Forty Years Ago

I was in Berkeley living in a collective on Grayson St. a couple of blocks below San Pablo Avenue.

I had been on hormones for three months and they acted rapidly causing my very androgynous body to start popping out all over.

In mid May, we had taken part in the riots that surrounded People’s Park.  Ronald Reagan’s goons had shot at us killing James Rector and critically wounding another.  Most people do not realize that some 150 people were treated for gun shot wounds.

This was a year before Kent State.

I had dressed as a boy during the riots and had escaped arrest during the actual riots only to be busted while dressed very androgynously at the tail end of the riots.

Mostly though we were in the calm after the storm and during that calm, I started slipping into 24/7.  My friends had meetings where people were called on not referring to me as Sue and she.  Along with their treating me like a girl, which meant my doing the cooking and being given privacy.

I was living with people who were straight.  I didn’t have any gay friends at that point although I had gone to a couple of the major gay organizations in San Francisco looking for referrals and legal advice.

But honestly, I didn’t see myself having much of anything in common with them.  My support was among the anti-war activist community of Berkeley.

As we headed toward summer, there was a lot of discussion about the SDS conference in Chicago and what was going to be done regarding the Stalinist group Progressive Labor.

That year the big thing in the San Francisco gay community had been when two men Leo Laurence and his lover Gale Whittington had been photographed kissing for a local underground newspaper.  This resulted in one of them losing his job and picket lines.  If memory serves me, there was also an attempt to obtain a marriage license.

So the weekend after I went full time my faction of SDS became Weatherman, named after a line in Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues that proclaimed, “You don’t need a Weatherman, to know which way the wind blows.

I may have publicly started living as a woman and have been in the midst of physically changing sex but I was still a hard core radical.  I would have said revolutionary in those late spring early summer days.

Then the next weekend the Stonewall Riot happened.

It took a while for me to really get any news about it.  Riots had to be really big for them to make national news and certainly not about a bunch of gay people in the Village.

I was unaware of there being a gay press in those days.  There might have been but I didn’t go to gay bars and if there was the papers weren’t distributed in the rock and roll clubs and coffeehouses I went to.

What we had were the underground newspapers.  New York had the venerable Village Voice as well as the East Village Other and RAT .  As it happened the Stonewall Riot took place the last weekend of June and the next alternative newspaper release day would be July 4th so the news cycle had been pushed up.  This meant I really didn’t hear much about the story until the second week of July.

Other things were happening.  Like moonwalks, people going to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigades and the forth-coming Woodstock.

Stonewall did have staying power and while it was less important to those of us in the Bay Area as an immediate event it marked a national shift in consciousness.  Gays and lesbians had become a part of what we called The Movement and in the long term became more an enduring entity than many of the other elements of the movement that were dominant in the spring of 1969.

I tried to become involved.  I believe in the cause but in the late 1960s there may have been a place for drag queens in the Gay Liberation Struggle but there wasn’t any place for transsexuals except as friends of and perhaps mascots.

Until I came out as a lesbian in 1974, my main role was fag-hag.

The Avalanche of Hate Crimes

I get some of the news stories I post here from an e-mail list.  Others I glean from Page One Q, 365 Gay, The Advocate and a bunch of blogs plus people send me items.

Perhaps it is because coverage is better but I have a sinking feeling that as more people have come out more people have been turned into targets of opportunity for predators inflamed with the misogynistic bigotry preached by religion and condoned by courts that accept the homophobic/transphobic defense of, “”He” deceived me, made a pass at me, was a sex worker so I had to murder “him”.  And because I was wronged I stole “his” car and credit cards.”

To me this is not extenuating circumstances.  This is a confession to a hate crime compounded by felonious robbery and should merit capital punishment in locations where if a normborn were subject to the identical crime capital punishment would be the norm.

The reality is we need additional laws to protect us in order to get any sort of protection at all.

In addition we need laws that treat crimes against sex workers as actual crimes.  Raping a sex worker should be treated at least as seriously as the ultra right wing is treating David Letterman’s poor taste joke.  Instead the rape of a sex worker is treated as a source of humor.

Murdering sex workers is treated as subject matter for vile video games.

Instead it should add an additional layer of hate crimes protections.

Race gets used as a sign of the victim being even more worthless.  The whiter the victim the greater the crime,  The darker the skin the less the crime.

The higher the class of the victim the greater the crime, the lower the class the lesser the crime.

This is true around the world.  In Venezuela there have been a series of murders of sex workers with a fair percentage of them being trans.  Macho culture where the value of women is as property and class means that poor women who are not owned by men become sex workers and murder victims.

TransGriot has an article on Feministe regarding the murder of Lateisha Green (to read article go to: See her original at:

So many murders that after a while they become like background noise.  A constant din, like the night of broken glass foreshadowing some thing like that which happened in Nazi Germany.

The neo-Nazi right wing hate mongers from Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh to local “shock jock” the advocating of violence against both transsexuals and transgenders has reached such a roar that the Nazi cretins who listen to these hate mongers now feel that it is okay to hunt us.

I would advocate our arming ourselves and shooting attackers but I know the consequences of our self defense would weigh more heavily upon us than the premeditated hate crimes weigh upon those who commit these hate crimes.

Instead I am forced to fall back upon advocating the boycotting of those companies that support the hate mongers and the passage of hate crimes laws.

Advocating not doing sex work if there are alternatives, trying to find less dangerous forms if there are ways of doing that, such as working the papers.

It is only as a last resort that I advocate arming yourselves with a knife or a gun and killing your attacker.  I am too aware of the consequences.

But no more.  No more being the defenseless victim even in our own homes with our brains splashed all over a fire extinguisher.

No more letting the gay and lesbian community get away with continuing to carry on about Matthew Sheppard as though that was the ONLY hate crime ever when we have a Matthew Sheppard every single week.

No more treating the murder of transsexual and transgender people as mattering less because they are people of color and too poor to afford SRS that has become a privilege of class as economic hardship has hit those at the bottom harder than those who are middle class.

Our battle isn’t just about Bailey, Blanchard, Zucker and the rest who give pseudo-scientific to the right wing religious and ideological hate mongers.  It is about the hate mongers.  It is about our so called allies who give lip service to protecting our rights but who laugh at the right wing jokes and often have just as much hate within them.