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Title: Oral History Interview with Angela Brightfeather, January 24, 2002. Interview K-0841. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Brightfeather, Angela, interviewee
Interview conducted by McGinnis, Chris
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 288 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-07-13, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Angela Brightfeather, January 24, 2002. Interview K-0841. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0841)
Author: Chris McGinnis
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Angela Brightfeather, January 24, 2002. Interview K-0841. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0841)
Author: Angela Brightfeather
Description: 275 Mb
Description: 84 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 24, 2002, by Chris McGinnis; recorded in Garner, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Chris McGinnis.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Angela Brightfeather, January 24, 2002.
Interview K-0841. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Brightfeather, Angela, interviewee


Interview Participants

    ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER, interviewee
    CHRIS McGINNIS, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Hello, today is January twenty forth two thousand two and I am interviewing Ms. Angela Brightfeather in my home in Garner, North Carolina. This tape is a continuing series of interviews that will contribute to the Gay and Lesbian Southern Historical Project, which is part of the Southern Oral History Program at UNC Chapel Hill. This Project is currently focusing on Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender history in Chapel Hill and the triangle over the twentieth century. This tape will be stored in the Southern Historical Collection, which is located in Wilson Library on the Campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The number for this tape is 01.24.02-AB.1.
Okay, here we go. Well, Angela, generally how I start out these

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interviews is just asking you—or whomever I am interviewing—where you were born, tell me a little bit about you growing up in your hometown, that kind of thing.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Okay, I was born in London, England in 1945, which makes me 56. I have been involved with the transgender community for 35 years since I was 21, when I met my first transgender person that I could identify with. I lived in Syracuse, New York—I came over to America with my parents after my mother—after the war—World War II that is— [Laughter] and I was eighteen months old. We lived for four years in Alexandria Bay, New York on the Saint Lawrence River and I was one of those children that was always running out the door, sneaking out the door and heading down to the river to see the boats go by, without telling anyone of course.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Would it have been a bad thing for you to go down and see the boats?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, oh for a 3 or 4-year-old child, just to go out the front door and run down the street.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, 3 or 4 okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
You know [Laughter] At 4 years old, I moved to Syracuse—My parents moved to Syracuse, New York when my father got a job. So, I was in Syracuse, New York for the majority of my life from 4 years old until approximately 3 years ago when I moved down to North Carolina. So, all of that time, I was in Syracuse, which is an upstate community in New York, it is not like New York City, it is much more like North Carolina in many ways. You can be outside of Syracuse and into the country in five minutes going either way. It is a beautiful area down by the Finger Lakes, and I really enjoyed it, but I moved down here to get away from all of the snow.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, when you met your first transgender person at the age of 21, did you have any idea, initially, how did you identify yourself? Did you consider yourself—I know transgender and orientation are different things, so that is probably something that we are going to want to clarify for our listeners.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I was aware that I had to find out more about what was driving my instincts, because I started dressing at 4, my first inclination towards dressing as I knew it was at my baptismal at two months old. Now, I know that it is kind of hard for people to believe that that could be true, but circumstances about what happened that day indicate to me and going back and really digging deeply, I can point to the fact that the first time that I was hit with a difference that something was different was at approximately two months old at my baptism. Where, where—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
This is something that you remember?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yes, this is definitely something that I remember, because I was actually—The reaction to being taken out of the baptismal dress that I was baptized in, which was the tradition in the Catholic Church, back then, with all of the silk and the flouncy and everything else was to cry for a straight 18 hours until my parents took me to the hospital. My mother confirmed the fact that the moment I started crying was when she started to undress me. She swore that up and down. But before that, I was—all day I had not wept a tear or made a cry and was the happiest baby that they had ever seen. So, going back on that and trying to find that in my memory was a key point, I focused in on that and since I practice shamanism and journeying which is a tradition of transgender people, I was able to touch it with my spirit, remember it in my mind and put two and two together. The feelings—you do not lose the feelings, you may lose all of the details, but

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you don't lose the feelings. And putting the feelings together with the incident and what I was told by my parents, I had concurred that that was the first time that it was ever struck to me that it hit some sort of a chord that said, "This is pleasurable, this is what I should do, this is what I should be." And when it was taken away, I reacted accordingly.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, you are a woman trapped in a man's body, is that how you—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Does that need to be clarified?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I may be, I am not up to this point. It is a constantly evolving thing. And, like anything in life, your experiences and the circumstances of your life lead you to the next steps. So, I have always kept a door open in front of me.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
As a possibility, but that is not how you identify yet.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
To some degree, yeah. I certainly feel that way, that there is at least part of a woman trapped inside my body, that wants to get out.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you feel more like a hybrid between the two?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I feel like a third gender. I feel like a third gender. Right now I do. But that has grown—that has changed over the years, too. You know, sometimes that becomes more concentrated and sometimes it becomes less concentrated depending on the circumstances of your life. It becomes less concentrated when you get married. Because now you've got a wife, so—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So have you always considered yourself, before you addressed the transgender issue, did you consider yourself straight if you don't mind that label?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, back then there wasn't any straight.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
There was gay and lesbian, but I don't remember anybody saying straight.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh really? Okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I was paying attention to this when I was probably—really before most children were, I was paying attention to all of this at eight or nine years old, because feeling that you are in a minority at four and doing something that you shouldn't be doing puts you into a minority, and that feeling right away made me pay closer attention to what happened, the news, what people said about other minorities, or people that were considered minorities to include blacks and a whole lot of other things. Color and people with different jobs and backgrounds and other things. I think that we all do. If we have cognizant ability at that age to feel as though we are GLBT people.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You certainly did not feel as a gay man, definitely not.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, I never—I questioned my sexuality far less than I question my gender in my life. There have been incidences where I have questioned my sexuality. I have certainly have had plenty of opportunities as a transgender person that goes to a lot of gay bars to be able to question my sexuality. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you go to gay bars here?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, yeah, yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I didn't know that.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I am tending to go towards lesbian bars more now.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Because there seems to be a—going on that cycle where macho is a big deal and the culture is beginning to isolate genders even more. Women are encouraged even more now to be thin and pretty and made up and men are encouraged more to be

Page 6
muscular and handsome and have rippling abs. As that occurs, it becomes, it becomes a little bit more easy for me to get along with lesbians than gay men at the present time.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, I was going to say, did you not get along with the lesbians before?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
You [a transgender person] are more welcome in a lesbian bar than a gay bar.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Dressed as a transgender. Dressed as a woman.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah, right. Well, I don't know if that is true for females to males that go to gay bars, and a few of them are more comfortable. It may be.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Butch lesbians.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I mean females to males.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, okay, you mean female to male transgender people.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And transsexuals who have had the operations and had breast reduction and, you know and the surgery to add a scrotum and a penis, it is an interesting question, do they feel more interested or more at home in a gay men's bar than in a lesbian woman's bar now?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
The transgender people that I know in that scenario, seem to prefer, or to be more comfortable around lesbians. But, there is a wide array obviously.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
On the other hand, we see a lot of abuse from lesbians too. Because, it is not the feeling of abandonment of their female selves or anything like that. I think that it is more the case that they now have a penis.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So how would you define transgender? Transgender obviously has to do with gender identity more than it does with sexuality, what I personally get from you.

Page 7
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, it is easier to start off by trying to qualify the different areas of that of gender, and then saying this is transgender. There is the fetishistic cross dresser. And to me a fetishistic cross dresser is somebody that they have to wear stockings all of the time. Something like that, or they have to wear panties all of the time, or they have to wear a bra all of the time, or a combination of something else. And, if you were to take them away from all of that, they become very anxious, even if they went on a business trip or something like that. If they were a male and went on a business trip, if they had to sleep in a room with a person that didn't have any qualities like that, and didn't know about them, they would have to find a stocking somewhere in their bag and pack it and put it underneath their pillow just to be close to it. That is, to me, a fetish and a fetishistic cross dresser. Or somebody that goes out and spends a million dollars on fetishistic clothes and things like that. Now that is one person, another one is the good old transvestite. [Laughter] Which we are trying to get away from more and more, I think because it was invented by a person name Hirschfeld in Germany back in 1895 or 1880 somewhere around there, who had a clinic that interviewed transvestites, what he called transvestites and he coined it from the word "trans" and "vestitus" which is "to cross" and the Greek "Gender" or "Sexes" and we have been trying to develop that into something a little less clinical called cross dressing or a cross dresser. Hirschfeld, all of his documentation from something like from 1900 to 1935 and the clinic that he had for that would have established a tremendous amount of history for our community. But, when the Germans found out about him—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Is this the sex archive in Berlin that you are talking about?

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Pardon?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Is this the sex archive in Berlin?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, yeah, yeah, they burned it down; they burned all of the books and burned it all down.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
All of the statistics.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, so a lot of our history, a tremendous amount of that as far as I know it was all in regards to people who were called transvestites and there was a lot of linkages there and a lot of linkages were made between the gays and the lesbians and the transvestites at that time during the study, because people considered transvestites as gay upon site.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, right, I understand. And that is that way still today.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, without asking, the automatic stereotype is that that they are gay, so a lot of that information, a lot of that preliminary information that was never taken before about our history and studies was burned up after the war, or during the war, just before the war [World War II]. So, we have as big chunk missing there, and that is a shame, because it put us back light years as far as research goes with gays and lesbians. The next hop that you come after that to any time of any time of history—any known history about what would be transvestites, or cross dressers is the Native American tribes. And what they called back then the Berdach that were found by the French missionaries when they came to America.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Are you of Native American descent?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Part.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
What tribe?"

Page 9
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Onondaga, part of the Iroquois Nation in upstate New York. I have a touch of Mohawk, and they would never forgive me if I didn't say.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
How do you spell Onondaga?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
O-N-O-N-D-A-G-A and it's pronounced and said as (a-na-da-ga) but it is pronounced in the native as (a-na-da-de-ga).
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Ah, okay, (a-na-da-de-ga)
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yes, but if you said that to most people, they would not know what you are talking about.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, um—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But, my first incidence of meeting another transgender person was in Syracuse, New York, a person named Cathy and I am not quite sure how—I think that it was a magazine called—well, I am not quite sure what the magazine was to tell you the truth, but somebody had put an ad in a magazine that they were a cross dresser in upstate New York in the Syracuse area, and so she was my first introduction to another cross dresser and being able to talk to somebody, and she belonged to one of the first cross dressing groups in America in Albany, New York of all places, run by a person, two people, a married coupled named Wilma and Helen. And one Saturday out of every month, they'd have a party in their home and they would cook a huge meal and anywhere from 15 to 35 cross dressers would come from all over the Northeast and party there. So that was my first big, big meeting with—it was wonderful, it was just remarkable. Here I had been keeping this in the closet all of my life and I went to a hotel and I got dressed and I went to the party and my knees were just shaking. Standing on an ottoman in the middle of the living room was a person named Ariadne Kane. And Ariadne Kane is a

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Professor at a large college in New England where, and she started up an institute for gender studies. She, herself, identified as an androgynous person.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
How do you spell Ariadne Kane? Can you do that?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
A-R-I-A-D-N-E and it is K-A-N-E.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And she started up this research institute and she was trying to get money for people to contribute—to get money for it. A week before, I had been arrested for demonstrating against the Vietnam War on the steps of the Syracuse University Administration Building where I went to school [Laughter] and I was a liberal type of activist back then, and so my activist roots go way back and a week later, here I am, I looked absolutely wonderful, I weighed probably 150 pounds, because I had been wrestling in college. I was tall, and slender and I had a blond wig and a beautiful dress and I looked just great and I called myself Kim because I was going for that California girl look [Laughter] and I thought that everybody in California was Kim. I was very surprised and here was an activist, standing up on an ottoman and my first impression after the fact that it was wonderful being there and meeting a lot of other transgender people was, "Wow, there's activists, two really, wow that's great!" So, I consider that my first call to activism in our community at 21 years old. After that, it has been a long story of continually fighting and accomplishments and helping people get out of the closet and great discoveries and miracles many times too.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You had mentioned in the transgender community, I think that there was, I think in all of the different levels, there was fetish, there was transvestite—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yes, we have to get back to that—

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
What was the other—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Okay, there was cross dresser, which with the cross dresser, you have somebody that pretty much lives in their—in the gender of their born sex. But, they have feelings of gender dysphoria, if you will that makes them feel as if they have to express themselves in the opposite gender. And, if that isn't done, if they can't do that, you get pretty frustrated, you begin to feel very alone, you isolate yourself, it can cause depression, and probably there is more depressed cross dressers than anything else that probably causes them to commit suicide. The children that you hear about that commit suicide and there is no reason for it, none what so ever. Everybody probably thinks that it is their own community, and they could be a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender because they have the highest number of suicides among youth. So, it really stumps people when they might be able to find—they might find a boy who has killed himself and he's gay, everybody goes, "Oh well" But if they find somebody that isn't gay, it really stumps them, it's like, "What else could they be?" You know. The way that I look at that is that all of those people that don't know what they were, I consider them to be transgender. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Transgender, you are claiming them.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Gender dysphoric, yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And probably not all of them entirely are—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I am claiming them, that is it. [Laughter] I bet you that a lot of them are.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I wouldn't be surprised.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
You just never, ever hear about it.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is a lot harder to pinpoint, especially at that age now, I am sure that there are families who would frown upon it, but I know certainly in my family, my brother dressed in dresses all of the time as a kid, and as far as I know doesn't identify as transgender or gay now, it was just accepted, it was play time. Perhaps that was just a more healthy.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Some people just have a much more open feeling about it being fun, and they are able to express that. But, really, the people that I know and myself included, we all took it very, very seriously. I mean, it was a concerted effort before the age of ten to know how to do your own makeup. There was always a dream of being able to go out with your nails polished. There was always a desire to do it just right, with the object of eventually passing—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Emulating—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Passing, no, passing. Being able to go out and live like that. Being able to go out and walk the streets without any fear. Being able to not be recognized as what you aren't and being able to get away with that, because that is the way that you want to live. Or at least you wanted the ability to be able to live that way without being discriminated against, so—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But, in some ways for a cross dresser that may be to be able to pass, if you are a male, to pass as a woman in public, but you still may still continue to want to have sex with someone of the opposite sex.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, there is a definite advantage for being both. Otherwise, what the hell would bisexuals be? The consider it a definite advantage to be attracted to both sexes and

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to be attractive to both sexes, so I feel as though there is a definite advantage to being able to live as a man or as a woman.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, what would the advantage, what would the advantages be?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, there are countless.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Name five.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Five, okay. It bridges so many areas. First of all, it levels the playing field.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
In what way?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
If we could do that, if we were free to dress in anyway that we wanted to in a gender that we wanted to, and live that way without discrimination, don't you think that equality for women would happen a lot quicker? Nobody is going to lift up your skirt and ask you what's underneath there. So, everybody would sort of be left guessing. And that being the case, that would certainly enhance the opportunity for people to be much more wrong if they think that somebody is as a man when they aren't or think that somebody is a woman when they aren't. So, it would get people to treat each other a whole lot more equally in the workplace, in schools, everywhere. If people could just get used to that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That idea. So that's one.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
That's one. Okay, what was the number? What am I answering? [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
These were the distinct advantages to having your options open.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
As a male, I have to get away from it sometimes. There are so many pressures on men. It's terrible. The gender discrimination against males is different than

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it is against females, but nonetheless it is just as tepid and just as hard and maybe harder in some areas.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
What would the discrimination be?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Now, don't cry; don't show your feelings; bury everything, you know. You know what I mean.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, yeah. As a gay man, I feel that I can just act out and I never pay attention to any of those norms, so I guess I am liberated in that sense. Because, if I cry, I am like, "Damn right I will cry, I am a gay man, I will do whatever the hell I want."
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But, hasn't there ever been one of those times in your life when—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
When I was younger and before I came out there were those things, and I am a pretty aggressive person anyway, but I feel much more free to do that and definitely separate or segregate myself from the straight community.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, there is no doubt about the fact that anybody that is out, has an easier time of it than anybody that is in!
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Exactly, they are much more emotionally free. I do understand what you are saying.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But there's—that is probably one of the big problems, is that there are so many transgender people in, and for such a longer time, because they have been so unaccepted and that act of cross dressing has been so unaccepted in our society and condemned that they ramifications of it being out can be a real problem in your life. You can lose your job, you can lose, there are no guarantees of any freedom what so ever. Any security or any harm from violence—I mean, people have been killed—I remember when people were killed for just being gay.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, I remember it too. [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, what I mean, is not like Matthew Shepherd, when everybody got up in arms and really pressed the issue, and really did what had to be done. I remember when it was like, "Well, the guy was gay, so what?"
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And whoever the killer was, that was taken into consideration and a lesser sentence or no sentence was given to the person. Well, we are in that position [transgender people] now, today, right today, we are in that position, that is how much, and it is not like it didn't have the opportunity to come around at the same time that it came around for gays and lesbians, it did have the opportunity. People were transgender then and they are transgender now—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is becoming more obvious because more people are being out.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I think that more people are questioning their gender and their gender roles in society now. I think that they may be in part, and in large part to gay males and lesbian females. They have confronted that situation.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And a lot of androgyny that comes from that.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Exactly, and they have a lot of friends, that have come across those situations where they question their gender.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So equality, personal relief of tension by being able to express yourself, safer society in general. What would another one be? Sorry to put you on the spot.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, no that's okay. I find that it's—there's things and privileges that women have, and that there are privileges that men have. Some of the privileges are obvious like having a door held open for you in an old fashioned way. Another more

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distinct privilege of being a woman is being able to communicate differently from being a man. I mean, anybody who knows anything bout communication know that women communicate differently than men. Not just the talk and the words, but just being more open with their feelings in public, in a group area. Being able to go into that, and cross into that world of being accepted in a conversation in that way. Being able to make conversation in that way, is completely different from being a male and talking in a male way. Let me give you an example. One of the ways that I have helped people, transgender people that are female to male, because most of my experience has been as a male, in the male world. The way that I have helped them to transition is to take them to a ballpark, or go to a ballpark. Teach them to yell and scream at the third base umpire and the third baseman on the opposite team. I will teach them to—if they want to learn how to spit, I will teach them how to spit, you know. You teach them how to have a rip roaring good time, be loud, drunk, swear and everything else that's the extreme of maleness, you know. That's the extreme. If you give them a taste of that, and they have traveled that course, and they have an idea where they can fit in and find what they like [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Somewhere from the extreme to where they are at—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It is like cutting to the quick. We are like, okay, we are going to cut to the quick, we are going to give you the extreme, now you are probably somewhere in there as far as male talents and male feelings go, but, you know, if you want to fit into the male society, you have got to at least know. You have got to know the language and you have got to know enough about Los Angeles or the Saint Louis Rams, and where they stand in the NFL right now. So, those are the type of things that help them. And being able to go

Page 17
into the female world, for me is a distinct privilege. When I am being accepted, I know immediately from the conversation, and it forms a closeness with genetic females that I have never had before that does not include sex or the need for sex, or the desire to have sex as a heterosexual male. It gives me a totally different viewpoint of that. That has been a really distinct advantage.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
To relate to people in another way than gauging if you are sexually compatible.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Actually, it makes me a lot more—an awful lot more—empathetic towards women's issues. It makes me a lot more empathetic towards what they go through and, you know, there aren't many men that are afraid to go many places in this world. Whether it is Casablanca or up the side of an alley of a gay bar on the street in a dark corner. Men are a lot freer in this society, so it has taught me how caged women have been in society and how much freedom they have yet to attain. When I am dressed and feeling attractive—and this has happened a lot of times—and walked outside of a bar, or from a meeting and gone into a dark parking lot where I left my car, I feel the same fear that every woman feels in a dark spot. I feel that I should be looking over my shoulder all of the time and be careful because somebody might make a mistake and think that I am a genetic female and try to come after me because women are supposed to be the weaker sex, unless they have taken karate. [Laughter] and that is usually a surprise to the rapist, but in looking back in those instances, I have a real respect for women that do go the places that most women don't go and most men do, and they brave that, and I also have a distinct feeling for the fear that women live in a lot of their lives, because they become victims. Not that they allow themselves to become victims, or that

Page 18
they want to be, but it is put upon them, and unless they do something to break out of that and defend themselves, they live like victims, they can be a victim all of their life. So, those types of distinct feelings and that knowledge, that's something that most people are not able to do. They are not able to live like that. They are not able to feel those things. Yeah, so I think that it brings people, I think being transgender—most of these things that I have mentioned are bridges.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They are bridges in society, and it is my feeling that that is my purpose for existing.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Transgender people.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, gays and lesbians, they have an old saying, whenever the religious right comes at them, "God didn't make mistakes." Well, that's—what they are saying is that there is a reason why we are here. We are justifiably here. We don't have to give you a reason. If you believe in God, then you know as well as we do that we are not a mistake this is, this is our destiny. We have something in this life that we are fulfilling. We have a niche and are placed in here to remind people and do good things and to change things. Well, it is the same thing with transgender people. Transgender people are exactly the same, and I believe that of all of the communities in the rainbow coalition, if I can call it that, going back in time, of all of the communities, I believe that the transgender people are here to form bridges between them. Because transgender people have their feet in all of those other communities—whereas all of those other communities don't necessarily have their feet—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.

Page 19
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And one of the crucial parts of that formula is that they are masculine ad feminine. That is the most crucial part, is that they are both masculine and feminine. They bridge that gap that the other minorities don't bridge.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So do you find sometimes—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
—There are gays. You can find gays that are transgender, you can find lesbians who are transgender, you can find bisexuals who are transgender.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I was going to say [ask] if there are groups.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Absolutely.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Every transgender person might have one area that happens to be kind of a pole, whether they identify for instance Miss Lily De Vee who I interviewed, she identified as a gay male and then realized in her early 50s that she was transgender, but still really relates very strongly with the gay male community, but also recognizes that she is an transgender individual.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, that has happened to a lot of transgender people that I know, especially around my age, because remember, back then—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You were either gay or straight—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, it wasn't that, if you—wow, well let's get down to the quick of that. If you are 14-16 years old and you don't know what you are. You just know that you want to cross dress and you may want to go all of the way, but you don't know. And they called it transvestite and you try to look it up in the dictionary, but it wasn't a term that was very complimentary and everything that you found about it is negative, and then you come across maybe—You get to be about 15 and 16 and you might be able to do some research on the computer, well before the computer, you find an article on Christine

Page 20
Jorgenson and the first sex change, and it rings a bell. And then you look at something like the Milton Burle show when he used to come out dressed—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
In drag—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
In drag, yes—It says to yourself, "Well, at least people can laugh at this," you know. So you get sort of a feeling in the long run that you have to figure out what it is. And if you are really bold and you are really aggressive, 15, 16, 17, 18 years old you might wonder into a gay bar.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because it is the closest thing that—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Because you are certainly not going to have any success in associating with anybody in the sports bar.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So, the feeling is that you will be drawn and quartered so you go to the gay bar.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, is that why there has always been this alliance historically, at least in Western Society, with gays and transgender males?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, no—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You don't think so?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I think that that may be a part of it, but not. What I am talking about is the transgender male or female that goes into a bar like that and for the first time finds any type of acceptance—let alone a drag show going on and "Help!" And "Oh my God!" "Wow, you mean I could do this?" [Angela feigns excitement laced with anxiety]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You find more acceptance there than you would anywhere else in society.

Page 21
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And advice, drag queens are notorious for taking young boys underneath their wings—that are pretty young boys and good looking young boys and showing them what the possibilities are of them cross-dressing. And at that point, they become a part of the scene. Now, they become indoctrinated to gay life or lesbian life. And, because their friends are gay, or lesbian and they spend the next two or three years like that—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But, do you not think that a general attraction to the opposite sex wouldn't override that?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I think that there are—I think—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Or do you think that those lines are blurred because they are transgender anyway?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I think that at that point in their life they are just so thrilled about being able to do what they wanted to do and express themselves, that they would do just about anything to be able to do that. And most people don't—see being transgender is the act of growing up knowing that until the age of thirteen and then discovering sex and puberty and then coupling the two of the most favorite things in your life together. Cross dressing and masturbation. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh yeah, the same exact story with Ms. Lily.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I like this and I like this, and if I do them together—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They are a good accoutrement to each other. [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
—I am really going to get off. [Laughter] You know, so they get coupled together between like 13 and 21 and in that age, people are extremely impressionable, you know.

Page 22
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I can see it, I guess some gay men would be a little, I don't know, that is interesting to me.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But, see what happens at 21 is that you turn around and say, "Wait a minute, I was cross dressing when I was 8, and I was cross dressing when I was 4 and I didn't know how to spell sex." I had not the slightest idea of what it was. It is something beyond that, and I have coupled that together in why is that I cross dress and I masturbate and feel guilty and get all dressed and put all of my mother's clothes back in the same spot again exactly as she left them, and why am I so scared? Why am I living in fear? And that happens between 21 and 22, when you get other freedoms. You get the freedom to vote, you get the freedom to die in a war, you get the freedom to do this and that, you get the freedom to do this and do that, but this is the one freedom that you don't get, so you begin to question that, and that's when you begin to have the opportunity to separate them, the sex and the gender. And you begin to look at them separately. And you can actually determine based upon the fact that you were doing this before you had sex, what it is to you and you start to question it deeply, and that is when people really start going out and look for people like themselves.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you think that transgender people are more likely to dabble in sexual activity with both genders because of who they are as transgender?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, yeah, yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
You mean sexual activity with both sexes?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Yeah.

Page 23
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Absolutely, yeah, both sexes. You can't say both genders, because you don't know what sex the genders are. So, you know, it's sort of like yeah what do you call a transition female to male that gets married to a genetic female? Do you call that a heterosexual couple or do you call that a lesbian couple?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
The first time that that was really underlined to me was when I met a male to female, a transgender who was attracted purely to women and so he was basically a heterosexual perceived by society before the operation, but afterwards would be considered a lesbian.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Which, that really underlined to me the difference, there is a difference between—there is orientation and there is gender identity and that really is—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But there really are so many areas that we do bridge. You know, it is just amazing to me. Because if you have your foot in the heterosexual community and you've got your foot in the gay community because it feels safe, now isn't that strange. A heterosexual that only feels safe in the gay or lesbian community, because they are transgender. That creates a very unusual bridge. That creates a group of heterosexuals that actually are affiliated to the gay and lesbian movement by way of contact, osmosis and everything else. Conversation, making friends, being respected and respecting others, learning all of the things about all of those other two minorities and learning all of those things about those other two minority communities. And yet, being in the one community that those minority communities thinks is totally against it. In many ways, shapes and forms. It is like having 'homies' in the neighborhood. [Laughter] It is like having a safe spot right over there in the heterosexual community. You know that

Page 24
there is a large number of people that are transgender that do affiliate, work with, know, are friends with and have been for a long time, with gays and lesbians.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, were you always just kind of accepted in your family growing up, at least as somebody who was transgender? Did you come out as a transgender person?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, no, no, I was a—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, eventually you did come out as a transgender person. When did that happen? I have got that question and—to your parents, to the world—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
My parents knew. They knew the first time they found a catch of clothes in the house that I had stuffed up a chimney, an old chimney in the basement.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did they just silently accept it? Or—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, they never accepted it. They were very disappointed and thought that it was their fault because of the actions that happened after the war and my father coming over here for six months on his own when I was born, leaving my mother there in England—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, so they attributed it to the lack of a paternal influence that made you—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Exactly, yes, which I really don't know if that's true, but as I said, I think that it is obnoxious that psychiatrists put that on people as an excuse for that, for being transgender, because it not only puts more guilt on the transgender person, but it puts more guilt on his family, and the transgender person doesn't need his family to feel guilty about who he is, or she is, all they want is just a little acceptance and to be allowed to live their life. Yeah, it was a tough time, because they knew, I couldn't talk to them about it, I tried, it didn't work. My father was in—he worked in Syracuse at the Syracuse

Page 25
Psychiatric Center and was very closely associated with Psychiatrists there. He worked there for 32 years and there was always the threat of being taken into a psychiatrist—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because he had access.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh yeah, he had free access.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

Page 26
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, we are on the second side of the interview with Angela Brightfeather the number for this side is 01.24.02-AB.2. So your father threatened you with that information.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Sure, yeah, yeah, and he used it to try to make me fearful, my mother—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
What kind of—what did he say?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, "We are going to take you to the doctor's"—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And at the time, the doctors—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I didn't like doctors to begin with, you know. Here I am, 7, 8 years old, you go to the doctors, you know what you are going to get.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
This was the 60s, the 50s, when was this?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It was, well, they knew when I was 6 years old—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So that was right in the middle of McCarthyism and the conservative 1950s.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
—two years after I first started to cross dress, by myself, so it was about 52, and then right for the rest of my life, so, and right up to both of my parent's deaths, I tried to talk to my mother about it when she had cancer and was dying and she did not want to talk about it. [sad pause] And my father, actually my father—it was just enough to know that both of my parents loved me, you know. I felt really bad, because I felt that they thought that it was their fault in some way, and I never had the opportunity to explain to them, "No, you are not going to the grave thinking that this is your fault. It isn't your fault, this is me. This is the way that I am made, and this is the way that I am. There is nothing to be ashamed of."

Page 27
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, did your wife always know that you were a cross dresser, or a cross dresser?—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yes, my first wife didn't, I got married when I was 21 years old, because I thought—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
"This is a way to prove that I am straight."
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, I associated cross-dressing with masturbation so much in my teen years that I thought, "Well, this is a sexual thing,
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, I see.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
—And now I am going to get married, I will have all of the sex that I want. [Laughter] So, I won't need to cross dress anymore, you see. So, it was the tail wagging the dog on that. I found out pretty quickly that that wasn't true, like within six months. I told my wife after I married her, which was a big mistake and we spent the next nine and a half years, after ten years getting a divorce, the last five of which was hell, we had two children in between, my son and my daughter, and when my son as ten and my daughter was seven, my wife decided to go and experiment and do things, she had been actually cheating, sexually cheating for like five years, but I refused to leave. She did everything she could possibly do to get rid of me, but I refused to give up my children. And maybe that was more the Angela side of me than anything, I thought the closeness to my children and wanted to be with them, and not feeling fulfilled if I wasn't with them. And, back then divorce was a lot different than it is now, in many respects, there wasn't anything like joint custody or anything like that. That was wishful thinking back then. So, she took off, because she realized that she couldn't get rid of me, and she left me with the two children, which was the best gift I have ever gotten. It was really

Page 28
tough at first, being a single parent, as a matter of fact it was around the time of the movie Kramer vs. Kramer, and I can remember taking my son and my daughter to the movie and even though they were like 11 and 8 at the time, it still made—they sat through the whole thing and they came out of there crying together about it, because we knew what we had in front of us. We just had been six months to a year from my wife leaving, and then a year after that, she came to pick up the kids, because she had them every other week and I insisted on that, because I needed a break. [Laughter] But I really found out what being a woman was like. You know, being a mother, when I was standing in front of a dryer and washer in the basement on a Thursday night at seven o'clock putting clothes in the dryer and taking clothes out of the dryer and hanging them up and putting clothes in the washer and I said, "There's very, very few men that I know that would know what they are going to be doing five years from now on a Thursday night at seven o'clock." I said, "But that is the life of a mother and a woman." And I said, "Gee," historically back then, I said—it has changed a lot now, but that is what it was like. So, I that was a real—It gave me a chance to get in touch with my feminine side, my mothering side, my nurturing side.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I think that it is interesting because if somebody met you on the street, and today, I have seen you dressed as a woman, and also as a man. Talking to you on the phone today, when I called you, I presumed you used your male name when you answered the phone, that is why I was at first thrown I guess I had this vision of you dressing as a transgender in the workplace. [Laughter] you know—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
In construction I just about do—

Page 29
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You come across as a very masculine man, in a lot of ways. Your demeanor and your voice and your build
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You are very gregarious, and your personality, and you have this thing in your hair, a barrette, I guess if that is a correct word, it has like a mother of pearl, you know covering so that is a little feminine, your glasses may be slightly, but generally, nobody would think that you were a [transgender man]—most people would just think that you were an alternative, slightly kind of hippie kind of guy.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, right, there are times that that goes more towards androgyny, and there's times when in an airport, when like in an airport when, I remember I dropped something once, and someone saw me and said, "Ma'am, ma'am you dropped something and when you turn around, they are making profuse apologies for." [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You're like, hey no problem—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I was like, "Hey, no problem, don't worry about it, there is nothing bad about being a woman." [Laughter] And this was a woman saying it. So that is how screwed up straight people are [Laughter] with gender. But, I—when I look back on all of those years in bringing up my children, I had a choice back then, that was a turning point in my life. If I had had the money, and I wasn't supporting the children by myself, pretty much, and things were tough, because one-third of the paycheck went right out the door.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You had to pay your wife alimony, your ex-wife.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, no, she just left.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
What was the one-third that went out the door?

Page 30
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
That was the money that she made.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, I see.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
When we were a couple. One third of the money went out the door and now I am doing it all. So, I didn't ask for any money from her. I said, "I will have to work harder." The typical male thing, which is what I did. It didn't seem to matter that much. The money didn't seem to matter that much. It was more than made up for being closer to my children.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Were you, if you did not have those extra expenses at the time, would you—did you allude to the fact that you would have had the transition, the change?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah, I might have gone through the transition at the time. I certainly had the opportunity to do it.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So you would have considered yourself at the time, would you have considered yourself more allied with the lesbian community, if that would have happened?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, what stopped me from doing it wasn't so much the fact that I didn't want to do it, it was the fact that now I was supporting two children.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, of course, of course.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
—And I would have lost my job
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Totally understandable.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So, it was like, here you are free to do it, but you can't do it.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You really don't like those labels do you?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
When I say lesbian, you run.

Page 31
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, no, I consider myself exactly that, a male lesbian in many respects, yeah, yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, that's all right to say. Are you worried that people will discriminate against you if you say that?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
What, what?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
From the moment that I have met you, the moment I ask you a pinpoint question you like change the subject, or say something else.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
About sex reassignment surgery?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Sex reassignment surgery, or you would identify as a lesbian in a way.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, yeah, yeah. That would be my.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It seems almost like a defense mechanism.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
There is no doubt about the fact that—Well, you see the strange thing about it is that a year later, my wife came to me and said that she was living with another woman in a lesbian relationship. So, strangely enough everybody goes—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You see the connection.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, everybody goes, "Well, that's strange, it should have worked out for you." You know what I mean? [Laughter] But, it is not that way, its not that way.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It depends on the relationship of the individuals, rather than the gender.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, it doesn't work that way. I don't think it works that way. Just because I am a cross dresser and a transgender person and my wife was a—or had deep lesbian tendencies a lot made sense when she told me that, because there was a lot of things that I wanted to do sexually when we were married that she wouldn't do, you know, and she didn't want to do them to the point almost desperate hate and desperate

Page 32
fear of exposing how she might have felt underneath about the excitement of it. So, I guess it became a lot clearer later on. But the one thing that convinced me about being a lesbian, if I was a transsexual, or if I had the operation and become a lesbian, is despite what happened with my wife, I've still been attracted to that community, and I have still been attracted to that sex. So, I guess, I guess there is not much difference to being a male lesbian and a heterosexual. Maybe that is why so many heterosexual males like to watch two females perform.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Or the ideal fantasy would be to have two lesbians, two women—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
To make love with them at the same time. Good point. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, when did your children discover that you were a transgender person?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Two weeks after my wife left.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did you sit down and tell them?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So at that age could they pretty much roll with the punches, or were they angry?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, 7 and 10. My daughter was 7 and my daughter was glad that there was somebody there that might have a chance of understanding her.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Okay, because she was living with two men as far as she was concerned, two males, and she was afraid that the things that she wanted as a girl or a female were not going to be obtainable, it was going to change a lot into a male, you know, type of family, where she did not have anybody that she could identify with. So, that helped a lot with my daughter. She felt that, "Okay, there is a lot that we can share dad, and maybe we can

Page 33
build on that." Both of my children are very intelligent. And my son, I had to work out a deal with him. He was 10 years old and every time I gave him any money or allowance, he would run down and buy comic books. Well, this was 22 years, 23 years ago, and I considered comic books a waste of his time, because I wanted him to do better in school. And certainly a waste of my money, because every comic book that I had had gone down the tubes.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, my son, unknowing to me, now has the four copies of X men #1 and a bunch of other stuff that make his comic book collection over thirty to forty thousand dollars.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Wow.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, so this is a hobby that he wanted to have, just like I wanted to be transgender. So, I said, "Look, I'll tell you what." Well, actually he brought up the deal. He said, "Look dad, I don't care. Just not around friends and stuff like that. Don't let anybody know because—and don't let anybody on the block know because the guys will make fun of me, but that's okay with me if you like that. But why can't you be more like that when it comes to my comic books and get off my back and stop bugging me about that." And I said, "Deal!" [Laughter] I jumped all over it. Deal, okay, we got a deal. And after that, it worked out. There hasn't—well, there has been times that we have talked about it, and they have noted their concern and they have noted their disagreement with my life, but they have noted that about me smoking dope before too, so there are lots of things that kids disagree with in your life and the way you do things, so. But you still have to go on and live your life, which is the example that you set for them. Don't let

Page 34
anybody else influence you in the way that you live your life. We have come out of all of that as a close family. And I got married four years after my first wife left.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And this is when you were open about your—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Within two weeks of meeting her, I said, "Look, before we get serious, understand, you may—this is what I really like doing, and if you really want to—Food is not the way to my heart, this is the way to my heart. Acceptance of this." She said—being the intelligent person that she is, and a wonderful person, she said, "Okay, I think I can go along with that. I want to know more about it though." And that is when we started to really get deeply involved in the transgender activism part of it. And, where we started a group in Syracuse.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Did she ever come to Pride, or anything? I am not sure if I have ever met your wife.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No. She doesn't come to Pride, or a lot of those things, she does on occasion, but I don't really force that on her. What she is worried about—she is still worried about somebody recognizing her and by association with her. In other words, if they know her and they see her, and I am with her, I am dressed and they will know that I cross dress and she does not want to be responsible for that and she doesn't also—where she works, which is hospital and like a rumor mill—she doesn't want people talking behind her back. Because nobody will come right out and say, "Your husband is a cross dresser, or your husband is a transsexual." [Laughter] Yeah, you are not going to come right out and say it. What they are going to do is you are going to hear about people coming up to you and saying, "Gee, everybody is talking about this." You know and she doesn't want to be the point of that conversation. It is not about her as much as it

Page 35
is about me. And if people can't address you directly about it, then you are not going to know much about it. They are just going to talk behind people's backs.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, that is the bizarre result of political correctness, it is never out in the open, it is always—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Socially, my wife is a very shy person. So, if she was more gregarious and outgoing, she would probably confront it, but she is not that way, so I accept that, in her. And those are the limitations. She has been to a lot of transgender things, but she always asks me, "Who is going to be there."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And you started something in Syracuse together, did you host it in your home, is this your own?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yes, we started off in our home and it started as a group called Friends, people that we met, we put advertisements in the paper just like Helen and Wilma in Albany and all of a sudden, people started to call and before you knew it, within a year or two, we had people coming to our house and they were parking up and down the road in the Syracuse University District. People were getting out of their cars dressed and coming into the house, and so the neighborhood began to know it and I said, "Well, wait a minute, before it comes down on the children." So we started this group and it was called EON .
CHRIS McGINNIS:
EON?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
EON, it is a dual title, it is Expressing Our Nature and it is also named after Chevalier D'Eon, who was a member of the French aristocracy and a spy in Catherine's court for the French king and dressed as a female and cross dressed and no one ever

Page 36
knew it and did that for years, and as a matter of fact, since she was a spy and she was working for the government and at that time, the French government, they had retirement benefits for spys. [Laughter] She was a government worker. So, they refused to allow the Chevalier D'Eon to remove any retirement funds from the state during the retirement, unless he lived as a woman. Unless, he lived as he worked, which is. So, we all thought that that was pretty neat. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you think that that individual was actually a transgender person?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I think that that person was probably transgender enough that if they had had the operation back then, then he might have lived that way and been even a greater spy. Because then, they could have had sex with a male and could have done things as a woman like married and all and all of that. It would have been even more interesting. Who knows, maybe somebody around here does that today after the operation, who knows.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Running around Afghanistan in a—all covered up. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
With a burka.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, with a burka.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
With a burka, I guess that it would make it all the easier, I guess.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, absolutely. But that was 25 years ago and it grew rapidly, and we had to find another place to put it, so we decided to go and try some restaurants and we did that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Now, would you go and meet, or would people actually dress?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
People would dress.

Page 37
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And go to those restaurants, you would have to case them out and—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, exactly—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And make sure that they were happy.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And talk to them, and so it as an outing process for me, in my home too. And then I started getting involved in the national community a lot more. There is a group called IFGE—The International Foundation for Gender Education—and Marissa Cheryl Lynn, the founder of that, this was in the beginning of the—the very beginning of the activist part of the transgender community coming of it's own, notifying gays and lesbians that, "Hey, we are one of you, we are here!" You know, it was probably back in the—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It was the International Foundation—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
For Gender Education, so it was probably back around 75 to 80 somewhere around in there, about 75 and Marissa started the International Foundation of Gender Education in Walton, Massachusetts, which is now one of the larger national organizations and also publishes the Tapestry Magazine. The have a convention every year. They are on their sixteenth convention now. They have a massive convention for transgender and where all the leaders, the movers and the shakers go. They have the Virginia Prince Award, which is the highest award you can get in the transgender community and the Trinity Award. In order to get the Virginia Prince Award you have got to have the Trinity Award, and in order to get the Trinity Award you've got to be involved in activism in the transgender community for no less than ten years. So, it's that type of an organization, it has grown into that type of a thing for that community. She

Page 38
has started that type of a thing for our community. She has started it back now, and I can remember us both talking about us starting both groups at the same time.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you think that there has been a very big evolution from, in terms of the relationship between the gay and lesbian community and the transgender community before you mentioned that there was definitely a place for transgender male to females within the drag community of the gay community, and I know several drag queens that often characterize themselves some as 'transy' some as whatever, because they look more realistic, and sometimes because they identify—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, that is because they are beginning to understand that they are transgender. That you can be gay and transgender, see before, it was like, well, you are transgender, right? Or you are a cross dresser? And they would go no, no, no, no I am gay.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
See, "No! I am gay!" And you would go, "Yeah, but you still cross dress." It does not make any difference, "I am gay, I am gay, you understand, I am gay." You wonder why the with young transgender people who go into the gay community as we were mentioning earlier. This is a—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is interesting to see that kind of tension in the gay community even with myself, because you see men that are very much like "Thurston Howell Fags" like myself, we are sitting there. And then we have these folks that are transgender and everybody is confused.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah.

Page 39
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You are talking and you don't understand each other, and I guess the evolution that I am talking about is that there used to be just one lump. You lump people as drag queens within the gay community and now it is kind of more like we have two separate communities.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Drag queens in the gay community never really got—Drag queens in the gay community before there was an open gay community and before there were a lot of gay clubs which goes back a long ways were female impersonators. And female impersonators worked in regular theaters. Like Lillian Gish and people like that. They played in plays. They were flocked to, to see by heterosexual people.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And there is more and more documentation that shows that drag queens were actually female impersonators. In textile mills, I have actually got it in a book one of these up on the shelf and they dressed as a woman up in the textile mill.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
What about the women during the war, in order to support their families.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Rosie the Riveter.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, well, actually transitioned to male, some famous artists transitioned to male.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
All the men came back home and they posed as a male to fit in.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, so they could make as much money as a male to support their family, that is why.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, I love these examples. So, before they were just part of the community and there was a little bit of discord and I was wondering if the evolution now is we are getting more and more of two distinct communities that are very intertwined.

Page 40
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I think they are maturing. I think that they are maturing. It depends on where you are. In upstate New York the gay and lesbian community keep the transgender community out. They keep them out of their legislation, they don't keep them out of their activities, but they say we must grow very slowly together because there is a lot things that we don't want to be coupled with you as doing. We don't want to be associated with you as doing, because heterosexuals still look upon you as being deviant. And, of course, the transgender people are going, which are eighty percent heterosexual are going, "What do you think that the heterosexuals are thinking of you!" It is the same thing. So, isn't that why we should be together? And, the gays and lesbians are still very 'Republicanized' in upstate New York and saying, "No, that is not the case. We have been doing this for a long time."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
'Republicanized', meaning conservative?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, take it slow; take it by the numbers, little steps. A little piece of legislation here, take a poll here. Do this, do that, add it all up.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, they are actively trying to make sure that the transgender agenda is not connected with the gay agenda?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, because they feel that it is tainted, and that they have not done enough education, they keep on saying that. You have not educated people enough. You have not—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They are two separate struggles is what they are saying.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And you are saying, "Well, we have really been intertwined from the very beginning."

Page 41
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, it is like when I came here and I met the publisher of the paper here.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Jim Baxter.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, Jim Baxter. When I came into town and I immediately said, "If I can help you, I have read your paper, it is great. But, there are no articles there on transgender people." And, he said—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I have his recorded response to that. He said something to the effect of, "It is not all about gender."—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, what he specifically said that stuck out in that conversation all boiled down was that, "Gay and Lesbian issues are diametrically opposed to transgender issues." Which is a very sophisticated—a very sophisticated argument that we could use miles of tape on. But, he has never given me the opportunity to meet one on one and debate him on that in front of the gay and lesbian community, which I would more than love to do. Because, I think that that is the type of discourse where the person that needs to be had in order for people to understand and make up their minds, one way or the other. I feel as though the majority of the gay and lesbian community, the vast majority of the gay and lesbian community believe that we are not the same, but we are linked together in many, many areas because of the oppression that we live through and are living through, because of the issues that we share. Everything from custody of your children to serving in the military and all points in between. Treatment in jails and other institutions. I would go right on down the line. Our issues are so much the same, and they are for the same reasons, because people just don't understand or agree with the way that we live. That, it just all makes so much sense, and we have been together for so long to

Page 42
disassociate us now, would be literally unthinkable. I think that a majority of gays and lesbians feel that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh yeah.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I really do. And I think—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I think sometimes politically they are scared that transgender people will make it that much harder, to bring on the issue I think the—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So what we are talking about is legal legislation and laws, and it all boils down to the fact that gays and lesbians say that, "We have been working on this a lot longer than you have and we have vested interests and we are not willing to give up those vested interests." And that is very true, very true. They have been out longer than transgender people because they have been able to be out longer than transgender people, most people consider it less of a crime or distinction to go and do something in your own bedroom than to put on another genders clothes another sexes clothes and go walking outside and try to use a restroom. So, they don't think it is impinging upon your freedom as much. So yeah, they have been out, they have enjoyed their freedoms a lot longer than we have, because we are more persecuted, that doesn't mean in any way, shape or form that we should not be part of the movement, a large part of the movement, or now that things are happening for us, that they should forget the fact that we were there all along.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
How is that different from the South. This is the Northeastern gay political structure.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, when I moved down here in the South, I found that coming down here, I found cliques of people; gays, lesbians, bisexual, fetish people, straight people—

Page 43
especially straight people that live in different areas and different pockets. Durham is traditionally a black town. Much better for Caucasian to live in Cary.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It is that type of discrimination that has been left over; I think in the South that I noticed right away. And then I started to get involved in the gay and lesbian community down here. I found an abysmal absence in the transgender community, but did find a lot of people in the transgender community down here that were starving for information, eager to come out, wanting do something, wanting to participate but not knowing how. They had no idea.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Why would you come to—was it just snow? Why would you—If I were a transgender living in the Northeast where I knew it was somewhat progressive, I sure as hell wouldn't come into the Southeast just to avoid snow. I might go to San Francisco.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
The point is, is that it was business for me.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It was purely business?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
This is the fateful thing, it was purely business for me. And sometimes one thing leads to another, but business has been terrible in upstate New York, in my profession, I do contracting as a plumbing contractor. So, I moved down here, I moved the entire business down here. Because I saw more work.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you do residential?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, no residential, only commercial, big commercial jobs. So schools and things like that. So, there was just no work up there, so I moved down here. And brought the whole company down after twenty five years in business and all of my superintendents came down and everybody came down. We were happy to move down

Page 44
here and to get away from the lousy business and the possibility of having to fold up and go into debt, which is what we were headed for. To break up into smaller groups and to do our professions in smaller groups, rather to function as we had for twenty-five years, some of us together. So, I moved it down here and I said, "This is how we are going to save it. We are going to increase our volume and we are going to do a better job and we are going to have a better product and we are going to make money and we'll keep going and we have.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
How big, you many contractors, or whatever do you have? How many supervisors.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I have six supervisors and they are all capable of running at least one job. Some of them, a couple of them two or three jobs.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And they just took their families and everything and came on down?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah. One of them is so good; I still fly him back and forth every weekend from Syracuse to here.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Really?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
He lives in Syracuse. He has been with me for so long.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And are you out in the workplace as a transgender individual?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, everybody at work knows, I have a very liberal [pause] Liberal, ha ha. [said with tongue in cheek sarcasm] I have a very honest employment policy [Laughter] because of that, that has been very helpful, because I have been able to get some very high caliber Latin American people to work for me. And that has been a big help. When they found out that the owner of the company is this type of person then they know that they are going to get a better deal than somebody that just thinks of them as a

Page 45
migrant latin worker. So, again minorities understand a little bit about what other minorities go through. But, I haven't gotten any heat from it, I have gotten heat from about two people that have worked for me in the last twenty-five years and they were gone immediately
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You just said goodbye, or they just left?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I explain it to all of my people when they come in. When they come up and ask me about it, I say, "This is the situation, we have been through situations up north where we have had people who have been working for us and they were of color. And, they didn't work out, so we have had to let them go, or lay them off, or we didn't have any work and we had to lay them off. And, we were sued because somebody, one of the supervisors in the field, or one of the people under him were cracking black jokes on a job site while they were putting in pipe. Or they were casting aspersions or saying the word 'Nigger' or calling them 'Chief' if he was Native American or something like that, and they took that back to the fair practices department in the New York State Labor Department and we found ourselves in a conference room with the state labor department explaining as an owner that I didn't have the slightest idea what they were talking about. And after finding out that my people did something like that, that I am responsible for, I would have to go in and say, 'look this is the situation, I understand exactly what you mean, if you think that we have to add to our policy, we will do it, whatever you think will help, this was an unfortunate incident that I will try not to allow to happen, and I tell everybody in the company that discrimination does not fly, but I can't be there every moment on every job.'"
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You can't watch every body.

Page 46
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, so "I myself am in a minority and I understand the way that that is and in two of those incidences, the only two that I have gone through fortunately, because of my policy, both of those times I was exonerated, the company was exonerated and actually, it was applauded for it's policy." And that was fine. And I tell the people, "That was great, but I had to hire a lawyer and that lawyer had to sit there in the meeting room."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
While you did all of the work it sounds like! [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
"And that costs $5,000.00 and when the lawyer called me up and said we won, I didn't feel as though I won, because I had lost $5,000.00 and to put it in your terms, $5,000.00—if we make 5% profit on a job that we do that is a school that costs $4 million then I am satisfied. But, 5% of the work that we do is $100,000.00 worth of plumbing. Now that is at least four-luxury homes worth of plumbing from top to bottom. If you are willing to go out and do four luxury homes, fixtures, piping plumbing, inspections and all the things that are included in that for free, for me. Then I will let you discriminate on the job. But if you aren't willing to do that, then you are taking money out of my pocket, you are taking money out the company's pocket, and therefore taking it out of the pocket of the people that you work with, and that doesn't make sense, and I won't tolerate that."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You break it down in a financial way and it encourages diversity.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It puts it down in a way that they can understand.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
If you are willing to do this for me, and watch your tongue, then we will progress and you'll be better for it, and so will your buddy next to you.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And so that is how you encourage—

Page 47
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, right.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, okay, cool. I didn't realize how large the company that you work for was. Or the one that you own, excuse me. Let me see here. So, we have kind of spoken about this and it always this way when your write. What would you say, and I am sure that something like this has probably happened. What would you say when you are in a crowd or maybe—well you get discrimination in the gay community and a gay person or a lesbian person comes up and says something like this saying, "Transgender people are simply gay men or lesbian women who are ashamed of their orientation and therefore feel that they must be the opposite gender to be legitimate and validated in the mainstream."
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I would tell them that transgender people are gay men and lesbian.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Sometimes
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And straight and bisexual and intersex and who they have sex with has nothing to do with them being transgender. That's—to them—that's secondary a point in their persona and their spirit as it is to a gay or lesbian about how they dress and how they express themselves. I think in the gay and lesbian community, their first persona non grata and concern is who their sexual partner is and the sex of that sexual partner and that is justified because that is how they feel, that is how—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Yeah, and this entire interview has basically been answering that question.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But, it is impossible to go up to every ass and explain that entire thing.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, right.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You would be sitting at a table forever.

Page 48
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
There you go, it comes up again. I just think that we have a lot of education to do in the gay and lesbian community too, to some degree because there is a lot of acceptance there.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
We know a lot more than the average person in society [concerning human sexuality] and yet we are pretty ignorant. I know that I am still learning myself.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I wouldn't call it ignorant. I would just call it an opportunity to learn. You know.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I am not offended by the term ignorant. It just means that you need to be educated on an issue.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, okay.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, you were involved with organizations in the ones you founded, I guess EON in New York State. Did you keep that Acronym when you came down here? Did you start and EON Chapter in North Carolina?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Nope, nope.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Have you started anything like that, or have you just—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
That is a one of a kind. I never finished with EON, what I should have done was tell you that we grew into a group that has now been around for 25 years, we went into a situation about ten years ago with a Presbyterian Parrish that allowed us to take over the third floor of their parish house. It was an old, it was a very historic building in downtown Syracuse and we completely renovated it. It was something that anybody would have been totally proud of and we had our meetings there, and then we went out to dinner, because we had a wonderful restaurant that we went out to in Syracuse that was call Tu Tu Venue that was rated number three in Out Magazine as a top Gay and Lesbian

Page 49
restaurants, and we would work it as a social and a support group. In the meeting we would be support and then we would be social. And then we would go out to the bars and it ahs been wonderful, because I watched the entire eclipse of any animosity that might exist in the gay and lesbian community about transgender people become so much more mellowed and softened out and understood over the years, we—because of EON being there, we not only marched in the first Pride Parade in Syracuse. We not only marched in every Pride Parade after that, but in the third Pride Parade, we said, "In the first Pride Parade, we were the last group, you put us in the last group. We want to be in the front on the third one. We want to be in the front, we want the members of EON to be in the front of the Pride Parade. And not only that, but I got Lesley Feinburg to come."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Is Lesley Feinburg a well-known transgender activist?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, yeah, Lesley is a tremendous—he was the author of Stone Butch Blues, the author of Transgender Warriors, I mean, a really old, old activist that had been around for a long time. Lived in Buffalo, lived through the hard times, gotten beaten up, thrown in jail a number of times, just a wonderful person and still a model activist in many ways.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Feinburg. F-E-I-N-B-U-R-G?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, That was the first Marshall. The first Transgender Marshall of any Pride Parade in American. Any of them. All of them. Those are the type of gains that we main with EON in such a short period of time. The most depressing thing about EON was that we ended up after leaving the third floor, we ended up not only having meetings at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, the GLBT Community Center, Syracuse Pride GLBT Center, but we helped found it. We were a group that went in there and paid

Page 50
the rent to found it. We went in there and paid $200.00 a month and had a dressing room for our people and a place for them to store their things and had the meetings there. And we had two meetings there, every Saturday—or two Saturdays out of every month, and special occasions too.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That sounds very familiar, when we were in the Kerr/Lee Community Center, that is exactly what you asked for.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And the transition, girls going out and the guys going out after the meetings, after the support sessions and going and hitting the clubs in Syracuse, the gay and lesbian clubs, the amount of interweaving for the first time, was really, really taking hold, it was great to see. People were getting to know people so well. People that were Heterosexual were not afraid to go where gay and lesbians went and were not afraid to participate in a Pride Parade. They were not afraid to march with them and were not—Heterosexual men that had been cross dressers all of their lives, never even cried, they broke down and cried at Pride Events and they weren't afraid to go and hug a gay man. They did not have those inhibitions and gay men and lesbians begin to understand transgender people and what they were about and it was probably super rewarding.
The most disappointing part of the whole thing was that just before I left Syracuse, they had a Human Rights Law for Onondaga County, they had already achieved a non-discrimination policy in the city of Syracuse, but that was well before EON became active enough to be included, and the Stonewall Committee of Syracuse in Onondaga Country decided to go for a Human Rights Law in Onondaga County. And we petitioned and we petitioned and we petitioned with the lesbians who were in charge of the Stonewall group and the major political activism group in that county and had very much connection. There were a lot

Page 51
of lesbian lawyers is what it was. They were very active and they were very organized and they had very good political connections. We wanted to be included and they wouldn't include us. They refused to include us, and I left there feeling very dejected and very disappointed.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
When did this happen? Was this in the—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Oh, this was no more than five years ago.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, so this was very recently—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, very recently. So, here we had been working all of this time up to this point, only to be rejected by the Stonewall Committee up in Syracuse from being included. And it was seriously considered and we went to the legislators, and we went to the reading and the voting and we had twenty five transgender people there from EON and other groups to speak to the county legislators and to give testimony and it didn't win. It didn't go. So, it is okay to be gay and lesbian in Syracuse, and Onondaga County, but it is not okay to be transgender.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So you saw that that was very applicable when you came down here? You recognized that the groundwork had to be laid if you had the opportunity—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
To be more integrated from the beginning.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I saw all of this discrimination down here against gays and lesbians and I went back and did a comparison in my own mind. This discrimination that they have experienced, or not so much discrimination, but their ability to be able to

Page 52
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
We are back; this is the third side of the interview with Angela Brightfeather. The number for this tape is 01.24.02-AB.3.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So, when I came down here, I saw this road that I had traveled before, and I said, "How fortuitous" [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You had a chance to intervene.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Here, I have actually done this, I have been through it, I know this road, I know what can happen, it is like being able to see into the future, and I can have the ability to be able to bring out the celebration of everybody coming out together and enjoy that for the first time as I did—it was always a fight in upstate New York to try to get and gain credibility, it's like coming down here and everybody's trying to gain credibility, well great.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
We can do it together.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
We can do it together; we can show everybody else in the whole dog gone country what it's all about. That yeah, if you do it together, it is more effective and things can happen quicker, we have that ability here to be able to do that and work together as the GLBT community. Unlike many states, I see a little bit in Georgia and Atlanta and the City of Atlanta. I see that. A bastion that is surrounded by what would be considered redneck territory, but a bastion where the gay, GLBT community is working together. And there are actually transgender people running for, for—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Offices
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Political offices there.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Wow, how many transgender politicians do you know of?

Page 53
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, last year, a good friend of mine, Dallas Denny, she ran for a council person in Atlanta, and this year, I know someone who is going to be running for another position on the board of education in one of the Atlanta district area schools and I have known Karen Karin in New Hampshire, who ran for Congress on the Republican ticket, because it was the only one available at the time, it was empty, a strong Democratic area, and no one wanted to oppose a Democrat, so she joined the Republican Party, just to get on the ticket, and put up a bit of a fight. Dawn Wilson in Kentucky, Louisville. She is going to be running for Congress in a couple of years and there's plenty of active transgender people out there and transsexuals, we have not covered them yet either.
Well, transsexuals are like today—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They are the forth or fifth group then?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, they are the group that—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That is transvestite, cross dresser, transsexuals—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, there is a group in there in between that—between the cross dressers and the transsexuals called the transgenderists—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay,
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And transgenderists are people that live full time in the opposite gender of their sexual birth—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Without having the physical change—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, they can have all the physical changes accept sex reassignment surgery.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, many hormones.

Page 54
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Hormones, beard removal, breast implants, the estrogen changes their body shape. You know sometimes dramatically. Plastic surgery, facial plastic surgery, hair implants, anything that they need.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Don't hormones often pose a health risk to many people?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yes, they do. Some studies have been done on that. The incorrect use of hormones, which happens with a lot of street people now, that are working on the street. Street workers that are transsexual, tend to OD on hormones a lot. I don't mean killing themselves or taking too many hormones until they die. What they do is that they take hormones to get dramatic results and the dosages are so high that it plays all kinds of fun with their lymph nodes and things like that. Before you know it, you've got cancers here and cancers there and unless it is medically supervised under a program it can be extremely dangerous.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I have heard that female to males also experience an increased rate of heart disease—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
That's right, yeah, yeah. Well, they have to undergo the stress that males historically have had to undergo for all of those years. [Laughter] When they had those higher rates and women were at home with the kids. That was a job, but it did not have the stress applied and it did not have as much money attached to it. You know, and a lot of other things, so. Yeah, it's. Watching all of those things take place over history in the last—it is hard for me to believe that I was born in 1945 and I am older than a half a century. But looking back over all those experiences, I remember the first, when I first came out, one of the first people that I talked to sitting at that party, I told you about, I brought this up and said, this is wonderful, like a 'newbie' would, "I

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said, isn't this wonderful, isn't this great, isn't this grand, look at me, I am all cross dressed, I look beautiful, I look fine, I am meeting all of these people now. I am really coming out, I am really exploding like a flower, isn't it going to be wonderful when I can just go out in public and do what I want to do. Isn't it going to be wonderful when I can use the ladies room? Isn't it wonderful when I can live like this full time? Isn't it going to be wonderful, and I won't lose my job, and I can do this and I can do that." And she was looking at me and she said, "Honey, not in our lifetime." And I looked at her and it was just like having a big bubble burst. I was just like, "What do you mean, not in our lifetime? We can do anything, we can do anything we want to do. If we can stop the war in Vietnam, we can do this. We can do anything we want to do, don't you understand that?" I just had been through it, and I noticed that she was sitting on a round pillow, like a little beach toy and she had just had sex reassignment surgery. One of the first ones that I had every met, one of the earliest people to ever have it since Christine Jorgenson to have sex reassignment surgery in Albany. She knew Christine Jorgenson, and I said—that is how small the community was back then—so when you touched base with it, you knew everybody else. And she said, "Look, I don't think that you are ever going to do it in our lifetime." and I looked at her and we just sort of almost came to tears together. And I said, "Do you mind if I try?" And she said, "You go for it. You go for it." And I will never forget that. That's what has been driving me all of this time in activism, is that I really do have a belief that anything that is ahead of us we can conquer, we can do, we can make people believe in us and we can change the world and that is maybe out legacy in the future.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
You've talked about, you've talked about with me personally, you have mentioned to me a little bit about having bridges between the different communities and so forth another thing that you have touched on slightly, I know, that you feel pretty strongly about is the role of the members of the transgender community is spirituality.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah. Historically, it is in every religion. It goes back to, it goes back to the first records of being gay, and the first records of being lesbian, and maybe before that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, then what example would you see of transgender people being involved in Christianity. You said, they were involved in every religion, how about Christianity.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Let's see, Christianity. That is only two thousand and ten years old or something, that's kind of a new thing. [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But it has obviously been around, I am thinking of a transgender figure within Christianity.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, shamanism was invented as far as I know, on the steppes of Russia, thousands and thousands of years ago. Thousands of years ago.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay. I am not very familiar with religion in general, but I mean, when I think of shamanism, I think of Native American Tribes.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I think Christianity is coming about that way. There are churches that I can go to like the MCC church today.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, sure.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I can enjoy praying and being spiritually out as much as I am being transgender out. I really, really do appreciate.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, you are saying that transgender people have found acceptance in all of the major religions?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, before that I think that we were found in Native American Spiritual beliefs as Winkte –
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, you were seen as special people from what I understand.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, yeah. I think that what happened is that gays have confiscated that, I will tell you
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I really do, and I get that from a book called The Spirit in the Flesh and if you have ever read that book. It is a book by a gay man—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Now, what have gay men taken again?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It's a book by a gay man talking about, talking about. It is a book by a gay man who is trying to assess what life was like for people who lived in a different gender in Native American tribes.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, and society is now thinking that these were gay men.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, right.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
When in reality, they were transgender men, or transgender people.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, right what he is doing is he is saying that these people were gay before they were transgender.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But that is not the case.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
This is so funny, because as a gay man, he may be more educated, I never made a distinction, I always thought that it was a transgender issue more than a gay issue.

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It is natural to think, it is natural to think that if I grew up today, and maybe this is partisan on my part. But, it is natural for me to think as I grew up today, it going to be the same way as when somebody grew up 2000 years ago in many respects. So, you know, intellectually and physically and mentally.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is called a bad historian, but yes [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, so it—culture proves that—in that culture has always had and civilizations, has always had their issuances into manhood and womanhood. And at those indoctrinations, at those periods in their life where they become fertile human beings and able to produce other human beings, there is usually that step and that step in many, many civilizations had a choice, you had a choice. In the Lakota and the Navaho—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
This choice was to identify as a man or a woman?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, in the Navaho belief, if a child was believed to be Nadle which is a transgender person in that religion, or in that spiritual belief, the parents knew about it just as much as my parents knew when they found a catch of clothes.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They had an outlet.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They could tell by the way the child was—how he wanted to dress, how the child expressed themselves at the age of 4,5,6,7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and right up to 13 when the child became sexually developed and was able to produce and then they had to make that choice. And they did not want to force the child. They didn't even have names for children back then. They didn't call them Bob and Joe, they called them the second born or the first-born or the oldest or the youngest. They didn't want to lay labels on them back then. They gave them titles in accordance to the status that they were in the family.

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Rather than by injecting some name that was stereotypical of a male or a female. And that is how they were raised. And this happened all over, this was not just in the Navaho belief, and when they came of age, if they had a child like that, they threw a party and they invited everybody to the party and they put out a lot of food and during the party, they would gather sagebrush and put it in a circle, and they put a bowl and they put a bow and an arrow in the center of this circle and then they would all start forming around the circle, and they would put the child in the circle and they danced around the child and then they would light the sagebrush on fire, which burns very rapidly and pretty hot. The child would have to jump over the sagebrush and leave the circle and whatever the child left the circle with, that's what the spirit of the child wanted to be.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And the arrow would be male, the bow would be female.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, the bow and arrow would be female and the bowl would—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, bowl! I see.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
The bowl would be feminine. If it was a bowl, they would take the child out, if the child wasn't dressed as a female already, they child would be dressed as a female and be introduced as the entire family and the tribe with a new name. The Naming Ceremony. And the people that gives the names to all children in the Lakota Sioux tribes and the sub tribes and any other tribes and sometimes other tribes are transgender people, people that are transgender, and that is a special thing that they do, they give a holy name to every child that is born. The parents bring the child to a Lakota Winkte and the child spends some time with the Winkte gives them their name that only three people know about, themselves, the child and the creator. And that is the direct link between the creator and the child. When the child prays, he invokes that name

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to gain recognition from the creator, so the creator will look down upon his prayers favorably and grant them. This has been going on for a long, long time, before Christianity. In the book that I mentioned, the reason that I say that it's been confiscated by the gay society, is because this book was written by a gay man and it was the natural thing for, if a person did declare, as a male, did declare that he wanted to be treated as a woman, then they were treated as a woman.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And that includes sexually?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, because they were just—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because of the passive appearance.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, yeah, you would not think that in a civilized society, but this was not a civilized society. This was where the males usually slept all together in a long house or a tepee, the single males of birthing age, who were being able to give birth, at sexual maturity, would sleep together in the same general area. Where they were separated from women—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Which would encourage sexual activity anyway.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, so it would encourage sexual activity. So, actually, the ones that were female, or looked female, were more attractive to them. It was more less filled with guilt [translation for future readers, "There was less guilt"]. So they got really, really horny they had an out. And not only that, they [the transgender people] served a special purpose. People who were transgender and had the ability to be able to have all of the physical characteristics of the male, because there were no hormones or sex reassignment surgery.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
A lot of the gay community would not say that they would have to be really, really horny. [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
You are right, you are right. It could just be.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
We are telling this too a straight audience and in any kind of sexually segregated community, gay men are very well aware of the fact that there are plenty of ambiguous men or men who don't mind having same sex sexual encounters. I am putting my own perspective in, but—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, that is true, that is very true. When the—one of the advantages that transgender people had early, early on—and I am talking about thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago at the beginning of civilization, when people, didn't have horses and they didn't ride horses to make war or capture slaves or to do things like that, they had to travel on foot. But men were always taught to go out and hunt. To bring in the food like that and kill. Women were the gatherers. They knew all of the flowers and the plants and how to raise them, and the herbal remedies. So now you had men, who were raised as women, and knew all of the herbal remedies and how to take care of illness and sickness and knew all of those secrets that men didn't know. Yet, you had someone who was able to run and had the physical ability to keep up with men and even fight if necessary to defend themselves. This was a very valuable person. This was a person that after a battle was allowed to go into the battlefield and pick up the wounded and drag them back and take care of them. This was somebody that was invaluable, and they knew the medicines and they were men biologically. So now they became the witch doctors, they became the doctors of the tribes.

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CHRIS McGINNIS:
The shamans —
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
The shamans, right. They got into it deeper and deeper and deeper and when shamanism evolved, a great many of the shamans were transgender in nature.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, you notice this kind of spirituality in a lot of transgender people? It seems that almost transgender I talk with—I am not a very spiritual person—but a lot of transgender people seem to have a lot of spirituality around them, or a belief system related to spirituality. I think that they are in touch with the fact that they are special, but a lot of them don't know how special. They don't know how much they—how powerful that they are. I think that they gay and lesbian community in many respects has learned—and the bisexual community—has learned how powerful they are, over the last 15 to 20 years. Both politically and otherwise, with gaining their rights they know their way a little bit better. Transgender people are just not aware of how powerful they are and how far back those roots grow to having power. I can empty a men's bathroom faster than anybody has ever seen, when I am cross dressed [Laughter] because I don't have passing privilege, I know I don't. So, if I walk into a men's bathroom, it is out the door for everybody else. Either that, or it's, "Let's beat her up." You know, or "What are you doing here?" Kind of obnoxious things, so that's a lot of power, when you think about it. I can walk across a restaurant floor and I can have every single eye in that place, including all men, all women on me, just looking at me, thinking, projecting towards me all of their thoughts and all of their ideas and all of their power. Just draining themselves trying to figure out what I am, what I am doing there, and what I am made of, and why I am doing this and why I am doing that, as a shaman, as a transgender person, I feel that transgender people have always been able to absorb that incredulous ability about what

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people have about what they do and absorb that power and act like a sponge and be able to keep that, use that power and pass it on to other people. And I think that is where the essence of the transgender person really is. That they are those type of conveyors, transits, bridges of power, that allow power to pass through them, from them in greater quantities than a lot of other people. I think that the possibilities for transgender people recognizing that power and being able to use that are limitless, are infinite, they can change the world that we live in, which it goes back to my first statement of being able to believe that we can do that we never thought that we really could, we're able to change the world, we are able to make meaningful changes in society.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, which brings me back to the idea, you know, talking about some day when you were talking about one of your first transgender parties or whatever, you were out, you were going to conquer the world, and so forth. So what do you see now that you have passed a half a century, where do you see the transgender community in the United States or the south east maybe even ten years from now, twenty years from now. Now that you are more in the position of the person that you were speaking to.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I see the southeast and the central part of America being the ones that are, the areas that are the last to come out. I think that it is similar to all of the other movements before this— [Laughter] There is no difference there.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So, we are at the point where we are talking about having our own March on Washington.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
A transgender March on Washington

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, or having at least a Transgender veterans march to the wall. [Angela is presumably talking about the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC] Now how long ago did they do that with gays and lesbians?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They might have had that as part of the Millennium March or the other marches, but I don't know, because I didn't participate in that.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But we are that far behind. In all other respects, I think that we are as mature as gays and lesbians in our thoughts and our actions. The problem is being able to be together as much as we should be. Being able to consort.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You mean transgender people?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Being able to consort.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I think that you were doing that at those Marches on Washington, but you were doing it with the GLB—the Gays and Lesbians and Bisexuals.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I think we are doing it more now, because—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Independently—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
How long have you lived here?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
In North Carolina?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Twenty-Seven Years.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
So, how many times did you ever see at a Pride March, and they had Pride Marches before I got here in North Carolina, I started living here three years ago. They had them in Charlotte, and I think one in Asheville—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
All over, in Wilmington.

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And, of course, Holly Boswell marched in Asheville with the pride group there. But—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
How many have I seen?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
How many have you seen? How many Pride Parades have you seen around here that actually have had a transgender group march in a parade, or be in the parade, or have a booth?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I was not always watching the transgender floats, but I know that this year [2001] that there was one.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, right.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But, I don't, I really don't know.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And the year before there was one.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And then when they had Pride Charlotte [Charlotte Pride] we were speaking down there too. So,—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You are having a more and more defined presence within the community.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Exactly, and that's the whole secret. That is the whole reason for me being down here. That's the alternative reason besides business. Where there is a vacuum, nature will fill it up. I am the biggest damn plug you have ever seen in terms of transgender people go. I am incessant; I am devoted to the transgender community and what it stands for, and what it can do, and how it can change the world. I am totally in love with the fact that I have been born this way and that it is a gift and that it goes back to when time was never recorded and that it is special. I feel very gifted and I feel very powerful at times, and I have to get rid of that, so it comes out in energy that makes me

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form groups and makes me go to Pride Parades, and makes me seek out meetings, and makes me seek out people and friends in other minority communities, and I become a conduit myself between transgender people that want to do that and the gays and lesbians and bisexuals and other transgender people who wish they could know more and want to know more. And share and do whatever we can to come closer together and that's been a wonderful thing in the last couple of years. That has just been tremendous being able to come down here and have gay and lesbian groups like PFLAG recognize a transgender person for the first time in their life, know how to get a hold of them and actually call them up and say, "Could you come and speak at our group?" Because they have never had that before.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is causing a change in the community I think. I remember that I was sitting around with some other gay men and I was sitting back and I said, "Are you increasingly getting the realization that we are becoming the status quo?" [Laughter]
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah!
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Good old-fashioned sodomy is becoming the mainstream, and all of these other groups—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
When I cam down here, my first contact in the gay community was Jim Baxter. I had that—now a lot of people—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That would probably be, that is a very negative thing for a transgender—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, a lot of people. Well, that is an indication of who I am. A lot of people would have just folded up their tent and said, "Well, I am going to go and do my own thing." But, instead, I am very honest about it. I am very honest about what was

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said, I am very honest about the way that it was said to me, and I was very honest about the way that I felt about it. And they are not used to that around here. They are used to something a little bit maybe more southern and genteel. I am not like that. I will not be like because that is not me. Even in the South, in the more genteel nature of things, I still find people that are like me that go, "Enough of this, enough of this garbage." We are going to say this the way that is and the way that it is honestly and if you say something like that to me, you are not going to get away with it. "
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And I am not going to slip back for you and I am not going to take two steps back and I am just as good as you are and I want the same laws that you have got. And that is what I brought down with me. The defeat in Syracuse and the ability to not make it happen here, not have it happen here and work towards that goal, by bringing people closer together, and it's going to be a hard job. It's always been a hard job, it has never been easy, but the rewards are phenomenal. It isn't like somebody is going to recognize you at a dinner and say, "Thank you very much." Because you don't get that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
An activist never gets that.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, it's in the faces of the people that begin to understand each other when they are introduced together by the actions that you start.
The second [group of people] that I met was Equality North Carolina. Having so much experience with the gays and the lesbians in Syracuse—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You knew where to go—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I knew exactly where to go. I went right to ENC where the other supposed activists are in the Gay and Lesbian Community and, I said, "What are you doing? Can I

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help? Anything I can do?" Of course, my reputation had proceeded me as an in your face type of activist if it need be and it was pretty scary for them and—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Yeah, because a lot of the folks there are not very in your face.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Nope, no and I understand that—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, yeah—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
There is a need for everybody.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Well, I have had the same problem as a gay activist by being "in your face".
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
There is a need for everybody to do whatever they can. The fight is on all fronts; it is not just in one on one relationships, and meeting people and convincing them. So, I am one of those people who right from the beginning of time in my community, I was a shaker and a mover. And, I still am, and I told them, I said, "Well, how many board members do you have?" The said, "Sixteen"
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Wow, that's a big board!
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I said, "Wow, that's great, how many transgender people do you got on it?" Well, first of all, I asked them, "Do you have a transgender inclusive policy or mission statement?" And they said, "Yes, we just passed it four months ago. And I said, "Great!"
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Was this Ian Palmquist that you were speaking to?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It was Ian and the person before Jo Wyrick, and I forgot here name now. But, I said, "How many board members?" They said, "Sixteen" and I said, "How many TG [transgender] people are board members?" And they said, "Well, nobody, we do not know anybody and we have not found anybody." And I said, "Well, now you have." Just like that, I said, "Well, now you have. You've got no

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excuse now. I'm here, I came from New York. I'm here, I'm queer and I am not getting out of your face, you've got to have a board member. If you've got the 'T' in the mission statement then you've got to have a board member that is 'T'. You have got to tell these people and allow them to learn and understand. As a matter of fact," I said, "You should have 4 'T' people on the board. Because if it is a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community, and I would give up one of the seats on the board for the transgender people for an intersex person. And gladly do so."
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, I as going to ask you that, I was on the net today and I was like, what in the world is intersex? That is a new group.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It is not a new group. It is people that. It's evidence that sexually there is something, something equal to gender. There is a third sex. There is a sex that is ambiguous at times, that nobody knows what it is because it has XXX or XXY chromosomes instead of XX or XY. It has an extra chromosome in there on one side or the other. And there are millions of people in America like that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That is a true hermaphrodite?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, well, there's true hermaphrodites and then there's non-true hermaphrodites indisputably cases born where—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Of both genders—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, of both sexes. Indisputable cases of where males are born with totally, totally hardly any—almost inverted penises and mistaken for as females at

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first sight until they look closer and then they find the penis. And then there are women, girls that are born with enlarged clitorises that look actually 2-3 inches long and can grow that long that look like they would be male, but may not have a scrotum. Or their testicles are so high that they are up inside the body and they grew in a deformed place. So these things happen naturally, these things occur and the solution for that after Christine Jorgenson was that the parents made up their mind about what they were going to do. They said, "Does it look more like a boy or more like a girl?" Do they have more of one than they have of the other? Let's try that. Which lead to people like Dr. Money and the John Hopkins study that gave 27 children sex re-assignment surgeries within the first couple months of their birth, that had ambiguous genitalia, and in all of those cases, all of those cases, they were male to female. They were males with ambiguous genitalia that were transitioned into females and guaranteed by the psychiatrists by their parents, "Don't worry about it, it's the environment and the way you bring up your child that determines the gender." And yet all 27 cases, every single one of them turned back into living as a male before they got to their thirtieth birthday. Two of them committed suicide. None of them could conceive children. They were all literally castrated. Which we call, in the transgender community a perfect example that happens in one out of 20 births of ambiguous genitalia. One out of every twenty. I am sorry, one out of every 2,000 children.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I was like, whoa!

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, I am sorry, one out of every 2,000 are born with ambiguous genitalia and we call that infant mutilation. Happening today.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, the solution with the transgender community would be just to let it go, let that individual develop as they will. Don' reassign—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Let them make up their own mind, there is plenty of time.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Which makes plenty of sense.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But they don't do that.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
A young, twenty year old parent would think, "Oh, we have to make this decision?"
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, they are forced into it by the doctors—the doctors want to give more care, they have to go in deeper this and that, it's too much trouble.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That is truly insane.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, but this is what is happening every single day in America, see. So, when you hear about things like that, it's not over. When you hear about about the Peter Oiler case it is far fro over. When you hear about my friend getting killed in Jacksonville, shot in the back of the head when she gets out of her car, it's not over. There is still so much to do than just educate gays and lesbians, to accept transgender people. The gays and lesbians have got to do a little bit of the work themselves, and it is really disheartening to see groups like the Human Rights Campaign keeping us out of legislation like ENDA. It is critical for us to be about us to be able to come out. It is critical for us to be able to live our lives

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and be able to keep our jobs, but they feel as though, the presence of transgender people at the national level in legislation is going to hinder gay and lesbian legislation and their freedom. And any amount of promises that they make to come back and get the transgender people in the past have never been lived up to. When legislation has been passed for gays and lesbians and their freedoms, they haven't taken the time to come back, they have always turned around and said, "Get it yourself." You know, which is okay, but hey, you could have said the same thing to the blacks during the civil war, "Hey don't let them treat you like slaves, do something about it." Well, there is a few that tried to do something about it, and look what happened to them.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They were killed.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They were murdered. They were slaughtered by the thousands. Well, that is exactly what would happen to transgender people too. If they tried that, they would be losing their jobs by the thousands. Families would be starving by the thousands, you know. There are all kinds of ramifications.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is easy to say, but much harder to put into practice.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They need help, they need help to come out. It can't be just one on one and people like Angela Brightfeather starting groups. It has to be gays and lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, intersex people, people of color, people of other national origins and naturalized citizens and citizens by earning it and by immigration. They have to join together, and they have to understand that the

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Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA] is an important thing to all of those groups, not just one of them, and solving the problem for those groups isn't really solving the problem at all because anybody, anybody that has two common smarts that there is enough gay men out there that have a feminine image of themselves and act femininely and transgress gender norms and there is enough butch lesbians out there that transgress the gender norms for women that after the ENDA legislation passes, nobody may be able to fire anybody that is gay or lesbian, but they sure of heck can fire the gays, the gay males that act feminine and the lesbian women that act masculine. And they can use that as an excuse, and how many of them exist in the gay and lesbian community? Certainly, certainly maybe even a majority of the lesbian community.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Maybe even a majority of the gay—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I don't know. It's hard for me to say.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
It is hard for me to say as a gay man.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
It is hard to say as a gay man. I know, it is hard to—nobody has every really ever done.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because there is a lot of—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
I know, it is hard to put it—nobody has ever really done—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Because there is a lot of—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
How do you really quantify yourself in terms of—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Exactly

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
In terms of gender, are you 50/50 are you 60/40 or are you 70/30?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
So, in terms of masculine and feminine traits within ones personality, I mean as a gay man, I have accepted that a certain part of me that is feminine, but I don't think about it, because I just know that it is—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, there is a certain part of everybody that is feminine—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Of course—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But to what degree?
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Queer people are just more likely to come to grips with that.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And say—we just take it for granted—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And might even express it occasionally.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh sure
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And make fun of it and have a good time with it and enjoy it, see. You know what I am talking about, you know. The big problem is that we haven't in the gay and lesbian community today and in the straight community, people that don't want to let transgender people to be free because they feel as though they are threatened by them. And, in that, the heterosexual community and the gay and lesbian community in at least in the form of the Human Rights Campaign are one in the same to us. They are one in the same. We associate more, politically with bisexuals—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I can see that too.

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Who are constantly blamed for sitting on the fence. Historically blamed for sitting on the fence by heterosexuals, gays and lesbians and not making the decision as to what they are and what sex that they prefer to have sex with. We sit with them closer and—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That is totally understandable.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, what is not understandable is that groups like the Human Rights Campaign don't understand that. But, they will allow bisexuals to fraternize and be in their legislation, because it has to do with sex, but not gender identity—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you thing that the Human Rights Campaign, that it is not that they don't understand it, but it is that they are trying too, you know I am not saying this is good or bad, they understand the concept of transgender and how it is tied in, but they are more worried and trying to be politically savvy and seeing transgender people as a liability to potential passage?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They are not on board the boat—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That is just kind of what they say.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They are not on board the boat. The boat contains all of us, and they have always pledged that and they have always met it, I think. And taking the political aspects out of it and putting them to one side for a second—just for a moment—there are plenty of people in the human rights campaign that I know personally, locally that you know, that are all for transgender inclusion. But, there are certain people—maybe they are old guys from New York Mattachine Society

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[Laughter] I go far enough back to remember those guys, you know, that won't come across the floor to shake your hand if you are a male in drag and don't want to know you because, you know, because—and that type of attitude—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I know one of the Washington, DC folks. Frank Kameny is still alive.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Personally, I think that Elizabeth Birch is one of those people. As much as she professes to be open, as much as she could do, she doesn't take a stand and do it. If I were the president or director, national director of the HRC, I would turn around to the board of directors and say, "Look, we have enough support here and we have enough support here, and [we have] most of the board of directors, but we have got this big pocket of money here that is contributed to us and if we include transgender people and fight for them also, and together with them, for inclusion, we are going to lose this money, and that is going to cut down on our lobbying activity and that is going to hurt us as an organization, and I don't know if transgender people are rich enough or [if] there are enough of them to be able to make up that difference. Because if we include them, we would expect them to join and be a part of it, you know. And she doesn't have the courage to take that stand, and I blame her for that. I blame her for not having that courage when I have to go out in front of people that I don't know and I have to accept them and so do you, every single day. Why can't she? Is it for political reality? Is it for the ability to pass a law that frees only part of the gay and lesbian community and not all of it, especially the gender diverse part of it? Is it because

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she doesn't listen to the people and recognize the obvious? She may be a leader in many ways, but in spirit, she has lost the spirit of our movement, she has lost the spirit of Stonewall and she sold it out to the people that are holding the money to support the activities that she knows has to happen, and I am sorry for that, but unfortunately it still takes courage to be a leader and move ahead, and I don't think that she has that. I think that it is changing in the HRC because they just put us in the mission statement.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And that was after we picketed their banquets, we called Barney Frank a total asshole in front of gays and lesbians, which they didn't like, because there is their hero and here are these transgender people telling Barney Frank that he is everything accept a racist and, you know. And that was more embarrassing than losing the legislation, I think [Laughter] It was—we can't keep them out, but we can't tolerate them when they are here, we had better do something, so they—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They let them agitate—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, so it didn't hurt to, it didn't cost them any money, it didn't take them any work to mention this in their mission statement, but them when I went to them this last summer, and I met with the HRC at the national level, and I said, "Look, I've got an idea, I am the head of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition I am on the board of directors and I am also the head of their National

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Activism Committee. I went there during one of their lobby days in DC and I got into a meeting with some of the people in HRC who are the higher ups, just under Elizabeth Birch and I asked them, "Can we speak, can we be a part of this? Can we be a part of HRC?" Oh, sure, yeah, wonderful, we voted for you to be in the mission statement. We two people, that I was meeting with, we were pushing for it, we wanted it, we know others that wanted it, we helped swing the vote with the board of directors to include transgender in the mission statement. I said—and right after that, a week after that, I said, "Elizabeth Birch made an announcement over the internet and to the press in a press release that this did not change the attitude of HRC in regards to transgender people being included or gender diversity language being included in the ENDA legislation. I said, we were expecting that, we were expecting that. But, what we weren't expecting was for Elizabeth Birch to turn around to us and say, "You have to educate more. You have to educate more people. You have to go out there and get more people on your side. You have to educate, you have to educate. This is what we have been doing, I have been doing this for thirty-five years."—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Do you see this as a continual ploy to exclude transgender people—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Of course it is, she knows that it is an impossible thing for people to do without—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You can always say educate more.

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ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Right, so we said, "Well, okay" Well, I said, I told these two people from HRC, I said, "When she said that, that hit me right in the heart, because I have been dedicated to this movement for a long time and I have been educating a lot of people out there and I have seen a lot of progress, but she was right. If she wants us to educate more, then let's go to where we began with as far as acceptance, and let's go to the gay and lesbian community and let's start educating them first. Let's get them, as far as I am concerned, there are a lot of gays and lesbians and bisexuals that need to be educated about transgender lives, and what their issues are, and what it's all about." And they said, "Well, okay." And I said, "Starting with the gays and lesbians in that community and bisexuals, why don't you allow us to be able to take transgender people that are the pillar of our community and speak at the HRC dinners as keynote speakers? And you could see both—
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
All right, we are on the forth side of the interview with Angela Brightfeather the number for this side is 01.24.02-AB.4 and so we are back to the HRC thing and you were asking for a place at the table—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, and I laid it right out in front of them. I went to the national board of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition at the meeting where we were lobbying

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and I said, "This is what I want to present to them. I presented them with an eight-page foundation and program to be able to have transgender people speak and the conditions for everything at the HRC fundraising dinners. Well, it took them six months to get back to me. And I got a flat outright no. And the reason why is that they considered it entertainment, first of all.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They considered—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They considered their dinners to be—to having to have the elements of entertainment and the keynote speakers had to be famous, they had to be notables in the community, that were recognized so people would come to the dinners.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I have been to a few HRC dinners and they weren't that entertaining. [Laughter] Not to put it down, but—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
They wanted recognition of the speaker, and they wanted it to be entertaining. Well, you know, Barney Frank was here in Raleigh this year, and he got booed by a few of us, but none the less, and called names, but none the less I fully agree with the fact that Barney Frank is entertaining. Because many of his views are very entertaining to me. Especially when he talks about the age old discourse of transgender people wanting to be—and to have the same rights as to be able to go into the shower with genetic females, that remark. [Chris gasps] Yeah, I find that very entertaining, because I hear the same, I heard the same language twenty years ago about gay males in the military or who were showering in high schools and why they could not come out, because nobody could bend over and grab the soap. That old joke.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, right, it is still around, but dying.

Page 81
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Yeah, but now we have got a gay male, the head gay male of America, saying the same old shit about us. I was sitting there and was just going, "Well, there just shows you the progress we have made, you know"
CHRIS McGINNIS:
They exact same kind of discrimination.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
But, so, he is entertaining at the same time. He is very notable and can draw a lot of people into a banquet and he did.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And make a lot of money.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
And make money that is right, for the cause. So, I think that there is famous and entertaining transgender people out there, I just don't think that the Human Rights Campaign knows who they are. I think that there are plenty of famous transgender people out there. I think that the person, I thought and it would have been wonderful if he hadn't died. I thought that the head of the FBI at one time—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, Hoover—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
J. Edgar Hoover would have—and everybody knows that he was a cross dresser.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Was he a transgender, or was he gay?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
He was a cross dresser—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But didn't his lover, wasn't he a part of that?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
He was cross-dressing before he was having sex with men. I guarantee he was cross-dressing like me at four years old. I guarantee it. So, if he decided to have sex with men, then that was an afterthought coming from being transgender as far as I am concerned and he would have been an extremely effective speaker.

Page 82
CHRIS McGINNIS:
He probably would have never come to speak. [said with teasing sarcasm] But he would have been a good speaker.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
No, but there you go. There are people that are transgender—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Who could be very good speakers.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Who have notable interest—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Just because they are transgender, doesn't exclude them from being—
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
—And could be very entertaining too.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Of course.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
How about the person who invented LOTUS ? She is a transsexual transitioned; she used to work for IBM and actually invented LOTUS.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Is that a guy to girl or girl to guy?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Guy to girl, male to female. And, there is somebody that every computer geek, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person knows about, she literally invented the science of LOTUS and the language that is used in computers. She is famous for this, she had a patent for it, she retired. She is like the Bill Gates of Transsexuals.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
But instead of exploring the idea of transgender people who could be notable, they just gave you a flat no, which was so frustrating, because you were like, "You could have at least given me a chance to give you someone who was notable." Well, Angela, this has been a great interview. Do you have any closing arguments—well, no arguments, but do you have any closing ideas to finish out the process?
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
Well, I think, okay. Activism—I was watching Max Bickford the other night, and they were relating to the Vietnam war and activism back there and he came up

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with a good definition of it. An activist is a person that takes a part of their life and sacrifices it for an ideal that they believe in. And that is what I do. That's not to scare people, it is not to create dissension or discord, it is just something that I have to do, because it is an ideal that I believe in. And when people pain it as being 'in your face' when people paint it as being 'too much' when people paint it as being embarrassing, then I have a feeling like I am doing my job. I have a feeling like I am making change, and I find that very worth it. I am not going to stop doing that ever, as long as I live, I will continue to do that. Because I feel that that is what I am destined to do. Being an activist is complimentary to being transgender right now. I am not somebody to be feared as was the case with Equality North Carolina who didn't want me as a board member because I would always be interested in transgender issues and not gay and lesbian issues and they wanted a more balanced board. That fear kept them from having an extremely active, persuasive, dedicated person on their side. I am still on their side, but working with them. There is nothing fearful about activism. Anybody that comes out of the closet for the first time is an activist automatically as far as I am concerned. It is just to what degree that you are going to do it, to be involved. And there are so may opportunities out there, quite often it is like, being in a space program and discovering new frontiers and being Captain James Kirk and being on the Starship Enterprise. You know, when people say that there is nothing new in the world, some of the things that I have done, and some of the things that I have seen gays and lesbians do and bisexuals, and the strides that we have taken over the last twenty or thirty years, they could only be compared in my mind to something like finding a new frontier, and taking on challenges that the Enterprise took on as routine as we watched them traveling through space and

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meeting new people and different races and different weapons and different policies and different politics. It has been that type of a trip for me. There is nothing scary about it. It's got its point of being heroic, but more than that, its got a feeling of like when I go and its all done. When I pass on, when I join my ancestors, I feel as though I have made a meaningful change with some people and we are very fortunate as leaders in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at this time in history to be able to say that our coming out and our being ourselves can affect other people and their lives to the very core of changing the direction of their lives in a more positive way, and very directly. There is not many people. A lot of people walk through this life and they are satisfied with changing the direction of the people that they are born to, or born to them, like their children, their families, or their co-workers if they can help or do something, but a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activist today has historically a tremendous opportunity to be able to change the lives of thousands of people in a direct way before they die, and I am an example of that. I have been around for fifty-six years and I have seen people's lives completely change direction by accepting who they are and coming out to other people. And it has been an absolutely wonderful experience, I can't think of a better way to live my life. I would not change a thing.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Angela Thank you very much.
ANGELA BRIGHTFEATHER:
You are welcome.
END OF INTERVIEW