Yvonne Cook Riley: The Invention of Transgender

This short piece represents a bit more of the actual history rather than some of the revisionist material that has recently been circulated by Christan Williams.  While some details are wrong because they omit aspects that were happening in different arenas.  These few paragraphs out line the role played by the people of Tapestry and IFGE who actually brought the modern “Transgender Movement”together in the early 1990s.

She omits the fact there were lesbians post-ops in the 1970s hence the trans vs lesbian wars.  the early TV movement, early TS movement and the early drag queen movement, which were all separate movements.

However this is a matter of her perspective not historical revisionism.

From Bilrico: http://www.bilerico.com/2011/08/yvonne_cook_riley_the_invention_of_transgender.php

By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss
August 16, 2011

Reposted here with permission of Jillian Weiss
Thanks also to Bil Browning for his permission

I returned yesterday from Kindred Spirits, a transgender spiritual retreat held in Hot Springs, North Carolina, at the old Sunnybank Inn, built in the 1840s. There, several of us sitting around the porch one night, slapping at the gnats, had a fascinating hour-long discussion with Yvonne Cook-Riley. Yvonne was very involved in the trans movement in the 80s and early 90s. She’s retired now, and lives a quiet and spiritual life in North Carolina. She was a tireless advocate for the community back in the day, however, and there wasn’t any place one could look without seeing her. Something she said about the transgender movement fascinated me.

She said she was the founder of the transgender movement.

That set off a light bulb over my head, as we have recently had some discussion of the history of the term “transgender” and of the “transgender community” here on Bilerico. So here’s the one we should thank, or vilify, when we talk about the “transgender community”! She also credited Virginia Prince and Phyllis Frye as co-founders of the movement, as well as a number of others who participated in making it happen.

She agreed to a short interview in the morning, and the audio file (11 minutes long) is at the end of this post.

The hour-long discussion from Saturday night couldn’t be replicated in the short 11 minute interview posted here, but I tried to steer the conversation towards the most fascinating part: how did the “transgender movement” get invented?

As a background to this interview, it’s important to understand there was no “transgender movement” at the time of which Yvonne speaks. Rather, as I learned when I was coming out in the mid-90s, there were three distinct communities that never mixed: a heterosexual transsexual women’s community, a heterosexual transsexual men’s community, and a separate heterosexual male crossdresser community. It was considered an oxymoron to be a lesbian transsexual woman (who sought women as partners) or a gay transsexual man (who sought men as partners), though they did exist. But there was no “community” for them, and if they wanted any medical help or sympathy from the rest of the community, they had to be silent about their sexual orientation. It was well-known that there were gay and bisexual crossdressers, but they were not wanted in the crossdressing community. The crossdressing community stressed, with few exceptions, that it was composed entirely of men who liked dressing en femme on a strictly part-time basis, that they desired only women as partners, and that they would not admit anyone who openly stated that they were open to men as sexual partners. The intent was to try to mollify the wives of the members, and to get them to look upon crossdressing as a hobby, rather than a threat to their marriage. In the few meetings that I attended in the 90s, the wives were there in force, and the tactic seemed to be successful. It was equally obvious to me that I was on a completely different path, and that was useful information for me.

The important point of this background is that there was no middle ground. There was no recognized way to transition to living as the opposite sex without surgery. It was for this reason that the term “transgenderist” was coined, which denoted this middle path for which there was no path.

Back to Yvonne Cook-Riley’s interview: She was the founding operations manager of the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), which opened in 1987, to advocate for freedom of gender expression. Its tagline is “We promote the understanding and acceptance of All People: Transgender, Transsexual, Crossdresser, Agender, Gender Queer, Intersex, Two Spirit, Hijra, Kathoey, Drag King, Drag Queen, Queer, Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Butch, Femme, Faerie, Homosexual, Bisexual, Heterosexual, and of course – You!” It runs the magazine “Transgender Tapestry.” Yvonne noted that she was the one to add the word “transgender” to the title. Prior to that, it was simply known as “Tapestry.” The organization is still chugging along, with annual conferences and its Transgender Tapestry magazine.

Yvonne and a few others worked hard to create a “transgender movement” from the few disparate groups whose main goal was to disappear into the woodwork and remain secretive. She worked with a major gay advocacy organization in the early 90s to incorporate the word “transgender” and its associated concepts, and that effort took off into the “transgender movement” that we see today. She had a fascinating response to my question about what she would say to transsexuals concerned about being co-opted into the transgender movement. The flute you hear in the background is my friend Kara, who is an expert shakuhachi player (and YouTubes a lot on her transition experiences), giving an impromptu concert downstairs.

Click here for the interview audio file: Voice 002.amr

Daylight Robbery, Meet Nighttime Robbery

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/162809/daylight-robbery-meet-nighttime-robbery

Naomi Klein
August 16, 2011

I keep hearing comparisons between the London riots and riots in other European cities—window smashing in Athens or car bonfires in Paris. And there are parallels, to be sure: a spark set by police violence, a generation that feels forgotten.

But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion—a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people. After watching for so long as Saddam and his sons helped themselves to whatever and whomever they wanted, many regular Iraqis felt they had earned the right to take a few things for themselves. But London isn’t Baghdad, and British Prime Minister David Cameron is hardly Saddam, so surely there is nothing to learn there.

How about a democratic example then? Argentina, circa 2001. The economy was in freefall and thousands of people living in rough neighborhoods (which had been thriving manufacturing zones before the neoliberal era) stormed foreign-owned superstores. They came out pushing shopping carts overflowing with the goods they could no longer afford—clothes, electronics, meat. The government called a “state of siege” to restore order; the people didn’t like that and overthrew the government.

Argentina’s mass looting was called El Saqueo—the sacking. That was politically significant because it was the very same word used to describe what that country’s elites had done by selling off the country’s national assets in flagrantly corrupt privatization deals, hiding their money offshore, then passing on the bill to the people with a brutal austerity package. Argentines understood that the saqueo of the shopping centers would not have happened without the bigger saqueo of the country, and that the real gangsters were the ones in charge.

But England is not Latin America, and its riots are not political, or so we keep hearing. They are just about lawless kids taking advantage of a situation to take what isn’t theirs. And British society, Cameron tells us, abhors that kind of behavior.

This is said in all seriousness. As if the massive bank bailouts never happened, followed by the defiant record bonuses. Followed by the emergency G-8 and G-20 meetings, when the leaders decided, collectively, not to do anything to punish the bankers for any of this, nor to do anything serious to prevent a similar crisis from happening again. Instead they would all go home to their respective countries and force sacrifices on the most vulnerable. They would do this by firing public sector workers, scapegoating teachers, closing libraries, upping tuitions, rolling back union contracts, creating rush privatizations of public assets and decreasing pensions—mix the cocktail for where you live. And who is on television lecturing about the need to give up these “entitlements”? The bankers and hedge-fund managers, of course.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/article/162809/daylight-robbery-meet-nighttime-robbery

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The Company That Rick Perry Keeps: Jerry Boykin the Christo-Fascist Former General

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Meet the Christian Dominionist ‘Prayer Warriors’ Who Have Chosen Rick Perry as Their Vehicle to Power

From Alternet:   http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/152034/meet_the_christian_dominionist_’prayer_warriors’_who_have_chosen_rick_perry_as_their_vehicle_to_power/

The New Apostolic Reformation seeks dominion over society and government — and it looks like Perry is their chosen candidate.

By Rachel Tabachnick
August 15, 2011

Since he announced his candidacy on Saturday, Texas Governor Rick Perry has been hailed as the great GOP hope of 2012. Perry’s entry into the chaotic Republican primary race has excited the establishment in part because he does not have Michele Bachmann’s reputation for religious zealotry, yet can likely count on the support of the Religious Right.

Another advantage for Perry is support from an extensive 50-state “prayer warrior” network, organized by the New Apostolic Reformation. A religious-political movement whose leaders call themselves apostles and prophets, NAR shares its agenda for control of society and government with other “dominionists,” but has a distinctly different theology than other groups in the Religious Right. They have their roots in Pentecostalism (though their theology has been denounced as a heresy by Pentecostal denominations in the past). The movement is controversial, even inside conservative evangelical circles. Nevertheless, Perry took the gamble that NAR could help him win the primaries, a testament to the power of the apostles’ 50-state prayer warrior network.
While it may not have been obvious to those outside the movement, Perry was publicly anointed as the apostles’ candidate for president in his massive prayer rally a few weeks ago, an event filled with symbolism and coded messages. This was live-streamed to churches across the nation and on God TV, a Jerusalem-based evangelical network.
There’s little doubt that Perry is NAR’s candidate — its chosen vehicle to advance the stated agenda of taking “dominion” over earthly institutions.
The Prayer Warriors and Politics
Perry’s event is not the first time NAR apostles have partnered with politicians. (See previous AlterNet articles by Paul Rosenberg and Bill Berkowitz.) Alaskan Apostle Mary Glazier claimed Sarah Palin was in her prayer network since she was 24 years old and Glazier continued to have contact with Palin through the 2008 election. Prior to running for governor, Palin was “anointed” at Wasilla Assembly of God by Kenyan Apostle Thomas Muthee, a star in promotional media for the movement. The Wasilla congregation is part of a Pentecostal denomination, but it’s leadership had embraced NAR’s controversial ideology years before and has hosted many internationally known apostles.
A partial list of those who have made nationally or internationally broadcast appearances with apostles includes Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, and Jim DeMint. Numerous others, including Rick Santorum, have participated in less publicized apostle-led events.
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The Age of Outrage

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/Cohen-age-of-outrage.html?_r=1

Published: August 13, 2011

AUGUST was once a time for dreaming, wandering the empty streets of this city, reading silly-season newspaper stories after a leisurely lunch washed down with Sancerre, gazing at squares where fountains plashed and the pregnant or the old chatted on benches at dusk. Then something happened.

The world speeded up. Stress levels soared. Idle moments evaporated. Egos expanded. Devices became hand-held. Money outpaced politics. Rage surged. As Leonard Cohen put it: “The poor stay poor. The rich get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.”

Except that everybody is at a loss. When David Cameron rushes back from Tuscany (a k a Chiantishire) to riot-ravaged London, and Nicolas Sarkozy hustles home from the Riviera to a Paris debt crisis, and the summer vacation void vanishes in Europe (once so long the Germans coined a word for “free-time angst”), all bets are off.

August aborted this year. It morphed into the serious season. The beach lost out to the barricades. A time of outrage is upon us.

The fury in British cities follows huge social protests this year in Greece, where violence also flared, and in Spain, where tens of thousands have camped out from Madrid to Barcelona. Other nations, including Portugal, have seen a diffuse anger rooted in a shared conviction: things can’t go on like this. This European malaise is no stranger to a United States of high unemployment, economic bafflement, ideological radicalization and political pettiness.

Numbers tell part of the story. Youth unemployment in the 27-nation European Union stands at just over 20 percent, ranging as high as 45.7 percent in Spain. In Britain youth unemployment has risen from 14 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 20 percent. About one in every five young Europeans and young Americans is wondering how to get any sort of working life on track. Britain’s NEETS (not in education, employment or training) meet U.S. boomerang kids in the anxiety of waiting.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/Cohen-age-of-outrage.html?_r=1

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What do I mean when I say I am an Existentialist, not an Essentialist

I’ve said I am an Existentialist, not an Essentialist before on this and I haven’t had a concise 2 page explanation but today I got an e-mail from About Atheism that gave me just that.

What is Existentialism?

Trends & Ideas in Existentialist Thought


More specifically, existentialism displays hostility towards abstract theories or systems that propose to describe all of the intricacies and difficulties of human life through more-or-less simplistic formulas. Such abstract systems tend to obscure the fact that life is actually a rather rough-and-tumble affair, often very messy and problematic. For existentialists, there is no single theory that can contain the whole of the experience of human life.

It is the experience of life, however, which is the point of life – so why isn’t it also the point of philosophy? Over the course of millennia Western philosophy has become increasingly abstract and increasingly removed from the lives of real human beings. In dealing with technical issues like the nature of truth or knowledge, human beings have been pushed further into the background. In constructing complex philosophical systems, no room is left for real people anymore.

That is why existentialists focus primarily on matters such as choice, individuality, subjectivity, freedom, and the nature of existence itself. The issues addressed in existentialist philosophy involve the problems of making free choices, of taking responsibility for what we choose, of overcoming alienation from our lives, and so forth.

A self-conscious existentialist movement developed first in early twentieth century Europe. After so many wars and so much devastation throughout European history, intellectual life had become rather drained and tired, so it should not have been unexpected that people would have turned from abstract systems back to individual human lives – the sorts of lives that had been dehumanized in the wars themselves.

Even religion no longer held the luster it once did, failing not only to provide sense and meaning to people’s lives but even failing to provide basic structure to daily living. Both the irrational wars and the rationalized sciences combined to undermine people’s confidence in traditional religious faith – but few were willing to replace religion with secular beliefs or science.

As a consequence, there developed both religious and atheistic strands of existentialism. The two disagreed on the existence of God and the nature of religion, but they did agree on other matters. For example, they agreed that traditional philosophy and theology had become too remote from normal human life to be of much use. They also rejected the creation of abstract systems as a valid means of understanding authentic modes of living.

Whatever “existence” is supposed to be, it isn’t something that a person will come to understand through intellectual posturing; no, the irreducible and undefinable existence is something that we must encounter and engage through actually living. After all, we humans do define who we are through living our lives – our natures are not defined and fixed at the moment of conception or birth. Just what constitutes an “actual” and “authentic” mode of living, though, is what many existentialist philosophers tried to describe and debated about with each other.

Continue reading at:  http://atheism.about.com/od/existentialism/a/introduction.htm

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Santorum: ‘Our Freedom’ Is Less ‘Whole Than It Was At The Time Of Our Founders’

Ooops… Looks like the ultra right wing crazy man whose name is synonymous with the frothy mix of lube and feces that is sometimes the product of anal intercourse showed off his failed education once again.

Gee let me think…  Really?  I know some African American, Native American and women who might beg to differ with your definition of “freedom”.

Original link for video, Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/08/16/296536/santorum-slaves/

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