— Jean O’Leary founder of Lesbian Feminist Liberation
“One of the things LFL (Lesbian Feminist Liberation) objected to during this time were the transvestites. The way we saw it was, here is a man dressing up as a woman and wearing all the things that we are trying to break free of. We found out there were plans to have a transvestite as part of the entertainment for the 1973 Gay Pride rally in Washington Square following the march and we decided to make a statement critical of transvestites…we decided to attack men who did it for profit -professional female impersonators and prostitutes.
we decided we were going to stand up on that stage and tell everybody what we thought.
We stayed up the whole night before the rally and typed up this little statement. We thought it was very important. You see, we were creating theory at the time.”
Jean O’Leary, founder of Lesbian Feminist Liberation, later the first co-director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)
“The transgender community was silenced because of a radical lesbian named Jean O’Leary, who felt that the transgender community was offensive to women because we liked to wear makeup and we liked to wear miniskirts.
It goes with the business that we’re in at the time! Because people fail to realize that -not trying to get off the story -everybody thinks that we want to be out on them street corners. No we do not. We don’t want to be out there sucking dick and getting fucked in the ass. But that’s the only alternative that we have to survive because the laws do not give us the right to go and get a job the way we feel comfortable. I do not want to go to work looking like a man when I know I am not a man” Sylvia Rivera
“A case could be made that we should have included transvestites rights but I don’t think that gay people wanted to be identified with that. We were trying to get away from that image. And we were trying to get the bill passed. So the transvestites were excluded from the bill and they never got reinstated.” Jean O’Leary
“I thought free loving was the thing, I found it doesn’t pay the rent…During the daytime they all call us fags and freaks. At night I get even. I freak on them. I make them pay for all the insults they gave me. I can have a nice conversation with them, give them words of wisdom. But I’m getting back at them. My way.” Marsha P Johnson
Sylvia Rivera kicking ass on stage after some radfems & transphobes tried to refuse her the right to speak at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day rally. Said radfems then had their own march in part protesting trans participation in Pride. A precursor to today’s Dyke March.
40 years later in the very same park trans women are still fighting for space within Pride as this year’s Dyke March fiasco demonstrated. I’m feeling challenged and troubled by the narrative that trans women’s response to transphobia must take the “form of serious, calm, point by point analyses of why radfems are wrong” as Stephen Ira pointed out.
What strikes me about this video is that she isn’t trying to be calm and collected after being attacked. She’s not internalizing the notion that fighting transphobia has to take on the oppressive notion of “respectability.”
These conversations have left me wondering: has the non profit industrial complex and professionalized activism gentrified our political activity?
So within all of that, I say: nothing but love and power to trans women creating space for ourselves in queer community! Special shout out to Voz who inspired this post!
Every time I look at that damn river…I actually feel her Spirit telling me “You Gotta Keep Fighting Girlie Cause Its Not Time To Cross The River Jordan!” -Sylvia Rivera to Randy Wicker on the Spirit of Marsha P Johnson
(trigger warning: suicide, self harm, interpersonal violence social movement, vitto russo, mama jean, jean o’leary)