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15 July 2015

History of TAO: Part 2: 1972-80. TAO in Miami Beach


Part II. 1972-82. TAO in Miami Beach

Part 1: to 1972. USAF, music, GLF
bibliography
Part 2: 1972-82. TAO in Miami Beach
Part 3: aftermath

1972
Douglas and TAO move to Miami Beach. Publishes Moonshadow and later Mirage Magazine over next three years. Douglas: "Year of the Transsexual in Miami Beach: hundreds were there, from all over the nation, and many Puerto Ricans and Cubans. … the cha-chas became as thick as tourists; the Latin transsexuals were referred to as 'cha-chas'."

Transvestites are still no longer welcome as members.

Douglas and Colette Goudie meet during the protests against the Presidential conventions in Miami Beach.

Kilo, 22 and pre-op, is a TAO member and also a popular performer who had appeared at the Stonewall club in a production of Wild Side Story.

Miami Beach's anti-cross-dressing ordinance is declared unconstitutional and police threaten to rewrite it. Kilo calls for street protests. The police continue to enforce the old ordinance nevertheless.

1973
Collette Goudie joins TAO, as do Kimberly Barreiro and Tara Carn, Puerto Rican-born, New York-raised. Douglas: Goudie and Carn were ‘both very beautiful and wild and hated each other with a hot passion. Getting them to work together was nearly impossible’.

Kimberly fully transitions with surgery in less than a year. She marries Steve Elliot and they became involved in Art Kleps' psychedelic Neo-American Church at Millbrook, New York.

Goudie & Carn are arrested on Twenty-first Street beach for disorderly conduct. Surprisingly they are well treated by the police.

TAO sets up a 'security force' to stop police and public abuse of 'transsexuals and gays'.

After a raid and arrests at the Stonewall Club on Twenty-first Street, Douglas files suit for discrimination.

Article in Mirage objects to the emphasis in mainstream media on the medical aspects of transsexuality. There are more severe problems including exploitation by surgeons, psychiatrists and gender identity clinics, as well as extortion and persecution by the police.

After the American Psychiatric Association announced that homosexuality would no longer be considered a mental illness, TAO called for transsexualism to be likewise removed (although technically it was not even added until the 1980 version of the DSM).

1974
Douglas steps down as president. Barbara Rosello becomes president of TAO: "Tao is an organization for transexuals only … We have many goals which can only be accomplished by our own efforts."

Rosella resigns due to family pressures and nerves. Goudie becomes 3rd president in September.

Carn was to have her photograph in Mirage. Her boyfriend was terrified. Carn: 'I'm proud of what I am, and I want to help anyway I can.' She is also quoted saying that that she is lesbian, and likes girls and other transsexuals.

Carn passes well. However the Miami Beach police follow her around and tell men that she is a 'fag in a dress'. "To retaliate, the beautiful Tara sometimes went to a crowded beach, started dancing topless to music from a radio and after a crowd of applauding people surrounded her, would take off her bikini panties, display her male genitals and cause a near riot. Police would arrive and she’d shake her genitals at them, screaming ‘you say I’m a man’ ...She was taken to jail, fined, and sometimes went back and repeated the performance."

Goudie and 2 other TAO members appear on Marsh and Adams Show on WKID in Fort Lauderdale, and discuss housing discrimination, police harassment, difficulties receiving proper medical attention and difficulties with getting identification.

During June, the Miami News published a series on transsexual issues. Four trans women are featured including two TAO members: Tara Carn and Colombian-American Crystal Gresham.

Crystal Gresham is TAO Miami Beach director. She ‘lives fully as a female except when teaching ballroom dance to elderly women in Miami Beach’.

Douglas first meets surgeon Dr John Brown. ‘He wanted to help aid me and came up with several thousand dollars cash to help publish Mirage Magazine. In exchange, I promoted him considerably’.

Canary Conn publishes her autobiography, followed by appearances on television.

TAO had increasingly bad-mouthed the Erickson Educational Foundation, which indeed never mentioned TAO or other militant organizations in its newsletters. Despite this Zelda Suplee on behalf EEF offers $20,000 to 'place the TAO within the EEF's framework'. Douglas declines, in that 'every cent would have strings attached'.

A TAO press release suggests that the CIA is behind the transsexual program at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, and that Donald Laub at Stanford's Gender identity Clinic was connected with a plot to transplant the brains of transsexuals.

1975
In February issue of Mirage Jennifer Otera 'third place winner in the Miss [Gay?] Universe contest held in Caracas’ reports on intense police harassment in Venezuela.

In the same issue, Goudie is asked about transvestites: "I have nothing against them. Some transsexuals say they are transvestites because it’s easier for the world to comprehend. But it’s not the same. A transvestite is a man who dresses up like a woman for a little while and then becomes a man again. A transsexual, like you and me and so many others, live as we are all of the time. It is so different ...I don’t think it’s good for both TVs and TSs to belong to the same groups, as the values are so different, the laws and problems are so different. In some ways the problems overlap, but not completely."

However units or associate memberships were set up for non-transsexual members. Lesbian and transvestite units were created. The police did not observe any distinction between transvestites and transsexuals, and Moonshadow and Mirage continued to report harassment of both groups.

Intersex persons were offered full membership.

"TAO also strongly relates to the problems and efforts of transvestites, gay men and women and feminists. However, we consider transexualist values of paramount importance and are not subject to the values of other sociosexual liberationist movements, such as the feminist and gay liberation movements. We prefer to meet members in person."

Goudie on August cover of Moonshadow. Contains article by Douglas & Goudie on trans Santaria deities, especially Santa Barbara/Shango.

Kilo dies in a house fire.

Gay Action Alliance – Miami sue the police in Miami Beach for brutality, but refuse to include transsexuals in the lawsuit, even though they were more often targeted. This leads to TAO breaking off relations.

A network of UK trans activists loosely affiliate themselves with TAO. The group in Birmingham was run by Brooklyn (ftm) and Leyla (mtf) who were a couple. They urged an "anarcho-transformative, transsexual-separatist agenda" such as protesting a National Front march. Stephen Whittle, for a short while ran a London TAO group. (Whittle in Ekins & King: 192).

Birmingham TAO put out a leaflet: "The T.A.O. is a national organization which is open to all transsexuals (whether they are presently undergoing sex change treatment or not) irrespective of their race, religion, politics or sexual orientation. The T.A.O. has no official membership at present and is not structured. All decisions as to the running of the organization are taken collectively."

Moonshadow reports that TAO has had chapters in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando and Jacksonville as well as Miami Beach. Abroad it has chapters in Canada, England and Northern Ireland. Almost a thousand members in all.

++In this year, trans man Joe Carstairs sells his home, Whale Cay in the Bahamas, and buys a house in Miami.   There is no reason to assume that he ever contacted TAO.

1976
Canary Conn reportedly killed (reported by Douglas, however Kay Brown says that she met Canary at a later date).

TAO disbanded? Douglas travels in California and Hawai'i. Carn also leaves Miami, and has gender surgery. They meet again in Hawai'i, but Carn is unfriendly. Later she is arrested on a prostitution charge.

1977
Douglas has vaginoplasty with Butcher John Brown and paid around $600. She describes him as one who "fed, housed, paid and helped hundreds, and gave free or nearly free surgery to at least two hundred of us". Brown has his California license revoked later that year. Later Douglas claimed that she "helped get him arrested twice".

Goudie joins Douglas in Berkeley, they fall out, and Douglas sends Goudie back to Miami on a plane.

Angela Douglas in San Francisco becomes upset at the vitriolic, absurd, and transphobic comments broadcast on listener sponsored station KPFA and letters published in the feminist journal Sister. Especially the attack on trans woman Sandy Stone donating her skills at the feminist Olivia Records.

Douglas meets Kay Brown who is with her when she writes a letter. Brown attempts without success to dissuade her from sending it. It is published in Sister Aug-Sep, p7. As quoted by Raymond p xvii it goes: "Free from the chains of menstruation and child-bearing, transsexual women are obviously far superior to Gennys in many ways .... Genetic women are becoming quite obsolete, which is obvious, and the future belongs to transsexual women. We know this and, and perhaps some of you suspect it. All you have left is your 'ability' to bear children, and in a world which will groan to feed 6 billion by the year 2000, that's a negative asset."

The letter is generally regarded as satire, but in her 1997 email to Kay Brown, Douglas insisted: "The l997 letter as for women becoming obsolete is valid, not whimsical or tongue in cheek, women are becoming obsolete as evidenced by Islamic treatment of women, etc. The future of humanity is male homosexual. Women are becoming irrelevant. I despise all lesbians anyway, and applaud when they get killed. I don't give a shit about feminists."

photo by Kay Brown
Next day Brown and Douglas march in the SF Pride Parade, where leaders had demanded that 'drags should stay home'. They are welcomed to ride with the Mattachine Society. Douglas writes up the event for the Berkeley Barb.

1978
Douglas appears in a porn mag with pre- and post-op photographs of her genitals.

TAO formally dissolved.

Douglas reported to be participating in US Nazi politics.

1979
Janice Raymond. The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-male: xvii quotes part of the letter to Sister out of context attributing it to 'one transsexual' and giving Douglas' name only in the end notes. Douglas later claimed that the 13 direct interviews cited in the book were actually quotes from a letter that Douglas had written to her.

1980
Dave Potter, formerly of Euphoria, (and 86 others) dies in fire at MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Kim Elliot is found dead at Miami Beach’s Midtown Plaza due to a drug overdose.  She is buried in North Miami Beach, and TAO people attend her funeral.

The Mariel Boatlift exodus from Cuba adds many trans women to the Miami population.

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