Transgender/LGBT Activist

For many people activism is as born out of anger as it is a desire for survival, and in its most altruistic mien a desire to do good. Having endured much adversity born out of people's ignorance, especially early in transition in 1985-86, I came to realize the importance of educating people about gender issues and about the challenges transgender people face. For me activism is everything from a one on one discussion to sign-waving, yelling in the street in organized protest.

As a Gemini communication is one of my strong points, writing especially. Between countless letters to numerous editors and featured articles, writing was my first and strongest actions. As staying clean and sober was my first priority in 1989, I wrote for those in Twelve Step fellowships and soon branched out to other communities. The next year I started speaking on gender panels in front of college students and caregiver seminars.

After seeing several transwomen antagonize audiences on TV talk shows, I began accepting guest slots on TV and radio talk shows and took those opportunities to put forward trans issues in a more diplomatic and winning manner. From 1991 to 1993 I spoke on local and national talk shows, including Montel Williams in 1993. As cable access and Internet radio gained popularity, I later accepted those invitations as well.

As San Francisco is a hotbed of transgender activism, I threw myself into the thick of it, testifying at City Hall meetings and reaching out to San Francisco Supervisors, especially Mark Leno and Terrence Hallinan. In 1992 I held a seat on the board of the Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center. In 1993 I attended a summit for the multi-agency Community Substance Abuse Services to improve staff education about transgender people, and produced am educational pamphlet for CSAS staffers. In 1994 I was appointed to Supervisor Hallinan's Task Force on Prostitution. As a journalist I covered the persecution of the city's largest transgender bar over a five year period and testified on its owners' behalf at police and City Hall hearings.

I most passionately placed my activism in my former band Glamazon. Given the male-dominated and macho nature of Rock, I sought to be an example of a transsexual woman who dared to venture into that boy's club, and to use my visibility as a soapbox. At the 2001 Trans Unity event the Los Angeles County Transgender Task Force presented me with a "MTF of the Year" award for my work in Glamazon. In my heart I also accepted it for my efforts on behalf of the transgender community. Two years later I worked with Transgender Task Force and I was one of the organizers of the 2003 Transgender Day of Remembrance march and candlelight vigil. To this day I look for opportunities to speak out, raised awareness and help build bridges between members of the LGBT community and between us and mainstream society.