Fifty Years Ago

I started hormones in March of 1969.  I was already androgynous enough to be asked if I were a boy or a girl and after three months most new people I met assumed I was a girl.  Plus it was getting hard to hide my emerging  itchy boobs.

The People’s Park Riots in May had delayed my going full time. As May turned to June I stopped pretending and just started letting it happen.  Once I decided to be myself, presenting as a boy felt odd and after a few days I was just a hippie chick.  One night the people in the commune decided it was wrong to use my dead name.  They really made an effort and after a few days it became natural.

People saw how happy I was.

A week or so later Stonewall happened and a couple of weeks later I read about it in the Under Ground Press.

But mostly that summer was about being a Berkeley hippie chick.

Deserter friends split for Canada along with a boy named Morey, who I was seriously in love with.

We landed on the Moon.

I missed Woodstock but saw a bunch of other bands including the Rolling Stones in Oakland.  Skipped Altamont because I had a job and it didn’t sound like it would be much fun.

I was a hippie, not part of any trans-community, that would come later.

We have lost the words we used to describe our lives. “Hippie Chick.” The language police would mark that one out just as they would transsexual.

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Joni Mitchell

The 1960s became the 1970s. Town House Explosions and Kent State. I took up with Jerry, a Marine fresh back from Vietnam and too restless angry to bother waiting for an official discharge. I was doing sex work and we were a couple straight out of the Jane Fonda/Donald Sutherland movie “Steelyard Blues.”  We were crazy brave and crazy happy.  When Jerry got busted I got him out.

I went to work with the National Transsexual Counseling Unit in SF, co-running it with Jan Maxwell.

Then in June of 1972 around the solstice I had my sex change operation.

The following year I discovered LA and Jerry and I discovered open relationships didn’t work all that well.

In 1974 I went to my first Pride Day, picked from the crowd to speak because of my work with the NTCU my connection to the LGBT world was already becoming more and more about the L-word and less and less about the T-word.  I was held by more of a sense of obligation, a need to see others pick up the work.

And the words of “The Circle Game” keep playing.  Life is like a river not a quiet lake.

By the time of the internet, long before Facebook, when Usenet and mailing lists were the hottest thing around, I realized language had changed. My experiences and memories remain mine but now I am expected to remember certain events differently and use different words to describe my life.

Somewhere during that half century I stopped feeling trans, stopped seeing others as trans.  We became just people a different kind of ordinary not defined by trans-prefixed words.

Now with marriage equality and a nearly 2 decade relationship, hair that has turned gray, I or perhaps I should say we, have joined a much broader community of Elders.  I like the word Elder better than senior citizen.

 

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