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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