Notes from the Underground (NFTU)
NFTU was the newsletter of Gender Mosaic, Ottawa’s long running trans social and support group. It was published from December 1988 to December 2004. I have uploaded the entire run except for a few issues from Margo’s time as editor. These are MR9, MR12, MR14, MR18, MR21 and MR22 (issue numbers are at the top left.) If any former GM member has a few of these lying around, I’d be happy to take them off your hands. It would be good to make the complete set available and preserve it as a historical record of Ottawa’s trans community.
Gender Mosaic was originally named New Ottawa Women (NOW) and was a chapter of the California heterosexual crossdresser organization Society for the Second Self (Tri-Ess), although they disregarded Tri-Ess’s narrowly defined membership criteria from the outset and welcomed all trans folks.
NFTU provides not only a running history of Gender Mosaic, but also an interesting historical perspective on the evolution of the trans community and shifts in trans thinking. See the NFTU page for the complete list of uploaded issues.
Triple Echo is the ‘zine I published from 1998 to 2003 and, incidentally, the original name for this web site. I hope to put up the entire run in due time. Here are the issues available thus far: Triple Echo.
Drag Queen: A Study of the Life Style of the Drag Queen
Drag queen in its current definition implies performer, but historically it was used in a very different way. In 1972, when this booklet was published, a drag queen was a trans woman living within a gay milieu and generally surviving through prostitution. The author of this “study” regards the drag queen as male, which was typical of the time, despite her living as a woman. (She probably identified that way also.)
Superficially this is a fairly straight forward publication, but the passage of time leaves it open to many layers of interpretation. For example, are the drag queens living this way freely or is it simply because they have no choice?
This booklet was published by Seattle’s Empathy Press, which was a prolific trans publisher during the 1970s.
There is no publisher nor date to this booklet, but my guess is that it was published in the early 70s also. This publication has the requisite educational component that seeks to explain the causes of transvestism, but it also has a number of case histories, which are always fun to read despite being pilfered from other sources.
The educational aspect to the publications of this era is problematic. While it’s laudatory that trans folks, who are clearly the intended readership, would wish to understand themselves, inherent in this wish to understand is an acceptance of the transphobic notion of the time that trans folks are strange and need to be explained. That these publications regurgitate the psycho babble of the time was probably not helpful.