In spite of early transgender support and avid activism, GAA dropped transgender protections from the first omnibus anti-discrimination bill introduced to the New York City Council. Transgender issues were seen as “too extreme,” though the bill would fail anyway.And much, much more. Janice Raymond, a Professor of Ethics of all things, had an influence that was more than baneful: it was deadly.
In 1971, gay men would adopt an assimilationist heteronormative position that excluded transgender persons. In 1973, lesbian groups would become radicalized, prefering separatism and an extreme brand of feminism that similarly excluded transgender individuals. It would be a very long time before transgender issues were taken seriously by gays and lesbians.
In early 1970’s, Beth Elliott was active in a number of organizations including the Alice B. Toklas Gay Democratic Club, which she co-founded, the Board of Directors of the California Committee for Sexual Law Reform working to repeal California’s anti-sodomy laws, and the Daughters of Bilitis. The Daughters of Bilitus had been a pioneering lesbian organization during the 1950s and ‘60s, but was losing membership in the ‘70s as the lesbian community turned to more radical organizing.
In ‘73 Elliott was asked to stand for election as the Vice-President of the San Francisco chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. Late in her term of office, her transgender status became a point of contention at the West Coast Lesbian Conference, where she was outed and vilified for being a MTF transsexual. In the weeks and months to follow she was further vilified and even betrayed by women who had once called her friend. The treatment she received led her to become “stealth” for many years after.
In July of 1973, during a “Gay is Good” rally, Sylvia Rivera was followed on the stage by lesbian separatist Jean O’Leary. She denounced transgender people as men who, by “impersonating women”, were exploiting women for profit. It was the beginning of a series of such high profile transphobic attacks from the lesbian community.
In 1977, at the height of the Right Wing / Anita Bryant anti-gay rights backlash, the lesbian feminist separatist movement was busy attacking an even smaller community that only wanted to work within the lesbian community, lesbian identified transsexual women. Central to the conflict in ‘77 was transsexual recording engineer, Sandy Stone, working at Olivia Records. When word got around that Olivia had a transsexual in the company, lesbian separatists threatened a boycott of Olivia products and concerts. Olivia Records was on the edge of profitability. Olivia supported Stone at first but eventually crumpled beneath the separatists demands, asking for Sandy’s resignation....
In the early 1980′s, the US Government commissioned a study regarding the topic of federal aid for transgender persons seeking health and rehabilitative services. Raymond’s part in that study, and in particular her report, resulted in the elimination of all federal and most state aid in any form for anything remotely related to transgender issues. That same study is also the basis for denial of health care services and coverage by nearly all private health insurance carriers. The numbers who have died as a result is purely speculation, of course. But, it is not uncommon for transgender persons to be denied care (and subsequently die from) cancers of the reproductive system, if they are living in the gender they identify as.We're starting to undo some of the damage from this particular brand of Radical Leftist Lesbian Feminism now. I wonder how many Fundamentalist Right-Wing Fanatics realise that the causes they hold so dear were originally those of the radical Left? It's so difficult telling the two apart at times...