Remembering JoAnn Roberts

Joann Roberts was part of a different Trans-faction than me.

I didn’t always see eye to eye with her.

But she was in her own right, a pioneer who worked hard publishing a trans magazine in the days before the internet, without the work of people like her there wouldn’t be the Trans-Movement of today.

From Chrysalis

by Dallas Denny
Jun 8, 2013

I wrote this upon learning of the death of JoAnn Roberts on 7 June, 2013.

 Remembering JoAnn Roberts

 I’ve admired JoAnn Roberts since 1990, when she wrote the Gender Bill of Rights. It was a remarkable declaration of our wholeness and worthiness at a time when many of us were mired in shame. I published it in the second issue of my journal Chrysalis Quarterly on crinkly brown paper that mimicked an aged document, as if it were the U.S. Bill of Rights.

At that time I was just launching the nonprofit American Educational Gender Information Service. I was astonished and gratified when Jo sent a check to cover an outside back-page ad for her business Creative Design Services for four issues of AEGIS’ journal, Chrysalis. As I signed the check for deposit I realized I was committed to actually going through with my plans. It felt good when, a year-and-a-half and four issues later, she sent a second check, this time for renewal of the ad.

JoAnn identified as a crossdresser and was happy to be one. I’ve no doubt she would have transitioned if that had been her inclination, but it wasn’t. As a guy she was a short, bald Italian from Philly who drove Corvettes and collected model trains; as JoAnn, she was a glamorous citizen of the world. Thanks to her knowledge of cosmetics and experience performing in drag shows, she was skilled at her feminine presentation. She was fierce! When she talked, though, you knew it was Joe. Jo made no attempt to disguise her voice—although she did publish Alison Laing’s book on feminine voice for those who wished to.

What I most admired about Jo was her willingness to beard the lion in its den. She did this not with the sword, but with her pen, most often in the form of an editorial in one or another of her publications. Her most frequent target was the nonprofit International Foundation for Gender Education (She once famously titled one of her pieces “International Foundation for Gender Education: None of the Above”). Her criticism was always deserved. Jo was entirely supportive of ethical people and activities, but she didn’t take kindly to ineptitude, secrecy, and financial shenanigans.

Jo did more than write, however. When appropriate, she took direct action. As members of IFGE’s board, for instance, she and Laura Skaer brought a motion forward to have the organization’s finances audited. The reasons were several—to keep the IRS happy, to protect board members from liability, and to ensure the community its money was well spent. Jo and Laura were immediately attacked by other board members who wished to cover up for the ineptitude of staff who I will not name here. This led, somehow, to my involvement in the controversy.

One board member assembled a dossier of supposedly damning facts, which she mailed to other IFGE principals. I learned about this one board member sent me a packet through the mail with photocopies inside.

Continue reading at:

See Also:

En|Gender: RIP JoAnn Roberts – & Thank You

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