Because June is “Pride Month” for the “LGBT” [Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender] community, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall rebellion in Greenwich Village, New York, many Transgenders see July as sort of a “new year”, a time to assess what we’ve accomplished this year and to lay plans for the one to come.
In 2001-2002 our community achieved new visibility and successes, and overcame some adversity, which should inspire us for the year ahead.
A year that gave birth to unprecedented publicity and development of new and well received organizations culminated with the June 15 Trans-Unity 2002 Festival at the Village in Hollywood This was the best attended of the three that have been held, concluding with a packed house for the awards ceremony.
By any measure 2001-2002 was a tumultuous year for Los Angeles’ trannys. Estimated as one of the largest of such communities in the world and growing, Southern California transgenders became, for virtually the first time, visible to the outside society during this time frame.
First the local major media gave what for us was unprecedented prime-time coverage of demonstrations by male-to-female transgender s in front of the Los Angeles Police’s Hollywood Wilcox Station, in March 2001, and at a City of West Hollywood public forum last July. Both meetings dealt with the touchy issues of alleged street prostitution, and police misconduct toward us, and at both, the coverage at least conveyed some positive image of trans-women as desiring to not be stereo-typed as street walkers. The West Hollywood forum even led the 11 p. m. news on Channel 7.
This was followed by a 15-minute segment on KCET and then a 30-minute prime time special on KTTV by free-lance journalist Linda Joyce. She was awarded the Media Image trophy at the June 15 Trans-Unity ceremony for this coverage. Her half-hour segment also gave considerable time to female-to-male transgenders, who until now have been even further off the radar screen of mainstream media than trans-women.
Usually living even less publicly visible lives than their male-to-female counterparts, many transgender men have quietly been obtaining college degrees and professional careers [one graduated from UCLA the same day as Trans-Unity]. As many men as women were active in planning the June 15 festival at the Gay and Lesbian Center’s Village.
Mainstream print, including the Hollywood Independent and even the LA Times ran stories on our community in 2001, although the slant was often too negative.
KPFK radio 90.7 FM aired a half-hour morning drive-time show about the community and Trans–Unity on June 14.
Riding a wave of new-found public relations from last summer, the City of West Hollywood Transgender Task Force has met monthly to advise the City Council, plan events such as a job fair and a yearly public forum now planned for the fall, and to hold monthly social mixers.
At the same time, the Spanish–speaking transgenders have enjoyed consistent good attendance at their weekly Wednesday dinner meetings at the Arena in Hollywood, and last year incorporated as “Transgeneracion 2000”. They’ve held gala events at Thanksgiving and Memorial Day weekends, publish a calendar, and are planning to open a social service center.
The community also suffered disappointments in 2001-2. The state legislature was on the verge of passing legislation amending its anti-employment and housing discrimination laws to include transgenders. Gov. Gray Davis, however, apparently fearing a conservative backlash in the coming re-election campaign, threatened to veto it, so the bill was tabled.
In the fall, following the 9-11 attacks, a fear and prejudice-driven City of West Hollywood Business License Commission voted to close Club 7969 [“Peanuts”], the only transgender nightclub in that city, because of neighbors’ complaints of noise and nuisance that did not seem to justify such a drastic step. The worst part of the whole drama was that the city, area residents and club management never consulted the transgender community, which had patronized the club for over a decade. The club did ask for, and received, our support at January’s city council meeting, at which its license was suspended, but not revoked.
Meanwhile this spring, K. C., a Peanuts performer and make-up artist, opened an alternative club at Vinyl in Hollywood, and at the Village the Trans-Unity Planning Committee met weekly to organize the June 15 event. Trans-woman Cassandra Ramirez also opened a private Transgender Resource Center in West Hollywood to service the community and has obtained one grant.
Finally, after the Club sued the city, Club 7969 re-opened Friday, June 14. Although Viva Sex’s drag show was presented that night and again June 21, present plans are to only have transgender nights on Mondays, not on the more popular Friday nights.
Nevertheless, the successes of Trans-Unity, Transgeneracion 2000, the West Hollywood Task Force and the Transgender Resource Center, should inspire the men and women in our community to work together on issues effecting all of us. These developments have proven that our women and men can work together for a common purpose, and we should build on this success in 2002-3.