50 Years Ago Today I Had Sex Reassignment Surgery

In the late 1960s and early 1970s we were far more existential than people are today. We were because of actions, identity not so much. Which is not to say that identity wasn’t important, identity bought the entrance into the tribe.

We called ourselves transsexuals in those days and saw ourselves as different from the queens. Queens might be friends, smoke pot with us, even be roommates and lovers but actually getting a sex change operation made us different.

In those days SRS cost about the same as an entry level economy car, which is to say about 3000 dollars. Minimum wage was IIRC 2 dollars an hour. Many of us did sex work to earn that money.

I had my surgery as part of the Stanford Gender Identity Program, so identity did play a role even then. We were screened carefully because the program itself was considered extremely controversial and faced opposition from conservative forces.

I was considered the “perfect transsexual”, the ideal candidate. I was what we called a “natural beauty wonder” which meant that I looked like a girl even when I was dressed as a boy. That my aura was feminine and not exaggerated. I breezed through the initial screening at San Franciscos’s “Center for Special Problems”. In the summer of 1969 after4-5 months on hormones I saw Dr. Benjamin and he blessed me with his approval and told me I was one of the most perfect candidates for surgery he had ever seen. He told me that after a year he would write my surgery letter.

Then came the struggle to accumulate the money to pay for surgery. A visit to Dr. Barbosa intimidated me because while both he and his immediate staff spoke English much of his support staff did not. My grasp of Spanish at that time was at best tourist phrases level.

In 1971 I saw Dr. Benjamin again and he told me to talk with Dr. Laub at the Stanford Program and wrote my surgery recommendation letter. Then came the lengthy pre-program entrance questionnaire/exam.

About that time, I started working as a volunteer at the Transsexual Counseling Center, which was at Third and Mission in San Francico. I finally had a lot of sisters in my life, and it felt good, others like me who I loved and cared about.

In October I went in for my preliminary interview. I wore a tiny purple velvet mini skirt as part of my make a good impression look. I knew the power of being cute and sexy when it came to dealing with men. I was very pleased with the reaction I got from Dr. Laub. I was the quintessence of the cute hippie chick, Years later Diane Mancuso of blessed memory quipped, “Sally, Marti, Judy, Suzy.” (First Sally then Marti followed by Judy were Dr. Laub’s assistants over the span of the 12 years or so I was part of the program) noting we were all of a certain type, we all looked like early 1970 hippie grad students.

I was scheduled for the physical and lab test as well as my interview with Dr. Fisk. The psych interview was more of a conversation than an examination. After the two hours he asked if I had any questions. I looked him in the eye and asked, “Do you think we are born this way or is this the result of how we were raised? Nature or nurture? Dr. Fisk said, “We don’t know. But, in your case I would say you were born this way.”

In late December I was told to come in in early January to schedule my surgery.

On June 21, 1972, I received my surgery at Harod D. Chope Hospital. It actually required two surgeries spread over some 18 months and was crude and primitive when compared to more modern techniques. The first surgery created my vagina and the second a year later gave me a natural appearing vulva.

When I had SRS in 1972 there were perhaps a couple of thousand of us, in ten years there were tens of thousands. SRS went from experimental to routine although it remains as much an art as a surgical procedure. Drs. learned on our bodies. Sometimes we were placed in uncomfortable positions and wound up feeling like exhibits. In the 1980s I said enough, I wasn’t going to be a subject to be studied. Especially after the Johns Hopkins Study which abused us.

I think I said, “I’m tired of being treated like a fucking Replicant, almost human but not quite.” Being female had become normal. I could both know on that one level that there had been a before and that on another level that I had always been who I am now. SRS was like a ritual that removed the past.

I started to look for words to describe how I thought of myself and the profound life experiences I had lived. I had to struggle with an extremely hard life including having been disowned. I became alcoholic and was extremely lonely.

In the summer of 1996, I booted up a 486 computer I built. It had a dial up modem and I loaded the Netscape browser. The first search engine I used was Yahoo and the first word I typed was transsexual. The world opened up. I figure out how to get on Usenet that night, I also found Alta Vista.

I started volunteering at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. I met Jacob Hale, who introduced me to a bunch of brothers and to Susan Stryker. I started realizing I was someone in history. I angered people by clinging to the word transsexual instead of embracing transgender. Transgender felt like erasure.

But even transsexual felt wrong, and artifact of a time of becoming anachronistic these many years after I had become, and the memories of the process are historic rather than an active issue for me to deal with. Tina and I came up with Women Born Transsexual as a credo, a way of stating our belief that we were born this way. I now sometimes use post-transsexual. But I wonder if even that has been swallowed by the mists of time. This I know and know quite well there are now a number of us out there who are 50 years post and more will join us and take our places when we pass on.

The paths we blazed, the sacrifices we made we made for our tribe. The scars we carry make heroes of all who created those paths by living and showing that doing what we did was possible not by theorizing but by doing. For me this year is the fiftieth, for someone else it may be the sixtieth. Or the twenty-fifth or tenth or maybe someone waiting for their appointment to make the same passage.

How Ben Got His Penis

I’m going to apologize as the article is paywalled, but if you get the New York Times it is well worth the read.

From The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/10/magazine/phalloplasty.html

Phalloplasty — the surgery to make a penis — has grown more popular among trans men. But with a steep rate of complications, it remains a controversial procedure.

By Jamie Lauren Keiles
May 10, 2022

Nothing about Benjamin Simpson’s transition was inevitable, certainly not his penis. Though he did, in the end, grow up to be a man, he freely admits that in another place or time he might have grown into an unhappy woman, or the local eccentric, or a person who died too young from suicide. Raised in a village outside the Finger Lakes — a place, to this day, where cell service is spotty — he did not know what “transgender” was. As a young girl, he assumed he would become a man when he grew up. When he realized he would not, he forgot the whole idea and started collecting other evidence to explain why something in his life always felt off.

First, there was the way he wore baggy clothes in the summer. (Then again, lots of teenage girls dislike their bodies.) Next came the lesbian rumors at school. (Though Ben did know that he liked girls, he did not feel like a lesbian at all.) To combat the gossip, he started dressing girlier and tried having sex with boys a few times. His interest in their bodies was more appraising than erotic. Browsing a Myspace group for lesbians, he found himself yearning for a clear identity. Where did he fit in the scheme of the world? Incomprehensible to himself, he tried a few times to end his own life. Soon after, he went looking for himself at New York University.

Ben arrived at college in 2009. There, he started calling himself a “queer lesbian,” a term he used in an attempt to reconcile his attraction to women with his interest in men’s bodies. He joined a campus L.G.B.T. group and met people who seemed to know who they were, who called themselves things like “gender-fluid” or used “ze”/“zir” pronouns. Ben did not feel that these words applied to him, but for the first time he had community and language to help him disentangle himself. This was a stressful and exciting interlude. He went out in outfits from across the gender spectrum, in clothes he wouldn’t dream of putting on today. He had long debates over terms: What was the difference between a butch lesbian and a transgender man? What was the reason to use these words at all?

In the spring of 2015, Ben got happy hour drinks with two friends at a Midtown barbecue spot. The setup was the usual — sitting at the bar, dissecting sex and gender, putting the pieces together again. They had done this many times before, but this time something clicked, and suddenly Ben understood he was a man. He stood up from the bar and told his friends: “[Expletive]! I’m trans! I gotta go!” Out in the street, he took off his heels and ran five sobbing blocks to the train. That night, he began the bureaucratic work of transition: texting his mother, posting a Facebook status, scheduling a doctor’s appointment to start testosterone.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/10/magazine/phalloplasty.html

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G-d’s Will

Right wing Evangelicals love to claim they hear the voice of G-d telling them to be a bunch of hateful right wing bigots. G-d talks to them more than G-d talked to the actual prophets in the Tanakh. And has favorite sports team he/she is supporting because she/he likes their prayers better than those of the other team.

Christians, especially Evangelicals like to claim a personal relationship with Jesus. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume they aren’t talking about their Latino contractor, gardener, favorite restaurateur, but are referring to the guy with the hands and feet piercings more politely called stigmata. They love their crucified Jesus, whom they think of as blond and blue eyed with no body hair. The one I call Aryan Jesus who supports Donald Trump and is built like Rambo. Their G-d hates LGBT people, uppity women, hippies, people of color, the poor, the sick…. I could go on and on the list of people their G-d hates is endless.

LGB and especially people whose lives have been impacted with trans-prefixed word come in for particular scorn from the semi-literate Evangelical set. We are told that G-d wants every one to be cis-gendered straight folks and never makes mistakes. This is rather cruel as there are numerous children born with all sorts of birth defects and impairments. G-d’s will? Or perhaps the roll of the genetic dice. I rather prefer my G-d, the one Christians told me was harsh and cruel unlike their Jesus because in actuality our version is far more the G-d of the oppressed than the G-d of the oppressor.

But let’s get back to G-d’s will. Evangelicals are really pushing this one on trans-folks. We are easy targets because we don’t go to their McMega-ChurchesTM . Some of are born into their families and suffer the effects of them trying to pray/abuse the trans away. We either commit suicide, run away, or grow up into seriously damaged adults prone to depression, suicide and substance abuse. You see these good “Christian” Evangelicals do all sorts of things to make the lives of trans-folks a living hell.

One of their big things regarding us is how we shouldn’t alter our G-d given bodies/gender/sex.

What I wonder is why this doesn’t apply to the Evangelical women who get boob implants? I mean, if G-d had wanted them to have 38D boobs, why would G-d had them develop 34As. The same goes for Botox. Wrinkles are a natural part of getting older. G-d’s will, remember? Same goes for hair dye. All unnatural, particularly if done by trans-folks. If done by Evangelical women… hummm, apparently not so much.

But I’m not going to let the Evangelical men off the hook either. You know the prophet bearded guys who look like first cousins of the Taliban. A lot of them are flabby muscled and erectile challenged. Let’s face it they often drink too much, smoke and are obese, either diabetic or have some other lifestyle inflicted health issues. But instead of accepting that their flabby muscles and erectile issues are part of aging and the way they live or “G-d’s will” they go running to the pharmacy for a magic little pill. For the flabby muscles they take testosterone and precursors that would get them banned from all sports that test. Pretty much the same drugs that F-M trans-folks take but okay for them because they aren’t altering their “G-d given bodies.

Why are boob implants and testosterone treatments okay for cis-gendered folks but not for trans-folks? For that matter isn’t erectile dysfunction G-d’s way of telling men they aren’t meant to have penetrative sex?

Why doe G-d’s will go out the door when it imposes itself in a way that Evangelicals feel is less than desirable? Maybe Evangelicals broke away from mainstream churches so they could invent their own Aryan Jesus who shares their misogyny, racism and anti-LGBT bigotry with them? Maybe what they think is G-d’s will is actually the product of their own narrow minded bigotry and hatred.

Perhaps they should remember America was founded on equality (or the idea of equality even if imperfectly delivered), freedom and in Thomas Jefferson’s most amazing insertion into the Declaration of Independence “the pursuit of happiness.”…

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Cops Bust Into 16-Year-Old Trans Girl’s Bedroom During Her Twitch Stream

Keep Telling Yourself, “It Can’t Happen Here!”

From Vice Magazine: https://www.vice.com/en/article/88gyev/cops-trans-girl-twitch-stream

Wynn, who is now in foster care, told Motherboard that police entered her room, searched it, took the door off the hinges, and mocked her.

by Samantha Cole

Police officers entered the bedroom of a 16-year-old trans girl in Tennessee while she played Minecraft live on Twitch in late April—and the confrontation was caught live on stream.

The streamer, a girl named Wynn who goes by VioWynn on Twitch, in an email to Motherboard said she was pressured to do online school rather than attend in person, and that she has refused to go to the online school and thus has been considered “truant.”

In a recording of the stream, Wynn says, “This will probably be the last stream ever because they’re trying to get me to either kill myself or go into foster care or something. Instead of just giving me an education. Honestly, I just want to go to school. But they don’t want me to go to school because I’m trans. I’m just really stressed out.” 

She goes on to say that authorities are trying to place her into foster care. “I was already adopted once, I don’t need to be adopted again,” she says on the stream. “I just need to be able to go to school. I’m just worried I’ll get abused.” Wynn told Motherboard she believes they were doing a wellness check on her, but that she is being pressured by authorities to enter foster care.

According to Wynn, on the morning of April 27, she had a court date where she’d learn whether she had to go into foster care; she was being denied an education, she claimed, as her school pressured her to attend classes online with fewer resources than in-person students received. “I consider it being denied an education, though it legally isn’t considered as such, so that’s why the judge considered me truant,” she said. Other students also took an online school option, but she was the only one she knew of who was pressured heavily to stay home, she said.

“I don’t understand why the state of Tennessee would rather ruin a child’s life than just let her go to school, but it really shows where their priorities are,” Wynn says on the stream, before the police enter the room. A tweet about the situation went viral this weekend: 

Continue Reading At: https://www.vice.com/en/article/88gyev/cops-trans-girl-twitch-stream

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Enovid 10 and the Gleaners

On May 9th , 1960 the FDA approved Enovid 10, a high level hormonal based birth control pill for use as a contraceptive. It had previously been approved in 1957 for use as an aid in treating infertility and menstrual irregularities—not as an oral contraceptive.

Now here is an important note. During the first 3 year it was used “off label” as an oral contraceptive.

In the 1960s it became very popular for another “off label” use which was the hormonal treatment of transsexualism. It was available and it worked, was safer than the alternative of DES (diethylstilbestrol).

Between about 1960 and about 1975 we went from a few hundred post-op transsexual women in the world to ten-twenty thousand perhaps more.

This explosion in trans-health care, access to surgery wasn’t about riots or demonstrations or people who get murals painted showing them.

The people who made this possible were information miners and sharers. In many cases we had to educate doctors and turn them into trans-health care providers. Doctors who wrote articles for obscure journals only a few had access to, but those few made xerox copies which made it into newsletters such as the one published by the Reed Erickson Educational Foundation.


Later Lee Brewster, head of the Queen’s Liberation Front, published “Queen Magazine”. A glossy covered actual magazine aimed a trans-women rather than a sex magazine aimed at those who pursue trans-women. Tapestry started as first a newsletter but grew in to a magazine in the 1980s. The pre-Internet/pre-Social Media era of the 1990s saw numerous ‘zines. All these were ways of sharing gleaned information. Word of mouth became newsletters and magazines (books) became electronic mass media.

Doctors like Doctor Benjamin who wrote books or even Dr.s Green and Money who would later be discredited edited a book which was a manual for the Doctors.

But it wasn’t just the sharing of information with each other. In many cases some of us were the ones educating the Doctors, telling them what hormones we needed for them to prescribe, telling them what books to read.

Trans-folks, especially trans-kids and women needing abortions are back in the same sort of place we were in the 1960s. Access to Birth Control and gender affirming medical treatments are based on on the right of privacy which like property and contract rights is implied rather than explicit.

Privacy rights are the corner stone of abortion rights, access to birth control and gender affirming medical treatment.

I’m old. I thought these battles were fought and won a long time ago. I’m not current with the language of today nor have I much in common with the activists of today and their point of view. But this I know and know quite well the rights of having access to health care including abortion, birth control and gender affirming medical care are hanging by the same frayed rope. The Republicans and Evangelicals are hacking away at that rope. If it goes we all go down together. So too will Marriage Equality. States will be freed to once again institute sodomy laws.

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I Got Mail From a Qnut

On maybe more appropriately from a Qunt. Is Qunt the female identified version of a Qnut? I’ll never know but the University of North Texas plays with the order of the initials for its radio station so the it is KNTU instead of the colloquial word for female genitalia that my dirty mind automatically wants to turn it into.

I’m not impressed with the idiots who are Qanon true believers. I have zero respect for them. It is hard for me to respect people stupider than a box of rocks. I usually file them in the folder marked “Shit for Brains”.

Prior to the 2016 election I generally thought these people were too stupid to actually gain any real power much less get elected to state or national offices. Mea Culpa, mea culpa… Was I ever wrong in under estimating the power of stupid people following un-American assholes who hate every thing about this great nation.

The one thing I haven’t underestimated is the power of stupid people in groups to engage in violent acts of bigotry toward people who are members of minority communities. Witness the ancestors of the Qanon followers, the Nazis and KKK.

Q-Ann sent me the following addressed to the post “I am at a Loss…”:

Its a good lesson not to rely on the court to do the things it never had the constitutional authority to do anyways!
I am going to and have started to argue very locally to my Arizona local police and Sheriffs Department that the lgbtq is neither legal or constitutional and that judges committed sex crimes and treason from the bench in support of it! That it is a glorified criminal sex and human trafficking ring.
There is a method to what I am doing that you will never understand as you can’t comprehend your own self! There is no right and never was a right to include anyone into something they don’t want to be and then bully and abuse them because they don’t want to go for the ride! The lgbtq was built on prejudice lgbtq activist used for their own advantage! Now its going to come back and hurt those of you that played that game!

For the record most sex trafficking, pedophilia and “grooming” is purely heterosexual. From the women working the stroll, to the porn industry, to the “Gentlemen’s” clubs, to the massage parlors and out-call services. All about men buying sex from women. The advertising industry is mostly driven by selling gender to cis-gendered people who are far more insecure regarding their gender and being “man enough” or “woman enough” than most LGBT folks are.

So what Qanon is doing is creating a “Blood Libel” directed at LGBT people the same way good Christians from the Middle ages on through the Nazis created a “Blood Libel” regarding the Jews. See the following from The New Republic: “QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic: How the ancient, antisemitic nocturnal ritual fantasy expresses itself through the ages—and explains the right’s fascination with fringe conspiracy theories

I’ve spent lifetime dealing with bigotry and prejudice which has involved every aspect of my life and started when I was a trans-kid in the 1950s. None of the brutal attempts to convince me to be straight worked. I was born Trans, which is every bit as natural as being born straight or cis-gendered. When I was a kid, I was the only one. People like me hid, or committed suicide. The only information about us was found in medical books and adult book stores. But we existed nonetheless.

Much of what I learned regarding how to survive I learned from Jewish writers. One of those Jewish writer’s was Magnus Hirschfeld who wrote about LGBT people in the 1920s and 1930s had his works, indeed the entire library of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was burned by the Nazis, The “Don’t say Gay” mob of blood thirsty thugs of their time.

But more important to me was Dr. Harry Benjamin, who gave a name to what I was born, the core of my being which was impossible to change. The Doctors who took risks to treat people like me. I was 20 in 1967 and was finding out I wasn’t the only one, that there were a lot of others like me. We are a minority, perhaps some 10-20 million people in a world population of some 8 billion. We are but a fraction of the whole LGBT+alphabet coalition.

So the QFreaks want to exterminate us and make no mistake that is the “Final Solution” they have in mind for us just as the Nazi tried to exterminate the entire world population of Jews. I am a convert to Judaism and have studied the structure of antisemitism enough to see how the nature of the two prejudices, hatreds, the structuring of that hatred is the same. With the Nazis that hatred led for bigotry to anti-Jewish laws to Auschwitz and Treblinka. I see the same hatred being expressed by the QFreaks and I know where it leads. All LGBT people need to be aware of the nature of this hatred and be aware that position, education, talent, passability will not protect. In the past those that survived did so through armed resistance.

We must win this fall and elect as many Democrats as possible. We must crush the QFreaks and the real Pervs like Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, DeSantis, Monica Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebret. We need to sweep out the right wing Nazi garbage while we still can. We need to fight back and not let them bully us or threaten us into silence.

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I am at a Loss…

I told all of you to support Hillary Clinton six years ago, but a lot of you said supporting her was supporting the lesser of two evils. Too many took the position I took as first time voter in 1968 and either didn’t vote or threw your vote away on a third party candidate.

We could have owned the Supreme Court with three, make that four Hillary Clinton appointees. Think about it. It’s even more fucked up than us boomer hippie kids trashing out the Democrats in 1968.

Roe V. Wade is history. Don’t bother mourning, it’s a waste of time. In the words of Joe Hill, “Don’t mourn, organize.” Marriage Equality will probably be next followed the return of segregation in schools. Everything we, your elders gave so much of our lives fighting for is being flushed down the Fascist Republican/Evangelical Toilet.

I left the hard left behind a long time ago and over the past 20 years I’ve come to see the propaganda of the hard left as being every bit as toxic as that put out by the far right. I have only to look at the positions people are taking regarding the Russian invasion and rape of Ukraine.

Freedom, liberty, equality and the rights actually enumerated in our Constitution are something to fight for not something to let the Evangelical right wing Republicans wipe their ass with. Forget the hard core left wing fantasies. Liberal values have been behind all the progress in expanding human rights in this nation from ending slavery to Social Security and the Civil Rights Act.

I vote Blue in a Red State. And no I don’t support the Squad, but if the choice is between one of them and a Republican then I will vote for them. If the choice is between a Tim Manchin or a Kyrsten Sinema and a Republican I hold my freaking nose and vote for the Democrat because they may be the only Democrat in that location who might win. If there is a Republican who sometimes votes with the Democrats I will support the Democrat running against them.

Support the Democratic party. Join Liberal churches, synagogues and Democratic Party organizations. Consider running for office or devoting a year or two of your life to working for the election of Liberal Democratic candidates.

Stop the freaking trashing of other people and groups who are on your side. Lesbian feminists started trashing trans folks way back in 1970. WTF was that about? A lot of us were stone feminists and a good percentage of us were lesbian. That BS didn’t promote solidarity. Jews used to be a solid Democratic Party bloc. Jews were Freedom Rider and marched and yes some gave their lives for the rights of African American people. Then came the antisemitism under the guise of Anti-Zionism, the BDS bullshit. Why? Because some of you read and internalized Franz Fanon. Or Marx, or Lenin or Trotsky or Mao. Not one of them offered freedom or liberty or equality or a vision of a shared humanity with respect for the dignity of the individual.

Those are Liberal values. Those are the values of the Democratic Party and the people who vote a straight Democratic Party slate.

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The Way We Were

Yesterday I noticed that Turner Classic Movies was going to be showing the 1973 movie The Way We Were, with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.

I remembered going to see it in San Francisco with Leslie St. Clair, a long time friend who passed away about a dozen years ago. My memories of Leslie and the fun we had together are a blessing.

She said I was like Katie, Barbra’s character, always fighting for a cause, usually taking an unpopular stand. She lusted for Robert Redford.

It was a very nostalgic movie, even back in 1973. It used the radicals of the late 1930s through the 1950s at a time when the radicalism of the 1960s was still too fresh, too raw.

Over the years I have read more, studied more. Indeed I have a fondness for novels set in New York during thew 1930-1970s. Epics spanning generation.

Last night I saw and heard things that are now largely absent from films. Actual acting with real dialogue and chemistry between the leading actor and actress. I get so tired of gun battles and car chases.

It has been nearly fifty years. The film is as beautiful as ever (the only clinker in it, which Tina called to my attention was that the Holocaust was never mentioned) Both Streisand and Redford have supported causes which I support. I miss seeing movies made for adults, romances and romantic comedies not centered on violence.

While I don’t think Leslie’s birthday was on Valentines day it was within a day or two of that date and so I associate Valentine’s Day with her just as I associate The Way We Were with her and that early 1970s era in San Francisco.

July 5, will mark a dozen years since she passed away.

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Statement on the Progress Flag

Lately there seems to be a trend of turning various movements into profit generating corporations. \

Some 15 years ago I met a person who occupied various high level career positions. She said something about how important it was to make yourself into a brand for marketing yourself. I felt I was living on a different planet.

I’ve spent a life time with various movements. to me all people’s lives matter. I’ve known what it is to be an outsider, to be discriminated against, to be abused for who I am. I picked up on a hint of weirdness when the people behind “Black Lives Matter” not the movement, not the people embracing the slogan but the people who branded the slogan voiced opposition to any variation on the wording.

I’m my mid 70s I have been at a lot of marches and heard lots of slogans, songs shared by both the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War Movement. The insistence on exact wording of a particular slogan seems awfully corporate.

Which brings to the new LGBT Rainbow flag. It’s not my flag, it doesn’t represent me. Indeed it feels rather like the LGBT Movement is being co-opted in order to be used by some other entity.

The following statement is from the Gilbert Baker Foundation, Via Monica Helms.

Statement on the Progress Flag
by the Gilbert Baker Foundation

“The freedom to use identity symbols is what allows them to become pervasive enough to represent a large-scale community. This is precisely why the rainbow flag was never trademarked. It is impossible to design a symbol with the intent of it being an identifier for an entire worldwide community and think that every instance of that symbol’s use is supposed to be vetted by a single American organization.”

Casira Copes – aninjusticemag.com

In the years since Gilbert Baker created the LGBTQ+ Rainbow Flag in 1978, there has been a growing proliferation of LGBTQ+ community flags.

The Gilbert Baker Foundation remains supportive of these flags, as they echo the Rainbow Flag in spirit and design. To celebrate the unique Rainbow Flag and its growing family, we mounted an exhibit in May of 2021 titled “In Their Own Voices.” In June of 2021, we created “Emojis of Pride,” a campaign to gather petition signatures to add additional pride flag emojis to cellphone keyboards.

During the campaign, we learned a significant fact: the consortium that approves emojis requires that flags be in the public domain, free of copyright, trademark or licensing restrictions. However, the Progress Flag, created by Dan Quasar in 2018, is a licensed for-profit design. Therefore, we were unable to include it when submitting our flags to the consortium.

The Gilbert Baker Foundation continues to embrace all LGBTQ community flags. “Fly the flag that speaks to your soul. There is room in the sky for all of them.”

But as a Foundation we stand against profiting from flags, echoing the legacy of Gilbert Baker. After Gilbert created the original Rainbow Flag in 1978, the San Francisco Pride Foundation attempted to trademark Gilbert’s design. Gilbert retained lawyer Matt Coles who ended the Pride Foundation’s claim to the flag as their intellectual property.

Flags, in general, cannot be trademarked. The Foundation feels that their availability, free of cost and restriction, is an intrinsic necessity. Recent attempts to trademark the Bisexual flag created a schism in Binet, the leading political organization for the bisexual community, and its president, Faith Cheltenham, was forced to resign.

When the Foundation was made aware of the for-profit complications involving the Progress Flag, we researched the matter. The evidence can be found on the website quasardigital.com where Quasar’s flags and other merchandise are sold. We also learned that several small companies stopped carrying the Progress Flag because of licensing requirements. In addition, Quasar Digital has made agreements with large corporations like NIKE while they continue to sell their flags to municipalities who merely want to show their support for our trans siblings and communities of color.

We have decided to make this statement publicly available so that institutions and communities that do want to fly the Progress Flag understand that when they do, they may be unwittingly participating in the marketing and profiteering of a symbol that should fly freely in the sky like Gilbert Baker’s flag and all of the other flags our community identifies with. The profiting from the Progress Flag is wrong.

We support the message promoted by Progress Flag design, intended to “force a conversation” about racism and transphobia within the LGBTQ+ community. For that reason, we will keep the Progress Flag as part of our exhibit “In Their Own Voices” as it is a work of scholarship, not commerce.

However, we cannot endorse the use of the Progress Flag as long as Quasar Digital continues to promote its creation as a licensed for-profit flag.

Charles V. Beal
PresidentThe Gilbert Baker Foundation

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Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, Home of Nasty Antisemitism as well as Transphobia

Bigots will be bigots and prejudice against one group is often accompanied with prejudice against another. Lately it seems like trans-folks and Jews are the chosen targets of many who profess to be enlightened and progressive.

J.K. Rowling’s incessant spewing of vicious hatred towards trans-folks has long been noted. She single-handedly managed to destroy a YA series that had been as popular with many as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings/Hobbit series had been with an earlier generation.

It was a case of someone who is both rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams and powerful in the way that only media darlings can hope to be. Being rich and powerful with guaranteed access to major media outlets automatically turned her attacks on trans-folks into a matter of bullying and punching down.

Of course her abuse of trans-folks and their willingness to fight back caused her to cry the typical bully’s tears of Niobe. “Oh it is so unfair these people I was bullying decided to smack me back on social media.

As I said, those who are bigoted towards trans-folks are often bigoted towards other groups. Over recent years I have noticed structural similarities between the bigotry aimed at trans-folks and antisemitic attacks upon the Jewish people.

So a piece in today’s LGBTQ Nation didn’t really surprise me all that much. Jon Stewart tears into JK Rowling’s antisemitic goblin bankers

<Quote> The former Daily Show host was speaking on his podcast The Problem with Jon Stewart when he brought up the Gringotts Wizarding Bank from the Harry Potter universe and compared the goblins who run the bank to a caricature found in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a piece of literature published in the early 20th century that helped popularize the conspiracy theory that an international cabal of Jews was running the world.

“Hitler used the Protocols as a manual in his war to exterminate the Jews,” Holocaust historian Nora Levin once wrote. The book was described by Rutgers University Professor Stephen Eric Bronner as “probably the most influential work of antisemitism ever written.”

“I just want to show you a caricature,” Stewart, who is Jewish, told his co-hosts. He pointed to a copy of Protocols, saying that people he shows it to often mistake it for the goblin bankers in Harry Potter.

“J.K. Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’” Stewart quipped.

“It’s a wizarding world! It’s a world where like, the train station has a half a thing and no one can see it, and we can ride dragons and you’ve got a pet owl…. Who should run the bank? Jews.”

“It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like ‘Holy shit,’” Stewart continued. “She did not in a wizarding world just throw Jews in there to run the fucking underground bank.”

The goblin bankers have big, hooked noses, are secretive, have a special relationship with wealth, and are characterized as persecuted by society. <End Quote>

Also from today’s news: a headline from the Jewish News Service: Emma Watson draws controversy over solidarity with ‘Free Palestine’ movement on social media which only show how progressive allies of trans-folks can also take positions that are latently if not overtly antisemitic. The trap being one of supporting a cause/group that regularly mistreats the LGBT members of that group. Emma should exercise greater care of her social media and avoid allowing questionable organization the ability to post to her accounts.

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April Ashley, Transsexual Pioneer, Dies at 86

Last month April Ashley died. Her New York Times Obituary can be found by clicking Here.

In 1962 she saved my life just by existing. Back then I was a lonely trans-kid living in small rural towns in the Adirondacks and further north in St. Lawrence county New York. I was 15 and had been getting busted dressing up by my parents for a couple of years.

I had heard the names of women who had changed sex before. Christine Jorgensen, Roberta Cowell and others. But their stories were usually limited to a photo caption or a short paragraph or two. The summer of 1962 a tabloid ran a series of articles about April Ashley and her friend and co-worker Bambi (Marie-Pierre Pruvot). It gave her a biography, a history and showed how it was possible for someone like me to do the same.

I clipped those articles and a few others and cherished them because they gave me hope and sustained me in my loneliness.

In the fall of 1962 we faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. We lived about 75 miles or so from the city of Plattsburgh, NY which was home to a major air force base and was surrounded by numerous missile silos. We had been raised with the awareness that a nuclear war would mean probable annihilation which we should face with courage.

I was a teenage trans-kid, my parents knew the path I would walk. I knew the path I would walk. But words had a way of remaining unspoken as though not saying those words meant there was the possibility of a different future.

It had been a school day. My father and mother were there when I got home from school, clippings in hand, an air about them that told me I was in serious trouble, that I might be thrown out.

“Is this what you are?” “Is this what you want to be?”

Thanks to those clipping, that tabloid biography of April Ashley I knew, not thought I might be but knew. I answered, “That is what I am, isn’t it?” There it was the words had been spoken. I wasn’t thrown out, the world didn’t go to war.

I had a role model, I had a dream. I had a vague sort of road map. I would go on to graduate from High School and unhappily go on to college. Over the next four years or so John Rechy’s book “City of Night” would add details of the world and Dr Harry Benjamin’s book would give me the technical knowledge I needed.

In 1967 I made my way to San Francisco and by early 1969 I had hooked up with the Center For Special Problems and was on hormones. I was a patient of Dr. Benjamin. By now one no longer had to seek out surgeons in Casablanca, Denmark or Tijuana. There was Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto and a program with support groups. We had our own words, our own way of thinking about what we were doing.

We became our own role models. Later people would decide to erase the words we used and replace them with euphemisms aimed at obscuring differences between those of us who actually got sex reassignment surgery and those who didn’t.

But still, 60 years later I remember, remember how much comfort it gave me reading April Ashley’s story and knowing I wasn’t alone and how it was possible. I’ve said before the first few made SRS seem like manned space travel. By the 1960s it was like transoceanic passenger flights by 1970 and since like hopping on a commuter flight.

But always I will remember April Ashley.

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“I identify as____” is a lot like, “I was born in July and I’m a Leo.

Yeah… I was a hippie way back in the 1960s before many if not most of you were born. Long hair, big old Martin Dreadnaught guitar, sandals in the summer and boots in the winter. I went to demonstrations, saw all the really great bands wandered from a small town through Greenwich Village and out to the coast where I lived in the Haight Ashbury, Berkley and in LA, where I lived on Sunset Blvd near Laurel Canyon.

I had books by Sartre and de Beauvoir along with Hesse, Kerouac and Tolkien in my library. Being a hippie didn’t mean I identified as a hippie so much as it meant I lived as other hippies lived. I mean I could have stayed in the small Adirondack town I grew up in with my books, guitar, posters and records. There is a difference between identifying as and doing. I learned that from Jean Paul and the existentialists.

I didn’t need others lumping me in with a group of young people Herb Caen (SF Chronicle, columnist) dubbed “hippies” to know I was an outsider. I was born transsexual, which meant I was born different, fated by birth to be an outsider, different from the majority of people.

I became a photographer by buying cameras and taking photos, analyzing my mistakes, studying how to improve my skills and develop a way of seeing. Mostly a lot of work.

But back to being born transsexual. When I was a kid I was the only one. I didn’t have a tribe to identify with, a culture, role models. I had to be my own role model and learn about womanhood the same way girls who were assigned female at birth did. I was never part of what Susan Sryker called the “Transgender Community” in San Francisco. What I was part of was a group of my peers who were going through the Stanford Sex Reassignment Program in the early 1970s. We were mostly drawing our own maps and creating our own meaning for what we were going through.

Through actions, medical treatments, living, learning, and sex reassignment surgery I became female and a woman. Many years later I would convert to Judaism. I notice similarities and mentioned them to my friend Aaron Devor, who pointed out to me how Dr Harry Benjamin had described what is now called transition as “conversion”.

Before I started converting to Judaism I read a lot about it, researched and studied, came to the conclusion that after a lifetime of searching it felt right for me. When I started formal conversion I started wearing a Star of David, attending services, celebrating holidays. The pandemic was a roadblock which I overcame. Finally I underwent the Mikvah and blessing rituals. Now I am Jewish, a MOTT or Member of the Tribe. Not because I simply identify as Jewish but because of the commitment I made and the processes I went through. To quote from the Book of Ruth: For whither thou goest, I will go; And where thou lodgest, I will lodge; Thy people are my people, and thy G‑d, my G‑d. Where thou diest, will I die, and there be buried;. A life time commitment.

Well back in the 1970s when I and others went through the Stanford program it was to become women, not trans-women, not post-op transgender people but simply women. I attended my first Pride Day Parade in Los Angeles in 1974. I was coming to realize that I was attracted to women. I became part of the now maligned Second Wave Feminist Movement. My place was with women because I was and am now a woman. In Judaism on Shavuot, the souls of all Jews including converts are said to have stood at Sinai when G-d gave the Jewish people the Covenant.

I have friends who walked the same path as I did. Some of us still struggle for words. I’ve taken to using “post-transsexual” to describe how I feel about how I went about dealing with the problems of having been born transsexual. But the words now used by the “Trans-Community” are alien and ill fitting, like they belong to a different people.

I read so much about communities, often existing mainly on social media. But what is my community? Is it aging hippies, still wearing sandals and listening to 1960s music and musicians? Is it the Feminist Movement? I barely recognize the Feminist Movement of today, or for that matter the LGBT Movement. Some communities sound like SIGs or Special Interest Groups. Like photographers, or jazz fans, or even sports fans.

I struggle with the idea of communities that exist main via the transfer of electronic bytes of information sent via the internet. Some how that as a community feels alienating like a Kafkaesque existence in dark loneliness where one never hugs other members of their community, never dances with joy or celebrates with food and drink, merely with transmitted images of celebration.

My Temple feels like community, the camaraderie of friends and people I work with, of other old people feels like community in a real way that is missing from the virtual world where one goes into a public place and everyone is staring zombie like at their phones instead of talking with each other.

25 Years Online

I finished building my Pentium 486 in early 1996. It ran Windows 95 and had a screaming 32megabytes of memory and 3 gigabyte hard drive. My current machine is 12 years old a Pentium I7 with a couple of terabytes of hard drive. I currently run Windows 10.

An upgrade to Windows 11 will probably require a new motherboard which I will put off as long as possible.

When I first went on line I had a dial up modem. Downloads took forever. Some folks swore by America On Line. Not me. I blew off using Microsoft’s Explorer for Netscape too. Yahoo was the first search engine I used. Soon replaced by Alta Vista which in my book was the best of all time when looking for real information as opposed to the modern day “search” engines like Google which exist to give you information that reinforces the point of view you already embrace. Algorithms that find products the magical AI knows you might be sold on.

The mid 1990s were the time of the Usenet and Newsgroups which were the social media of their time. Wild and often viciously mean. No pictures just words. Usenet started about 1980 and is apparently still in existence.

By the late 1990s i moved on to mailing lists, which were somewhat moderated and a little less wild.

In 1997 I was 25 years post-SRS. Next June I’ll be 50. That makes me an elder. People I first met online in the 1990s who were just going through the surgery process then are now old timers in their own right.

Mailing lists gave way to Blogging which has now sort of faded away.

Now I’m on Facebook and have friends I went to high school with as well as family members I have reunited with.

When I first came on line Transgender was erasing Transsexual as preferred term of choice. Now days I’m lost when presented with all the new terminology. For example “non-binary”. To me gender had always been a personality rainbow, a spectrum ranging from hyper-masculine to hyper-feminine and not firmly cemented to sex. Which is to say one can be a very feminine man or a very masculine woman.

I was a 1960s and 1970s hippie on the West Coast. We had the Cockettes and Dykes on Bikes. Leather Dykes and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. None of whom expected me to play the “State My Preferred Pronouns” game. I mean I pretty much carved that one in stone when I started hormones in March of 1969. My words, my actions, my life lived have all affirmed my pronouns.

If you are a Millennial or a member of Gen-Z I respect your right to play this transactional game. There is a lot I don’t understand about your ways, which is okay. People who were 74 year old elder when I was 20 didn’t understand my generation either.

But I do expect the respect of not being expected to join in your games. I also expect you to respect how hard I had to fight to have my pronouns go unquestioned.

BTW I’m an old hippie dyke who often wears dresses to Temple or out to dinner. Then the next morning wears jeans to cut the lawn. I’m mystified by the idea of there being a gender binary.

Happy Thanksgiving

It is the autumn and the autumn of my life. So many trips around the sun.

And I am thankful, glad to be alive if some what battered by time and fate. Tina and I have been together over 20 years. I’m grateful we have gained legal recognition of our marriage. We have grown old together and long life is indeed a blessing.

We have a home we share with three adorable cats. We have friends, and family with whom we are sometimes at odds.

This year also brings sadness and a feeling of loss for we lost family members and friends this last year.

Yet my heart is filled with gratitude today as I reflect on the past, not just this last year but of the years past. The books I’ve read and studied. The wisdom I have hopefully gained and serenity I sometimes experience.

Inner peace in a world of turmoil, a world where so many demand I take a side and change my beliefs to match their ideologies. I am grateful for the strength to process the knowledge I have amassed and the will to march to a different drummer and not follow the herd.

I pray that this coming year will bring health and life for those I love. Prosperity and joy. Love and inner peace.

Happy Thanksgiving

Yom Kippur

G‘mar Chatima Tova

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Every Thing is a Crisis, All the Time and I’m Burned Out

Tina and I just survived a very hard year, Covid quarantine, my car accident that left me with a compression fracture of three vertebrae and a totaled car. Economic disaster which has us in debt up to our asses.

It has been a year, eighteen months actually of worry, stress and strain and that is just surrounding our family lives. Among our family and friends people have died, others have nearly died, some of Covid others of the ailments of age.

I have had my name included in my Temples saying of the Mi Shebeirach (Prayer of Healing) and I have said it for others. Covid and other illnesses and medical emergencies of friends and family have been so overwhelming that prayer offers comfort to those that say it as much as those for whom it is said.

Fortunately we elected Joe Biden to the Presidency. We survived a disastrous four years of having been led by a mentally ill incompetent megalomaniac. We are ragged and worn. His followers still hold too much power.

So many worthy causes out there. Many I support while not supporting the organizations promoting them For example Black Lives Matter. I grew up with the Civil Rights Movement. Demonstrated and marched since the early 1960s. Supporting people’s equality and right to live with dignity is a core belief and led to my applying those principles in the LGBT and Feminist Movements. In the mid-1960s SNCC and other groups in the Black Movement decided the Movement for Black Civil Rights should be a Black Movement and so white people moved to other movements.

At some point identity replaced class consciousness. We were all supposed to identify with our own particular group, never mind how many overlapping identities a heterogeneous culture is bound to produce for along with the primacy of identity came binary thinking which denies the existence of nuance.

But mostly I’m exhausted with the level of hysteria and hatred that is spewed by friend and enemy alike. I flat out do not have the time or money to support every single worthy cause. I might even support a cause but not an organization that claims to lead it.

I don’t march at Pride events. I did attend an event at my synagogue. I am old enough and mature enough to pick causes to support that are important to me. They may not be the same causes someone else might give priority to. This does not make either of us bad people or merit name calling.

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Just Not feeling It Anymore: Pride Day Festivals… Meh.

It’s that time of year although lately it seems ever single week there is some some date of incredible importance for the people of the Rainbow Alphabet.

On social media I am reminded, told I am shirking if I don’t proudly announce some detail about my life that has over the years diminished in importance.

Lately I mostly feel at home on lists for older LGBT folks or on various Jewish lists.

Queer and proud? This is insane people used to call me that word sixty+ years ago when they were beating me up. For me it is self loathing when minority groups embrace words that are clearly hate speech.

For me being transsexual was only a part of who I am and over the many years has become more of who I once was. It gets complicated because if I have to pick a letter from the Rainbow Alphabet it is more likely to be “L”. The first three years of post-Stonewall pride events I had other priorities. It wasn’t until 1974 after I had started accepting being attracted to women that I felt I belonged at Pride events.

Now I’m old and married to a woman I have been with for 20 years. We are an old couple, we delight in each others company. We take care of each other. We vote Democratic and are bewildered by all the demands that we support various causes. So many causes and often contradictory. We pick our causes to support carefully based on our own criteria and agendas not those of someone yelling loudly on social media. And yes we have to say no to many worthy causes because of our resource limitations. But sometimes too we think the cause being pushed is totally bonkers. Age has brought years of experience and honed our bullshit filters.

We know that extremists both right and left are often truth and fact challenged. That’s why we are Liberal Democrats.

Enjoy your Pride Festivals. We’ll pass on them. We can’t walk for miles, parking sucks and we can’t afford to go to something that requires so much effort.

I am Frightened and I Remember Old Skills

I’m an old woman. I am married to another woman who was also born transsexual. We are not obvious about it.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my ambivalence regarding Day of Visibility. That extends to any 3D trans-visibility.

I grew up learning to hide my being trans. I learned to fight back even if the odds of my winning were overwhelmingly against me. Better to go down fighting and make the bullies pay a price than just accept my fate.

I am nearing the completion of my conversion to Reform Judaism. I often wear a Magen David pendant, I tuck it inside my blouse in certain situations as I am well aware of antisemitism. My wife expressed concern when I hung a Mezuzah on our door frame. I feel reassured and safer knowing the practice has been appropriated by many Evangelicals.

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance day was last week. We say: Never Again! Yet people with tattoos of SS runes and swastikas are more willing to openly flash them for the world to see than I am of my tiny silver star. I watched the events of January 6th with utter horror. I listen as all sorts of racism, anti-LGBT bigotry, anti-immigrant bigotry, anti-Asian bigotry and antisemitism is spewed by the same sorts of people who spewed the same hatred in the 1930s.

I’ve spent my life studying history. I know how Germany turned from an extremely progressive country in the 1920s to the land of Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust in the 1930s.

While we say, Never Again. I can see the flood of hatred on line, in social media, Alex Jones, and Fox News. The lies, the stink of hatred and bigotry and I am afraid.

Last week Lilith posted a link on their Facebook page to an article they first published back in the 1994. In 1994 it seemed anachronistic, today it seems truly relevant, particularly for trans-folks but also for everyone targeted by the ultra right. See: How to Hide: Instructions from a Daughter of Survivors

In October of 1967 I left home. Life there had become dangerous enough to cause me to think my life might well depend on finding another place to live. People at the paper mill were threatening me and my father had ordered me to enlist in the military. Considering how I had been treated growing up I had reason to believe I would not survive military service, that one of the same sort of bullies I had been abused by my entire life would kill me.

I fled. Being transsexual was criminalized in New York City at the time. I learned that California’s laws making “cross dressing” illegal had been struck down so I became a refugee in my own country. I wound up living in a garage for a month with a couple of people who became the core of a family of choice, a commune or as we called it a collective. We pooled our resources, scrounged for food, drugs, money, lived in several different apartments before moving over to Berkeley. At first I didn’t dare come out for fear of losing even that tenuous living situation.

But then I hit the point where it was come out or commit suicide. I did. I worked the system. I was part of a group of radicals, we hid deserters. We found ways of getting fake papers. For about a year I had several different names and identification papers for different purposes. My actual identity papers went with a deserter to help him get into Canada. I learned to answer to different names. One for work that paid next to nothing, one for welfare and the name that would become my real name. After about a year and a half those other names died. But the skill set didn’t

A few years later I live in Los Angeles, on Sunset Blvd. My girl friend and I played with wigs and changing our appearances for photographs. In the world of spy novels practicing those arts is known as tradecraft.

I studied the martial arts after being raped and learned how to kill both with my bare hands and with edged weapons. I learn how to shoot a hand gun and other firearms.

I had grown up observing others and being alert to people following me. I practiced the art of avoiding dangerous situations.

Lately the Nazis who have taken over the Republican Party in various Republican dominated states have seen fit to introduce laws that closely resemble the Nazi Nuremberg Laws that harshly limited Jews ability to live in Germany and conquered European nations. It didn’t start with the Shoah. It started with dehumanization, with laws that formalized discrimination. This time they didn’t start with the Jews.

This time they started with transgender and transsexual people. Worse yet with children lacking resources to fight them. Bathroom bills that would deny trans-folks a place to use the public restroom. The insidiousness of the idea that assigned at birth cannot be amended to match adult reality. The denying trans-kids the right to play sports or have their real name and real pronouns acknowledged, insisting instead on dead naming them. Now Texas wants to take trans-kids from supportive parents and stick them into Evangelical homes where they will be abused and tortured.

Years ago some one coined the acronym TERF for Trans Erasing Radical Feminists. People scoffed when I pointed out their link not to actual feminism but rather to the radical right. It is time for a new acronym TEB for Trans Eliminationist Bigot, because erasure implies simply rendering invisible when they do not want us merely invisible they want to kill us and eliminate us.

In the process of my conversion to Judaism I gained a new name, a Hebrew name to be used when I make alyah. It means climb and is used to describe being called to the bimah for giving or receiving a blessing. It also describes immigrating to Israel.

So I think of different names and fear the need to flee. A few years ago I would have scoffed at these thoughts, written them off as foolish paranoia. Yet police are killing African Americans, Nazis are trashing the Capitol Building in a scene straight from one of those action films like Olympus Has Fallen.

Never Again! We must stop the scapegoating that is straight out of 1930s Nazi Germany.

Mean while this old autodidact history lover and bookworm has found an alias and is practicing thinking of herself as that person. Just in case.

Robina Asti, Who Made History on the Ground and in the Air, Dies at 99

From The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/21/us/robina-asti-dead.html

As a transgender veteran in her 90s, she challenged government bureaucracy. She then set out to be recognized as the oldest working flight instructor.

By Clay Risen
March 21, 2021

Robina Asti, a World War II veteran and mutual-fund executive who inspired a generation of transgender people in the 2010s with her successful fight for her husband’s Social Security benefits, and who just last year became the world’s oldest active flight instructor, died on March 12 in San Diego. She was 99.

Her death, at the home of her daughter Coca Astey, was confirmed by Ms. Astey.

Ms. Asti transitioned in the 1970s and had been living quietly as a woman for nearly 40 years when she applied for survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration in 2012, a few months after her husband died. It took a year for the agency to deny her application, on the grounds that she was not legally a woman at the time of her marriage.

Though most of her government-issued documents, including her pilot’s license and even her Social Security card, recognized her as a woman, the agency’s determination of survivor benefits was based on her birth certificate, which identified her as a man.

Ms. Asti was livid. She searched online for help and found Lambda Legal, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

“It was an amazing day when she walked into our offices,” M. Dru Levasseur, who ran Lambda’s transgender rights practice at the time and now works for the National LGBT Bar Association and Foundation, said in a phone interview. “We could feel her energy, her anger at the system.”

Lambda took the government to court in June 2013. Eight months later, on Valentine’s Day 2014, Ms. Asti checked her bank account and found a large deposit: nearly two years of back pay from the Social Security Administration.

Not only did Ms. Asti win her case; the administration changed its rule regarding transgender survivors — and the documentation requirements for proving one’s gender in the first place.

Ms. Asti’s fight made her a celebrity in the L.G.B.T.Q. community, at a time when transgender rights were just beginning to be a national issue. She embraced her newfound role — giving speeches, marching in pride parades and simply living a full life as an older transgender woman. In November 2020, Out magazine named her to its annual “Out 100” list.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/21/us/robina-asti-dead.html

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Megan Rapinoe: Bills to ban transgender kids from sports try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist

From The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/03/28/megan-rapinoe-transgender-kids-sports-ban/

by Megan Rapinoe
March 28, 2021

Megan Rapinoe plays for OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League and the U.S. women’s national team. An Olympic gold medalist and a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, she is also an ambassador for Athlete Ally, a nonprofit that advocates for equal opportunities in sports.

I remember how I felt when I played soccer for the first time. Long before I was winning World Cup matches, I was trying to keep up with my brother. Soccer has been a part of my life since I was 4 years old. I spent hours outside working to perfect that next move — I wanted to be the best.

Being able to play sports as a child shaped my life’s path. It taught me so much more than is seen on the field and brought me so much joy. Every child deserves to have that experience. That’s why I believe that all kids, including transgender youth, should be able to participate in sports they love.

But there are efforts across the country to ban transgender kids from participating in school sports. Already this year, lawmakers in more than 25 states have introduced legislation to ban transgender young people from sports. Mississippi enacted a law this month requiring schools to designate teams by gender assigned at birth. Efforts elsewhere are progressing.

These bills are some of the most intense political assaults on LGBTQ people in recent years. Sports have become another avenue to attack the rights of trans people. These efforts cause incredible harm to trans youth, who, like all kids in a global pandemic, are feeling isolated and need compassion and support. Even before the pandemic hit, 1 in 3 transgender youth reported attempting suicide, as one national crisis-prevention organization reported in 2019.

These bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Transgender kids want the opportunity to play sports for the same reasons other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong. Proponents of these bills argue that they are protecting women. As a woman who has played sports my whole life, I know that the threats to women’s and girls’ sports are lack of funding, resources and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay.

I know what it feels like to be singled out and treated differently. No one should be treated unfairly because of who they are — and that is especially true of kids. Adults can’t pretend that we care about the well-being of children while actively creating environments that cause serious harm to them. We can’t make demands for a false sense of fairness while ignoring the actual needs of women and girls.

You may not know that a person in your life is trans — you may not be aware of the fullest self within your co-worker, friend, relative or even the child playing in your living room. Trans people contribute meaningfully to our society: our schools, neighborhoods, communities and families. Trans people deserve dignity, respect and opportunity. These bills are an attack on the humanity and belonging of trans people, and that’s why this issue is important to me as a member of the LGBTQ community.

For some, discrimination is the point. But we can celebrate all girls and women in sports while ensuring trans people aren’t discriminated against. That is why all women must stand up and demand that exclusion is not done in our name.

The value of participating in sports is well-documented. Transgender kids deserve the same chances to enjoy sports; to gain confidence, self-respect and leadership skills; and to learn what it means to be part of a team. When we tell transgender girls that they can’t play girls’ sports — or transgender boys that they can’t play boys’ sports — they miss out on these important experiences and opportunities. And we lose the right to say we care about children.

I want the trans youth in our country to know they are not alone. Women’s organizations, including the Women’s Sports Foundation, National Women’s Law Center and Gender Justice, along with sports icons including Billie Jean King and Candace Parker, agree that transgender girls and women belong in sports and should be able to participate alongside other girls and women.

Discrimination hurts everyone. We’re stronger as teams, and as a country, when all people who love sports have a chance to have their lives changed for the better, just like I did.

I want every transgender kid out there to know that they can live their dreams and be true to who they are. For them to realize those dreams, they need to be allowed to play.

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