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DJ Travers Oral History Interview, February 16, 2020

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ALICE DESAI: Today is February 16, 2020. My name is Alice Desai. This is an oral history interview with Derrick Travers in Corvallis, Oregon, for the OSU History 368 Lesbian and Gay Movements in Modern America Oral History Project. Starting us off, can you please state your name, pronouns, and when and where you were born?

DJ TRAVERS: Sure. My name's Derrick Travers and I use a mix of he and she pronouns and I was born in Olympia, Washington in 1973.

AD: When we were corresponding before this, you mentioned you don't really like the term preferred pronouns, which is often the terminology that a lot of people use. Would you mind explaining why you don't really use that terminology or what you prefer people to say?

DT: I think it's pretty widespread, and I'd say even in inside community, in trans and non-binary community, but one of the things that I've noticed is that a lot of times cis gender people use it only when they think or know non-binary 00:01:00or trans people are present. It's kind of like, well your pronouns are preferred pronouns but cis gender people's pronouns are just pronouns. To me I'm like they're just pronouns. Whatever pronouns someone uses are their pronouns. I think of preference as like an ice cream flavor rather than my pronouns. They're not something that I prefer. They just are. If that makes sense.

AD: What was your childhood like?

DT: [Laughs] That's a great question. I grew up in the Northwest. I'm one of six kids. My parents are very conservative, very religious, and they-like a lot of trans kids, I at a pretty young age started to show... I was assigned female sex at birth, so I started to show kind of masculine traits. We could talk about 00:02:00whatever "masculine traits" are, but I think you know what I mean. My parents were, they felt that was bad and so they would punish me in a variety of different ways. It was made very clear to me that that was not okay. I hid it. I have one brother, but I remember trying to borrow his clothes or wear his clothes. I would always get in trouble. My parents, they worked really hard to give all six of us, they wanted to teach us what they would consider morals and ethics. I'm grateful for that. They worked really hard to give us-like, they would take us camping. I cannot imagine taking six children camping, but they would. They just would go above and beyond to create these amazing experiences and they were also very strict and would physically punish and were very rigid 00:03:00about what was and was not okay.

Growing up in that environment, I got really strong messages like really overt open messages that being queer was bad or that being trans was bad. Back in the '70s or '80s, very few people were talking about it, so there weren't very many counter messages. I can remember my mom making me go to a school psychologist in elementary school because she suspected me of being lesbian and was like you know go talk to the psychologist. If you are, you can get diagnosed and "fixed" or whatever. But I remember the psychologist was like, well, do you like boys? I was like, yeah, all my best friends were boys [laughs]. She was like, oh that's fine. She's straight. She likes boys. Just that thing of mixing up sexual orientation and gender identity. People did it all the time back then. I feel like I'm not quite sure-it feels rude to not make eye contact with you all, but 00:04:00I'm also thinking in the video it will be super sketch if I'm like that [glances around in different directions]. Any advice for me from all the interviews that you've done? Should I just look at the camera?

AD: I've never done another interview. Just focus on the camera.

AVERY CARR: I mean, it's whatever makes you most comfortable.

DT: Tofi, maybe I'll just look at you. I apologize because it might be kind of intense, but I feel like I'm [makes "ch" sound glancing back and forth between interviewers]. Anyway, you can edit that part out [laughs].

AD: What were middle and high school like for you in terms of, did you find any sort of LGBT support from maybe friends or teachers?

DT: That is a great question. Yeah, there just wasn't much visibility at all. I remember in middle school during our three or four days of sex ed, we had an anonymous question box. My science teacher was really awesome and I'm guessing she planted a question, "Is homosexuality okay?" that's the word that people 00:05:00use, is homosexuality. Not a word that I would use to talk about actual people now. I remember her saying yeah, that's part of the human experience. That's one of the few positive messages I remember. This was right in the pitch of the AIDS crisis in the United States and globally. So, gay people were being demonized. People were like, they're infected. This is God's wrath. They're getting punished for their sexual sins. Those messages were everywhere. President Reagan was the president at the time, and I don't think he mentioned AIDS except to joke about or make fun of it. He baited someone. That context was happening.

I remember the Equal Rights Amendment, which we're still trying to pass, was being debated and I remember my mom saying, because my mom is a badass. She's a strong, proud woman, but I remember her saying, we don't support that because it 00:06:00would allow lesbians the opportunity to marry lesbians. It was one of the few messages that I got, one of the few mentions of queerness at all. I remember I would try to sneak my brother's clothes and I would do this thing of take his clothes, put them in my backpack, leave the house, and then change into them. My mom somehow caught wind of it and I remember one day she got on the school bus and made the driver call my name and made me come off the bus and then she was like, I know what you're doing. We're going to go shopping. I'm going to buy you girl's clothes and I'm going to make you wear girl's clothes. That kind of, I consider it terrorism in an interpersonal, that kind of I see you and I'm scrutinizing you. You're wrong. You're bad. We're going to fix you and make you adhere to our concept of what your gender "should" be. That happened all the 00:07:00time. It happened from peers as well. I didn't receive, I think people tried to bully me a lot, but I just was kind of like I don't care what you think. I was a good athlete and I was good at school. People were like, whatever. I guess she's okay. I played a lot of sports and I remember the young women in my team just being like pretty relentless and being like, no one likes you. No one wants you on our team, but I was good. It was like, okay but you do want me on your team.

I remember at times in my life I was able to look like a boy, which was affirming in some ways but also really scary. I would always get busted. A lot of times when we would go, like I played basketball in middle school and we played other girls' teams, and they would be like why do they have a boy on their team? They would read me as a boy, which felt really personally affirming, 00:08:00but also it caused a lot of trouble because then people would be like she's not a boy. There would just be this dramatic thing with all focus on me. I remember the first day of school I had just a stereotypically feminine name, so the teacher would be like, is so-and-so here? I would raise my hand. The teacher would be like, quit fooling around. That's not you because you're a boy. I would have to be like, no that actually is me. In some ways it was super affirming to be perceived as masculine. I don't identify as male, but I definitely wanted to be seen as masculine. It was affirming in some ways, but also it just caused a lot of scrutiny. High school, things were pretty bad at home at that point. I was out of the house as much as I could.

One of my sisters ran away and she was the sister who was closest to me. She was my older sister. Really protected me from my parents in a lot of ways. When she 00:09:00left it was really hard. I was going through puberty which was just a nightmare. But at school, I think because I was "good at it," like I was involved in clubs where I think my teachers liked me because I would work hard and I cared and I was curious, and I remember high school was a time-my family is all white people and high school was a time when my teachers were trying to open up the world and just be like, listen there's so much... I was raised pretty sheltered. My family is pretty white supremist, sexist, anti-immigrant, homophobic, transphobic, what I think of as a package deal of awful. They tried to teach all that stuff to me. High school was a time when I was like, oh wait. There's a big world out here. There's people who are different from me and like me and I can make connections across difference. I feel really grateful to my high school teachers for really gently just trying to be like, hey there's a world outside of what you're 00:10:00experiencing. I loved playing sports. I played soccer. I was a goalkeeper. My team was really good. We went to state. That was really affirming.

AD: Touching on this, did you have any friends in middle school or high school who you maybe knew or even maybe just suspected were queer?

DT: Hmm-mm, nope. I think I was kind of a lightning rod, because I was assigned female people knew I was "a girl," but I looked masculine. People called me lezzy or dyke, or whatever. Before I even had the words-I didn't come out to myself until I was 18. I didn't know. If you had asked me at any point before that day what's your sexual orientation, I would have been like, I'm straight. 00:11:00What are you talking about? Because there was no-I don't even know how to convey it. There was no representation. There was no one. I learned later that one of my grand uncles was a gay man. He died of AIDS. Nobody talked to me about it. No one talked to me about him being HIV positive. It was a total wall of silence and I knew that lezzy or dyke was "bad," but I didn't even know what it meant. There was no same-sex dating. None of my teachers were out. There were rumors about people. There was one young man in high school who was out as bisexual and he got beaten up every single week. The administration was like, well what do you expect if you're going to be out. If you're going to "flaunt" your sexuality, this is what you get. Those are strong messages.

Again, it's not like I knew I was lesbian and was hiding it. I think my brain 00:12:00just was like you cannot know this. When I did finally come out to my mom, she said, well we're going to institutionalize you and fix you. I think there was a part of me that knew keep this under wraps until you turn 18, because that's when you're an adult. That's when you could actually say no. I believe her that if I'd come out at any point before then she would have, I would have been locked up and "treated," whatever that means. But, no. I think people liked me okay but I didn't have close friends. I had one of my older sisters was in high school with me and my older brother. I knew them. When I was a junior I met a couple of really good folks in one of my English classes, and we all came out as queer when we graduated. It was like we found each other, but it wasn't like, oh you're out as queer as well. It was like, there's something about you that I 00:13:00like, but no one talked about it.

AD: After high school, what was the reason you chose to attend OSU?

DT: Good question. I had always wanted to be a forester. I can't even explain why I wanted to be a park ranger. I wanted to work outdoors. I wanted to work with the natural world. OSU had a really good forestry program. It was close enough to not have to haul all the way across the country and at the time there were very few women in forestry, so they offered a really excellent scholarship. My family was low income, so it was like the only way I was going to go to school. I mean, I could have taken out loans, of course, but getting that scholarship was a big deal. They have a really excellent program, so I was like, sure. This will work.

AD: Coming to OSU, did you feel welcomed and accepted here?


DT: That's a good question. Umm... I would say no. That was a time, I would say junior, senior year of high school and freshman year of college was when I really started putting it together of who like who is accepted and welcomed here and who is not. OSU was struggling so much with racism on campus and they would do these foolish programs of like okay, we'll send students of color out to recruit students of color and get them here and then we can say oh look at our numbers. But there was nothing retain, to be like okay we got you here. How do we keep you here as a valued part of the community? Overt, clear racist incidents would happen routinely on campus. Campus would either cover them up or be like that didn't happen. I can remember one time a young black man was 00:15:00walking under a balcony and a white student urinated on him. No shit, like felt so free to be white supremacist that that seemed like a good idea. The university was like, oh he didn't really mean it. It's not really that big of a deal. To me, it's like if you're on a campus and you're getting sent those clear messages that "people like you" aren't welcome, aren't valued, aren't part of the community, are like other, then it becomes very clear. To me, women were undervalued, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, older than average students, and for sure LGB and I don't even know if there were other trans or non-binary students, but it was really clear.

OSU I think because of business, engineering, and agriculture was seen as a pretty conservative school and I felt like the dominant perception was very much 00:16:00like, well, if you're a cis gender or white, straight man, great. Anyone else, good luck. Those messages, it was very apparent. I mean, I can't even explain it. Back then there were no diversity initiatives. There were cultural centers, and we should talk about those, because those were strongholds of student resistance. We, not always, but we often were successfully together to push back on these things that were happening, but I felt like it was you're on your own. Even in the College of Forestry, there were probably ten women, if you include me. A lot of the guys were pretty great, but the guys who were just overtly sexist, or professors that were overtly sexist, it was just like well, yeah what did you expect? I was like, I expect better [smiles and laughs]. And I still do. I think once I came out as queer, I realized I was a lesbian. I read a book that 00:17:00had two young women fall in love. I remember this lightning strike of being like, oh that's me. That went against every, like anything that I had been raised. Back then I think people didn't think so much about gender identity. Being a masculine woman, people would be like, oh you're a lesbian. That's what's happening. There was no, oh there's two parts: sexual orientation and gender identity. I did identify strongly as a lesbian, so it's not like I wasn't one, but I wasn't thinking about my gender as much. I came out right before the summer, like a month or two before coming to OSU. Then landed here, and was like okay I have all this freedom. I can create my life. I'm independent from my family for the first time. What the hell do I do now? It was like this beautiful thing but also hostile.

I can remember, I think it was called GALA back then, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, 00:18:00they gave us a brochure that had all the student numbers, clubs and different things you could join. I remember writing down the phone number but I changed the digits, because it was up on a screen or something. I was sitting with one of my friends from high school, and I remember-so, it was 737, which is probably still in the prefix, and I changed all the digits. I made them up one number because I was like, if she looks over and is like wait, what are you writing down? I felt afraid for her to know. I had just come out to myself. Then I was like, what am I going to do? There are other people like me. How do I make these connections? School, like, other stuff was happening. I was living on my own for the first time. I was living in-I don't know if they have them anymore, but in the women's cooperative, because it was women. It was right across the street from the Forestry College. I was super convenient in a lot of ways, also 00:19:00terrifying in some other ways. I was trying to get my feet under me anyway, and then I remember sometime in the spring, maybe this time of year a little later, I was walking in the quad and there were these three awesome, brave women who were staffing a table and it was Gay Day. They had a table with some brochures and there was a little sign on a stake, like a wooden stake. I remember being like, wow other lesbians. Here they are right in front of me. I walked up and talked to them. While we were talking, some guy walked by and stomped on the sign and broke it and just trampled it. He just kept right on walking and they were kind of like, anyway, and just kept talking. I was like, that's not okay. People do not, it's not okay for people to stomp on our signs.

I respected that they had done, they were all seniors. They were all graduating. 00:20:00They had been there in an even scarier time than me, the previous three or four years. I respected that they were operating out of their own capability, but I was like, hell no. We have got to resist. We've got to fight to back. This cannot be okay. The next year, I think the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, I think they were all graduating. They left. I think we changed it to the LGBA. We didn't have a T in it initially. I was like, it was me and Brian Parks [phonetic], who is an amazing person, and we were like alright we're going to have a whole week. We're not going to have Gay Day. We're going to have a whole week. It's going to be in the Quad. It's going to be super visible. We're going to take up a ton of space and we're going to have so many people there, allies or LGBTQ people that no one can-because I had told them the story. I was like, no one is going to come stomp our signs. So, we did.

AD: I think you've touched on this, but it sounded like you wanted to talk about 00:21:00it a little more so I wanted to ask-what were the, because the centers here are pretty well-known, and I think that OSU has gotten pretty good about sharing them. But when you were at OSU, how did things like the Pride Center or any of the cultural centers, how were they perceived and how did you interact with them?

DT: That is a good question. We didn't have a Pride Center. The Women's Center was here. It had been here for I think decades. It had been here for a long time. That was the base of operations for lesbian, gay, bi, and queer women. Guys didn't come in there so much. There was an LGBA, or GALA it was called, Gay and Lesbian Alliance-I can't remember if they had their own office or not. Things changed really fast once we started building moment. One of the things 00:22:00that I really appreciated is I think to some extent cultural centers seem to be a little siloed back then. I think there was less working together, but we came together when there was an incident of sexual assault, sometimes sexual assault, when there were these overt racist incidents which were obvious and clear, like unmistakably a problem. Well, one of the things over, I was the first person to be there. I think it was the LGB advocate, so the first person in student government and I think that was my junior year, so after a few years of us really pushing for recognition and visibility. We had an office eventually. I can't remember the name of the building. It's about to be torn down, but I can't recall. We had some funding and blah, blah, blah.

One of the things that happened over the years that I found really interesting 00:23:00was more than once the heads of cultural centers or people in student government were BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color), and also LGBTQ, but would be like, okay I can't be out but how can we work together? We want to work together but I can't come out. It was this interesting thing of realizing, okay white privilege gives me this safety even in these really violent and discriminatory times to build these networks and to try to-I felt like we all were trying to make the university, the campus, and the neighborhoods safer, that you could be yourself and actually be on campus. It was poignant. I was like, damn, it's really hard to be out. It's really hard to be out. I get it. I can't imagine what it would be like to deal with racism and homophobia, or transphobia. It 00:24:00seems like an incredible burden. Working together was satisfying in that way. A lot of times it was kind of covert and it was based on, yeah, I want to respect you. I'm not going to out you, and holy crap. Wow. We have to work together. This is so important.

AC: Could you touch a little bit more on what you were saying about the living situation at the women's cooperative that was across from the forestry center, because that's not something that really exists anymore.

DT: Oh, yeah.

AC: That'd be really interesting to hear a little bit more about that.

DT: Yeah, I think it was called the Women's Co-op if I recall. I remember being like, cool. It's going to be a bunch of really badass women who really appreciate women and I assumed feminist and I assumed people who would be really supportive of women. That was not the case. I think people used to call it something snide, like kind of the marriage holding tank. People were very 00:25:00interested in traditional femininity and looking to get married or get engaged to a man. No one was really talking about gay marriage back then. It wasn't even-it might have been a glimmer in some conservative gay person's eye, but it was not a real possibility. Wow, it was interesting. We each had our own study room and then everyone slept on a sleeping porch in bunk beds. I know, right? I see the look on your face. It's like, yep, that really happened. I think there were 40 or 50 women. There was a kitchen, so there was someone who made food. There was cereal and stuff you could get, ramen noodles you could get around the clock. We weren't supposed to sleep in our rooms.

I had a roommate and she turned out to be incredibly homophobic. I had a picture of myself and my best friend from high school and she scratched out my face. The two of us were us are the only people who had keys to the room. Then when the RA 00:26:00or whoever was like, did you do this? She was like, yeah. She's a dyke. Of course I did. It just was overt. I can't even explain to you. The RA was like, um... okay, well, maybe you shouldn't be roommates. I was like, yeah, maybe we shouldn't. She maybe transferred out. I don't know if she went to another room. I don't remember, or moved to another place but that night I got my own room. Honestly, I slept there a lot of the time. I didn't feel unsafe, but people were freaked out about having an out queer woman in the women's co-op, and they definitely would say things, like about me being a sexual predator, which is one of those myths. I think it's still around, but back then that's how people thought about gay people. It was kind of like, well, you can't have kids to make your own new gay people, so you just are predators and you recruit. That's part of why with the Lesbian Avengers, one of our slogans was we recruit because it was this thing of gays are recruiting. We were like, hell yeah. Everyone in this 00:27:00room knows that you can't change someone's sexual orientation. For us, it was an inside joke. For a lot of straight people they just thought that that was true and that I was going to somehow contaminate all the women who lived in this women's co-op and "make them gay," which that's not how it works [laughs]. But, yeah, I assume that's kind of a thing of the past. I'm guessing they don't have those anymore.

AD: So, kind of-start talking about the Lesbian Avengers. I know that the first Lesbian Avengers were kind of, I want to say, New York.

DT: Yeah.

AD: Because I know that the OSU chapter started in 1992. I want to know how you had initially found out about the Lesbian Avengers as a bigger movement before then.

DT: Mm-hmm. That's a good question. I'd say in the context of late '80s, early 00:28:00'90s, again HIV and AIDS were happening. Trans people and non-binary people were not on very many people's radars, like at all. Kind of zero conversation about that that I was aware of. Most of the focus was on gay and bisexual men because of HIV and AIDS. So, lesbians and bi women were invisibilized, because of sexism and also because this crisis was happening in our community. It was all hands on deck. People were responding, people were literally dying by the thousands. This was this huge thing. This was also in Oregon, Oregon Citizens Alliance had started trying to pass these measures. They first started doing it locally. I think Springfield, Oregon was the first place they succeeded. They were trying to pass these measures that put in government constitutions or documents and, let me see if I can remember this correctly, and I think it was "homosexuality 00:29:00and bisexuality." I remember they were so inclusive in a time when LGBTQ communities weren't, like a lot of times bisexual people were invisibilized.

But the OCA was all over it. They said, homosexuality and bisexuality is unnatural, perverse and they likened it to bestiality, sadomasochism, and it'd be interesting to look up a quote. I don't have it in my head anymore. They were trying to put this in government charters. Ultimately they tried to put it in the Oregon constitution, which is just mind boggling right now. At the time, it was like well, of course they are. That is what straight and cis gender people think of us. I was just like well, yeah, that's the tone and the tenor of when we have to move through the world. The Oregon Citizens Alliance trying to pass these measures in town and cities and then also statewide really made LGB-I'm 00:30:00not going to say trans, because again no one was talking about trans people back then-but it made gay and lesbian bi people much more visible and subject to a lot of hatred. I remember going with one of my friends to, there were these community meetings. Back then the media was trying to do this thing of like, "well, we want to show both sides." They would interview either out LGB people or allies and then they would interview the only phrase I can think of is gay haters, people who were just like: homosexuals are unnatural. They should be killed. They should be exterminated. They should burn. That was the media's idea of "showing both sides." It was super bizarre. Where I'm like, those aren't two ideologies. That's an identity and hate speech, is how I define it now. During that time there was all this violence, this state-wide, or sometimes local ordinances were trying to be passed. There was all this visibility and violence 00:31:00and I remember some of the queer women, or probably would identify as gay women or lesbians, there was a couple that lived rurally around campus and someone beheaded their dog and put it in their mailbox and then two other women, a couple that I knew-these were not out, flagrant lesbians. These were women who were very much keeping a low profile. Someone broke into their barn and stabbed their horse with a pitchfork. There was this harm being directed. That's not even counting, one of my friends got punched on a bus in Portland and the driver was like, what do you expect? There was just this thing, if you're going to be visible as gay, then you get what's coming to you. That was the dominant ethos at the time for lack of a better word. There was a lot of violence and it happened all the time.


For myself, looking like a masculine woman, every time I left the house I was at least verbally harassed if not physically-and some of it was benign, people just being like is that a man or a woman? What is it? Things like it. Some of it was very much targeted threats of violence. People called me dyke. People called me fag. People would threaten to kill me. People would be like, I don't know what that is, but I'm going to kill it. Literally, if I went to the grocery store to get food something was going to happen. It just was like people were so hateful. One of the things that happened was there was two really good friends who lived in Salem, and they lived in a basement apartment: Hattie Mae Cohen and Brian Mock. Brian Mock was a man with a physical disability. He's a gay man. Hattie May Cohen is a lesbian and also black, or African-American. Some hate group, people say Nazi, skinheads. I don't know if people were ever arrested or 00:33:00charged, but they threw a Molotov cocktail into the apartment and it caught on fire. Both people burned to death. This was pre-internet and I didn't even hear about it until someone caught wind of it in New York. That's where the avengers started. It happened in Salem. I lived in Corvallis. I didn't even hear about it until reading about it with this Lesbian Avengers of New York City. They were like, this is an atrocity. It wasn't publicized. No one was really like, don't do-it just was either silenced or people were like, what did you expect if you're going to be out. You know what I'm saying?

It also shows the intersectionality of people hating folks for multiple identities, like multiple overlapping identities. This invisibilizing I'd say white LGB people invisibilized our brothers, sisters, and siblings who are 00:34:00people of color and very much being like, oh we'll be the leaders. We'll be the visible speakers, but this violence was happening to everyone and it was happening even more if someone had another identity on top of being queer or trans. I don't remember. There was a Portland Lesbian Avenger chapter and I don't know how they started, but it started in New York City. I think we all were like, wow! This is a chance to fight back, to resist, to be visible. There just wasn't a lot of lesbian visibility back then. I think the word spread. Again, with no internet or social media, it spread like wildfire. People were like, oh there's this thing. There's this model. It's super dynamic. It's about visuals. It's about art. It's about beauty. It's about sex. It's about flirting. It's about being out and proud and defiant in the face of even literally lethal violence, even when people are firebombing people to death we're still going to shine. We're still going to be loud. We're still going to take up space. We're still going to insist on our human rights and our ability to build community together.


I know the Portland chapter of Lesbian Avengers started first. My girlfriend at the time, Julie, we would go up to Portland a lot for their actions and their meetings. A lot of times meetings just turned into parties, because it was like, you all probably know, one way to resist is to enjoy pleasure and beauty and fun, even when horrible things are happening. It's like you can't suck the soul out of us. You can't stop us from feeling joy and connection and beauty even when these horrible things are happening. We heard about the idea from them and we kept going up for their meetings. At a certain point we were like we can just start this in Corvallis. So, we did.

AC: We might need to pause.

DT: Okay, sure. I'm going to go grab a drink.

AC: Oh, that will work.


AD: Do you want to say something before we?

DT: [Shakes head no].

AD: Okay. So, you already touched on why the Avengers started in Corvallis. What was it like to be one of the founding mothers, as you put it, of the Avengers here?

DT: That's a good question. One of the things I liked is that it crystallized, there was so much stuff happening every day. I think especially if you had any kind of a diverse friend group people were experiencing so many awful things day to day to day. I mean, we have the word microaggressions now, but some of it was just flat out aggression. People I knew who had any kind of, again anything other than, and even my friends who were white males would still experience, especially one of my friends who was gay, there was so much crap happening all 00:37:00the time. Individuals could resist. You might have your group of friends who you could talk to about it, but being a Lesbian Avenger, it was a focal point for resistance, where like-minded people came together and were like we are not taking this crap. We are going to fight back. We're going to do it in an organized way. We did activism on campus. A lot of my friends and some of the other founding mothers of the Lesbian Avengers-Carla Cohen and Jodie Limmer [phonetic]-through the Women's Center did activism around sexual violence and there were SafeRide's back then, which was a ride service where-I don't know, do you still have that if someone felt unsafe? Great, yeah. Cool. I don't need to explain it. People were fighting back in little ways and we would ally with, I was never formally a part of the Women's Center but I spent a lot of time there because my friends were running it or involved. We would ally with cultural centers and there was kind of this thing, and we made tons of mistakes. I'm not 00:38:00trying to pretend it was a utopia. Working across difference is challenging, hard, beautiful work. We definitely made mistakes, but I feel like we all were just like, uh, we have to do this. We have to fight back.

Lesbian Avengers was never a campus group. It was Corvallis Lesbian Avengers, not OSU. Because we knew OSU would never, was never going to fund or support the stuff that we did. It was a chance, we were a multi-issue from the beginning and also very inclusive. Once I became the LG-eventually I was the LGBTA advocate, so I'll just say that. We tapped into funding to bring speakers and host events and what not. We brought Sarah Schulman to Corvallis. She was the woman who started all the Lesbian Avengers. There were, I don't know, maybe a dozen or more chapters, dozens maybe around the world. It was like a phenomenon besides 00:39:00Corvallis. I remember her, she was sitting on my couch on 2nd Street with her partner. We were just talking. She was like, oh what's it like? I was like, oh, one of the things I love about being an Avenger is we address all kinds of issues, so not just ones that are lesbian specific, but sexual violence, racism, lesbophobia just all the stuff that was coming up. It was a group of people who were like, let's do this. From the get-go from our literally like there are photographs in our albums from the beginning we were inclusive of lesbian women, bi women, and also trans women. I remember mentioning that, and Sarah Shulman is a brilliant academic and an extraordinary person and probably has evolved her views by now, but at the time she was like it's just for lesbians. It's not, she didn't say this, but kind of like you're doing it wrong. It's not supposed to be 00:40:00for all those people. We were kind of like, A) really? B) really? And C) we don't live in New York City. We have to hang together. We have to support each other. We can't split our community that way. I remember being really disappointed. I think she was pretty disappointed with us, too, to be honest. I think she was kind of like, you're doing it wrong. We were like, this is the rightest thing we've ever done. It felt so, like I can remember-so in addition allying with campus groups around racist incidents and looking at incredible amounts of sexual violence, pushing back to fight against that, there was a woman who was one of our avengers and she was corresponding with someone who was in prison or jail and was writing letters back and forth and was sending them through (I don't know if they're still there) but it was the Corvallis mail center, or something. Not the Post Office. One of the employees read her as a 00:41:00trans woman and opened her mail and wrote to that person and outed her and was like, I think called her a faggot and was like whatever horrible, offensive language. That's a federal offense. You cannot open someone's mail and read it and then write to the person they're writing to. There's nothing okay or legal about that, but the police were kind of like, well, we don't know it was her, even though she had handwritten it. It was her. It was the employee. It was for sure the employee who did it. I don't think she was unwise enough to sign her name, but it was-anyone who had wanted to investigate could have easily figured out what happened and how. But, whoever was in charge was like [shrugs] whatever. It's not really a priority. We don't care. Whatever, whatever.


We protested outside of the mail center and were trying to hold them accountable and saying something has to got to happen. I'm not a big fan of punitive measures. I don't think imprisoning or jailing people is going to solve any of these problems, and at some point there has to be some-someone has to got to say, you can't freaking open someone's mail, out someone, write hate speech to their-none of that is okay. Ultimately, I don't think there were ever any, there was never any consequences or accountability but we were like we're going to stand, she's an avenger. We're going to stand with her, of course. Examples like that-I'm like, how do you split that. How do you say, well, that's not a lesbian issue but this is. I don't know. To me that just never made sense. We were all, there wasn't very much group think around Lesbian Avengers, but that was one thing that everybody was committed to, like full inclusivity. Bi women, too. A lot of bi women were discriminated against and invisibilized and we were just 00:43:00like, of course you're welcome. There's a lot of dynamics around the gender of someone's partner, but pretty much if someone she was a dyke. Then, we were like great. You're a dyke. Also, as a loving, inclusive term, and also I wasn't out to myself as trans, but I was definitely a super, super masculine woman. Possibly because I helped start the group, but people were super accepting of me. No one was like [makes reject sound]. I mean, later my queer woman friends had trouble with my transitioning, but at the time it was like, yeah we're all here for each other. That was just hugely healing. Because a lot of us back then it was pretty normal for people's families to reject them. So, we had to make our own families. We had to find love and connection and security and fun and even celebrating holidays together or relaxing. You had to create that for 00:44:00yourself. Very few people had that with their family of origin.

AD: You did mention that outside of the fact that Lesbian Avengers you were very all-inclusive. I think you mentioned that there was not a whole of very solid group ideology. I kind of wanted to ask, what was the structure of the Avengers like in general?

DT: Yeah, good question. The New York Avengers put out a handbook, but back in the day honestly a lot of it was really incredible graphics and visuals because we photocopied. That's what you did. There was no digital. I don't know, Word probably was around. I don't even know if that's true. If you were going to make visuals, you photocopied them. You needed a physical copy. There was a Lesbian Avenger Manifesto. They chose a comic bomb logo in response to the fire-bombing. 00:45:00It was this really poignant and atrocious-the origin of it. I love the idea of reclaiming things and just saying, you're going to do this to us? Okay, fine we're going to take it. Some of the slogans were: we take the fire within us. We take it and make it our own. We learned how to eat fire and also blow fire. We literally knew how to take fire and that was one of the things that we did at our demos. Be the bomb you throw was another. The idea, Julie and I were just talking about this in the car on the way over, back then just being out and visible was activism. It may seem like the weakest sauce now, but back then just being out, just walking down the street I was disrupting people's narratives about what a woman should be, what a man should be. Just being out and visible was being activist. This idea that we embodied the power to destabilize the patriarchy and white dominance and colonialism just by our very being was pretty 00:46:00wonderful and also really scary at times. I'm trying to think what else. We had the manifesto. We had the handbook. We photocopied a lot of stuff out of it.

I also really loved that Lesbian Avengers from the very beginning they used humor as one of the weapons, because in some ways it was so hard to be out as a dyke at the time, and also it was really beautiful in the way that you build community under duress when it seems like there's so much hostility you can really come together. We had these funny top ten lists of who should be an avenger to use a lot of humor. Back then I don't know if this still happens but people would be like, feminists just have no sense of humor. We just would be like, we're cracking up all the time. Granted, we're laughing at you, the patriarchy, colonialism, white supremacy, but we're laughing all the time. It just was a weird mixed message. New York City was very hands off. No one was 00:47:00trying to start, there was no canvassing or whatever, it was more like here's this thing. Use what's useful. Go for it. We wanted a low hierarchy group. We wanted a rotating leadership. I wish we had our notes, because our meetings were hilarious. We'd usually meet in someone's home, sometimes a coffee shop. There was a lesbian owned coffee shop that we would meet at sometimes. But it was this really cool and also really weird patching together because there was no Pride Center, there was no community center. There's pros and cons to that, but there was no "officially sanctioned space," so we were constantly like we sometimes joked and called ourselves the Lesbian Scavengers, because we would always be like, oh this thing over here, this thing over here. I think from New York City they said I think the number one quality of a Lesbian Avenger was access to free photocopying. You made flyers. You made posters. You just made everything. There 00:48:00was no digital.

I can remember going in and printing, we printed a ton of stickers and they show up in our scrapbooks. All kinds of things. I remember going into a print shop. I don't know if it's still there. I didn't check on my way into town. It was just owned by some guy, but it was the nearest one to my house. I remember going in and wanting to print say a 3" x 4" sheet of 12 stickers. I think it just said Lesbian Avengers. We had gotten a landline (because that's what you did back then) and voicemail, so we just put our phone number on things and then put the stickers up. So, it'd say Lesbian Avengers and have the bomb logo and then our phone number. We put those everywhere. I was trying to print more and you know I read him as heterosexual; I read him as white; I read him as cis gender. It was so clear that he was really uncomfortable, and so I was like oh, will you help me. I'm trying to reformat this. Can you make it a little bigger. I just was 00:49:00like trolling him because he was being so phobic and finally he slammed his hand down on the copier and was like, I will not photocopy anymore lesbian, I think he called it trash or something. I was like, okay, girl. Calm yourself down. He just was like, no I won't do it. And you know, that's illegal. You can't not serve someone because they're gay, but I will admit to being a little antagonistic, but whatever. At a certain point there was a queer woman or a lesbian woman who owned a copy place. She would let us do our posters and we would pay here sometimes, or sometimes she would donate it. It was like you patched everything together where you could.

I felt that way about our leadership, too. Everyone who came in-I think our first meeting had maybe nine or ten people, and these were people that I really respected and admired as activists. Really strong, powerful women who had been 00:50:00through a lot and had brought their life experiences to their leadership. I remember we were just like, can we do this thing? And we're like, yeah we can. I think at our maximum we probably had 25 members, 20, 25 somewhere in there. It was important to us to build leadership, so not have the same people always be in charge. There was a core, I would say Julie, myself, Carla, Jodie, Ang, and Heidi [phonetic]. There was a core of eight to ten people who would do a lot of, make a lot of decisions. I'm not going to try and pretend it was purely egalitarian. We didn't want to have a president or anything like that. The notes, I wish we had copies of the notes, because just depending on who was the notetaker they were just always hilarious. Because we were always talking about so much random stuff.


AD: What sort of like activities, parties, protests did the Avengers plan, participate in?

DT: That's a good question. We were partially reactive, so whatever horrible thing had happened, mostly on campus but sometimes in the community, we would respond to that. Again, sexual assaults, racist violence, overt homophobia in classes. Again, transphobia wasn't happening much mainly because there were no out, visible trans people that I was aware of. We did some fundraising and this tapped into a really interesting question. Corvallis had a very strong lesbian and bi women's community, gay women's community but it was very underground. If you knew people, then you were part of the community but if you didn't people very much blended in. I'd say really white dominant. I would say mostly lesbian women. I don't think bi women were very well accepted in the larger community. 00:52:00There was this apartment complex called The Carolines which was owned by a lesbian. It was all lesbian and bi women and it was like, I never lived there but I dated people who did. It was so much drama. It was 90210 if it were all lesbians. People would be dating and breaking up and whatever, but it was kind of cool, a lesbian owned building. It was safe housing for queer women. I don't know. That was revolutionary and then also comic in some ways. When the Lesbian Avengers burst onto the scene, older generations of lesbians had really mixed feelings. Some were like, you go girl. Great, fantastic, get it, we needed something like this for a long time, but lots of people were like, you're rocking the boat. You're destabilizing. We've got a good thing going here. Don't mess it up. If you're out and visible and vocal and you're starting shit or 00:53:00whatever, then you're messing it up for all of us.

At the time, I felt pretty impatient with those arguments. It was a time when every out person would have made such a big difference. So many of these women were closeted, and I have empathy and I understand more now as I get older. I think at the time I was like don't ask us to slow down to make you more comfortable in your privilege. Do you know what I'm saying? We have to be who we are. Nothing's going to change if we stay silent. Being out is such a-and especially at that time, being out was such a, just a really important part of being active, because the whole thing is people just didn't think they knew gay people. They didn't know that their auntie, or their coworker, or their neighbor, or their son or whoever was, because people were so closeted. It felt "okay" to hate people if you never thought you knew them. It really caused this intergenerational conflict, and I think among queer women themselves. I remember 00:54:00some of our really strong supporters. There was a couple named Gwen and Caroline [phonetic] who were so meaningful, especially to Julie and I. I feel like they took us under our wing and were our mothers when our mothers couldn't be there for us, gave us good advice, let us know what was going on, helped fund us. The Lesbian Avengers kind of had a superhero theme. For every avenger who wanted them, Gwen is an amazing seamstress so she sowed capes for all of us, these pink satiny or frilly-I think mine was sporty mesh material. Everyone got their personalized capes sown and that's just such an incredible act of love. It meant so much for us to have our elders, as few as there were, seemingly, they were so loving and supportive.

Then I remember we had done an action against sexual violence and the women who 00:55:00ran-it was called CARDV, so Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, they may still be around, they wrote us a card and were like we really appreciate you doing this. That meant so much. A lot of older lesbians were just like you all are causing problems for us. We were kind of like, you all cause problems for us for not opening the road. We now have to shoulder this burden.

AD: What were major events that influenced the path the Avengers took, particularly the Corvallis one. I know you touched on the fire-bombing. How did the HIV/AIDS Crisis or Measures 9 and 13 influence you guys?

DT: I think those things were really relevant for context and they informed what 00:56:00we did. They gave us a sense of urgency. For example, the HIV/AIDS called to mind safer sex and a lot of that was more essential for men who were having sex with men and what now I would call trans women, which no one was talking about at the time in terms of being protected or recognizing people's struggles. It made us educate ourselves around safer sex, even for women, for women context. Using dental dams or lube or gloves, things like that. The Oregon Citizens Alliance, I feel like that was all hands on deck. People felt like such a threat. If you can imagine if the Oregon constitution said homosexuality and bisexuality are unnatural and perverse and government can't support them, that's-and especially we knew if it won in Oregon it would spread to other states. If it "worked here," then it would go across the nation. That felt really urgent. I like the Lesbian Avengers, because it was the official arm and, 00:57:00to be honest, it was very conservative. It was very much like if we don't rock the boat and we "look normal" and we look assimilationist and the message was kind of like, we're just like you. Don't hurt us. We're just like you. I think Avengers were like, we're not just like you and that's good. We are trying to destabilize these harmful patterns of patriarchy, heteronormativity, white dominance, colonialism. We weren't like, oh yeah if we just fit in everything's going to be fine. I could go on campus and organize a-well one great example of this that I love is as Avengers we could just kind of like start trouble if you will and start conversations and be very visible in ways that we couldn't on campus or through the campaigns.

I think in Corvallis the first spokesperson they chose was a straight person, 00:58:00which is fine. Straight, white woman, I believe. But it was kind of like, really? You won't even-like we're so awful, we're so untouchable that we can't even speak on our own behalf, so it was like, well, we don't want to choose someone that people-anyway, I don't know what they were thinking. I would still go and phone bank and distribute bumper stickers or pens, I would still participate in the mainstream campaign, but it felt really good to then go like scream and organize our rally on the streets on campus or in front of the courthouse. I can remember one of the things we did at our first meeting there was a woman, her name's Boky. She's out. At the time, she was on the women's basketball team. She was being told by her coach not to be out as a lesbian. They were like you got to hide who you are. There were other queer women, but it was so closeted. She was literally told, don't come out. She came to us and was like, hey what can I do about this? We organized the team. It was very popular 00:59:00with lesbian and bi women. There was a whole, there's two sides of the court. There was a whole side of the court that was all lesbian and bi women. People would have season tickets and it was like hundreds of women and then everyone else elsewhere, right? They would have these things called, take a girl to the game night. The "idea" was bring your daughter to "expose her" to being a woman athlete, or something. I don't know. We were like, oh, take a girl to the game night. What a great idea.

One of our first visible actions was we made this huge banner and it was like, Lesbian Avengers take your girl to the game night. It had our phone number. It was like, we recruit, right? We were trying to get visible. It started a shit storm. The coach was so mad. Campus was freaking out. Again, lesbian women in the community had this huge debate about was this doing good? Was it causing 01:00:00harm, whatever. Then I remember going to that action on say a Friday night or something and then on Monday going back to my job and just being [blithe whistling]. It felt like being a double agent in some ways, because we were doing these outrageous visual, causing a lot of uproar and ruckus in what I would consider a positive way and then going right back in. It was like I got to work in the system in a fairly conservative way and then also outside the system in a not conservative at all way. To me, the culmination of all that was I think a few years later the Athletics Department was, okay, fine. We have a problem with homophobia. We want a panel of students to come in, student leaders to come in and talk to us. I got to be one of the student leaders. It was that satisfying thing of we started this conversation and now we're back here to be the "benign official face" of the "likeable queers" that people could relate to. 01:01:00Having both of those, that dual role, was pretty satisfying.

I remember one of my other favorite actions that we did-so, I lived on 2nd street in a house right as you come into town you can see it on your right. It's like right as you come into town. During the campaign, we had an 8' pink triangle that said "No on Nine" in huge letters on our lawn. Our landlord tried to get us to take it down. We were like, no we're not taking it down. It became this legal issue. It made our house be a target and we got calls with death threats, which is really freaky when you think about it, because it means-and, again, there was no internet, right? It means someone who knew my phone number gave my phone number to someone I didn't know and then took the time to call and leave like, we're going to kill you, you fucking queers message on our answering 01:02:00machine at home. I think all queer people lived there. It was really scary, just that kind of scrutiny. I think you all had seen the pictures of somebody spray painted swastikas and white dominant and white supremacism and Nazi stuff on the shed in our backyard.

I remember one time I was out mowing the lawn and it was a really hot day so I took my shirt off. I was topless and I had breasts at the time, and someone called the police. Somebody driving by called the police. I had finished. I was in drinking a glass of water. These two officers knocked on my door. I was the only one home. They were like, so was someone mowing the lawn earlier. I was like, yeah that was me. They were like, did you take your shirt off? I was like, yes I did. They were like, um... just so you know, it's illegal. I was like, just so you know that's sexist. Why would it be okay for a man to have his shirt off and a woman can't. They were like, well, it's state statute. We can't do 01:03:00anything about it. We're not going to give you a ticket, but just don't do it again.

We were like, bullshit. We organized an action called, roller booby, where, and I got to drive the getaway van. I drove the van and dropped off Lesbian Avengers. This is one of those things of like, it's not a "lesbian issue" but it totally is. We dropped off I think half a dozen Lesbian Avengers who were on roller skates; they took off their shirts. They roller skated madly around downtown and then we had like, I drove for the pickup spot. They skated off and got in the van and we drove away. It was one of the things of like, if you mess with us we're going to mess with you back. If you have sexist rules about whose bodies are okay to see, then we're going to push back on those rules and we're going to fight back. That satisfying, when something happened, we had a group of people who we trusted to respond.


AD: How common was it to experience stuff like, because you mentioned there was the swastika on you know, graffiti that... I wanted to ask how common was that kind of stuff then? How was it received by other people in the community?

DT: That's a good question. The spray painting, that was the only time we experienced it. I wouldn't say it was common. But, anti-queer and anti-trans violence happened all the time. I think most of the times we met once a week and someone had experienced a significant-someone in the group had experienced a significant form of violence. I want to say verbal harassment. It wasn't always physical violence. A lot of that is what we responded to. If a fraternity called one of us a dyke, then we would show up on their doorstep and be like you can't 01:05:00call us dykes. Push back in some way. It happened all the time, and no hyperbole, for sure when I left the house people would say something, even if it wasn't always overtly hostile. We were constantly getting scrutinized and commented on in terms of our appearance, if nothing else sexist standards around femininity. A lot of times it was overtly anti-gay or anti-queer.

I do remember being kindly affirmed in my gender in this really weird way walking on 2nd Street in Corvallis and a car full of, I don't know that it was always guys, but I'm just going to go ahead and say guys being like, fucking dyke and being like, oh God, again. Then, two blocks later people driving by and being like, fucking faggot, and being like, okay at least I'm being affirmed in my gender queerness. If you're going to harass me at least it's not just one thing. I don't know. That's not a good thing, but it was stuff like that would 01:06:00happen all the time. It was very common. One of the interesting things, and, again I feel mixed about punishing, especially legal punishments, that's a really complicated conversation. There was no process of accountability. Not campus. Not our families. Not our neighbors. Not faith communities. Not the police or whatever that's going to do. There was no institution that was like, this is not okay and we're going to ask for accountability to make it stop. That's why the Lesbian Avengers felt so power at that point in my life, because we were the only organization that had-even on campus a lot of the "diversity" initiatives were very watered down and were kind of like, well, we'll do stuff as long as it doesn't destabilize the way we do business, right?

They were worried about, I remember, so do they still have Mom's Weekend? Do you all know? Okay. They'd have Mom's Weekend and we'd be like oh, we want to host 01:07:00an event for either queer moms or parents of queers on campus. They were like, absolutely not. We were like, so we made this poster that said, we have moms too. It's a picture of someone I read as a person of color who had made up their face half "masculine," or male, and half "feminine." The university felt no problem in being like you can't be visible. You can't do this. So, the next year we were like, f* this. We made sure that Pride Weekend fell on Mom's Weekend, because we were like you cannot tell us that we don't have moms or none of our moms are gay. You cannot do that. We made sure that it overlapped. It caused a lot of problems. They got a ton of complaints. And we were like, okay, deal with it. Tell these moms they have LGBTQ kids or some of them LGBTQ and that's how it is. They can't discriminate against us.


AD: How did being in the Avengers influence your coming to terms with your identity, maybe how did it help or not help you come out to yourself in other ways?

DT: That's a good question. I have probably known about 100 trans people, mostly trans guys or trans masculine people in my life. I think my experience is very unique in that I was proud to be a girl and a woman. I was proud to be a strong girl and a woman. I strongly identified as a woman and that hasn't shifted. During that period of time, I was an out and proud, I would say dyke, lesbian, Lesbian Avenger, for seven or eight years. A good chunk of time. That part of my life is really important to me. I value it. I learned so much. I felt with this 01:09:00group of people and pretty much only with this group of people, I felt valued. I felt at home. I felt seen. I felt how we were able to do that for each other. Even if Lesbian Avengers had gone on for 20 more years, I still would have transitioned at some point, but when I started to lose that community, and the group eventually disbanded. People can correct me if I'm wrong, other Avengers, I don't remember there being a big fight or anything like that. It was more people graduated or moved away. The time kind of shifted. It wasn't as violent of a time, even in those five or six years we were around. Things shifted enough. I moved to Portland and started a group called Gender Machine Works, which was kind of like Lesbian Avengers but for trans guys. It's my memory that things just naturally disbanded. We didn't have a fight or a split.

That time really allowed me to feel proud and strong as a queer woman and it was 01:10:00clear I was like, oh we can do something about this. We can resist. We can rebel. It can be joyful. It can be beautiful. It can have art and visuals and sexiness and connection. It also really brought home to me how important intersection-what we could call intersectionality. That we have got to work together, or we're not going to make it. I would say, well, my relationship with Julie. That's a whole other hour-long conversation, but she's a lifelong friend. We dated for five years and we split up right as I was starting to learn about trans people and I was like, oh maybe I'm one of these folks. She was kind of like, that classic I don't know-that transitioning, for any of you who have done it, takes a lot of energy. It can destabilize relationships anyway. It's hard to maintain those. Just as we were breaking up, mostly amicably. There were some 01:11:00fights, for sure, but she's been my dear friend for decades and her son, Arthur, is one of the loves of my life, a really important person in my life. As things were breaking is right when I started, well, just seeing images of trans people. Any kind of recognition that we existed. I started thinking, oh maybe there's something else besides being a butch dyke. There's some other layer to this that I'm not thinking about.

When I started transitioning I do feel like that changed my relationships and my friendships. Back then, I think queer women were kind of like, okay we respect your choice but you're not one of us anymore. It was this painful, again, some of it was just us naturally graduating or drifting apart, but some of it was okay, well, if you're going to do that then you're not one of us anymore, which 01:12:00was really complicated. I understand in some ways. I saw this happen, too, with my friends who maybe had been lesbians for years and then started dating a cis male partner. Some of it was biphobia. Some of it was harm, but some of it was like we just don't have much in common. When I started transition, I did decide to go on testosterone, as might be apparent by the way I look. Testosterone, when I started taking it, it shifted my attractions. I had never kissed a boy, ever. When I started taking testosterone, I started being attracted to guys. I was like, no offense straight people but I was like, okay well, I'm not going to be straight. I was like, how the hell am I going to go from being this out, flamboyant, proud, queer woman to a straight guy. I was like, okay I'm going to get to stay queer. I'm going to be a queer guy. I just didn't know anything about dating men or sex with men or whatever. That was a challenge. That took, 01:13:00again, a lot of energy. All of a sudden, I had to think about HIV and STIs in a different way. As a woman, yes, of course, women can get STIs from women partners, female partners, of any gender, but being thrown into the mix of having sexual relationships with gay and bisexual men, I was like okay now I really need to think about this in terms of condoms and what not.

I moved back to Portland. Julie had moved back I think a year before. Like I said, I started Gender Machine Works. I've been involved in activism since then, so that didn't go away. I will say that time of my life, I treasure it. It was so magical. It was so hard and so dangerous and so beautiful and I don't know. In talking to other people, I don't think very many people have had an experience like that, where they have this oasis of resistance, like a place 01:14:00where they can truly be themselves and resist and push back and fight back. I feel incredibly lucky to have had that.

AC: Do you want to pause so you can get another water?

DT: Okay. How are you all doing on time?

AD: We've gone about an hour and a half. A little less. Maybe an hour fifteen.

AC: I think if, I mean how are you doing on time?

DT: I'm fine.

AC: You good?

DT: Yeah. I'm loving these questions, Alice. Thank you.

AC: Because you've now answered a lot of our questions and a lot of events that we brought ahead. I think if we have about five minutes to just re-tidy so it will be easier for us to ask all of the questions.

DT: Cool. Yeah, I'll get water and let you all do your thing and just figure out what you want to do next.

AD: What was a normal day at OSU like as a member of the Lesbian Avengers? How did maybe your membership infect, not infect, but affect your relationships with 01:15:00people here?

DT: Good question. My normal day was probably a lot like yours. Wake up, usually as late as I possibly could, usually having stayed up too late procrastinating on a paper or project or reading or having sex, because there was lots of that. Then going to campus, focusing on my classes, usually dealing with, again, scrutiny and harassment if somebody looked visibly LGB. Being an Avenger it was good to know I had people to go home to. Again, like a role that my family of origin that should have been playing. People who I could talk to, brainstorm, problem solve, people who would protect each other. It was also good, it was almost like this secret network, because you'd be walking on campus and you'd see someone and be like [raised eyebrows and clicking sound], we know about each 01:16:00other. Other people may or may not. I think of that more as an activist thing than an LGBTQ thing. I think a lot of people who were out back then were just de facto activists. If you weren't an activist, you didn't come out. You just had to do so much work to be safe, to build a world that was even semi-accepting. Probably most of it was about the same as your lives. Different political context and I did feel good knowing that I had something to go home to, people who knew me and supported me and accepted my whole self. That was pretty important.

AC: Before we start to switch gears a little bit, just going back to some of the activist movements that you were talking about that you guys did, you mentioned that you worked with high schoolers. I'm just wondering if you could expand a little bit on that.

DT: Yeah, I think one of the most satisfying things, my experience of dominant 01:17:00US, especially white dominant culture, is that it's ahistorical and single generation. Most of us aren't lucky to have intergenerational relationships, I think especially in white communities. With queers, I think that was true to some extent, too. I didn't meet an older gay person that I knew of, I think my women's studies professor sophomore year-one woman was out as bi. One woman was out as lesbian. It wasn't until I was a young adult that I met anyone that was part of my kin or part of my people. Again, we got a mixed reception from lesbian and bi women, our elders here in the community. One of the things that was really important to us is that young people could see us, hear us, and identify us, find us when they need us. That happened a number of times. There was a young man named Paul who was at, I wanna say Corvallis High School. Are 01:18:00there two CVHS? Anyone here know? No? I think there were two high schools. He was at Corvallis High School and he was trying to start a gay-straight alliance. Now, where I work, those are in elementary and middle schools. It's not a big deal.

Back then it was very controversial, according to the principal. He was very determined and he and I knew each other, I can't remember how we met. Because Avengers were so visible, young people would come to us. We would hang out or talk or give people advice or listen. I remember he was walking home, Paul was walking home, and one of his classmates punched him in the face, knocked his tooth out. He bled all over the sidewalk. He knew who it was. That person didn't deny it. Again, police, cultural solutions are not going to get us where we want to go, but the police were kind of like, what did you expect? Again, this repeated-and even the school was like, well, you probably provoked it because 01:19:00you're a gay man by looking at him, or whatever BS that was happening. We demonstrated at that high school. Then there were a few students that were out at the other high school and they asked us to come. These were support rallies, but the leadership at that school, and I can't remember... somebody knows, the "other" high school, whatever name it was. I want to say Christen Valley or something like that. They put the building on lockdown and they said it was a riot. They called the police. This was literally us-there's pictures in the album-we're literally like, honk if you support gay students. Rainbows. Friendly-this was not a riot. I'm fine with a riot. There's a time and place for a riot, but this was not a riot, but it was characterized as this massive threat to like the building and whatever. We were like, students invited us here. You do have LGBTQ students for sure at your school. There are probably LGBTQ staff. 01:20:00This is not some outsider threat. People kind of lost their, went bananas about it.

It was really important for us to be visible and to be-and these were students of all genders and, okay, I'm on SCRUFF, judge me if you have to. It's an app for gay, bi, queer men to find other gay, bi, queer men to date, or what have you, and just a few weeks ago one of the young people from, Julie and I also did a support group in the basement in one of the churches on Monroe, and so we met dozens of young people there. This was one of the first support groups for LGBTQ youth. We were both on SCRUFF and he was in Portland and he messaged me and was like, hey I don't know if you know, but you being out and visible made such a difference. He has two moms and so one of the things he said, and this was really interesting to me because I would have been maybe barely out as trans at 01:21:00that point. He was like, the way you model being a man, being kind, being gentle, he said stylish, he said James Dean (it was very flattering), but I don't know it's been 30 years. It's been a long time and he still wanted to reach out and say what a difference that it made to have visible out people who were affirming and nurturing and supporting him and trying to give young people a way. It's a cliché, but what we all wish we had had, adults who are like, I see you. I'm here for you. You're good. You're good at how you are teaching people how to resist and fight back and be active. It was one of the most satisfying parts of being an Avenger.

AD: You touched on queer dating a little bit just now. I wanted to ask what was it like back in the '90s to be dating as a queer person in college in the '90s.


DT: Yeah, the dating pool was very small. There weren't very many people who were out. Lots of drama because of that. I dated in Portland and also here. One of the things that's important to me is non-monogamy. I've never been in a monogamous relationship. It's never been something that's been important to me to have just one partner who meets all my needs. I'm not sure if that's possible. If you're doing that, good work. You have my applause, because I think that's very hard. A lot of people had city girlfriends. People hooked up a lot of times at our topless all-girl dance parties that we would host. It was an outlet. I think of sexuality as a necessary part of being human. It can be central, not for everyone, but it can be central to the life force or joy, pleasure, connection, those kinds of things. We would host social spaces where 01:23:00women could hold hands or make out or have sex in the bedroom, whatever it might be, or on the couch, but it was really important to us to hold that space to meet each other, because there were so few people that we, there just weren't very many out people. Getting us all in one room was important. Being able to dance and have fun was important. I think, you know, there was, dating can be hard when you're in a community that's so much on lockdown.

I think there was, I remember the people at the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence there were these kind of conflicting reports that came out. Some were like there's no violence in lesbian communities because there's no unequal power dynamic like there is between a man or a woman. Then a year later someone was like, there's lots of, there's still domestic interpersonal violence, partnership violence in our communities. People struggled a little bit, but at 01:24:00the time one of the things that I love about being queer is it's about our sexuality and that can be asexual. It can be lesbian. It can be bi. It can be queer. It can be gay. It can be a lot of different varieties, but our sexuality back then was one of the things that you united us. That was really important. Butch fem was really important. I really appreciate that dynamic. I still do as someone who was a masculine woman and pretty much universally despised by heterosexual culture it was really lovely to find fems, like women who, and not all fems are into butches or masculine people, but people who were like no, no, no-I see you and I like you. I like that you're this way. That was really healing and that felt really good. Not everybody was into butch fem but a lot of people who I looked up to or the people that I admired were.

Julie and I had a butch-fem relationship. I also liked it because we could build 01:25:00it on egalitarian, healthy masculinity. Being masculine didn't have to be me repeating the unhealthy patterns that I saw from my father or my brothers or my culture, or my faith community, or whatever. It was a chance to be like, okay, masculinity can be beautiful. I can make it what I want. I can cook. I can clean. I can nurture and still be masculine. There's no, it felt like there didn't have to be limitations being a woman or female participating in masculinity. I'm trying to think. There were some couples that were a long term. I don't think-I'm trying to think of who. I'm not in touch with all Avengers anymore. I think there's one couple that's still together, which is pretty amazing. Most of us, as is pretty common I think in college, people broke up or somebody graduated or left. Julie and I are still friends. I'm in touch a little bit with Carla [phonetic], who is one of the founding Avengers. Yeah, dating was 01:26:00important. I will say we did a pretty dang good job of having social space, sexual space, and activist space all together, because that can be really challenging. That can be really difficult. We were able to braid those things together in a way that worked, instead of them kind of stop. I know some queers, two people break up and that group's gone. It's totally over, but that didn't happen that I recall.

AD: I know you didn't really have a great relationship with your parents, but I kind of wanted to know if there was any, did you stay in contact with them at all when you were in college and if the Lesbian Avengers influenced that?

DT: [Sighs]. No. When I came out I came out to myself in the summer of my 18th 01:27:00year. Then I got my feet under me, then I went home and I remember telling my mom and her response was that she didn't want me home anymore because she didn't want me around my little sisters because she assumed I was a child molester. There was pretty an immediate you're not welcome here. We tried for probably ten, maybe 15 years. I was like there's got to be an angle. There's got to be something. You raised me. There's got to be something in me that you see that you value. I will say in her defense, and my dad in my early 20s he just stopped talking to me. He's very conservative and religious and he, like he was a big 01:28:00fundraiser for Measure VIII in California, so he's very anti-gay marriage, very much politically active against gay people. He and I don't talk at all. We haven't for a long time. I didn't even think-oh yeah, he has seen me once since I've transitioned at one of my sister's weddings.

With my mom, in her defense I came out as a dyke at 18 and then came out as trans in my mid 20s and then came out as a guy who's into guys in my late 20s. So, she had to deal with three comings-out. Part of me is like, don't you get better and better? Like, sure the first time it's a shock. Second time, you're like okay, I've done this. Third time you should be pretty damn good at it. No. We don't talk anymore. She's still very homophobic and transphobic. Of my siblings, two are also very homophobic and transphobic and then four of us are either gay or trans or queer. You know, that's a lovely thing. The "heathens" is 01:29:00how we think of ourselves kind of hanging together and that's not true-one is a really good ally, but she is heterosexual and cis gender. With my family, I feel lucky that I kept some of my siblings.

I don't have aunts, uncles. My grandparents were really-I'm not really in contact with my dad's parents and they're dead now. My relationship to my mom's dad, my grandfather, was really important. He's a white man. He's very prejudice against immigrants and Jews and people of color and women and queers and trans people, but at a certain point I just kept being like, okay, but there's something here. We're family. He definitely came around at least on the queer stuff. He's probably still, well he's gone now, but he stayed prejudiced in a 01:30:00lot of ways. He was the only person older than I am in my family who I knew without a question of a doubt loved me and I don't know how he wrapped his head around it, because, again, he's very prejudiced and biased but I knew that he loved me. I knew that he loved me for who he was and he worked hard to get there. That was really important to me, but, in terms of my parents, no. Something that I hear is changing, that for young people like some people's parents are able to support them. I don't know if that's true for any of you all. That's so important. We make our own families. We can create them if we need to, but that idea that you would stop loving your kid because of who they are is just so harmful, just incredibly harmful.

AD: What do you think would be the most important contribution that the Lesbian 01:31:00Avengers made to both Corvallis and the Gay Rights Movement in general?

DT: I would say during a time when oppression and discrimination and violence was the most overt and the most pronounced during the early '90s with the OCA and the Measures IX and XIII, that was the time when there was the most organized hatred. People were not even shy about it. It was just like, well, yes of course I hate gay people. Why wouldn't I? During the time I feel like it was like this pressure cooker of repression trying to lock people down. I feel like the Lesbian Avengers, like our logo, pushed back on that and made so much space. We were like we will be inclusive of trans people. We will work cross culturally 01:32:00or across difference to build coalition. We will be flamboyant and loving and nurturing. We will be artistic. We will be joyful. We will be beautiful. We will be visible. Instead of I feel like a lot of the campaigns carved out a small amount of space and we tried to push back and push those boundaries and really create space. Again, every now and again I'll run into a young person and they will tell me or, I don't know, the fact that we have queer pride week. I think it's queer pride month on campus? Am I right? Some of the things that we just started in a small way have grown and grown. The Pride Center. I can remember going there last spring and just being in awe of the people there and the young activists and just being like, wow. This work has continued. It's even more nuanced and powerful and collaborative. I don't know. Stuff like that just makes me feel really happy. The Women's Center is still there and having a chance to 01:33:00meet with the staff. Again it was this thing of like we could have only hoped and dreamed for this to happen and you all are doing it. I imagine in my time things aren't perfect, but seeing that that continues and how far people have taken it, those things are deeply satisfying.

AD: Within the Lesbian Avengers, I'm wondering your opinion. What do you think was your most important contribution? What are you most proud of?

DT: It felt so collective. I don't know. I don't know as one person. I know I played a leadership role. I know I helped get things done. I think we all shared a mindset. One of the things that's most important to me is to be multi-issue, 01:34:00that we weren't like lesbian issues only, that we were like no. We've got to work together. I wouldn't say just I brought that. I think we all felt that way. That's something I'm really proud of us as Avengers, that we were just like all of us or none of us. We've got to work together, especially that we were inclusive around, again, not just being you have to be cis and five-star lesbian or whatever else. We were like, no. We had Brian Parks was an Avenger. He's not a woman. He's queer, but we had, it was like creating a family of your dreams of the people who, again, loved you and saw you and helped you, but we did that collectively.

I wouldn't say it was just me. I am really proud of the stuff I did on campus, like being the first LGBTQ advocate, starting Queer Pride Week and we had a tent 01:35:00in the quad. We were shot at. We had the ROTC came and did calisthenics and sung an anti-gay chant at like 5:00 in the morning. When we were trying to be visible there was so much pushback but I'm proud that we stood strong and that we were like, we're not going to be intimidated. We can see through this for what it is, which is fear and insecurity, and that's not worth growing. That's not something that I have to bow to be afraid of in some ways.

AD: How is-I'm trying to figure out how to say this... how did you cope with a lot of the discrimination you faced, especially when you were younger before you came out or even after you came out? How did you cope with the discrimination?


DT: I think compartmentalizing was really valuable, trying to be-one thing that's been really important to me for my whole life is that idea of that's not about me. That's about them. If I was in high school and somebody called me "lessie," it's like, well, that doesn't reflect on me. That reflects on them. That's been incredibly valuable. I think having a sense of activism, that I don't have to passively accept the conditions of the world, that we can push back and fight back. Once I did find friends who were out and who, again, the Lesbian Avengers were my first group of people who were out and celebrating queerness, and that was incredibly healing. Turning that anger and frustration 01:37:00into action was really important, making art and beauty was really important. The visuals, the t-shirts, the posters, and the scrapbooks, that saying or the slogan: we take the fire within us, we take it and make it our own. Just being like, this isn't going to destroy us. It's going to fuel us. That was really important. Nurturing, like paying it forward, paying it backward, trying to make sure that I'm leaving whatever community I'm in-I won't say better, but making more space for people to be their authentic selves. Stuff like that. Some crying. Some cocktails. A lot of the normal stuff that people do. I think my connections with people are what saved my life, though, for sure because there had been many, many times when I just was like, there is not a place in this 01:38:00world for me. I cannot do this another day. I cannot handle this, but having people see me and love me and just, it's not like we tell each other it's going to be okay, because I don't know if it's going to be okay. But we will stand by each other. We will support each other. We will be there for each other to the end, whatever the end looks like. That messaging is really important to me to give and get and those people in my life who have shown me that, it's been incredibly important.

AD: Could you share your thoughts on how you feel about the way that language has changed in the queer community in the past 20, 30 years.

DT: That's a good question. I love the word queer as a descriptor of our sexuality, for someone like me who was a dyke and is now I would say fag identified. It's a good word that describes that process without having to spell 01:39:00things out or go into detail. I was just reading last night just for my own interest, MOGII, which is Marginalized Orientations, Gender alignment something, like the acronyms [Marginalized Orientations, Gender Identities, and Intersex]. LGBTQ, which has expanded and contracted, depending on who's included. QUILTBAG is cute and also, if you all don't know, that's like Queer, Unidentified, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay. It's more inclusive than LGBTQ. I love that we're wrestling with that language constantly. I loved deciding who is a lesbian just kind of being like, okay, is a woman who dated young men all through high school but still identifies as a lesbian, is she a lesbian? She says she is, she is. These questions of identity I love.

We said this earlier when the camera wasn't on, but I love the young people are 01:40:00leading the way and teaching us different ways to think about this and it is young people who even put trans people on the radar, non-binary people. I think my elders were like: you got gay; you got lesbian, straight people-that's all there is. Young people have been the ones to be like, no. There's so much more. That's super lovely. I don't feel compelled. I was just having a conversation with some really amazing people who I admire in Latinx: Latine/Latino/Latina community about the history of Latinx and talking about where did this come from and I remember one person saying, listen, having as many different kinds of-because I was like in this clumsy way of being like, okay tell me what's the best term that's the most inclusive. Hearing back people being like, listen it's lovely that there's more than one term that fights colonialism. It honors indigeneity, the idea that there's not just one word for one concept. We don't 01:41:00need one word to unify us. It's beautiful that there's lots of different words. Hearing that, it just reminded me of how these conversations will keep going on forever. We're not doing ourselves any favors when we stab ourselves in the back, when there's in-fighting, but creating more language is, I don't know, that's always a beautiful thing. I love how it's evolved. Again, when I got here it was the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. There was a group even before that, and I can't remember what they were called. Do any of you know? It was something really subtle. It was not, I don't even think it had the word gay in it.

AD: I'm thinking of the GSA.

DT: No. It was before Gay and Lesbian Alliance. It was a club at OSU. Anyway, I can't remember. Someone knows. It was like, "the people's club" or something like that, where you're like, okay, yeah. Then there was the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Then there was a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Alliance. Then Lesbian, Gay, 01:42:00Bisexual, Transgender Alliance. That's when I left off at OSU. Pride Center's great. I know there's been other stuff. These questions are, I think, they're wonderful. We should keep having these conversations.

AD: What do you do now after college?

DT: Yes. That's a good question. I had wanted to work in forestry and that's what I studied and what I graduated in. My last year of school OSU had an international forestry degree. I wanted to work globally to figure out, okay, there are indigenous people-owned lands. There's tourism. There's trees. There's mining. There's whatever, looking at what are the most harmonious ways that we can make sure the people who have stewarded the land forever make the decisions. I had a chance to, through OSU, I got an internship working as a white water 01:43:00rafting guide doing ecotourism in Honduras. While I was there on the plane down I met a Canadian human rights lawyer. He is a gay man named Richard, and he was going down to, he was traveling to study what is happening with gay rights in the country. It was a very incredibly dangerous time for people who lived there. I remember he was like, hey, I found a gay bar, the one gay bar in the whole country. It was a bar. When we went, it seemed to me mostly what I would identify now as trans women, I think mostly women who were working and then maybe some tourists. While we were there we were just having drinks and flirting and dancing and the military police showed up with machine guns and were like everybody line up in the bar and they, most people who weren't Honduran-you 01:44:00didn't always carry your passport, so neither Richard or I had our passports. They were like, you two you can go. We were like, no. We know if we leave there won't be witnesses to whatever you're going to do next. But they had machine guns and they were like go. So, we stepped outside the door but we stayed. The police were inside, or the military, I'm not quite sure which. We stayed for about 45 minutes just trying to be like what the hell is happening in there?

That happened in addition to a ton of street harassment and things like that, though the woman I was doing an internship with, I assumed from the way that I looked that she knew I was queer, but when I mentioned I have a girlfriend she freaked out and she said I don't want you around my daughter anymore. My internship ended because she was like, get out. You have to leave. I was like, okay. I'm in Honduras for two more weeks with no place to stay. That happened 01:45:00and then I had a job fighting forest fires in rural Idaho and in the panhandle. There, again, when I would go to go get groceries or something people would follow me home in cars and say, I want to kill you, you fucking dyke. It just was-I was like okay, where the trees are it is not safe for me to be as a butch woman. I was like, okay I need to rethink this whole forestry thing. I was trying to put together a job with a crew out of Eugene, but because we had to put our resumes to get jobs, sort of like what our crew was, and most of my jobs at the university and on campus had been queer rights stuff, so, it was like "Coordinator of Lesbian, Gay, Bis." We just kept not getting jobs and so eventually they just told me not to, they were kind of like, we're not going to get jobs as long as you are a part of our team. Stuff like that kept happening. I was like, okay.


Right at that time the Benton County Health Department had a job doing HIV prevention with gay and bi men. I wasn't identifying as male, but I was like, well I could do this for like a minute. I took that job and just went into public health and never looked back. It was much more welcoming, much less dangerous, less life threatening. I have done a lot of public health work since then. I worked at the Sexual Minority Young Recreation Resource Center in Portland. The first year it was open I got to be their HIV Prevention Coordinator, the Volunteer Coordinator, and I ran it for I think three or four months. I started Gender Machine Works. Now I facilitated the youth group at my synagogue for a while. Then now I facilitated a young Jewish activist group of 01:47:00all queer people. I co-facilitate that. I do a lot of volunteering and activism. I'm not in forestry anymore. When I came to visit OSU, what was it six months ago, it was really amazing to meet students who were in forestry. I remember somebody saying, yeah the first forestry professor I had was a non-binary person. That was like mind-blowing. It made me so happy, because that was not happening when I was here at all. I'm in public health stuff now. Mostly I'm a sex ed teacher and I work with high school and middle school students and teach a class at PSU teaching sex ed. I did make a career. It was not in forestry, though. I miss it. Sometimes people are like, do you ever wish you had been able to? I'm like, yeah. That's what I, from when I was young that's what I wanted to be. That's what I trained to be, but it just was too dangerous for me. Maybe someone else could have, but it was too much for me.


AD: What was it like transitioning in the time you did? What kind of supports did you have?

DT: In the mid-'90s was when I started to get an inkling, again, that something besides me being a butch dyke was going on. There was very little trans visibility at all, and what there was had been created by trans women. There were groups for trans women. Again, the internet was just starting to be a thing. There were trans women online who were creating space, but not much for trans masculine or trans guy people. I remember a photographer named Loren Cameron put out a book of portraits. I don't remember what it was called, but it was photographs of trans guys. I remember seeing it at Powell's or something and just being like, oh! This is a thing. I knew that if I transitioned or took 01:49:00steps towards it I would lose this community that was really important to me because I wouldn't be a woman anymore. There was also the urgency, or dysphoria, where it's like I can't live in my body and then also the social being perceived as male and feeling that was "right," but then also it being like a huge threat. There was, I'm trying to think, I saw that book of portraits. I remember being like, okay if I were going to transition would I take testosterone? Would I have surgery? Back then no insurance was covering it. It was all out of pocket. I remember you had to do the real life test. You were supposed to live as a year whatever your new sex without any hormones or surgery, which is incredibly dangerous.


I remember I had to go to therapy, too. I had had experiences, forced therapy, as a young person that were incredibly traumatic and harmful, so to have to go to therapy again. I was like, ugh. I don't want to do this. It turned out, I think the therapist was doing the best that she could. It was Phoenix Rising, so, it was like a LGBT, I'm going to say an LGB therapist community. She asked questions like, well, what gym are you going to go to? I'm was like, that doesn't make me a man. Working out doesn't make me a man. At the time it was very important that people, they didn't want people to transition and become gay. So, it was like, okay but you're still going to be attracted to women, right? So, you're going to be a man who's attracted to women? I was like, I guess. I don't know. The gate keeping was very strong. I had to go through that. 01:51:00I remember going to my endocrinologist when I finally got hormones, or I got okayed for hormones. She, although she's an endocrinologist, was like tell me about your childhood. Tell me about-it was this gate keeping where I'm like, you're not a psychologist. I had to pay money and go through this gate keeping and jump through hoops with the psychologist. Now the endocrinologist was doing the same thing, even though her job was to be like, okay, you've passed all this other stuff. Here's a bottle of testosterone. I remember Julie and I think we were living together, or she drove me. I had tried to find trans-inclusive healthcare in Eugene or Corvallis and people literally were like, we don't do that type of thing. I was like, not a thing. It's also just hormones. It's not-you could, but you're choosing not to. Okay, whatever. I'd go to Portland to get it. She drove me up. I remember it was December 31, 1998. I got the bottle, 01:52:00the little bottle of testosterone. They were like, do you know how to inject it? I was like, sure, yeah, yeah. Totally. I was like, do not stop me. I don't need another barrier. I had found in a zine somewhere there was a step by step how to inject testosterone. I was like, alright. We went home. I was 11:00 p.m. at night. I was like, I'm doing this. I was like, okay I need to be alone. I was all alone in my room. I remember having it and looking at the zine and being like, oh God I hope I did this right and injecting my first shot. It was really hard-won.

I had changed my name a few years before, which my dyke community was so supportive of. I remember they held a party and there was a "it's a boy," "it's a girl" banners that you can get for a birth. It was like "it's a boy," "it's a girl," above the door. People were really celebratory, which I really appreciated a lot. Doing that felt a little more personal and individual and 01:53:00obviously many changes happened since. I remember the next morning waking up, and it was December, right? Well, it was January then. But my feet were warm and I was like yes! [Laughs]. Testosterone is going make it so my feet are warm, which is so goofy, but I remember that happening and being like, okay, this is going to be okay.

AC: Could you talk a little bit about the shift in privileges that happened? After and sort of while you were transitioning and after you transitioned?

DT: That's a good, yeah that's a long, long conversation. I was a pretty masculine girl my whole life, so I don't know what it's like to be a feminine girl. I've mentioned a few times there were times during my childhood that I 01:54:00passed-that's a complicated word but I'm just going to use it as shorthand-as a boy and that felt affirming but also really dangerous because I knew I was going to found out. Being a masculine queer woman was, I think of it was chronic and acute. That felt chronically dangerous. All the violence that happens against women. All the violence that happens against queers and also against people who are gender variant in some way. That was a huge focus and I'm talking job discrimination, violence, harassment, sexual violence, in community violence, out community-because I think cis gender and/or heterosexual people are like, oh, LGBTQ, one big happy family, but you all probably know we still will cause harm even in our community around racism or around transphobia, biphobia, invisibilizing, sexism, all those kinds of things are still in play, unfortunately. [ When I started transitioning, it became really clear to me that 01:55:00I was exchanging some type of cis gender privilege, a privilege of having a body that at least nominally matched my assigned sex and I apologize for getting a little intellectual here. I had been assigned female and as long as I was a girl or a woman I could always fall back on that. No matter what I look like, it was still like a doctor would still be like, well, you're a female. You're a masculine female, but you're still female, right? I had that, what I would consider cig gender privilege, even though, again, I wasn't like a feminine girl. When I transitioned, I had to give up that and it's a lot. It's federal rights. It's state rights. It's family security, dating. All my education and job history was under my female name. When I transitioned, I had to start a 01:56:00career. If I listed a reference or my job or something, it was all under a female name. There's this very before and after period. I would say how I look now, I definitely get male privilege. It's revocable and superficial. There's always the threat of being found out. One of the things I notice is say we go to a café or coffee shop. The person behind the counter would often overlook a woman who was in front of me and be like, oh, can I help you sir? I think because I was such an ardent feminist I'd be like, oh she was here before me. I can push back on that. It's clear to me that the minute someone finds out that I'm trans that is gone in an instant and I have to deal with transphobia and homophobia. It's really complicated.

I think people want to make it linear and simple, and it's not. It's not at all. 01:57:00I think of being a girl and a woman as a protective factor. So, moving from a women's community there isn't an equivalent of a men's community. Men are not actually, I'm generalizing here, but it's been my experience that men, even queer men, aren't great at taking care of each other. It's very dog-eat-dog and hierarchical. If you're a trans guy you're not high on the hierarchy. There's a lot of violence that men are going to visit against you. I had to give up what felt like some safety and security, and I love this, anywhere I went as a woman there was like, oh you're a woman, too. We're going to, and, again, we harm each other in plenty of ways, but it was like, oh we can, especially queer women, it was like oh we'll, I'll slide you the free coffee or I'm going to make it just a little bit easier for you to do whatever. Women in forestry, we hung together 01:58:00because it was like we have this thing in common and becoming legally male I lost that. I gained superficial male privilege, for sure. People listen to me more when I talk. Especially someone who's white and looks male, people they give more weight to my opinions. I noticed feeling much safer in the world, like when I was a woman walking down the street at night I would constantly be scanning or being like am I safe? What's going to happen? I don't do that anymore, because people read me as cis, cisgender. But I know I'm being misgendered and that sucks, because people are like-I've gone to trans events and people are like what are you doing here?

There's an event in Portland called, T*Party. We named ourselves before the conservative movement called Tea Party, but T was for trans. We hold it in a park and it's this big celebration. It's like, we had it during-my friend and I 01:59:00started it because gay pride just never had anything for trans people. So, it's like okay we're going to have this event on Friday before the pride weekend, so there's at least one thing that we all can go to. Like, 200 people would show up. It was a popular draw, but one year I was cleaning off a table or something and someone was like what are you even doing here? This isn't for people like you. I was like, I started this. I get misgendered because of cis gender people's, no offence, lack of imagination of who could be trans. People will see me and be like, no. But I also recognize that from someone who has lived being in between male and female, I know how dangerous that is and I know that some people will never choose to or be able to be perceived as one or the other. I know I get a lot of safety and privilege by being perceived as male, even though 02:00:00that's misgendering, even though that's not who I am or who I know myself to be. One thing that I've noticed is now when I walk down the street, if it's at night sometimes I see women cross the street to not be with me and it's so painful. I also get it. People who look like me perpetuate a ton of violence. Whether I would do that or not is not relevant to her, because she's doing her best to keep herself safe. It's one of those things where I'm like, I just want to be like ah! We have more in common than we do not. But I understand. It's complicated. That was a great question. I love that that conversation is happening, especially across race and culture and language and gender and orientation. We definitely need to keep talking about that.

AD: After everything you have been through, if you could go back to your younger self at any point in your life, what would you want to tell yourself?


TD: I played this game a ton, especially with trans friends. I felt like I wouldn't do it. My younger self would have been so freaked out if I showed up and was like, hey [laughs]. I feel like she would have been like, what the hell? I don't know. If I could, I would tell that little kid you're good how you are. You can make a life. It's not going to be easy. You're going to find people who value you. You're going to find people who love you and who can be your family. Just tell her to stay strong. Tell her to stay open-minded. There's going to be some changes, but yeah. I feel like she would be pretty freaked out [laughs] if I was like, hi. I'm you from the future. She'd be like, okay [laughs]. But yeah, 02:02:00that's a great question.

AD: Is there anything else that you wanted to share that you think we didn't touch on?

TD: That's a lot. We covered a lot of territory. Thank you. Thank the three of you. I really appreciate your time and your care and your enthusiasm and your care and your questions. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

AC: Thank you.

AD: Thank you.

TM: Thank you.