Olivia Records Part II Sandy Stone

I started doing photography and Layout work with the Lesbian Tide about the same time as Olivia records started taking heat for Sandy Stone.

When I interviewed with them I showed my complete portfolio which showed gay men and TS/TG folks as well as lesbians.  I refused to censor my portfolio.

I had to face a grilling.  My girlfriend made a statement then left.  One woman in particular seemed to question my validity.

Then after a few months of knowing me and working with me on doing the layout she offered to give me a lift home so I wouldn’t have to take the bus.

She very sincerely apologized to me and said I had completely change her thinking.  She said I had started changing her thinking that first night when I had said that if anyone challenged their having me as a photographer I would resign.

Yeah I was a token.

But even as a token I impressed women and challenged the radical feminist propaganda.

Just by being a good feminist.

Black Swan wanted to know if feminists stood up for us.

Many did.  The radical feminists were a nasty minority group in the 1970s as they are today.

They did nothing but destroy and when they went after Sandy Stone they harmed Olivia Record, the women who recorded for Olivia Records, the women who would have learned from Sandy.  Between the attacks on Olivia Records and the demanding the censorship of sex positive lesbians they harmed Women’s Bookstores.

In the long run they had a profoundly harmful impact on feminism and the women, all women involved in the movement.

All due to their monstrous bigotry and hatred of transsexual and transgender people.

Olivia Records Collective statement on Sandy Stone

Recently a leaflet has been circulated here concerning Olivia’s relationship with Sandy Stone, who since spring of 1976 has worked with Olivia as a recording engineer. Sandy is a transsexual, and Olivia is being criticized for not making that fact widely known immediately on beginning to work with Sandy. lt is further being said that we are ripping women off by calling ourselves a women’s recording company while working with a transsexual engineer. In the following paragraphs we would like to explain, for those who may not know what a transsexual is; to recount out process in hiring Sandy Stone; to clarify our politics around, working with Sandy; and to answer specific criticisms that have been brought forward.

A transsexual is a person who, from an early age (perhaps from birth), identifies as the opposite gender from her or his genetic sex. In the case of Sandy Stone, this means a person who grew up outwardly as a male, but who inwardly experienced being essentially female. In many cases this includes a feminist identification, which, because of imposed stereotypes, as well as the position of being female inside a male body, results in an extremely painful life situation. For many women, evolving a consciousness of class and sex oppression involves uncertainty, anger, and the turmoil which accompanies any major life process. For transsexuals, who are simultaneously evolving through confronting their true sexual identity, these processes are doubly difficult.

Medical technology has recently provided, for those with the means to afford it and the guts to withstand it, a way to surgically transform the genitals from those of birth to those of the opposite gender. Persons like Sandy, who have undergone sex reassignment surgery, are technically known as male-to-female post-operative transsexuals and live lives no different from other women. However, although a great deal of attention is usually focused on the surgery itself it is not generally understood that the process of sex reassignment is a long, grueling and painful one, requiring years of hard work prior to surgery, and that this too-welI publicized step-is merely the confirmation of a process that has already gone to near completion by that time. The impression fostered by the media, that sex reassignment is effected by a single operation, simplifies and distorts an extremely complex and subtle process to which the pre-operative transsexual must address most of her life for years prior to genital reassignment.

Sandy Stone was referred to us as an excellent woman engineer, perhaps even the Goddess-sent engineering wizard we had so long sought. In our second meeting’ when Sandy told us about her transsexuality, we had to reassess our commitment to her, and her, to us. We did this, as we do everything at Olivia, collectively and from the point of view of our politics. In our first reaction to the situation’ we had these reservations: Should we validate a Process (sex reassignment) that, seemingly, only the privileged have access to? Should we hire someone who had male privilege? Could we accept and trust Sandy as a woman?

We reasoned that while it requires some material means to undergo the sex reassignment process, a person does not gain privilege by doing it—quite the contrary (a very few well-publicized transsexuals aside.) Because Sandy decided to give up completely and permanently her male identity and live as a woman and a lesbian, she is now faced with the same kinds of oppression that other women and lesbians face. She must also cope with the ostracism that all of society imposes on a transsexual.

In evaluating whom we will trust as a close ally, we take a person’s history into consideration, but our focus as political lesbians is on what her actions are now. If she is a person who comes from privilege, has she renounced that which is oppressive in her privilege, and is she sharing with other women that which is useful? Is she aware of her own oppression? Is she open to struggle around class, race, and other aspects of lesbian feminist politics? These were our yardsticks in deciding whether to work with a woman who grew up with male privilege. We felt that Sandy met those same criteria we apply to any woman with whom we that plan to work closely.

Because of our politics, and despite our initial feelings of strangeness around the situation (feelings which, alas, seems many women must through when confronted with a transsexual woman),we were able to begin working with Sandy. Our daily political and personal interactions with her have confirmed for each of us that she a woman we can relate to with comfort and with trust.

As to why we did not immediately bring this issue to the attention of the national women’s community, we have to say that to us, Sandy Stone is a person’ not an issue. Our judgment was that her transsexualism was a fact that might be a concern to any woman who would work closely with her (such as the women Olivia would record.) We felt fine about telling those women, because there was a context for it, and because we have a struggle relationship with them. Beyond that, we saw no way to communicate the situation the greater women’s community without Sandy being objectified. And if Sandy were to become the focus of controversy, we all felt we needed a period  of time in which to develop a foundation of mutual trust and a solid working relationship, to help us withstand that turmoil. We see transsexualism as a state of transition, and we feel that to continue to define a person primarily by that condition is to stigmatize her, at the expense of her growth process as a woman. One unfortunate consequence of this decision has been that we did not demystify to the community at large how Sandy was able to acquire her skills, and we regret this.

Our hopes for sharing skills and providing women access to work are much closer to fulfillment because of,  not in spite of, Sandy Stone. The women in our technical department are thrilled that Sandy has joined then. She has contributed to our group not only her many technical skills, but also a vision of ways to share them that goes beyond what we were able to imagine. For example, besides training women in sound engineering, she will actually be building our recording studio and will be apprenticing other women in the techniques of designing and building electronic equipment. She is also in the process of writing a book for women which will be a step-by step explanation of the recording process.

Almost a year has passed since we started working with Sandy, during which she has been our colleague in hard work, struggle, wonderful accomplishments and even finer plans. All of us are looking forward to the day when work can begin on our studio and Sandy can start training other women. As we do of each other, we ask everything of Sandy, and she gives it. She has chosen to make her life with us, and we expect to grow old together working and sharing.

The Women of Olivia Records



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Olivia Records Part I

In the 1970s, during that period when women were building businesses including bookstores,garages, women’s clinics, restaurants  and the like the was a recording cooperative called Olivia Records.  (Ancestor to the Cruise/ Tour Company)

They recorded  feminist women making music for politically aware women, mainly lesbian music and predominantly in the genre of folk singer/songwriter.

Cris Williamson is still around but many like Meg Christian have dropped back into obscurity; perhaps performing house concerts and self-producing/self-distributing.

As much as I liked the music of the artists who recorded on Olivia there wasn’t all that great a demand outside the feminist community for lesbian folk singers.

Particularly since their distribution was mainly through Women’s and Gay/Lesbian bookstores.

But their concerts were well attended and many considered Olivia Records to be a shining example of how a woman run cooperative could be ethically operated and promote idealistic feminist ethics.

Being the token post-transsexual at the Lesbian Tide I was given some material issued by Olivia Records after they found themselves under siege by self proclaimed “radical feminists.”

Sandy Stone, a sister I knew back in those days, more friend of  friends than an actual personal friend was the sister who was the target of the “radical feminists” wrath.

It is much to my regret that I wasn’t able to hang out with and learn more from Sandy as I have heard she was a generous teacher when it came to sharing recording studio skills.

In those days it was hard for women to find some one to actually show them what the sliders and switches on a mixing board did.  Usually when I wound up being invited to recording sessions it was more because of the Nikons around my neck than any willingness to share knowledge.

In those days there was a small women’s bookstore out near UCLA, Sisterhood Books on Westwood, south of Wilshire Blvd. I liked going there, it really felt good to buy books and stuff there, knowing the money wasn’t going into the pockets of some straight men and was instead helping support the women’s community.

I had a bunch of Olivia Records.  I don’t think I had even noticed Sandy’s name or if I had it was like, “Oh I know her… cool…”

Then about the time the whole anti-gay, anti-lesbian campaign led by Anita Bryant heated up there was suddenly this huge cry of outrage from a bunch of people who didn’t really seem to be part of an organized group.

They were all outraged that Olivia records had a transsexual Recording Engineer.

Cui Bono?

They demanded Olivia get rid of her.

They picketed Women’s Bookstores and protested outside of concerts.

Now women were just learning skill sets from Sandy and a few others that would enable someone to take over.  Plus Sandy had considerable talent which isn’t an easily teachable quality.

What follows is an information sheet put out by Olivia Records as part of the package defending Sandy Stone:

As women redefine ourselves we are redefining our culture, and we are creating new music that accurately reflects our lives, We are women—we are strong sometimes, in pain sometimes, in love sometimes, angry sometimes, excited-about our growth and learning to share our lives with other women, learning to take financial, emotional, and physical risks, and learning to count on the help and. support of the growing community of woman-identified women who are taking smal1 steps every day to build a world in which we can live with comfort and-trust.

Olivia Records is a national women’s recording company, it was started by a group of women in Washington, DC, in January 1973. It was the result of a decision made by that group to create a business which would serve the needs of women–one in which women could be paid for doing the kind of work we wanted to do.

We decided to produce records because we knew that a feminist enterprise should create a product that women wanted and needed. And we knew that music was a powerful force in helping women change and take control of their lives.

We established Olivia with four goals in mind: 1. to make women’s music (music that speaks honestly and realistically about women’s lives) available to the public; 2. to provide talented-woman-oriented musicians with access to the recording industry and control over their music; 3. to provide training for women in all aspects of the recording industry; 4, to provide jobs for large numbers of women, with reasonable salaries and-in unoppressive situations.

Collective work is important to Olivia Records. We feel that the ideas of any one woman are amplified and elaborated when they are expressed in a group. Since each woman must be a product of her own background, we’ve learned- that group work keeps one woman’s viewpoint–limited as it must be–from providing the sole context for decision-making. 0f course, it also spreads the work around and. Provides a structure for sharing skills. We’ve learned from each other that sharing the same understandings about women and the same goals for ourselves and all women is the basis for political trust that has seen us through a multitude of crises.

We are a collective in the process of expansion. Five of us have been involved with Olivia since its beginnings. Now several other women are joining us because there is a lot more work to do and because we’ve always planned for Olivia’s decision makers to include more women of varied” class and  race backgrounds. We are involved as a group in ongoing discussion of Olivia Record-s and. feminism. We are concerned with integrating feminist principles into a money generating enterprise. We are concerned with the building of a mass movement dedicated to the eradication of oppression rooted in sexism, racism, and classism. We are concerned with woman identification and the commonality of women’s struggles everywhere.

We envision an economic institution in which women work cooperatively. We feel that in a really creative structure, the collective can be the vehicle for a woman to have a real voice in determining her own working conditions, acquisition of skills’ and salary.

As we expand and start to include more women we will involve them in decision making. Every department (e.g. engineering, promotion, graphic arts) will make the decisions that affect its work.

All employees will be able to participate in general company decision-making. All financial books will be open to any member of the company.

We will have an apprentice program in each department so that women can learn new skills receiving a salary.

We want to pay women on the basis of need, instead of on the basis of the value the society places on the work. Society says that a musician is more valuable than a bookkeeper; those of us who keep the hooks know that’s not true.

Olivia Record’s does not “own” its recording artists’ Musicians have one-record’ contracts. Beyond that, the relationship of each artist to Olivia is up to the artist. Some may want to work with the company on a regular basis; some nay prefer to work with us only once or only occasionally.

The recording artist participates in budget discussions and decisions concerning her record. In the studio, she always has final control of how her music goes onto the record, The only limitation placed on the kind of music recorded is that it not be sexist, racist, classist, or ageist. We want to produce a, variety of records reflecting all different kinds of women’s music and musicians.

Olivia’s goals would not be served-by plugging our records into established distribution systems. We distribute the records ourselves. Women in cities across the country are settling up an independent distribution system for Olivia Records. They manage retail and wholesale sales and. promotion in their own communities. They are also our lifeline–keeping Olivia Record s in communication with the women’s movement all across the country. Olivia also distributes high-quality woman-produced music that is not on our label. We are committed to getting out fine women’s music.

Olivia is accountable to women for the use of money. Financial statements w1ll be published yearly through the women’s press. Almost all the money that Olivia has comes from women’s pockets-*either in the form of donations or record sales. Hundreds of women have sent gifts from 20 cents, to $10,000. Al1 donations are no-strings-attached; the women who control Olivia are the women who work for it.

We are currently seeking donations to help us buy our own studio. A studio will enable us to produce records at a lower cost than renting commercial studio time, and it wilI give us a place to train technical people. It will also free the musicians from the time-is-money feeling that makes them want to get into and out of the studio as fast as they can. We hope to have our studio in operation in 1977-78. Until that time, and probably for awhile thereafter, we will-be unable to produce as many records as we would like. Our hiring program will not begin in earnest until then, because we won’t be generating enough income,

At the point when Olivia has more money than it needs for its own healthful sustenance, that money will be used- to help other feminist businesses get started-, This organization is not for personal profit.

We are eager to help other women who want to start feminist businesses in any ways we can, We want to do business with other feminist companies whenever we can. Eventually, we would like women to have control over the entire recording process. This means we envision woman-owned pressing plants, processors, masterers.

We have a tape library of women’s music which consists of tapes sent to us by many women musicians, Tapes are included by permission of the musician. Any woman can have her music made a part of the library. We strongly suggest that it be copyrighted. And any woman who wants a sample of this music can send us a blank cassette, indicating the kind of music she is interested in. In this way woman musicians can get their music out to other musicians who might perform it, and to women1n general. The tape library also provides another service to musicians. Musicians call us, asking for new material and for the names of other musicians they can make music with.

Women who want their music to be included in our library should write us asking the guidelines and questionnaire we use so that each woman can define her own music.

We hope to publish songbooks of the music we record so that many women can learn to play it and sing it.

We want Olivia to be responsive to women’s needs reflective of women’s lives. We invite suggestions, criticisms, and reactions to our products.

Olivia Records. PO Box 70237, Los Angeles CA 90070.

Olivia was then and still could be an alternative model to build a profit sharing cooperative business model on.

Who benefited from the radical Feminist’s attacks upon the Olivia Collective.

Not the women of the collective.

Not women’s music.

Not women’s bookstores.

Cui bono?

Ryan Cassata Keynote Address – TRANS HEALTH CONFERENCE 2012

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‘If You’re Not Bold, You’ll Never Get Anywhere’

From The Nashua Patch:  http://nashua.patch.com/articles/if-you-re-not-bold-you-ll-never-get-anywhere#c

Stacie Laughton is the first openly transgender candidate to run for a state office in NH.

By Carol Robidoux
June 6, 2012

Nashua, NH – Every election is historic, but if Stacie Laughton wins a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives this fall, she’ll make history.

She would become the state’s first openly transgender legislator.

Laughton was going to declare her candidacy for Ward 4 state representative ceremoniously on the first day to file Wednesday, but she’s waiting until tomorrow, when she can arrive at the City Clerk’s office with her fellow Democrats, in unity.

She did make the trip to City Hall on the first day of filing, just to pick up her paperwork, deliver a brief speech to the three people who came for her big moment, and consider the possibilities ahead.

“I’m not sure what historically it means,” she said. “When I lived in Laconia, I was the youngest candidate to run for city council. And I believe I’m the first transgender female to be a selectman here in Nashua, but obviously, I represent all people, regardless of their gender identification.”

“I believe what I’m doing will bring more acceptance to the trans community and interest them in being involved. I do have my fears, but when it comes to public office, if you’re not bold you will never get anywhere,” Laughton said.

Continue reading at:  http://nashua.patch.com/articles/if-you-re-not-bold-you-ll-never-get-anywhere#c

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Pageant: Miss Pennsylvania gave up crown over transgender contestants

From LGBTQ Nation:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/06/pageant-miss-pennsylvania-gave-up-crown-over-transgender-contestants/

Staff Reports
Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Miss Pennsylvania USA has given up her state crown because she said the Miss USA pageant was fixed, but pageant officials refuted her claim, and said she quit over her disapproval of the organization’s decision to allow transgender participants.

Sheena Monnin wrote on her Facbeook page Tuesday that she “witnessed another contestant who said she saw the list of the Top 5″ on the morning of the pageant, “before the show ever started,” reported CNN.

“After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own,” she wrote on Facebook.

The Miss Universe organization confirmed Monnin’s resignation, but said that her resignation received Monday said it was the organization’s decision to allow transgender participants was the basis for her decision:

“I am officially and irrevocably resigning the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012,” the e-mail released by Miss Universe said.

“I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it. This goes against ever moral fiber of my being. I believe in integrity, high moral character, and fair play, none of which are part of this system any longer.

“I hereby return the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/06/pageant-miss-pennsylvania-gave-up-crown-over-transgender-contestants/

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Media Ignores Rash of Assaults on Transgender Women

From The Daily Beast:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/06/media-ignores-rash-of-assaults-on-transgender-women.html

The spate of violence has gone virtually unnoticed by the mainstream media, as well as by the mainstream gay community, which has been consumed by the same-sex-marriage debate and the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case, writes Jay Michaelson.

Jay Michaelson
Jun 6, 2012

On June 5, 2011, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald set out with three friends to go to a grocery store in Minneapolis. On the way they passed by the Schooner Tavern, where they encountered Dean Schmitz and Molly Flaherty. McDonald was 22, black, and transitioning from male to female. Schmitz and Flaherty, who were white, shouted racist and transphobic slurs at McDonald and her friends. McDonald kept walking, but Flaherty attacked her with a broken glass, cutting her face. A fight ensued, Schmitz joined, and at some point McDonald stabbed Schmitz with a pair of scissors. Schmitz (who, incidentally, had a swastika tattooed on his chest) later died of his wounds.

By any rational reading of these facts, McDonald’s actions constitute self-defense. (Though Minnesota lacks a “stand your ground” law like Florida’s, her use of force was arguably more justified than George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin—yet where are all the voices that raced to defend Zimmerman?)

Despite all this, McDonald was charged with second-degree murder, and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in May. On Monday, she was sentenced to 41 months in prison for manslaughter. Due to time already served, she probably will spend the next two years in prison, where if recent history is any guide, she will be subjected to physical and sexual assault. (As a general rule, prisoners are organized by anatomy, not gender, so she will be placed in a men’s prison.)

While the sentence has sparked outrage in some circles, it has gone virtually unnoticed by the mainstream media, as well as in the mainstream gay community, which has been consumed by the same-sex-marriage debate and the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case. But in fact, the CeCe McDonald case is part of a recent, horrifying spree of violence against transgender people, particularly trans people of color.

On April 29, 37-year-old Brandy Martell was shot dead in Oakland, in what has become a classic and tragic narrative of anti-trans violence: 3 a.m. Sunday morning, some men approach Martell, who’s sitting in a car with friends at a location known as a “safe space” for transgender women, and flirt with her. Martell discloses that she’s transgender, and the men leave. They return two hours later, shoot her in the genitals, and then in the chest. As of this writing, the killer has not been caught.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/06/media-ignores-rash-of-assaults-on-transgender-women.html

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Washington Gay Marriage Law Blocked As Opponents Submit Signatures For Referendum

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/washington-gay-marriage-referendum_n_1574608.html

By Mike Baker

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington’s gay marriage law was blocked from taking effect Wednesday, as opponents filed more than 200,000 signatures seeking a public vote on the issue in November.

Preserve Marriage Washington submitted the signatures just a day before the state was to begin allowing same-sex marriages. State officials will review the signatures over the next week to determine if proposed Referendum 74 will qualify for a public vote, though the numbers suggest the measure will make the ballot easily.

“The current definition of marriage works and has worked,” said Joseph Backholm, the chair of Preserve Marriage Washington, as he stood next to stacked boxes of petitions.

The law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, would make Washington the seventh state to have legal same-sex marriages.

National groups have already promised time and money to fight the law, including the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which was involved in ballot measures that overturned same-sex marriage in California and Maine.

Gay marriage supporters, expecting that the referendum would qualify, have already been raising money to protect the law. Zach Silk, campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, expects both sides to raise millions of dollars.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/washington-gay-marriage-referendum_n_1574608.html

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