For Trans Jews, ‘A Community Of Our Own’

This is what I am talking about, building communities that are there for all ages and that go beyond “activism” or for that matter support groups.  Loneliness is a major problem along with being disconnected from the social institutions straight folks find sources of support.

From New York Jewish Week:

CBST conference — ‘a holy gathering’ — marks new sense of belonging.

By Shira Hanau
April 16, 2019

When Jillian Weiss first joined Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1998, she was one of the few transgender members of the LGBTQ synagogue.

Late last month, she was one of over 100 transgender and non-binary Jews filling CBST’s sanctuary on Shabbat as part of the synagogue’s first-ever Trans Jews Are Here Convening.

Weiss was a co-chair of the convening and is a board member at CBST.

“There were really no other out transgender people there,” she said of the synagogue circa 1998. “Now that it’s clear that transgender Jews are here, the vast majority of transgender Jews who are still thinking that they should stay away need to reconsider that because the world is changing.”

Weiss was a co-chair of the convening and is a board member at CBST.

“There were really no other out transgender people there,” she said of the synagogue circa 1998. “Now that it’s clear that transgender Jews are here, the vast majority of transgender Jews who are still thinking that they should stay away need to reconsider that because the world is changing.”

“One of the defining characteristics of being transgender in the United States and at this time is really being alone and being ostracized by communities of all types,” said Weiss. “So creating a community of our own is essential.”

“There’s so many of us who have wanted this for a long time,” said Rafi Daugherty, the convening director, who called the event “magical.”

Between Shabbat services and meals, attendees chose from workshops on topics such as trans rituals, queer readings of midrash and trans Jewish storytelling. The program, most of which was closed to the press due to the sensitive nature so the discussions, included special programming for trans and non-binary children.

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Dr. Richard Green, 82, Dies; Challenged Psychiatry’s View of Homosexuality

And Then There Were None…

Dr. Harry Benjamin, Dr. John Money, Dr. Robert Stoller, and Dr. Richard Green.  All seem to have fallen form grace in the 21st Century, Post-Modern World of Gender, Trans and Cis alike…

But fifty years ago there was a time when we called ourselves Transsexual.  Stonewall was yet a couple of months away, I was starting to blossom from the hormones I had started taking about a month and a half prior.

I was living in a commune, on Grayson St. west of San Pablo Ave.  A bunch of us took over a block of land just east of Telegraph Avenue in those final weeks of April 1969 and transformed it into People’s Park.  In May UC Berkeley sent in the police to take the land back, starting off the uprising that was an important milestone for me.  By the time it was over in mid-June I was full time.

Telegraph Avenue was filled with bookstores in those days, both new and used.

I had found the paperback edition of Dr. Benjamin’s book at Cody’s in late 1968.  Christine Jorgensen’s book too…  The information one needed to find one’s path as a transsexual person was there.  It was just a little difficult to find and while the books were in the card catalogs of libraries they always seemed to be lost.

Dr. Benjamin was still seeing patients in 1969 and up until about 1973.  I saw him in his office on Sutter Street in SF.

I think Stoller’s “Sex and Gender” was the second book I found.

I paid what seemed like a small fortune at the time for Dr. Green and Dr. Money’s book “Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment”.

Doctor’s actually debated whether or not we should have access to these books as we might use them to game the screening process.

While we see their flaws now it is rather important to remember that all four of these Doctors were advocates for people born transsexual.  (Or in modern language transgender)

They opened the doors of the University Medical Centers, engaged in studies that brought us legitimacy.  And like Marc Anthony’s soliloquy in  Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.

They deserve to be remembered for both the good and the evil.  Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment came years before The Sissy Boy Syndrome.  One did a world of good, the other was unethical and did a world of harm.

A half century ago their words helped me and others to find our inner truths and helped us create the world transfolks know today.

We created that world simply by living our lives.  Over 20 years ago Jacob Hale said to me: “Trans-lives were lived, therefore Trans-lives were livable.”

From The New York Times:

By Benedict Carey
April 17, 2019

Dr. Richard Green, one of the earliest and most vocal critics of psychiatry’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, died on April 6 at his home in London. He was 82.

The cause was esophageal cancer, his son, Adam Hines-Green, said.

Dr. Green, who was also a forceful advocate for gay and transgender rights in a series of landmark discrimination trials, became aware of the marginalization of people because of their sexual and gender identities while training to be a doctor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a leader in the study of sexuality.

In 1972, shortly after completing his specialty in psychiatry, he defied the advice of colleagues and wrote a paper in The International Journal of Psychiatry questioning “the premise that homosexuality is a disease or a homosexual is inferior.”

At the time, three years after the protests against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York, a turning point in the gay rights movement, psychiatry’s diagnostic manual classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and publicly arguing otherwise came with professional risks.

“Those were times when, if you spoke up in support of homosexuals, people immediately thought that you were secretly homosexual yourself, or had unresolved sexual issues,” Dr. Jack Drescher, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia, said in an interview. “Richard was very much heterosexual, and it took a lot of courage to argue for gay people.”

That paper and others set off a long dispute in the profession, much of it bitter and sarcastic. In one published debate, in The American Journal of Psychiatry, prominent figures on both sides took barbed shots at one another. The gay-rights advocate Ron Gold titled his commentary “Stop It, You’re Making Me Sick!” Dr. Green asked if heterosexuality should also be labeled a mental disorder.

“Styles of heterosexual conduct do indeed form much of what is dealt with by psychiatrists,” he wrote. He added that “instability in maintaining a love relationship and neurotic uses of sexuality — in which sexuality is used to control others — as a substitute for other feelings of self-worth, or as a defense against anxiety and depression,” account for a large number of cases.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association sided with Dr. Green and other influential figures, including Dr. Judd Marmor and Dr. Robert Spitzer, and decided to drop homosexuality from its diagnostic manual.

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The Queen 1968

The Pageant took place in the spring of 1967.  I was taking exploratory steps towards coming out.

This film came out in 1968 and made my self denial even harder.  By this time in 1969 I had been on hormones for a month and had the glow and itchy tits as well as budding boobs.

This is history forgotten by those who think everything started with Stonewall, especially trans-history starting with Stonewall.

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Is Being Trans Like Being an Immigrant?

From The New York Times:

Both involve a journey. And both are under assault by this administration.

By Jennifer Finney Boylan
April 3, 2019

Last week, a 9-year-old American citizen, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina, was detained at the Mexican border for 30 hours. Although she had made the trip every school day from her home in Tijuana, Mexico, to school in California, authorities claimed they could not identify her.

Back in January, two British women angrily accosted the human rights activist Sarah McBride after a conference that had brought together members of Congress and the parents of transgender youth. The women, members of a group that denies the humanity of transgender people, referred to Ms. McBride with male pronouns and accused her of championing rape and the erasure of lesbians.

On the surface, it might seem as if the detention of Julia and the cruelty of transphobes is unrelated. But both hatreds, in fact, rise from the same dark spring.

“People who have transitioned,” those anti-trans activists seemed to suggest, “aren’t sending their best. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Actually, unless I missed something, they didn’t say a word about people like Sarah McBride and me being good people. Mostly they implied, as the president once said of undocumented immigrants, that we’re not people. That we’re animals.

Comparing the trans experience to those of other marginalized groups is awkward, and not least because gender and race and poverty have different, if entwined histories. We conflate them at our peril.

Still, the narrative of migration can provide a helpful metaphor for the lives of some trans folks. This isn’t true for all of us, to be sure. But for someone who transitioned midlife, like me, it works pretty well.

I’m 60 years old now. I was 40 when I set out on the dangerous crossing that led from the place where I was born to these green fields of womanhood.

From my earliest memory, the old country — so to speak — felt like a foreign place; for me it was, at least at times, a place of hunger. I knew that if I stayed in the country where I was born — dear old BoyLand — I would never survive. And so I set out for this new land, the place I’d been dreaming of, one way or another, since I was 6 years old. In 2000, when I came out, I finally got my green card.

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