Assimilationist, Cis-Normative, Heteronormative

I’m an old woman married to another old woman. We share bohemian tastes that are wildly eclectic. Or maybe mildly eclectic and only out of step with current trends. We love and can speak of having read all the works of a wide variety of authors both fictional and historical. We have rooms filled with books, CDs, DVDs. We listen to Jazz, Texas singer/song writer, blues, Folk and Rock although most of the rock musicians we listen to go their start in the 1960s.

We like baseball and cats. We have three that we adore.

We live in an ethnically mixed working class neighborhood in a solidly Blue Dallas suburb. Some of our friends are raving Trumpers and yet we also know they put a great deal of time into Food Banks, animal rescue, feeding the homeless. Since my accident in late October straight friends who have politics we don’t share have given us food and helped with shopping.

After nearly half a century of estrangement from my family I am once again in contact with my brother, his family and many of my cousins and their families. It feels so good in a way I rarely feel these days in my dealings with with the ever expanding alphabet soup of what started out as the Gay community and felt like home until it went past LGBT.

I’m in mourning for one of my cousins who died of Covid last Thursday. I never physically met him as an adult and our relationship has been via social media. He was a Trump supporter. But he was also a biker with long white hair and full beard that made it to Santa length every December when he became a Biker Santa. He loved the outdoors and the northeast.

One of the first big Gay demonstrations I went to was one for Marriage Equality, way back in 1970. We fought against an amendment to the California Initiative that would have barred lesbians and gay men from teaching. We fought for inclusion in the mainstream.

My having had sex reassignment surgery was so long ago that my pussy is eligible for its own AARP Card. Trans-visibility Day? If you are reading this post then I am visible as a post-transsexual woman. If not I don’t see the point in going over 50 year old medical history. Being born transsexual was what it was. I dealt with it. Most of my concerns are the same as those of elder cis-women.

I honestly don’t understand the whole thing of Gender Non-Binary. I’m an old hippie woman married to another old woman who sort of pre-dates hippie. I read Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”, plus all the second wave feminist books. I don’t think of gender as something concrete and definitely not something that can be described as binary. People who describe it as such are speaking in a different language, a form of academic new-speak that doesn’t seem real to me. I see gender not in terms of male or female/man or woman but rather in terms of masculine and feminine.

I know that to the trans-activists of today that makes me a heretic. I don’t care. The labels titling this post are probably true to your vision of me. The part of the alphabet soup of a community I’m demographically a part of is made up of elders too, and maybe a lot of young people who care about many of the same things I care about.

Identity divisions don’t allow for people who are complex with diverse histories and interests. I swear centering on “identity” often seems closely related to the Jim Crow Era “One-drop” bullshit.

Twenty-five years ago Andrew Sullivan wrote “Virtually Normal” and Urvashi Vaid wrote “Virtual Equality”, two different views of the Stonewall era activists actually winning the things we had fought for.

I’m old. I love my wife, our cats, my relatives, our circle of friends. I finally found a religion that fills my elder spiritual needs. We watch baseball, PBS, Maine Cabin Builders and cooking shows. We binge on Netflix and Prime. NPR is one of the stations on our car radio’s speed select.

Those terms I used to title this piece are slurs from the woke crowd. The same people who put me down for being triggered by the Q-word.

Post Transsexual Musings: Our Goal Was Assimilation not Living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin

This post is due to a friend, Jacob Hale posting a link to an article announcing the designation of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District as the “Transgender District”.

I shot back, “You mean Ghetto?”

I feel incredibly grumpy lately. I find many of the things being celebrated the polar opposite of the dreams and goals I had over 50 years ago.

Make no mistake about it. The Tenderloin was a Ghetto, a place the SFPD herded trans-women into. A dirty slum, dangerous and filled with hard drug abuse and crime.

In mid-March of 1969 I had in my possession a packet of red Diethylstilbestrol tablets that I had gotten from San Francisco’s Center for Special Problem which IIRC was on Van Ness at Geary. I was living in Berkeley at the time and they wrote an SF address on my charts so they could treat me. Of course I swallowed a tablet as soon as I got out the door.

I then caught a bus back to the Trans-Bay Terminal where I scooted back to the hippie safety of Berkeley and my loving community of anti-war activist hippie friends. We met at the Student Union and I popped a second pill in front of Morey, a boy I was seriously hung up on.

I was committed and had never really known any others like me outside of a few brief encounters.

One of the things Ron Lee, a social worker at the Center had warned me to avoid was the Tenderloin. That was because of the drugs, prostitution an police brutality. I had seen the area from the borders of the district and it scared the hell out of me. Truth be told I had most of my contact with other trans-folks in the queen tank of the Gray Stone Hotel on Bryant Street aka the San Francisco City Jail and some of the people there seemed far more dangerous than people I had dealt with in the Haight Ashbury. Our commune had left the Haight due to dangerous hostile living conditions.

My commune, the HADU collective was family even more so now we were on Grayson St. in West Berkeley, people who were protective of me.

Over the next few months I would be seen by Dr. Benjamin. All while I was getting Welfare and numerous suggestions from social workers in Berkeley. Dr. Leibman would suggest places like the Transsexual Counseling Center on Third St. at Mission. I would meet Police Community Relations Officer Elliott Blackstone there.

Almost all people I met who were helping me, warned me to stay away from the Tenderloin.

The Counseling Center was run in conjunction with the War on Poverty. The goal of the sisters there was getting sex reassignment surgery and assimilation into ordinary society. That meant getting ID, job training/education, straight jobs. Staying clean of hard drugs and avoiding prostitution. Most of all avoiding living in or playing in the Tenderloin.

We are called Transsexual Separatists now simply for wanting to continue to use the term transsexual as a point of reference. But back in those days we really were trying to separate from the Tenderloin. We wanted real jobs, SRS and assimilation into the bigger world outside the Ghetto.

I don’t remember hearing about the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot prior to hearing about it from Susan Stryker. I have no doubt it happened, but it was the 1960s and there were riots going on all the time. A couple of months after starting hormones I was caught up in the People’s Park riots in Berkeley that went on for several weeks. I went full time when they ended in early June.

When I was a counselor at the NTCU a couple of years later and went out with friends we went to The Stud on Folsom or Hamburger Mary’s or Polk St. With other friends to Winter Land or the Fillmore West. I went to clubs in Berkeley.

The idea of actually celebrating a place I worked so hard to avoid just seems really strange.

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