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Interview for International Transcript Magazine (1992)

Interview for International Transcript Magazine (1992)

©1992, 2013 by Dallas Denny and JoAnn Roberts

Source: Roberts, Joanne. (1992). Interview for International TransScript Magazine.

I’m not certain, but I believe JoAnn Roberts’ magazine International TransScript folded just before this interview was scheduled to appear.



Interview with Dallas Denny For International Transcript Magazine


ITS: Tell us about the name AEGIS.

Dallas: AEGIS is the acronym for the American Educational Gender Information Service, Inc. The word aegis means shield, or protection. It also means sponsorship, or under the auspices of. It was originally a shield or breastplate given to Athena by her father, Zeus. I was looking for an acronym that stood for what we did, and magically, there it was: gender, education, information, service. The name worked in another way, too. Originally, the American in our name was Atlanta. I planned on the name change from the first, and, when it became apparent our scope and significance was national, and not merely local, we implemented it—by then it had become we. Some amazingly talented and hardworking people have emerged—people with vision, who have helped us have a great impact on the community. In fact, we very nearly became a victim of our own success, for we grew so rapidly and endeavored so many projects and products that it was difficult to concentrate on building a good, solid organizational structure and business plan. But we’ve finally gotten incorporated, finished putting our advisory board together, and a board of directors will soon follow. We made one move into quarters which were supposed to provide AEGIS office space, but it didn’t work out as planned, so we moved again; this time, we have an office.

 ITS: Your magazine, Chrysalis Quarterly, has had quite an impact on both caregivers and consumers. Can you tell us why?

Dallas: I think for a variety of reasons. First, its content seems to have been much needed. In the first few issues we concentrated on health and consumerism. To some people, it was an amazing concept: transgendered people have the same rights and responsibilities as other consumers of products and services. We’ve not been easy on transgendered people, and issue three made it clear we’re not afraid to take service providers to task, too. We’re not pointing fingers at any particular person, but at problems with the system. Our goal is to increase understanding and communication between consumer and provider; I call it “building a gate in the treatment fence.” We’re going to necessarily have to do some deconstruction of the treatment system before we can begin to offer suggestions for improvement. We hope we don’t alienate everyone in the process. Nearly a third of our subscribers are service providers, and the other two thirds are transgendered; it’s a good mix. We think CQ is the forum for getting our message across. The message will become a little more apparent with each issue.

We want CQ to be a magazine for everyone. We’re interested in unifying the community and all its factions that are rarely heard from: physicians, psychologists, female crossdressers, transgenderists, people with HIV infection, people with disabilities, people of color, and men. Especially the men. They’re half of the community, and perhaps five percent of the words are written about them. I cringe when I’m at a gender convention at a banquet and someone begins with “Ladies.” Can you imagine how offensive that is to someone who once was but is no longer a lady?

CQ has been characterized in some quarters as a transsexual magazine, but it’s not, and I think that will gradually become apparent in future issues. Holly Boswell’s influence as associate editor will start to show with issue #5, and she is completely in charge of issue #6. We began with transsexualism because that was what we knew the most about, and because that was where the heady issues seemed to be. We have published a number of articles about crossdressing. We’d love to get some serious material about crossdressing, and not just the fluff stuff. Serious crossdressing issues are already being addressed admirably by a number of newsletters—most notably CrossTalk, Renaissance News, and TV Guise, Billie Jean Jones’ effort, which I greatly enjoy. There are also the newsletters of Boulton and Park and ETVC, and transsexual newsletters like Phoebe Smith’s Transsexual Voice, Twenty, and that of the Gender Identity Center of Colorado, and of course Tapestry, and JoAnn Roberts’ unfortunate brainchild, International TranScript, which should have made it, but for some reason didn’t.

Another thing we’re attempting to do is to demonstrate that gender-related material can be as attractively packaged and produced as anything in the mainstream; then it becomes the mainstream. When you look serious, then you’re taken seriously; nobody knows what a shoestring you’re running on. We’re lucky enough to have had on board several very talented graphic artists. They’re responsible for the wonderful look of CQ. And it could not have happened without Vickie Germonde, who gives of her time and resources to do the printing.

ITS: What other projects does AEGIS have?

Dallas: Well, let’s see… We have great plans, which we hope some day to have money enough and energy enough and personnel enough to pursue. We have acquired a printing press, which will give us great potential, once we have it up and running. For right now, I have a contract to publish an extensive bibliography of gender dysphoria for Garland Press. Vern Bullough was instrumental in bringing that about. We publish a series of booklets which are designed to help transgendered people to understand themselves and make informed choices. We have a multidisciplinary advisory board, which is composed of notable, and even famous people from areas of significance to transgender people; a number of members are transgendered themselves. We’ve formed a committee to study incarceration of transgendered persons and formulate guidelines for their care. We’re doing consultation work and public speaking, including full-day workshops at professional conventions. We’re producing a brief bibliography in cooperation with Renaissance Educational Association, with whom we are affiliated. We maintain a help line and make referrals. We talk a lot with the media. We work with the mayor’s office to help reduce hate crimes. We were involved in the first two Southern Comfort conventions. We strongly urged for more coverage for men at this year’s Southern Comfort, and the committee heard us. And we co-sponsored with Carol Miller, a licensed counselor, an open support group which is modeled after Holly Boswell’s Phoenix Transgender Support Group in Asheville, North Carolina. The group’s name is Atlanta Gender Explorations. AGE: another acronym. AGE recently achieved full autonomy; it is a child which has taken wing and flown. It has its own officers now, and calls its own shots, and has even spawned another organization, H.O.P.E., which stands for Honoring Other Peoples’ Expressions. It’s a group for family and friends of transgendered persons.

I founded AGE because there was nothing like it in Atlanta. There was Sigma Epsilon, which is a Tri-Ess chapter. It’s a great group, but primarily for heterosexual crossdressers. There was nowhere for gay crossdressers to go. And there’s MMP&I, which is strictly a transsexual support group—and that’s not right for everyone. We wanted to provide a middle ground in which people could express themselves without having to cram themselves into a box labeled heterosexual crossdresser or another box labeled transsexual. I agree with Linda and Cynthia Phillips and Tere Frederickson, the San Antonio crowd—by the way, I went to the “T” party and had a great time, although I would have been tempted to show a little facial hair, if it were biologically possible for me to do so. At any rate, I agree wholeheartedly with them that there are entirely too many middle-aged men who are fleeing from the demands and frustrations of their lives, embracing transsexualism. I’m not denying anyone’s experience, but sometimes a reality check is needed. If you’re never going to pass, that’s okay, but you need to come to terms with that early on. The reality of being a woman is not like the fantasy; that’s why most post-op transsexual people I know wear comfortable shoes. Those who are in transition need to face reality before they make irreversible decisions. If you feed into the fantasy while dismantling your life, you’re going to wind up in trouble. I’ve seen it happen too many times.

And oh, yes, we managed to get a copy of CQ to Caroline Cossey, the British model who is known as Tula, and so have gotten to know her. She’s on our advisory board, and we support her in her fight to win rights for transsexual people in the United Kingdom. Some very exciting things are happening in Great Britain. They’ve formed Press For Change, what we would call a political action committee. They call it a pressure group.

ITS: Your Dangerous Curves and This is Your Heart on Too Many Hormones ads seem to have been picked up and reprinted in many newsletters.

Dallas: Yes, and we’re grateful to the community for that. Injections of free silicone are illegal and dangerous, and unfortunately common, especially among those in the gay community. In the clubs, you’ll see these queens with cheekbones from hell; that’s silicone. We’ll be producing a public service ad with every issue of CQ and sending them around the community in hopes they’ll be reprinted and maybe even stop someone from doing something stupid. The second ad is about overmedication and self-medication with hormones, and the third is about the importance of a real-life test before genital surgery.

ITS: And now tell us about Dallas Denny.

Dallas: It’s been both a blessing and a burden to go through life for 43 years with a name like Dallas Denny. People always think my last name is my first name. But I’ve always liked it. I’m a licensed psychological examiner in Tennessee. I have a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee, and am at the major area paper and dissertation stage of a doctoral program in special education at Vanderbilt University. Graduating is my top priority. My committee has been very encouraging, really going all out to inspire me to finish. I let the program drop for a long time while I went off to look into some personal issues. But now I’m ba-ack.

I love my job. I work doing applied behavior analysis, psychological testing, and case management in a workshop for adults with mental retardation. Retarded people are another stigmatized group; I’m constantly finding parallels between them and transgendered people. You’ll notice I never call someone a transsexual; I say transsexual person. The transsexualism is secondary to the person, and the proper use of language can help make that clear. Here I go getting political again.

What else about me? I was married for six years, but had no children. I almost remarried. I’m 5’9″ and have lost more than one hundred pounds. I want to lose many more. I’m unattached—not available, necessarily, but unattached. Well, maybe available, for the right person. I’m rarely in a bad mood. I was an army brat. I’m left-handed. I like snakes—my master’s thesis was about the feeding of garter snakes. I’m good with computers. I was secretary-treasurer of my computer club until we merged with another. Early this year, my trusty old Chevy Nova finally died, and I bought a 1984 Toyota Camry which was beautiful inside and out, but which had serious mechanical problems. I sold it, and had to walk and ride MARTA, our public transportation system, until I could get my motorcycle out of the shop. It’s a 125 Honda with 1100 miles in it, and it had been sitting—inside, fortunately—since it had a flat tire in 1985. Finally I found a car for under a thousand dollars, and have been getting around in it.

I’m a prolific writer, and I can modestly say I think I’ve gotten quite good at it; I would be really convinced if I could sell any of the four or five novels I’ve written. Pretty much everything else, though, finds its way into print, except for my songs. I lived in Nashville for many years. How could I not write songs and play the guitar?

And oh yes, I wear sensible shoes.