When it comes to the fight for social justice, non-profit organizations play a special role in advancing progressive causes. The LGBT community is a collection of many organizations all working to eliminate discrimination and spread understanding. All of the individuals represented in the letters in “LGBT” are different but recognize that by working together we are a formidable group. The term network is grossly overused but does apply when diverse individual come together to amplify the message that discrimination and prejudice are wrong!
Working together has not always been the goal in transgender community. The Society of Second Self or Tri-Ess as it became with its founder, Virginia Prince made efforts to estrange the support group from the gay, lesbian, and the transsexual community. They established layers of rules in the form of bi-laws actually preventing full membership to any one not defining themselves to be a “heterosexual crossdresser”.
It is important to note that Tri-Ess does not represent the total spectrum of the transgender community and never did. Many do not realize that ideas about being a crossdresser stem from the myths that arose out of the 1950’s rigid prejudices. The first myth is that crossdressers are never homosexual. The second is that sexuality has nothing to do with crossdressing, and the third is that crossdressers never transition. These myths help create the abyss that kept crossdressers from connecting with other support communities.
Tri-Ess first attempt at educating the public, was to clarify that crossdressers were not homosexual and homosexuality had nothing to do with crossdressing. It was an unfortunate choice. In its attempt to define crossdressing by putting down homosexuality, Tri-Ess spread homophobic ideas.
I would like to credit the Book “My Husband Betty” written by Helen Boyd for much of this historical reference into Tri-Ess. It is wonderful and informative.
Truth be told now, it was at gay and lesbian establishments where I first found acceptance as a transgender person. There I receive encouragement, help and a no-guilt attitude. One of the first places I was ever referred to as “a lady” was at a lesbian bar. Deserved or not, I was elated for the recognition of my efforts. The gay and lesbian community may not always understand us, but they do welcome us.
Also both of the support groups I established were and still are "all inclusive".
My personal goal through life has been to find acceptance. I wanted my parents to appreciate my efforts to be good, my family to understand and peers to have empathy. How could I ever expect to receive these, if I was not willing to give in-kind?