…’

It’s telling that Brownworth admits that she felt that what she was going was “creepy” and “wrong.” And yet, she did it anyway. Moreover, she used graphic descriptions of the kid’s genitals as a shot of sensationalism for her story.

I could almost understand had she waited in another room and simply reported what Devon said his experience was.  But she didn’t do that. Allowing Devon to interpret his own experience to her wasn’t what Brownworth was looking for that night. Even though she felt it was wrong and even though she felt awkward and creepy about it, she was nevertheless really curious about what this minor’s genitalia looked like. The need to satisfy her curiosity was apparently so great that it overrode her own internal moral compass and she just had to have a good look.

She went on to assert that what she did helped this kid.

Really?

  • Did she clothe him?
  • Did she see that he was housed?
  • Did she feed him?
  • Did she try to even set up a free Hep C and/or HIV test?
  • What about spending even just 30 mins. of her day advocating for access to appropriate medical/social services for Devon?

No?

Clearly she knew that what Devon was being duped into was possibly deadly. Did she even call in an anonymous tip about the person doing the underground injections?

No?

The reality is that after Brownworth’s story, the individual doing these underground injections wound up killing people with her illicit silicone injections. The reality is that had police caught this back alley surgeon after Brownworth’s story, lives would have been saved.

If I had to, I’d bet that she offered no actual help and that she never lifted a finger to stop a butcher from going on to kill other vulnerable people. I’d bet that Brownworth tells herself that her behavior was motivated out of real concern. I bet that’s easy for her to do.

Was she investigated for her actions? Nope.

Was there public outcry? Nope.

Actually, she was given an award for it.

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Of course, Detective Marabella of Philadelphia PD agrees with her. The Detective reviewed the story and concluded that Brownworth’s apparent right to know – well, not only to know, but right to actually see – what was in the minor’s pants was a matter of Brownworth’s freedom of speech.

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Cisprivilege: It’s a thing

Cisprivilege refers to a set of unearned advantages that individuals who represent as the gender they were assigned at birth accrue solely due to having a cisgender identity and it’s a problem when one’s privilege distorts perception to the point so that it becomes okay for adults to talk minors into exposing themselves.

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It’s not rapeculture if I do it!

With the cisprivilege blinders on, it’s wrong to notice that Brownworth’s behavior was possibly criminal. Nevermind that Brownworth herself already states that she felt she was both “wrong” and “creepy” for what she did.

From a place of cisprivilege, an adult requesting access to a 15 year old transkid’s genitalia isn’t problematic. In fact, it’s a right. Just ask the Philly PD!

From a place of cisprivilege detailing what a 15 year old transkid’s genitalia looks like for the titillation of a newspaper’s readership (just to give an otherwise gritty tale that little something extra) isn’t problematic. In fact, according to the Philly PD, it’s freedom of the press!

Should a transperson take issue with what happened to the minor, Brownworth becomes both a victim and a hero.

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From a place of cisprivilege, nobody will notice that Brownworth’s factual recounting of the incident seems to be inconsistant. In 2008, she strongly suspected that she was asking to look at the genitialia of a kid. When I interacted with her on twitter, she clearly states that she knew Devon was 15. When she’s talking to Autumn, she didn’t know until after the story was published. When she’s talking with other TERFs, she knew Devon was 15 but claims that she made it clear that he was “emancipated” (BTW, at no time in the story does she say that Devon was emancipated).

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‘But officer, they told me they were 18!”
2008: She claims she knew, 2013: She didn’t until later.

Cisprivilege means that our society won’t care. It means that YEARS will go by without anyone taking action because from the perspective of those with the privilege, no wrong ever occurred. In fact, society will give her a freaking award for what she did. It means that when the police are notified, the cop will claim that adults get to have access to a kid’s genitals “because of freedom of the press.”

'It's not a crime because LOOK AT THIS STRAWMAN!!!!!!!'
‘It’s not a crime because LOOK AT THIS STRAWMAN!!!!!!!’

My prediction is that because it’s been 5 years since Brownworth wrote her article and because Devon isn’t likely to be available to testify, Brownworth will get away with it.

I’ve done everything I know to do to advocate for the transkid I believe Brownworth took advantage of. It seems like the Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) doesn’t care. It’s obvious that Brownworth and numerous self-identified feminists feel satisfied about what happened. It seems that much of the cis-establishment – up to and even including the police – are defending Brownworth’s right to have access to a transkid’s genitals. Devon’s own invisibility due to being pushed to the fringe of society will work in Brownworth’s favor (if he’s not, in fact, dead due to the pumping). It seems like PGN is happy to cover up Brownworth’s tracks (the story at PGN has been erased) and pretend that the trans community is being unreasonable in their criticisms of Brownworth.

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(T1) I’m struggling to understand how the term Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) erases the experience of Trans*? (T2) Irony: writing series on poor, black, transwomen sex workers, showing how they are abused. Getting shit from transwomen because of “cisprivilege” (T3) Cristan Williams is a violent man, and the twitter men fall in line with anything that affirms their “womanity”

And besides, cisprivilige isn’t even real

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Oh, and to add irony to insult, Brownworth just did a story about a child exploitation on the Advocate.

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#RadFem2013 Lies and the London Irish Centre

Views: 12230

For the second year in a row, the RadFem hate conference  has been booted from their venue.

For the second year in a row, the RadFem hate leadership is claiming to be victims of a conspiracy. Last year is was a transgender conspiracy and this year it’s a so-called “Men’s Rights” conspiracy:

Here’s why the RadFem’s claim they’re being booted from their venue:

The reality is that the men’s rights activists have behaved unacceptably in their harassment of staff at the venue, as they have to feminists organising the conference. The London Irish Centre should be standing strong with the women of the world who suffer male violence, silencing, bullying, threats and harassment on a daily basis because we are standing up and saying, “no.” Organisers of Radfem 2013 have gone out of our way to help the centre and it’s staff with criminal investigations.

Yes, it’s just one big conspiracy, isn’t it? Remember the conspiracy angle. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The RadFem hyperbole goes on to get a little more nutty:

The London Irish Centre may be unlawfully and unjustifiably considering cancelling our booking but this will not stop us from holding our event and standing our ground. The repercussions on our movement for liberation are too great if we allow ourselves to be bullied out of our rightful booking. We do not accept the London Irish Centre’s unjustifiable rejection of our booking. We have done nothing wrong and we will not accept being punished because of MRA’s using terror tactics.

They then assert that the venue can’t give them the boot and that they’ll have their conference at the venue no matter what:

We will have our conference. It will be at the London Irish Centre from the 8th – 9th of June. We are standing strong with our sisters around the world for our liberation. We will not be moved.

(BTW – I can’t wait to see this drama play out! I wish I could have front row seating and a bucket of popcorn for the train wreck they’re planning!)

So, is it all really a conspiracy?

Let’s cut through the RadFem lies and see what the venue itself says about their reasons for booting RadFem 2013 from the venue:

Quite a few of the complaints were from the transgender community and then a men’s group cam along the other day a hand out leaflets about why the event shouldn’t be held here.

We did some research into RadFem and discovered certain language was used and some statements were made about transgender people that would go against our equalities and diversity policy.

– David Barlow, The Irish Center’s Director

There you have it. Trans folk were the ones mostly complaining about endorsing RadFem hate and then a couple of guys from the RadFem equivalent of a men’s group handed out some fliers but that’s not why RadFem 2013 got the boot. The venue itself researched the RadFem movement and concluded for itself that RadFem 2013 is an anti-trans hate group with which it did not wish to associate .

RadFems did this to themselves. There’s no conspiracy. That’s a lie (or perhaps delusion). The reality is that the movement’s own hate rhetoric led to their expulsion from the venue.

Speaking of conspiracies. Sheila Jeffreys was going to be a speaker at RadFem 2013. Certain trans folks have gotten hold of advanced copies of her new book and OMG! It’s nuttier than any RadFem conspiracy theory ever! Here’s the gist of Jeffreys’ new book:

There’s an anti-woman, trans instigated eugenics conspiracy going on behind the scenes and fortunately for all, Jeffreys has been able to punch through the veil of secrecy and expose the evil that lies at the heart of the conspiracy. Can you guess what that evil is? Yup. It’s transwomen. Of course.

You thought Janice Raymond’s Transsexual Empire was nutty? Sheila Jeffreys’ soon to be published book is about to top it! You see, kids who are assigned female at birth are being systematically absorbed into the patriarchy by a Joseph Mengele-like medical technological apparatus which identifies young butch lesbians and forces them to transition as children into men so that they can become obedient pawns of the  patriarchy. Whose fault is it for creating this medical technological apparatus? Transwomen. Yup, you see, this conspiracy would not have been able to take place had it not been for transwomen who, acting as agents of the patriarchy, both invented and pioneered the narrative and credibility for the conspiracy to take place under the very nose of the American populous! Won’t you think about the children™! It’s a female holocaust and it’s all made possible by transwomen!

And the RadFems wonder why they’re being labeled as hate nuts?

RadFem opinion leader and attorney Catherine (Cathy) Brennan, Partner at Hudson Cook LLP

This was sent to the TransAdvocate by one of the RadFem 2013 event organizers, Cathy Brennan.

Yes, it’s all just one big ol’ conspiracy, isn’t it? RadFems are innocent women suffering under the boot-heal of the man, right? RadFems aren’t the hate group, it’s everyone else that’s the hate group. You see, RadFems are brave warrior women who have special knowledge and it’s their job to spread this knowledge in the form of cut-out dolls on twitter.

They create unfalsifiable conspiracy narratives which feature themselves as both the victim and humanity’s savior. All of their venomous obloquy is inherently good because the ends justify the means.  Any evidence which is given that questions that delusion suddenly becomes evidence supporting the reality of a vast conspiracy. The RadFem leadership is playing tennis without a net. All of the RadFem conspiracy theories are impervious to fact checking; instead, they must be taken on faith alone and if you’re too skeptical, well then, that’s just evidence of your involvement with the conspiracy.

There’s a reason RadFems of the 1980s found common ideological ground with racist leaders in their successful bid to have trans health care removed from health plans. There’s a reason RadFem leaders often quote far right-wing blogs when making their point. Both ideologies are circular, self-sustaining solipsistic constructs which feature the players as both victim and savior. There’s a reason both of these movements are regarded as hate movements. Unfortunately for humanity, they are the only ones incapable of seeing what’s so painfully obvious to everyone else:

TRANS POC

 

HUGE THANKS to Caprica for staying on top of this story and bringing it to my attention(!!!!):

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Interview With an Actual Stonewall Riot Veteran: The Ciswashing of Stonewall Must End!

Views: 4523

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The POTUS noted Stonewall in his 2013 inaugural address:

We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth…

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.

Numerous media outlets recounted how the noble gays and lesbians fought that night – never mentioning trans folk… carrying on that long and painful tradition of ciswashing queer history – especially Stonewall history. I wrote about this phenomena over at TransAdvocate after NPR ran a piece recounting how middle-class white gay men were the real heroes of Stonewall. Kat has documented the ciswashing of Stonewall (and the equality movement which followed) well:

Not surprisingly, the white, gay, Mattachine Society member and author of Homosexuality: A Research Guide and the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality had the following to say about the role trans folk played at Stonewall:

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

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

Wayne Dynes, 12/16/2009

Too often, the story of Stonewall is told by folks like Dynes (who was, incidentally, off touring Europe at the time of Stonewall). What follows is an interview given by an actual Stonewall veteran.

I Survived Stonewall

By Roy McCarthy
Interview by Vanessa Edwards Foster for the Texas Association for Transsexual Support (TATS)
July, 1999

To think that it has been 30 years since that night in June that all this has happened… We’ve made a lot of progress. but there’s a lot more to be made. The fight continues on — and I’m right out there!

Opening Night

I had a most unusual beginning — an initiation to the riots. I was asleep! I was across the street… my childhood sweetheart was fixing to start his first year at Columbia University — he was a psych major. I was spending the summer with him, and I was upstairs in his apartment – sound asleep; and his apartment was right across the street from Stonewall Inn. He comes running upstairs saying “Roy! Roy! The queens are rioting across the street! The queens are rioting!”

So I go running down, following him…. By the time we got down there, the paddy wagon had just pulled up. The queens were just starting to come out and someone had just thrown a high heel. There may have been coins or whatever, but I was there within a couple minutes after the festivities started. I did see high heels flying! The queens — the transgenders or the crossdressers — were yelling something from across the street by the paddy wagon; they were yelling at the cops. We were cheering on the transgenders — the crossdressers — it just sort of snowballed from there.

Setting the Stage…

You gotta understand… where everybody’s head politically was at at that time. We’re talking late 60s — 1969. We’re talking about a period of time when it was not only okay, but fashionable to riot against authority thanks to the Vietnam War, and… to the Civil Rights riots a year before. [and when] Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated — we had rioting in the streets. We were rioting and protesting the Vietnam War all along, and we had Moratorium Day every October in the 60s — I think it was around October 17, somewhere around the middle of October. We would have the anti-Vietnam War Moratorium march, which almost always turned into rioting. Later on in the summer of ’69 we also had Woodstock.

In the gay community — now when I talk about the gay community, people have to understand I’m not talking about male homosexuals. I am old school: and when I talk about gay community, the transgenders were a part of it. We never ever considered them not! Bisexuals, crossdressers, were never ever not considered a art of it! We were all gay! I’m kind of sad that all this division and fracturization is come about.

Back then in the gay community we were kinda pissed off that everyone else was getting their civil rights and we weren’t. We were tired of the police busting in and dragging us out just because we were out there to have a good time.

And even the crossdressers were pissed off because by law they had to have at least three articles of clothing on them that were according to their birth gender. That all these things set up to… guarantee that we would have a record. They would tell us to go across the street, and we would follow the police orders; and there would be another cop across the street waiting to give us a ticket for jaywalking. We were tired of gay people being locked up in psychiatric hospitals and getting tortured! We had our own Auschwitzes and Dachaus! And we were just pissed off about all of that! And it had to end!

It was obvious with the paddy wagon there they were just doing another one of their Saturday night raids. It was hot and it was humid that night, and none of us were really in the best of moods that night. We had just buried Judy Garland that day in Forest Lawn out in Hollywood — our icon! We were kinda pissed off.

The First Acts

At first the cops cleared out Stonewall Inn. Those that weren’t gonna get loaded up in the paddy wagons, the cops were telling them to go home. We started taunting the cops, and… they saw the crowd that was starting to gather. The crowd this time was getting bigger and bigger and we started pressing in on the police, and they got scared. They took refuge inside the Stonewall Inn, and barricaded themselves inside. It was after that that somebody had pulled up a parking meter outside there from Christopher Street and smashed in a window.

I got by one of the police cars — the NYPD patrol cars — and I was at the back and I start shaking up and down on the back. Then we started rocking it from side to side, up and down from the front and back, see-sawing the front and back and rocking it from side to side. Next thing… we ended up turning it over on its roof. We crushed its little `bubble-gum machine’ it had on top. By now there was a huge crowd, and somebody somewhere had tossed a Molotov cocktail, and I helped set the cop car on fire. By this time it was only 20 minutes from the time I first arrived down there… And there was a huge crowd!

The Emotion

Back then I wasn’t as big as I am now — I was 5′-7″, about 130 lbs. I was a 19 year old male prostitute. In ’69, I was a prostitute; because I’d been kicked out of home and I was living on the streets and I had to survive. The Stonewall Inn was made up of the dregs of the community. Transgenders and transsexuals were not allowed in many of the gay clubs. And the Stonewall Inn was mostly prostitutes and drug addicts, and drag queens and transgenders. It was not your respectable gay club.

But it was those of us who had nothing to lose, and stood up, and everybody joined in afterwards. We were all very tight knit very tight knit. It wasn’t like we were giving verbal support to the queens who were getting locked up in the paddy wagon. It wasn’t just some sort of spectator thing like at a football came — this was something from our heart, deep down inside.

The Climactic Scene

By this time we could here cop cars coming like crazy from every which direction, and riot police were showing up. I was looking around for my boyfriend, my lover. I saw there was this leather-jacketed, NYPD motorcycle cop who had my boyfriend in a headlock. Now my boyfriend was wearing these John Lennon granny glasses which was very popular at the time. And [the cop] had him in a headlock with his baton hitting him in the face with the bottom end of the baton, and blood was coming from my boyfriend’s face. He was my first love, puppy love, fierce love.

I lost my mental capacity for reason. I jumped on the back of that cop and I took the baton from that cop and – with some strength from somewhere – the adrenaline got me going where I was able to take the baton out of the cop’s hand and I was beating cop. I know I got about three or four hits on the guy and the next thing I knew – bang, I’m seeing stars I’m on the ground! Then there’s blood coming all down my face, on the left side! A cop on horseback came up behind me and whacked me in the head with his nightstick. That was one of the TPF – Tactical Patrol Force. This was before there was such thing as a SWAT unit. They used Tactical Patrol, and they were on horseback, and they used those police to disperse riots and…that’s what they did on me, and I was really bloodied. A piece of my skull got chipped off and wound up on Christopher Street. To this day I’ve got a place in my head where a piece of my skull is missing – a little chip off the old block!

Salvation During Battle

It was four transgendered people who saved my butt! At the time they were called crossdressers as opposed to drag queens. Drag Queen was a regular guy – gay or straight – who dressed up as a woman to perform a show. Crossdressers – or transgenders as now – were 24 hrs. Transvestite would dress up to go out to a club, be they were not necessarily performers…they would just dress up to go out to a club,

There was like one on each arm. my arms and my legs, and then they carried me down to a basement place where they helped patch me up. There was some tear gas that had been shot at us, and in fact one of the canisters…I do remember the canister going off not five, six feet in front of me when I was out on the street. I got a full face, full throttle…. I told the transgendered person “get a bucket of water… and just dump it on top of me.” That’s the best first aid [for tear gas]: a bucket of water.

The rioting went on for about three days. I never was able to find my boyfriend until after…later on the next week I found out that a piece of glass from his eyeglasses… got punctured in thought the eye and lodged in the brain. He is now in a psychiatric hospital up in Maine. [He’s] beyond repair. His parents refused to bring charges against the police at the time because they said ‘this was God’s judgment upon us.’

In fact no charges were ever brought against any of the demonstrators. We were all originally arrested and charged with drunk, and rioting, and disorderly conduct and all that. But Mayor John Lindsay… stepped in and ordered that charges not be brought against any of us, and we were all released. When I say ‘we,’ I mean the other people – I was never in jail myself.

Antagonists Within

To this day I have no affection for Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society. To have us arrested, and to tell us to “Quiet down! Don’t rock the boat!” I’m sorry! I try to be inclusive, and I know there are other issues that people care about. But basic fundamental of the right to be, and the right to love who I feel attracted to is basic and most important and overriding of everything else. The Mattachine Society was afraid that if we rioted, we were going to throw the clock back 20 years – if that was possible!

The The Mattachine Society is equivalent to our modem-day Log Cabiners. The Mattachine Society was a group of self-hating, self-loathing gay folks who felt that we were all emotionally underdeveloped or something – sub-human in some way. These were a bunch of yellow-bellied cowards who were frightened in little comers, who didn’t want us to upset the apple cart. Who thought at that time that if we didn’t create any kind of a mess… if we just did things quietly and applied for disability – let the psychiatric people say we did not develop emotionally enough or psychologically, that there was something wrong with us mentally or emotionally because we loved people of the same sex or the same gender… or because someone who was a male and always identified as a female wanted to really pursue that. Obviously that person was wacked-out. And it was just as strong with transsexual, transgender people.

Sexual [Reassignment] Surgery was started in the 50s or something, it was not new by the time the riot came around. However, there was a lot of kids who were sexually trying to [reassign] themselves in back rooms and hallways because of fear… and because there was just nowhere else for them to go. However, thanks to the Mattachine Society telling everybody we’re sick, we’re mentally ill – that was hard enough for gay people… but for transgendered and transsexuals, where could they turn to? Avenues of positive help were not open, even though they did exist. And guys who wanted to be female had nowhere to turn. They felt so disgusted with them selves, they tried to sexually [assign] themselves with a razor blade. and clean towels and a needle and thread. It just did not work! This was the same period of time when abortions were still illegal, and many women were getting it in back alleys and the butcher shops. A lot of guys hemorrhaged to death in their bathrooms. and died in back alleys…

And the Mattachine Society wanted us to stay that way. I think it’s also important to understand that most of the people in the Mattachine Society were middle-class, and upper-middle and upper class people economically. So they had a lot to lose, and they saw us as a threat. The Log Cabin is in essence, the modem day Mattachines. The Mattachine Society did not speak for the gay community. Just like the Log Cabin does not speak for the transgender community. They never have, and they never will.

The Closing Act

For the next two nights there was rioting going on. Yeah. I was there! I was out there. bandaged-up head and all… just screaming along with everyone else. We were just a big mob in the street… and there was this park – I think it was Washington Park… right there at the end of Christopher Street – right there at the end of three days was born the Gay Liberation Front. Of course everything back in those days was called the Liberation Front! You know, we were all Liberation Fronts. And so, before there was a Gay Political Caucus there was a Gay Liberation Front.

And in those early days – I shouldn’t just say transgender inclusive because nobody was excluded – the whole thing of Gay Pride Parade and every thing… of that night… was started by, was all about the transgenders! Gay people – gay males – we joined in. But it was started by transgenders. Now even though we joined in within five or ten minutes. it was still five or ten minutes later! We joined in… it’s important for people to understand. To join in means somebody else was already there. And that was the transgenders. Somebody said it was a brick – I say it was a high heeled shoe, who knows if it was a pump or a brick…or a pumped-up brick? It was called “The Hairpin Drop Heard ‘Round The World.'” That’s how CBS News covered it, and ABC News covered it, and it was in Time Magazine… “The Hairpin Drop Heard ‘Round The World'”: I guess that was the first Gay Pride slogan!

Final Memories

My favorite memory is the moment I first went out the door, and I saw the queens and the transgenders being loaded up in the paddy wagon and somebody – finally – threw a high heel! It was that moment – it was such a liberating moment inside, it was so freeing! It felt so good – finally, we’re not taking this shit no more! Pardon my french! We weren’t going to take it any more! No more! Over! This is it! No Más!

I have heard. that people went around to a bunch of different gay clubs… saying “Out of the clubs, into the streets!” Or “Out of the bars, into the streets!” I think that’s what somebody told me was being said. I mean. I don’t know because I was already in the street! That was the defining moment.

It feels special in some ways, and in other ways it feels like an accident of history. Thirty years later, I am so saddened by knowing where the community is at now; in which transgenders and transsexuals – in many cities – are excluded from the Pride Parade. Many transgendered and many gay people do not know the role that transgenders [played]; how important…. We would not have Gay Pride Parade if it was not for the transgenders. We would not have Gay Pride Week! We probably wouldn’t have this show (After Hours Radio, 90.1 KPFT). Everything had its birth with transgenders and transsexuals finally standing up!

Some people call Harry Hay (founder of the Mattachine Society) one of the ‘great founders.’ He was the founder of nothing! If anything he held us back! And to tell us “Don’t make waves…!” Well just remember this: if you don’t make waves, you ain’t going nowhere! And we had to go somewhere, because this could not continue. The hypocrisy of it all was really astounding. Which is why, for thirty years, I have always been there for the transgendered people because quite literally, you saved my butt! And helped patch me up!


NOTE: This interview comes from the Transgender Archives in Houston, Texas.