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Vision 2001: A Gender Odyssey (1996-1997)

Vision 2001: A Gender Odyssey (1996-1997)

©2013 by Dallas Denny and Jessica Xavier







Vision 2001 was my attempt to look at the transgender community’s organizations as they were and speculate about what might happen in the future. It spanned seven issues of AEGIS’ quarterly newsletter. Jessica Xavier was my collaborator.

I’ve elected not to print the text, since the articles include lots of figures and graphs; They’re better read as scans of the originals. Readers can also view letters to the editor sparked by our discussions, and our responses to them.

Sources (Citation Information)

Denny, Dallas. (1996, January). Vision 2001: A gender odyssey. AEGIS News, 1(6), pp. 1, 7-11.

Xavier, Jessica. (1996, April). So you wanna be in politics? A realistic assessment of transgender political involvement. AEGIS News, 1(7), pp. 1-6.

Denny, Dallas. (1996, September). Regional & national alliances and political organizations. AEGIS News, 1(8), pp. 1-7.

Denny, Dallas. (1996, September). Is there a price for political activism? AEGIS News, 1(8), p. 9.

Denny, Dallas. (1996, September). Winning transgender acceptance and understanding at PFLAG. AEGIS News, 1(8), p. 11.

Denny, Dallas. (1996, December). Local organizations, publications, “those darn professionals). AEGIS News, 1(9), pp. 1-6.

Denny, Dallas. (1997, August). Whither the transgender community? Whither AEGIS? AEGIS News, 1(11), p. 6.

Denny, Dallas. (1997, October). Costs of transgender conferences. AEGIS News, 1(12), pp. 5-7.

Denny, Dallas. (1998, April). On the future of the TG community. AEGIS News, 1(13), pp. 1-9.

Xavier, Jessica. (1998, April). Twenty-seven years on: The transpolitical movement’s struggle for inclusion. AEGIS News, 1(13), pp. 10-14.

Xavier, Jessica. (1998, April). Why we have to work with the gays: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and identity as queer. AEGIS News, 1(13), p. 13.

Denny, Dallas. (1998, April). The price of inclusion. AEGIS News, 1(13), pp. 14-15.

Why Vision 2001?

In mid-1995 The International Foundation for Gender Education—with an annual budget of about $350,000, the trans community’s largest organization—did an assessment of the transgender community. They called it Vision 2000, and I thought the final report the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. Issue no. 6 of AEGIS News began my own assessment, which ended two years later with issue no. 13. The series was called, tongue-in-cheek, Vision 2001: A Gender Odyssey. It was fact-based, at least as much as possible considering the scant data that were available. Jessica Xavier was invaluable as a collaborator and author.


The Internet

For several years I had been feeling a need to rethink not only The American Educational Gender Information Service, but the future of what I now call brick-and-mortar information services. AEGIS continued a tradition begun in the 1960s with Reed Erickson’s Erickson Educational Foundation and continued by Paul Walker’s Janus Information Facility and Joanna Clark and Jude Patton’s J2CP. Our mission was to provide information about transsexualism to clergy, reporters, politicians, helping professionals, family members, the general public, and above all else to transsexuals, to whom we gave referrals for services. When required, we provided one-on-one support in the way of letters, phone calls, and personal visits.

To reach those needing information, these brick-and-mortar clearinghouses—and AEGIS was one of them—would place ads in newspapers and magazines and wrangle mentions in books and credits on television programs. They would provide information by phone, Fax, and in person, but most information was sent by mail in response to letters. We would stuff as much information as would fit into an envelope, paying for the overage, or, in the many instances in which those requesting information didn’t include a stamp, all the postage. Two or three weeks after requesting information, a person or organization would receive a fat envelope that hopefully answered their questions.

In 1993 the Mosaic web browser was released to the public and the internet as we know it was born. I found an ISP that year, Atlanta-based Mindspring (Mindspring eventually merged with Earthlink; I retain my original e-mail address and customer number: 2957. That number would have been even lower, but I wasted five or six months with another ISP that turned out to be a dud). I began using e-mail that year, and before long was distributing trans-related news to AEGIS members and trans organizations (before that I had relied on bulletin board systems).

By 1995 I had grown convinced the internet would have a profound effect on society. It didn’t escape me that if it became an essential form of communication—as the phone, telegraph, and letter had before it—it would enable immediate dissemination of an almost unlimited amount of information to millions of people for very little money. In an age when that was possible, it would make little sense to write and mail a letter in hopes of receiving a response in two or three weeks.

Brick-and-mortar information services like AEGIS would not fare well if such a future came to pass.


Transgender Political Organizations

It didn’t escape my notice that the newly-formed transgender political organizations excited imaginations and opened checkbooks in a way the more low-profile educational nonprofits never had. I was convinced giving to political groups would translate to less income for educational organizations which were hanging on by a shoestring. This meant some educational nonprofits would fail, or that perhaps they were becoming nonessential.

And so I used the platform of AEGIS News to look at the trans community as it existed and speculate about what might happen in the future. And so, Vision 2001.

The ways in which we communicate have changed drastically since Vision 2001— and the trans community has changed drastically. I like to think I was prescient.

Vision 2001: The Content

The first installment of Vision 2001, which appeared in January, 1996 in AEGIS News No. 6, took a broad look at seven national transgender organizations— AEGIS, The International Foundation for Gender Education, Renaissance Educational Association, The Society for the Second Self, FTM International, The International Conference on Transgender Law and Policy, and Outreach Institute for Gender Studies. I looked at their areas of expertise, incomes, and the  services they provided and, based on a small survey I conducted, took a rough stab at gauging their effectiveness.

Issue no. 7 was published in April and featured an article by Jessica Xavier titled “So You Wanna Be in Politics? A Realistic Assessment of Transgender Political Involvement.” This was a time, I should note, when organized trans political advocacy was just getting started and the T had in most part not yet been added to GLB organizations. Jessica described various types of political activity and looked at funding sources and budgets of the top nine LGB political groups.

In issue no. 8, published in September, I took a look at regional and national political alliances in the transgender community. This included political organizations like GenderPAC and support networks like the Congress of Transgender Organizations. Issue no. 9 also includes my short pieces “Is There a Price for Political Activism?” and “Winning Transgender Acceptance and Understanding at PFLAG.”

I took a look at local organizations, periodicals, and helping professionals in issue no. 9, which was published in December.

We took a break from our analysis in issue no. 10. Issue no. 11 contained my short essay “Whither the transgender community? Whither AEGIS?”

In issue no. 12, published in October, 1997 I looked at the costs of the many trans conference around the country. A table of my devising broke these down into a per day rate.

Issue no. 13, published in April 1998, featured my analysis of the material covered in issues 7-9 and 12 and speculations about the future—and Jessica Xavier’s thoughts on the relationship between trans and gay and lesbian communities.


2001: A Gender Odyssey

AEGIS News No. 6, January 1996 (PDF)

AEGIS News No. 7, April 1996 (PDF)

AEGIS News No. 8, September 1996 (PDF)

AEGIS News No. 9, December 1996 (PDF)

AEGIS News No. 11, August 1997 (PDF)

AEGIS News No. 12, October 1997 (PDF)

AEGIS News No. 13, April 1998 (PDF)