I can’t help it; I am fascinated by the history of well ….just about anything. Part of my interest in cars is the amazing social and business history each model reveals. Each a microcosm of the nations events and tastes.
I lived in a confusion of naivety about being transsexual for much of my life. Like many I knew there was something terribly wrong but I couldn’t be one of those people could I?
Like the mainstream media I lumped drag queens, homosexuals and sex changes all together, not even sure I had even heard the term transsexual.
Clearly there have been transsexuals since the beginning of time but our history is something still in living memory, particularly in North America where surgery didn’t become available until the late sixties. As the majority of transsexuals want nothing more than to live “normal” lives as female the successful completion of surgery means going stealth and blending back into society. An unfortunate result is that much of that history is lost as on one is there to speak on behalf of those pioneers.
Transsexual history has also been subsumed by the greater LGBT (the T is silent) narrative. Transsexuals were at the forefront if not the vanguard of the gay rights movement. More so than being gay or lesbian being transsexual was, if one chose to try and live in ones true gender, impossible to hide. The very act of wearing appropriate clothes was illegal, their world shrunk to the size of whatever gay ghetto they could find a place to live. The only means of employment were if passable as a female impersonator or prostitute.
With nothing to loose and suffering so much oppression from without and within their own community it was no wonder the first shots in the revolution were fired by transsexuals (known as hair fairies), the battlefields, 1959 Cooper’s Donut Riots in LA, Compton’s Cafeteria 1966 and finally Stonewall. Yes transsexuals started that riot too.
With the advent of surgery by the end of the decade the opportunity for a new life and greater horizons was at once within reach. Perhaps here we see a partying of the ways, Transsexuals individually perused their goals to be accepted into mainstream society and traditional gender roles while the gay rights fought to be recognized as a new addition to what is normal. I am making no judgment here.
A few links for you:
Here is some riotous female rockabilly from 1959: