For those of you who are not very familiar with Tere Fredrickson, she was a significant part of a linguistic tipping point which occurred in the late 80s/early 90s. She ran an inclusive group, was involved with the Texas T-Party, was instrumental in making the International Transgender Law Conference a reality (and thereby creating what became know as “transgender law”) and went toe-to-toe with Virginia Prince over the use of “transgender.”
Cristan: What might most appropriately define your experiance: crossdresser, transsexual, other?
Tere: Other would be correct since PAIS technically would make me intersexed—AIS has six PAIS levels with level seven known as CAIS. It only became identified with the human genome project—recessive AR gene on the mother’s X chromosome. Fascinating stuff.
Cristan: I see that you were instrumental in founding what it known as being “transgender law” in America; I can’t help but notice your fingerprints all over ICLEPT history.
Tere: Phyllis is the dominant force; I was just one of the active troops in her “army.”
Cristan: it seems that you may have been instrumental in helping our community define the way in which we talk about our experience; I came across a rebuttal to V. Prince suggesting that the community reject her term “bi-gender” in favor of the term “transgender”.
Tere: Yep, Virginia and I went round and round on it for a couple years, but it appears you did indeed stumble across the original article where the debate began (presuming you found it in Boulton & Park’s newsletter; although I think it was subsequently reprinted elsewhere). Where on earth did you locate the article—it was written in the early ‘90s, about 20 years ago.
While the term “transgender” was used much earlier, I think it was the Prince debate that resurfaced it at the time when “T” activism began to bubble up. To this day the great terminology debate continues to rage on; although Phyllis adopted “transgender” for the law conference, and it was the term used in the original effort for “T” inclusion in the then LG community and HRC.
Phyllis and I were two of the small group of folks at the core of the effort battling Elizabeth Burch and the HRC. Phyllis led the effort in Houston and I worked it in San Antonio. I also worked for “T” vets inclusion in GLBVA during those years and VA support of “T” vets (which finally happened recently) – I’m a retired USAF Major and Command Pilot. During the ‘90s I was a rather prolific writer; although, quite a bit of it is probably lost to transgender antiquity. I’ve been lecturing on gender, gender roles, and the “T” topic at Trinity University for the past 16 years.
Cristan: While you were seemingly out and public with your name at one time, would you prefer that I use a pseudonym in my notes?
Tere: When writing about our community history most folks will use Frederickson since it is relatively well-known. If you use Prasse hardly anyone would know who you’re talking about, so Frederickson would be the most accurate for the historical record. I’m semi-retired from the “T” activist role, but I do still toss stuff about from time to time.
The last big thing Phyllis and I worked together was the Christie Lee Littleton case – http:/christielee.net – you’ll find some of the stuff Phyllis and I worked on legal revision of gender markers (most were authored under Tere Prasse). I think there are five or six items I wrote located on the Christie Lee site (major sections on the left and articles/references in each section at the top).
Oh, there’s another historical term you should know about that came out in the last part of the ‘90s activist decade – gendeRevolution (several of us used the term). You might get a kick out of some the notions where I went after the bipolar gender construct in 1994, 1995, and 1997. The 1997 article was somewhat reactionary to a comment made in one of my Trinity University lectures. It was during the period following my assumption of a more feminine cultural gender role (my driver’s license had an “F” on it) that I began to experience being a second class citizen, so I went a bit bonkers on radical feminist stuff and began to deconstruct binary gender.
In a graduate level course I took this past year, I found myself rolling out the gender deconstruction cannon again – it was a very heated debate.
Another tidbit you may find interesting is that I transitioned on the job as an educator. I had been doing the genderless Saturday Night Live “Pat” character for years, and everyone was relieved when I finally put a gender out on the table. The whole thing was a fun and enlightening social science experiment. Today I get a kick out of constantly challenging cultural gender roles so I’m a very unconventional “TF” (trans-feminist). There was a Houston newspaper article back during the Christie Lee time frame where the reporter referred to me in the article as “androgynously sexy” which I thought was a bit of a hoot. Although at 63 today, “sexy” is a bit of a reach.
“In January 1995, the NLGLA became the first national organization to unanimously pass a board resolution calling for transgender inclusion in ENDA. Shortly after that the National Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Veterans Association (NGLBVA) amended its bylaws at the request of Tere Fredrickson to include transgender.” – Phyllis Frye
Our bubble burst on Thursday, June 15, 1995, in Houston, Texas. That evening, all but three transgender national leaders assembled at the fourth ICTLEP Conference. We were shocked to learn that the HRC had pushed their non-transgender-inclusive version of ENDA through for introduction in Congress. I believe that was the defining and galvanizing moment for the national political and legal movement of the transgender community. Feelings of betrayal and anger were palpable. From that moment to the end of the year was a blur of hectic activity. The Internet came to life. Many of our personal businesses suffered radically during those months. New people from towns and states across the nation came on-line and asked to be a part of the movement. HRC became the whipping post, and we whipped hard. By September, HRC asked for a meeting. They paid for the hotel rooms and airfares. The following transgender leaders went to their offices for a daylong meeting: Kitt Kling, Gary Bowen, Sarah DePalma, Sharon Stuart, Karen Kerin, Jessica Xavier, Riki Wilchins, Tere Fredrickson and myself. It was a long and anger-filled meeting. HRC agreed to have Jessica Xavier and Sharon Stuart work with Chai Feldblum on drafting a transgender-inclusive ENDA. – Phyllis Frye
From Transgender Nation:
Measure 9 in Oregon (narrowly defeated in 1992) defined homosexuality as “abnormal and perverse” and wrongly linked it to pedophilia. If it had passed, books with any positive reference to homosexuality would be banned from the classroom and removed from the library. Individual landlords and employers would have the right to “boot out ‘abnormal’ employees and tenants” (Cooper 16). Since the AIDS epidemic, violence against gays has dramatically increased and once again has linked the image of homosexuality to sickness. As Tere Fredrickson writing in Gender Euphoria warns “A lot of the gay/lesbian ordinances and executive orders include the gender community” (18). If gay and lesbian rights are denied there is no chance that transgenderists will attain equal rights. Classifying transsexualism as a medical problem has a similar effect of depicting all transgenderists as sick and in need of “treatment.” It fosters a dependency on the medical and psychological establishments. – Transgender Nation by Gordene Olga MacKenzie, 1994, p 21
From a March 1995 “It’s Time Texas!” press release:
“We want people to understand that we are not marching against gays, lesbian, and bisexuals” said Tere Fredrickson, Director of the Gender Education & Information Service (GEIS). “We will hold a peaceful, non-confrontational demonstration to protest our exclusion from the proposed hate crimes legislation. What we are asking people to do is participate in the march as they had planned to do, but at the end of the march to come and stand behind our banners as a sign they support transgender inclusion.”