It Was 50 Years Ago Tonight, at a House in Berkeley

1968 was a hard year for me.  A year made survivable by the people of a loose knit hippie cadre, which I was part of.
Some were deserters from the military, others were hippie men and women.  Generally politically left or at least anti–war.

One was a handsome hippie boy from Montreal named Maurie Bowman.  I had met him in the Haight during December of 1967.

I adored him.  Others could see how much I was in love with him, including another friend who might have been more appreciative of my adoration.

As I said this group of friends helped me make it through 1968, but by the closing days of the year I was in deep depression.

I had left home in order to come out, but I was afraid that if I came out to these people they would disown me in disgust, the way my parents had disowned me.

I had taken a number of LSD trips during the year leading up to this night, including some really intense ones that had allowed me to go very deep into myself.

We all hit that wall one way or another.  The point where if you don’t come out and live your life honestly  you will explode.

For me it was a matter of overcoming my fear of telling them what I needed to do or going and jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

That evening I wound up taking some bad acid and freaking out.  I broke down in front of Maurie and the rest of my friends.

They talked me down and asked what was wrong.

I told them that I had to do something, that I couldn’t go on living with out doing it, but that I was afraid I would lose their friendship if I did.

Maurie told me that if they no longer wanted to be my friends then they were never really my friends to begin with.

Later, I learned they assumed I was going to come out as Gay.

Over the next few weeks I let them see me dressed as a woman.

I got on welfare.  Through the Berkeley Welfare Department I was able to connect with other Social Services.  By the end of February I had come out as transsexual.

Before the end of March I was on hormones and having a harder and harder time passing as a boy.

In May, Berkeley erupted in the People’s Park Riots. I took part in those events in spite of the risks.

By mid-June I could no longer pass as a boy and had gone full time.

Several members of the commune including Maurie left in mid-summer to go to Woodstock.  The others were deserters looking to use the massive crowds of people crossing the border for Woodstock to slip into Canada through the loosely controlled northern New York border.

The Grateful Dead sing, “What a long Strange Trip it’s been…”

A Long Strange Trip, Indeed.

I would be lying if I said I had any idea what so ever where my coming out would take me or how I would manage to live my truth.

In the 1950s and even into the 1960s I was the only person like me that I knew.

Fifty years ago there were a handful of us.  Very few sisters I knew then are still alive.

But whether or not we were activists we changed the world for other trans-folks just by living our truth.

Jacob Hale once said to me, “Trans lives were lived, therefore trans-lives were livable.

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Friday Night Fun And Culture: Alison Krauss & Union Station

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Not In Our Name: A Statement on Trans Inclusion From Lesbian Editors and Publishers

From Autostraddle:  https://www.autostraddle.com/not-in-our-name-a-statement-on-trans-inclusion-from-leading-lbq-womens-publications-443684/

By
December 18, 2018

Autostraddle is proud to add our name to the list of publishers who stand in solidarity with this statement on the importance of trans inclusion in our communities. We were invited to participate in this declaration by the editor and publisher of UK’s DIVA Magazine and I participated in consulting on the letter’s content.

As I recently discussed on twitter, Autostraddle isn’t perfect, but we have been and remain committed to trans inclusion, highlighting trans voices and listening to ways we can do better. (P.S. Please pitch us! We are especially interested in pitches from LBQ trans women, particularly trans women of color!) Trans women are women, and trans people have been at the forefront of so many LGBQ activist movements over the years. Advocating for rights, freedoms and representation for trans women does not take away from the work we are committed to for all lesbian, bisexual and queer women — many of whom are also trans.


Following further vitriolic attacks on trans people in our media, the world’s leading publications for lesbians are coming together to send an unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community.

DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community. We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.

We strongly condemn writers and editors who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content, and who believe “lesbian” is an identity for them alone to define. We condemn male-owned media companies who profit from the traffic generated by these controversies.

We also strongly condemn the current narrative peddled by some feminists, painting trans people as bullies and aggressors – one which reinforces transphobia and which must be challenged so that feminism can move forward.

We are really concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women and to young lesbians – including trans lesbians – and we want to make in clear this is not in our name.

As the leading publications for queer women, we believe it is our responsibility to call out scaremongering conspiracy theories levelled at the trans community, and make it clear that DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word will always be safe spaces for the trans community.

Forty years ago, to be a lesbian was to be questioned and persecuted. Today things are better for cis lesbians but there are still places where to be a lesbian is difficult or impossible.

So it is for trans men and women, as well as non-binary people, many of whom identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay or queer. We know something of these struggles. And just as they and other allies have supported us, so we must support those among us who are trans, or risk ending up on the wrong side of history.

The sooner we stop focussing on what divides us and instead focus on our commonalities, the stronger we will be to confront the other injustices imposed on us.

We won’t be divided.

Signed…

Carrie Lyell
Editor, DIVA magazine

Linda Riley
Publisher, DIVA magazine

Riese Bernard
CEO and Editor-in-chief, Autostraddle

Merryn Johns,
Editor, Curve

Silke Bader
Publisher, Curve and LOTL

Eboné F. Bell
Editor-in-chief, Tagg Magazine

Florence Gagnon
Founder and publisher, Lez Spread The Word

Anita Dolce Vita
Owner & Editor-in-Chief, DapperQ

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NOW’s Support For The Principles Of The Women’s March Is Unwavering, But Clarification On Leadership Is Essential

Press Release from NOW:  https://now.org/media-center/press-release/nows-support-for-the-principles-of-the-womens-march-is-unwavering-but-clarification-on-leadership-is-essential/

Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt

WASHINGTON – The National Organization for Women (NOW) was proud to be a sponsor of the historic Women’s March that took place following Donald Trump’s inauguration, and of the subsequent March last year.

NOW has a long history of support for grassroots actions and street protest. NOW brought 750,000 abortion rights supporters to Washington in 1992 for the first March for Women’s Lives, and we worked with other partners to organize an even larger protest in 2004 when a record 1.5 million people gathered for what was then the largest protest in U.S. history.

The Women’s March was created to be a beacon of inclusion amid an administration intent on division. NOW will continue to support the Women’s March Unity Principles, and we will participate and organize members to attend the March. However, we will withhold direct financial support until the current questions regarding leadership are resolved.

Contact
NOW Press , press@now.org , 202-628-8669

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Women’s March Roiled by Accusations of Anti-Semitism

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/us/womens-march-anti-semitism.html

By Farah Stockman
Dec. 23, 2018

Within days of Donald J. Trump’s election, a diverse group of women united by their concern about the incoming administration gathered at a restaurant in New York to plan a protest march in Washington. They had seen the idea floating on Facebook and wanted to turn it into a reality.

The unity did not last long. Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist, said she told the group that her Jewish heritage inspired her to try to help repair the world. But she said the conversation took a turn when Tamika Mallory, a black gun control activist, and Carmen Perez, a Latina criminal justice reform activist, replied that Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.

The women who gathered that night would go on to organize one of the biggest protests in American history, remarkable not just for its size, but for its inclusive nature. The event on Jan. 21, 2017, inspired thousands of women who had never been involved in politics before to pour their energy into helping Democrats win elections this fall.

But the divisions apparent at that very first meeting continue to haunt the Women’s March organization, as charges of anti-Semitism are now roiling the movement and overshadowing plans for more marches next month.

Ms. Wruble was pushed out of the organization shortly after the march, and she now asserts that her Jewish identity played a role. She went on to help found an organization called March On, which supports local women activists.

The rift is now so dire that there will be two marches on the same day next month on the streets of New York: one led by the Women’s March group, which is billed as being led by women of color, and another by a group affiliated with March On that is stressing its denunciation of anti-Semitism.

Ms. Mallory, meanwhile, who is now co-president of the Women’s March group, has been criticized for attending an event by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who has been widely reviled for making anti-Semitic remarks. Ms. Mallory has called Mr. Farrakhan “the GOAT,” or “greatest of all time,” on social media.

The accusations of anti-Semitism, which were outlined in an article this month in Tablet, an online Jewish magazine, have prompted some women to reconsider their support for the group.

Some Jewish women have announced on social media that they will not attend the mass protest in Washington on Jan. 19 being organized by the Women’s March group. Last month, Teresa Shook, a white woman from Hawaii who created the first Facebook page proposing a march, called for the group’s leaders, who include Ms. Mallory and Ms. Perez, to step down.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/us/womens-march-anti-semitism.html

See also:

The Times of Israel: Anti-Semitism allegations are splitting the Women’s March

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Maryland School District Sued for Years of Abuse Against Transgender Teacher

From Into More: https://www.intomore.com/impact/maryland-school-district-sued-for-years-of-abuse-against-transgender-teacher

Kate Sosin
21 Dec 2018

A Maryland school district abused one of its transgender teachers until she checked into a psychiatric program and ultimately resigned, according to a federal lawsuit filed by her attorneys and Lambda Legal.

Jennifer Eller is suing Prince George’s County Public Schools for allowing students to call her pedophile, refusing to update her email address to reflect her name for three years, and deadnaming her in the school’s directory.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, describes seven years of alleged misgendering from students, teachers, administrators, and parents in the district across three different schools where Eller worked from 2008 to 2011, when she resigned.

“I woke up each day afraid to go to work because I didn’t know where the next attack would come from, but I already knew full well that the school administrators would do nothing to support me,” Eller said in a statement released by Lambda Legal. “My pleas for help, for sensitivity training on LGBTQ issues for students and staff, fell on deaf ears. Finally, the harassment and the humiliation became unbearable and I had no other alternative than to resign.”

Prince George’s County Public Schools did not respond to a phone call from INTO seeking comment.

The complaint alleges that when Eller informed Kenmoor Middle School she would be transitioning in 2011, she became a target of repeated harassment.

“Students called her a pedophile, and the human resources representative, enlisted to help her through the transition, demanded that she present as male and told her that a note from her therapist regarding her transition was ‘garbage,’” her complaint states.

It goes on to say she was not allowed to wear a dress. When she transferred to Friendly High School, the abuse only escalated. Students threatened to rape her and Principal Raynah Adams repeatedly ignored her reports of abuse from students, staff, and parents, she alleges. Students refused to cooperate with her in class, referred to her as “a man,” and said an earthquake was God’s punishment on the school for hiring her, referring to her as an anti-transgender slur.

In 2015, the school allegedly cut its own training on transgender sensitivity and never rescheduled the lesson.

In 2016, Eller transferred to James Madison Middle School where she allegedly continued to face discrimination until she sought outpatient psychiatric services at a local hospital. She resigned in August 2017.

The lawsuit hinges on the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, the Civil Rights Act, and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act.

Eller is seeking unspecified damages and back pay from the district. She currently works as a youth counselor for the United States Navy’s Child & Youth Programs.

In a statement, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said Eller was forced to leave her job because administrators refused to take abuse against her seriously.

“The school district’s actions contravene everything our schools should foster: an inclusive and welcoming educational environment for all students and teachers,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “We look forward to vindicating Ms. Eller’s rights.”

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Why Women’s March co-founders were drawn to Farrakhan’s lies

From The Hill: https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/421725-why-womens-march-co-founders-were-drawn-to-farrakhans-lies

By Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman, opinion contributors
12/20/18

On Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, one day after Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, well over 1 million Americans participated in an anti-Trump protest labeled the “Women’s March on Washington.” Jewish participation in the protest was significant and vocal. Now, nearly two years later, a blockbuster piece in Tablet magazine confirms those American Jews marched at an event whose top-tier organizers were enamored with the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, the octogenarian godfather of current-day anti-Semitism.

No one should be shocked by these latest revelations about the flirtations with Farrakhan by the youngish, multiracial co-founders of the March.

Just take the reaction — or non-reaction — of mainstream media to two 2018 statements by Farrakhan, who recently sat at within handshake distance of former President Clinton at Motown diva Aretha Franklin’s Detroit funeral:

  • On the 23rd anniversary of his 1995 Million Man March on Washington, Farrakhan, who lost his Twitter verification for denouncing “Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit,” said in a new tweet: “White people don’t like Farrakhan. I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” Animalization of human beings was a favorite pastime of Nazi Germany in anti-Jewish, pre-genocidal propaganda of the 1930s.
  • Then in Tehran, Farrakhan, according to Iran’s semi-official state news agency Mehr, chanted “Death to America” while viewing a parade, claiming earlier, during a meeting with the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, that “America has never been a democracy.” Farrakhan linked arms with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-U.S. Iran against the backdrop of increased U.S. sanctions against Tehran because “America is conspiring against Iran.” No word whether Farrakhan has used his alliance with the mullahocracy to free Christians arrested in Iran in advance of Christmas.

Imagine the reaction of mainstream media if the prominent American visitor in Tehran had been a right-wing evangelical fundamentalist or a Republican fringe politician on a world tour, denouncing the Jewish nation and America as global co-conspirators against goodness and light. But Farrakhan’s latest outrages generated nary a yawn from the media — not because he’s seen as an aging crackpot, but because of his phoenix-like re-emergence as an icon of the new “intersectional” progressive politics. The ugly, malignant hate that rendered the likes of David Duke radioactive to the mainstream hasn’t cost Farrakhan anything.

To the contrary, it was Farrakhan’s classic anti-Semitism that attracted March leadership in the first place.

The Tablet article refers to multiple sources who said, during a formative meeting of Women’s March organizers in late 2016, eventual co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez embraced the absurd thesis put forth in a notorious anti-Semitic screed by the Nation of Islam’s anonymous historical research department, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews (1991).” The book purported to prove that Jewish merchants “dominated” the slave trade between Africa and the Americas. Later, Farrakhan’s followers added the pernicious wrinkle that “Jewish rabbis invented racism.”

Notwithstanding their denials, it makes sense that Mallory and Perez would be drawn to such nonsense. It mirrors their divisive, conspiratorial-driven identity politics, which alleges that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people.” Hence, no Jewish women on the Women’s March executive board. Hence, the hiring of Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam to serve as security for the Washington March.

But why blame these progressive young women for embracing Farrakhan and aligning with him politically? After all, many older progressive, mostly Democratic, politicians have rigorously maintained a code of silence in face of decades of Farrakhan’s hate.

Continue reading at:  https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/421725-why-womens-march-co-founders-were-drawn-to-farrakhans-lies

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