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Other publications were actually attached to centers for trans people, such as those affiliated with the Salmacis Society, a South Bay organization that provided support groups, and whose founder set trans women up with access to gender confirmation surgery.
Their publications include one of the most significant examples we have of trans people creating community: it was a literal directory of not just organizations for trans people, but trans individuals themselves.
Although transgender rights are now gaining increasing attention in the US, historically transgender people faced much more oppression and flew far beneath the radar.
That does not, however, mean that trans people weren’t there, as shown by this cross-section of documents showing the Bay Area’s thriving, if disparate, trans community in the 1970s.
Additionally, the statewide anti-prostitution ordinance was frequently levied against trans people and even though they advertised in , it wasn’t necessarily a safe space.
Overall, the trend in the 1970s seemed to be toward defining trans people in exceedingly medical terms that lacked wiggle room, making it seem as though being transgender was a rare “medical condition.” Part of the reason there was so much medicalization of transgender people came from trans people’s need to defend their legitimacy against a transphobic society.
This disparity extends to surviving documents as well—while we do have documentation of a transgender community whose size and vitality would surprise many modern viewers, as in all areas of history, the stories we have are the stories of those with the resources to write their stories down and preserve them to today.
Unfortunately, the program defined only a very specific set of people as trans so rejection rates were high, although the program was supposedly esteemed. Donald Laub, was involved in the California case J. v Lackner, which decided in favor of Medi-Cal coverage for trans healthcare. Anti-cross dressing laws were still legal, and trans people frequently were arrested just for being out in public dressed as they felt comfortable.As a result, all of the contact information listed by the directory was encoded—making it a safe way for trans people to publish their information, but inaccessible to those who didn’t know how to decrypt the magazine.All of these publications filled a demand not satisfied by the numbers of trans people writing and advertising in the Bay Area’s most trans-friendly newspaper, and one of the most trans friendly in the nation at the time.In fact, feminist and lesbian groups were a major source of oppression for trans people—especially trans women—and few more publicly than Beth Elliott.After being ousted from the Daughters of Bilitis, she ended up making headlines in feminist and lesbian newspapers across the nation when she was invited to perform at the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference.