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Jamison Green was born in Oakland, California, on November 8, 1948, and designated female at birth. Thus, when he was adopted at one month old, his parents assumed they were adopting a daughter. But by age two, Jamison was refusing to wear dresses. Thankfully, his parents’ unconditional love helped him endure the ridicule of peers who poked fun at his masculine ways. In the meantime, Jamison (the name he took for himself in high school) accomplished a wide variety of firsts: first female-bodied person to climb the ropes in the boys' gym, to take wood shop, to join his high school ski team, and to work as a construction cable splicer with Pacific Northwest Bell.

While in college, Jamison came out as lesbian. In the early 1980s, at the dawn of the “lesbian baby boom,” Jamison and his then-partner selected a sperm donor, and his partner gave birth to two children. However, by his mid-30’s, Jamison had finally reached the conclusion that he “was never going to grow up to be a woman.” In his early 40s, he was able finally and fully to transition to his male identity. Before these years, to support his career as a writer and activist, Jamison worked as a technical writer and publications manager for high-technology companies.

During the 1990s, Jamison became known both in the U.S. and abroad for his transgender activism. He developed a local San Francisco support group for transgender men into a global organization and, in 1994, wrote the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s report on discrimination against transgender people. In 2007, he founded a transgender training and policy consulting group for business, education and government. He also published his prize-winning book Becoming a Visible Man, which has become a classic text, informing and inspiring trans and cis people worldwide.

Jamison’s devotion to education and policymaking to improve transgender lives has resulted in widespread media and film appearances and earned him numerous awards. In 2009, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists recognized Jamison with their Distinguished Service Award, making him the first transgender person to be thus honored. From 2014-2016, Jamison served as the second transgender person to be elected president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). 

An insatiable scholar and learner, Jamison earned his Ph.D. in Equalities Law (with a transgender focus) from Manchester Metropolitan University (England) in 2011, becoming only the eighth person in the world to receive this degree. Today, Jamison lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Heidi. He enjoys writing, traveling, high-country backpacking, movie-going, and spending time with his adult children and other family members and friends. 
Jamison Green: [00:00:00] Every time I was re-elected to anything, there was a guy who had been a past president who said to me, "You know, we lost members because you were elected," because I'm a trans person. I also have a reputation as an activist, so they were worried that I would be too radical.
Mason Funk: [00:00:30] It's an interesting conversation. I hadn't even thought of this, but it's a conversation I want to have because, very briefly, I worked a year and a half ago ... Or a year ago actually ... On a six-part documentary series for Nat-Geo on essentially sexuality. We did one episode, which was called The New Normal, and it was essentially about the LGBTQ movement. One of the things that came up ... We interviewed Buck Angel.
Jamison Green: Yeah.
Mason Funk: He's out there obviously.
Jamison Green: [00:01:00] Oh yeah, way out.
Mason Funk: He's also kind of your generation in the sense that he transitioned a while ago. He had issues with ... Issues might be too strong. He had concerns about ... You know you would think it be like, "Take down the obstacles, take down the barriers, make it easier for people to transition." There's definitely a logic in that direction, but then at a certain point, someone like yourself or him who transitioned under much more stringent guidelines, might even be saying,
Mason Funk: [00:01:30] "Hey, hold on a second, there's reasons those guidelines were there". I don't know if you would agree with the basic take or-
Jamison Green: Yeah, I do actually.
Mason Funk: You guys would have an interesting conversation, I'm sure.
Jamison Green: Yeah. Not everybody needs to follow all those guidelines, but there has to be some way of assessing that. Right now, we used to be called the gatekeepers, WPATH.
Jamison Green: [00:02:00] It used to be known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, the gatekeepers. Lots of people in the community hate this organization, but without this organization, people in prison would not have health care, access to transition-related care. People in many, many clinics across the country getting public health would not have that access.
Jamison Green: [00:02:30] People who were being sued for custody of their kids because they're trans would not be able to win their cases. We do a huge amount of proactive and important work, and the community doesn't know it. In the standards that were published ... Version 7 of the standards were published in 2011,
Jamison Green: [00:03:00] and that document is a radical change from past documents. Version 6 was issued in 2001, so it was 10 years between versions. There's a huge difference. The standards now talk about what professionals have to do to provide good service to the community, whereas they used to talk about what the community had to do in order to qualify for treatment.
Jamison Green: [00:03:30] That was one of the reasons that I joined this organization, was to change that.
Mason Funk: Great. That's really interesting stuff. Were you really writing all that? I trusted you were. I just want to have one last look, and then we're going to do the official start.
Jamison Green: ... really did not understand trans people at all. Now there's a lot more people who are much more compassionate and much more cognizant of that difference that trans people experience, that LGB people experience, which are two different kinds of differences, but there it is.
Jamison Green: [00:04:00] People are more aware. A lot of people believe that it's a person's choice what to do with their body, but you need to know what the consequences of that are going to be. You need to be prepared to make the decisions that you have to make along the way.
Mason Funk: In the meantime, any physician who's going to pick up surgical tools is going to be like, "I can't just do this willy nilly."
Jamison Green: [00:04:30] Some have tried.
Mason Funk: Wow, really?
Jamison Green: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Oh God.
Jamison Green: There are some horror stories, which is another reason why this organization exists is to stop that within the professions.
Mason Funk: Rein it in a little bit. That's such an interesting ... It's just one of those tensions that has to exist. You need to have all parts [crosstalk].
Jamison Green: The progress we've made with respect to getting health insurance coverage wouldn't have happened without WPATH and a standard of care.
Mason Funk: [00:05:00] Reminds me of in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. There was top down. Then there was community. They had to do duke it out. There's just no way you're [inaudible] except if you just get in a room and just fight.
Jamison Green: Yeah, although I don't think it has to be a fight. I really don't. I think a lot of people do, but I just went to one of their conferences and
Jamison Green: [00:05:30] then they realized that I was smart. They asked me to join. I said, "I'm not a doctor." They said, "But that's okay. You can join as a supporting member." I said, "What does that cost? What does that mean?" "Well, it costs exactly the same as the doctors pay, but you can't vote." I'm like, "Well, why should I do that? That's really stupid." They begged me and begged me to join, and finally I did.
Jamison Green: [00:06:00] Then the board actually debated for nearly four years about whether or not I could be allowed to vote. There were people on the board who felt that I had too much power in the community and that I was dangerous. Yes, I did intend to change things, but I'm not unreasonable, and I'm not dangerous.
Jamison Green: [00:06:30] I am maybe provocative now and then, but I understand their perspective and I understand the community's perspective and I understand the community's perspective. I'm a bridge builder.
Mason Funk: That's great. We're going to wait for this truck to go by and then we'll start officially.
Jamison Green: Yeah, it's garbage day.
Mason Funk: [crosstalk] .
Jamison Green: I forgot Friday is garbage day.
Mason Funk: That's good because they'll go by and then we'll be done.
Jamison Green: There's three different trucks that come by.
Mason Funk: [00:07:00] [crosstalk]. The other thing ... I was going to say, by the way, thank you for your questionnaire. By far and away ... I only just started with the questionnaire, but yours was like ... You're like the A student in the class.
Jamison Green: Thank you. Well, I'm a writer.
Mason Funk: You kicked everyone else's ... You made everyone else look bad.
Jamison Green: Good.
Mason Funk: You kicked their asses basically.
Jamison Green: Good, I like that.
Mason Funk: Some people shirked. Some people refused. Some people did the work, the assignment.
Mason Funk: [00:07:30] Some people did good. Then yours was eloquently written and carefully thought out. I loved when you wrote the whole thing about three formative experiences and you told a big long story. You said, "There should be three experiences in there somewhere."
Jamison Green: Yeah. I actually worried that you would think that I was cheating there ... Not cheating, but shirking.
Mason Funk: Shirking.
Keith Wilson: [00:08:00] Cat is visiting us.
Mason Funk: Oh, coming to see.
Keith Wilson: Hi.
Jamison Green: Hi Squeak.
Keith Wilson: I can't touch you or I'll ...
Jamison Green: She's very curious.
Keith Wilson: I'll get runny eyes.
Jamison Green: She thinks you maybe have something to eat.
Jamison Green: [00:08:30] The experience of being seriously oppressed and ignored and seeing other people who are suffering even more than I was and
Jamison Green: just knowing that the shame that transgender people in particular experienced and were struggling with, dealing with in their lives was not justified. It was wrong for us to be living at this level of shame. I didn't want to live like that. When I saw other people doing that,
Jamison Green: [00:09:00] I thought, "Oh, am I also ashamed? Why am I ashamed? How can I change this? What can I do?" Applying my writing and speaking skills, I began to do activist work.
Mason Funk: That's a great answer. Awesome.
Mason Funk: [00:09:30] During your years as an out lesbian, what were those years roughly in terms of the time frame. We're doing a little bit of a social history here as well as personal history. I'm always fascinated like, "What was it like?" I think this is ... You were born in '48 so in the '70s, you were of age.
Jamison Green: Oh yeah.
Mason Funk: All hell was breaking loose.
Jamison Green: That's right.
Mason Funk: I wonder if you can paint a picture of just that era, where you were living, what was going on around you
Mason Funk: [00:10:00] and where you fit in that crazy hodge podge, powerful hodge podge that was the Women's Movement.
Jamison Green: I think I was always interested in ... In terms of romantic interest, my inclination was more toward girls than toward boys even from the first awakenings of all of that. I didn't really know the word lesbian
Jamison Green: [00:10:30] until I was in college. I went to the University of Oregon in Eugene. I finally figured out that I was a lesbian after I'd had two relationships with women in college that ... I basically said, "Well, I have a female body. I am attracted to female bodied people. I must be a lesbian."
Jamison Green: [00:11:00] By this time, I'm approaching 21, drinking age. I go, "So now at least I know which bars to go to." That's basically it. I had a lot of friends who were feminists. I, of course, support feminist principles. I believe that all people are equal
Jamison Green: [00:11:30] and that basically treating somebody like they're inferior is just plain wrong out of the gate. I'm thinking back on ... It was a wild time at the end of the ... Nixon was president. There were the '68 Riots. Some of my friends went off to the Sorbonne in '68.
Jamison Green: [00:12:00] It was crazy. It was a wild time. There was a lot of political stuff going on. I was very much on the periphery of a lot of that and trying to figure out how I fit in, because even though I had now this word lesbian, I didn't feel the way the other women who were being lesbians felt. I didn't know how to be a woman exactly.
Jamison Green: [00:12:30] I didn't think I was ever really going to grow up to be a woman even though I was already significantly an adult. At one point ... Actually, in '74 I think it was, there was a feminist magazine that published an article about transexualism. Didn't talk at all about female-to-male transexualism,
Jamison Green: [00:13:00] but was all about how the medical community wants to create women, which is a crazy way of looking at it that isn't what's going on. It never was. That's how these feminists perceived it at the time. I had a friend who was a doctor and whose partner was a lawyer. We were sitting around with some other people and they said,
Jamison Green: [00:13:30] "I know. We should send Jamie down to one of these programs and she should basically say, 'I think I'm transexual.' They'll say, 'Oh, yes, yes, yes.' Then you'll surprise them. You say, 'A-ha, fooled you. I'm not a transexual. I'm a proud feminist lesbian.'" I said, "I don't know that I'm really the right person for that experiment because
Jamison Green: [00:14:00] I think I really would rather like to be male." They went, "What? What? Really? You're kidding." I said, "I don't know how to explain it, but I really feel more male than female." Actually back tracking again, by '67, '68, I had figured out the word crossgender to describe myself.
Jamison Green: [00:14:30] I basically said, "I feel like my wires are crossed. I have a masculine, male brain in a female body that's sending signals everywhere. We're these integrated beings that have to mix body and soul. I don't know how to describe myself." I didn't know anyone like me.
Jamison Green: [00:15:00] I don't even think I was really conscious of Christine Jorgensen, the iconic Christine, who I almost met before she died, but didn't.
Mason Funk: Back to say the mid '70s, you were saying you were having this conversation with these women. What was their reaction? For the Women's Movement ... I'm curious. What was their reaction? Set up the story a little bit for us again just before you carry on.
Jamison Green: [00:15:30] When I suggested that I probably wasn't the right person to be conducting this experiment, volunteering and then pulling the rug out from under the medical professionals and saying, "A-ha, you're being sexist in how you diagnose people for transition purposes,"
Jamison Green: [00:16:00] I didn't believe that I would be rejected. I didn't think it had to do with them being sexist. I said this to my friends. "I don't think I'm-
Mason Funk: Let me [crosstalk] for a second. I think I want to just have you, for simplicity purposes, "When I told my lesbian friends that I thought maybe I was more of a man than a woman, so to speak ... " Then just carry forward.
Jamison Green: [00:16:30] When I told my friends that I felt that I was more of a man than a woman-
Mason Funk: It's important that you clarify they were women.
Jamison Green: When I told my lesbian ... Okay. When I told my lesbian friends that I felt that I was more male than female, that I would be a comfortable man, I would be comfortable in that way, they were a little surprised and a little taken back,
Jamison Green: [00:17:00] but at the same time, they didn't have a fit. They kind of thought about it. They didn't reject me. They were just slightly perplexed. Then it was after that that I had a relationship with a woman who, by that time, I'm thinking about all this language
Jamison Green: [00:17:30] and these labels that people have and everything. I had a relationship with a woman who I was very much attracted to. The first time we made love, she said to me, "I don't know how to tell you this, but I feel like I was just with a man." I said, "I don't know how to tell you this, but I think you were. I think I'm transexual and I'm scared to death to do anything about it." She went, "Hmm, that's interesting."
Mason Funk: [00:18:00] I'm just curious because she could have been anybody, but in her experience, the fact that she felt like she'd just been with a man, was that scary to her or was that like, "Oh wow, I kind of like that energy," or what?
Jamison Green: I think she liked that energy. I think she didn't want to be with a man, but she did like masculine energy. The fact is we were together for almost 14 years
Jamison Green: [00:18:30] and she's the mother of my children. She was supportive of my transition until it actually happened. Then she kind of flipped out and said, "I don't want anything to do with you, except I'll take your money to support the kids."
Mason Funk: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Jamison Green: That's right.
Mason Funk: Let's jump forward because you mentioned ... I think this is really interesting. Prior to transitioning,
Mason Funk: [00:19:00] you were part of the so-called lesbian baby boom. That's an amazing chapter onto itself.
Jamison Green: Right.
Mason Funk: Set it up for us. "In whatever years, women began conceiving of the possibility that they could have kids." Basically, "Guys we're going to take what we need from you, but we're going to raise a family." That's radical.
Jamison Green: In the late '70s and early '80s, women began to ... First, let me say this.
Mason Funk: [00:19:30] I oversimplified big time.
Jamison Green: It's always been true that there have been lesbians who have children. The assumption always was that they got children because they had been with men, married to men and then they ended those relationships and moved on. There were a number of women, and my partner was one of them, who believed that there would come a time, there would be a day when she could have a child without involving a man.
Jamison Green: [00:20:00] I'm like, "Really?" By now, it's like '75 was when we met. She's the first one who said that to me. In those days, we had a number of friends who had children from relationships with men. We heard stories about women traveling with their child,
Jamison Green: [00:20:30] even a baby and if the baby was male being refused shelter in women's space because they didn't want any male energy there, even a baby. This, to me, was really a little frightening. Nevertheless, women were beginning to think, "We can do this ourselves.
Jamison Green: [00:21:00] We can open a garage. We can open a restaurant. We can have a business. We can become professionals and we can have children without men. We can do that." I'm like, "I don't know if I'm ready to be a parent exactly. I don't know how I would be a parent. I can't be a mother and I can't be a father because I'm sort of somewhere in between. I'm nowhere." Eventually, my partner and I moved from Portland,
Jamison Green: [00:21:30] Oregon, back to the Bay Area. She was also from here. All of a sudden, there was a ... I think it was 1980 roughly. There was a big conference at the Women's Building in the Mission District, where they had all kinds of stuff about conception
Jamison Green: [00:22:00] and basically education and connection about ways to do childbirth and pregnancy and all those things. My partner really wanted to go, so we went. We ran into people that we knew. There was a lot of trepidation, but curiosity. There were probably 300 people there. It was a lot for 1980.
Jamison Green: [00:22:30] My partner made up her mind that we ... Because we learned about a sperm bank that particularly served single women or lesbian women. They weren't judgmental about what kind of a relationship you were in as long as it was going to be supportive for a child. We ultimately went there in 1982
Jamison Green: [00:23:00] I believe and signed up and chose a donor and began the insemination process. It took 11 tries, and we actually had to change donors for a biochemical reason that was going on with my partner and the sperm.
Jamison Green: [00:23:30] It was a really interesting thing for me because I began at that point to really struggle with, "How am I going to relate to a child? Am I a mother or a father? Who am I? What am I? How can I be in this world?" Whereas before, I'd just continued this sort of androgynous thing that I'd been doing since I was a child.
Jamison Green: [00:24:00] I still felt more like a child than like an adult because everyone else around me was becoming adults, and I couldn't because I wasn't anything.
Mason Funk: That's a really interesting idea that you just couldn't get grow to adulthood still being inaccurately gendered or whatever you want to call it.
Jamison Green: Right.
Mason Funk: Interesting. We'll get to that I think again. Let me check where I am in my list of questions.
Jamison Green: [00:24:30] I can ramble on for ... I'm sorry about that.
Mason Funk: The good news is when you "ramble on," you're talking directly to me, you're making sense.
Jamison Green: Good.
Mason Funk: I've done a lot of these interviews right now. Believe me. There's rambling and then there's rambling. I am curious. Why don't you just finish that story briefly and just sum it up by saying, "After X number of years of trying in whatever year,
Mason Funk: [00:25:00] over the course of a few years, my then girlfriend and I ... Just complete the picture of the story of the formation of your family.
Jamison Green: Okay. After 11 months of trying to inseminate my partner with sperm in a bottle, it finally took. We were able to conceive a child, who was born in 1985.
Jamison Green: [00:25:30] She was a daughter. She was wonderful. She still is. A few years later, we decided ... Actually, fairly soon after that we decided it would be good to have a second child so that ... We didn't want our daughter to feel isolated like she was the only one experiencing having two parents like this.
Jamison Green: [00:26:00] We ultimately conceived a second child, who turned out to be a boy and who was born in 1989, who also is a lovely person and very, very dear to me. The interesting thing about that was when the first conception happened, we lost a lot of our lesbian friends. They didn't want to have anything to do with a baby. They didn't want to have anything to do with raising a family.
Jamison Green: [00:26:30] I think for some people that was driven by the pressure that had been applied to them by their parents about, "Well, now you're never going to have children. If you're going to be a lesbian, you're ending our family and you're responsible for that." There was a lot of internalized struggle that would go on for many women I think in those circumstances.
Mason Funk: [00:27:00] You used the term lesbian baby boom. Did this become like a parting of the water in terms of the women who just could not ... It was just too complicated to become parents and mothers ... Of course, they were trying to shirk off these roles, many women. Other women are like ... It's just a really interesting phenomenon. Other women were reembracing,
Mason Funk: [00:27:30] maybe on their own terms, the role of mother. Others were like, "No way, no how."
Jamison Green: Yeah, it was a fascinating time in terms of that split, if you will between those who would seem to be accepting the feminine role in society and those who rejected being told how to be a woman and what to do. At the same time, they were both doing the same thing.
Jamison Green: [00:28:00] If you look at it, the ones who were wanting to bear children without men on their own terms were being very much, "I'm not going to do what you tell me I should do. I know how to be a woman on my own terms." Then the ones who were rejecting that were also in a way
Jamison Green: [00:28:30] following a typical feminine pattern that was the only pattern available to women in the past. "Just say no."
Mason Funk: Interesting. Excellent. I was curious. I don't think we have to spend a ton of time on your transition story per se because you've told it a million times.
Mason Funk: [00:29:00] I think we can talk about some things that are even more important in the grand scheme of things, but I am curious. When you decided to transition, did you have any role models? Did you have anybody?
Jamison Green: Yes, I did.
Mason Funk: I think you mentioned somebody. Tell me about maybe finally finding some role models and the role they played for you.
Jamison Green: The first role model that it was possible, the first time I realized that it was possible to transition was
Jamison Green: [00:29:30] when I saw a man named Steve Dain on television. This is in 1976. He was a teacher of girls' PE in an Emeryville high school. He transitioned over the summer one year and came back in the fall and,
Jamison Green: [00:30:00] "Hi, I'm a guy now." The administration just flipped out. Steve said the parents and the kids, the students, didn't have a problem with it at all. They felt that Steve was still the person that they'd known, that they trusted, that they liked, who they felt was supportive of them
Jamison Green: [00:30:30] and that they could relate to and the transition was not an issue, he said. I don't know how true that was. They fired him. The school board fired him, and he fought it. That made him rather famous because then it's a matter of public record. Most trans people in those days did not fight very much. Very few people would actually file lawsuits.
Jamison Green: [00:31:00] He was the first really visible trans man in this country. There certainly had been other trans men before him, but he was the first one really visible and not ashamed of his process. He was very good looking, very articulate, very relaxed, poised. Just everything about him was perfect. I'm watching him on television on a talk show going,
Jamison Green: [00:31:30] "Oh my God, it really is possible." That scared me too. It's like, "Now I really have to choose." Before, I thought, "It's never going to happen." A year later, a friend of mine who had gone off to New York with her girlfriend
Jamison Green: [00:32:00] to make the girlfriend into a famous Broadway star, which didn't happen ... In a green room one time, she found a little ad that said the University of Oregon Medical School, which is in Portland, was looking for a cohort of 12 people who wanted to transition from female to male. "Here's the phone number."
Jamison Green: [00:32:30] It's like you tear it off, like you're going to get a babysitter or buy a refrigerator. I watched him actually go through the process in later '70s because they moved back to Oregon to go through that because he was accepted. He said to me, "Oh you should do this.
Jamison Green: [00:33:00] You would really love it." I'm like, "I don't know because there are things about this that you report to me that don't seem quite right." One thing he said was, "Now, I get the respect that I deserve." I'm like, "Well, wait a minute. Women deserve respect. People who are different deserve respect. People who are androgynous deserve respect. I'm not going to go there for that reason.
Jamison Green: [00:33:30] If I go there, it won't be for that reason." I pulled back again at that point. I knew Steve Dain was in the Bay Area, and I knew I was going to be back in the Bay Area at some point. In fact, 1978, my partner and I moved back to the Bay Area.
Jamison Green: [00:34:00] I actually found that year at the ... I think it was called the Gay Freedom Day Parade in those times. We went to the parade. I looked around for information booths at the end of the parade to learn about transexuals or whatever I could find. I did find a booth with crossdressers,
Jamison Green: [00:34:30] male-to-female crossdressers. I asked them if they'd ever heard of female-to-male people. "Oh no, I've ... No, never." Then somebody in the back of the booth says, "Oh, there's a guy down in San Jose who runs a group, and he knows Steve Dain." I went, "Oh." I got that guy's phone number.
Jamison Green: [00:35:00] It literally took me almost 10 years to actually call that number. I also found out from my friend who had transitioned in Oregon that a surgeon at Stanford was the best surgeon doing this work. If he had had a choice, he would have gone to Stanford to have his surgery.
Jamison Green: [00:35:30] I found out as a result that there was this program right here. I wrote to them and asked for information and I got this packet including an application that was 16 pages long or 13 pages long. It was a huge thing. I read through it, and I put it back in the envelope. I put it in my desk drawer and didn't touch it for two years.
Mason Funk: [00:36:00] This is a part of your story that I don't remember from our last interview, that you went through so long. I think people just have this idea like once you figure out that this is what you need to do, then you just charge ahead like a bull.
Jamison Green: I thought very serious about this. Very seriously. You can't make a change like this without a huge ripple effect. It's like a tidal wave.
Jamison Green: [00:36:30] You have to be conscious of that. I'm a person who tries to anticipate consequences, and I know lots of people don't, but that's the way I am. I try to think, "What is the effect going to be?"
Mason Funk: What were the so-called pros and cons? What were some of the effects you felt like you needed to think about before you went ahead? What were some of the repercussions?
Jamison Green: [00:37:00] I felt that I would possibly lose my family.
Mason Funk: Set the [crosstalk]. "As I considered ... " or, "During the years ... "
Jamison Green: Throughout the years that I considered whether or not I could transition, once I learned that it actually was possible, I thought, "What would be the consequences? What would I potentially lose and what would I gain? What were the pros and cons?" I thought, "I would lose my family. I would lose my friends. I would lose my job.
Jamison Green: [00:37:30] I would lose everything." At the same time, I thought, "I would be happy in my body. I would be present. I would be visible. I would be able to be seen for who I am. I would be more solid in the world, more grounded and solid."
Jamison Green: [00:38:00] That's pretty much what happened in a way. I did lose some friends, not a whole lot, but a few who really surprised me in that regard because I thought they were people who really loved me and cared about me. I had a lot of trouble with my mother. My father had passed away. I feel bad about that for my mother because I think if my father had been present,
Jamison Green: [00:38:30] he would have helped her adjust. He would have been shocked, and he would have had to go through a process himself, but I think because he knew me and he could see me, I think he would have understood much more quickly than my mother did. My mother regressed into calling me the name that they had given me at birth, which I had not gone by for over 25 years.
Jamison Green: [00:39:00] My daughter says to her at one point ... I think my daughter was about five or six. My mom was referring to me with feminine pronouns and this other name. My daughter goes, "Grandma, don't call him that. His name is Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie."
Jamison Green: [00:39:30] We were in the car, and I said to my mom, "See, you've got to get with the program." Once, she actually fled from me when we ran into each other unexpectedly in a shopping area. She said, "What are you doing here?" "Well, I'm shopping. What are you doing? Let's go and have a cup of coffee." "Oh no, I have to leave." Ran away.
Jamison Green: [00:40:00] She didn't want to be seen with me. Somehow she thought that everyone could tell that there was something wrong with me.
Mason Funk: How did that affect you?
Jamison Green: It was depressing. It was really sad. We used to talk about books and current events and things, and that stopped. We barely would have any kind of conversation, real conversation. Yet, it was important to her
Jamison Green: [00:40:30] that I come to the house on a regular basis and help her with chores. She wasn't able to lift this or that or whatever. I had to call her almost every night, at least check in or she would ... If I was out of town and couldn't do it or something, she would be furious. Yet,
Jamison Green: [00:41:00] I also wasn't supposed to tell any of the other relatives about my transition. Finally ... I let that go for a couple of years and then I said, "Look, one of these days somebody is going to die. You're going to want me to take you to the funeral. Then it's going to be all about me and not about them. That's not right. I'm going to tell the rest of the family now."
Jamison Green: [00:41:30] She just sort of accepted that, but it wasn't until maybe the last year or so before she died that she was really able to accept who I was and understand that I was male and that the rest of the world perceived me as male and that I was doing fine. She really didn't want to see it.
Mason Funk: Great stuff.
Jamison Green: [00:42:00] Good.
Mason Funk: Let's see. I'm also just doing a mental calculation for time. We're in good shape. I want to jump forward. Let's talk briefly about the other two people you mentioned that you want to talk about, Jude Patton and Lou Sullivan. That way, we can check the boxes. Who is Jude Patton?
Jamison Green: [00:42:30] Historically, within the trans male community, a fellow named Jude Patton, who transitioned in the early '70s, I think down in Southern California, he was one of the first people to actually start to try to organize people and provide support for people. His mother would provide all the food and stuff
Jamison Green: [00:43:00] and take care of everybody while they came to their house and had these support group meetings. Jude would tell people, "Here's the issues that you have to think about. Here's what is going on." Then for a while, he lived in San Francisco and he worked with a woman named Joanna Clark, who later became Sister Mary Elizabeth because she joined some orders, religious orders.
Jamison Green: [00:43:30] Joanna Clark and Jude Patton worked in an organization ... I don't know if they started it. I don't think they did, but they worked in this organization that actually had to do with ... I think it was Janus Society. That's been going on for a long time, had been going on. They began to provide information about transness through that.
Jamison Green: [00:44:00] Then they started their own little company called J2CP. Two, Jude and Joanna, Clark and Patton. J2CP then became the leading information source for any kind of transexual business outside of the Erickson Foundation, which was supporting ... Reed Erickson was a trans man from Texas,
Jamison Green: [00:44:30] who had inherited a fortune in oil and various industrial things. He funded a lot of Harry Benjamin's work and funded the creation of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, which later became the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
Jamison Green: [00:45:00] Reed and his group also provided some educational materials, but this stuff was very, very hard to find. There was another fellow here in San Francisco called Lou Sullivan, who was a historian and a journalist. He worked as a secretary. He had a hard time transitioning
Jamison Green: [00:45:30] because he identified as a gay man. The doctors were completely beyond themselves about that. It was like, "You can't transition and be gay. Some people would actually say we're in the business of fixing these problems, not creating more homosexuals." Clearly, they don't understand the difference between sex and gender,
Jamison Green: [00:46:00] between sexual orientation and gender identity and how all these things work. Lou was one of the people who actually began the process of educating the professionals. He also believed in writing stuff down. He created in 1986 I think ... In '86, he formed a support group and in '87, he issued his first newsletter.
Jamison Green: [00:46:30] Maybe he issued it in late '86, but anyway, the newsletter, which was called FTM for female-to-male, provided book reviews and articles about interesting people who were transitioning or people who were doing research and film reviews and contact information for people who were looking for pen pals, all kinds of stuff.
Jamison Green: [00:47:00] Nobody ever used their full name, not even Lou, in the early day. To go to one of his meetings, you had to have a phone conversation with him first, where he would vet you and make sure that you were the real thing and you weren't a spy and all that. I found out about Lou because I subscribed to a magazine out of Atlanta
Jamison Green: [00:47:30] called The Transexual Voice that was run by a woman there. That had a lot of good information in it and stuff. It was a little newsletter thing, not a magazine, wanted to be a magazine, but it wasn't. There was a little tiny ad, "Information for the female-to-male crossdresser and transexual. Send $5 to L. Sullivan at PO Box in San Francisco."
Jamison Green: [00:48:00] I'm like, "Ah. I have to get something from Georgia to find out about somebody in my backyard. Okay." I send my $5. I get back this little pamphlet with a lot of really good information in it and a handwritten note, "We have support group meetings. If you're interested, give me a call." It took me a while to get up the nerve to call him, but eventually I did.
Jamison Green: [00:48:30] He said he would send me an invitation to the next meeting. At that meeting, who was the speaker that he had invited? Steve Dain, so I had to go. Had to go. Had to go because I had to meet Steve Dain. By that time, I had already read the application to the Stanford program. I had already put it in the drawer, but I was struggling.
Jamison Green: [00:49:00] I went to the meeting. It was in March of '87. I walked up to Steve Dain after he spoke and I said to myself, "Oh my God. He's shorter than I am." It was stunning because to me he was bigger than life. He was an amazing speaker too.
Jamison Green: [00:49:30] He just shook my hand and he says, "How long have you been on testosterone?" I said, "I haven't." He goes, "Oh, hmm." I said, "I really would like to talk with you privately about stuff." He goes, "Sure." He gave me his phone number. He said, "Call me, and we will do this."
Jamison Green: [00:50:00] Once I'd met him, I was able to actually make the phone call. His wife was also there and he introduced me to his wife. She said, "Oh, when did you have your surgery?" I said, "I haven't had any surgery." "Oh," they said, "Oh."
Mason Funk: Were you actively trying to pass as male at that point?
Jamison Green: No.
Mason Funk: You weren't?
Jamison Green: [00:50:30] No. I was literally just being comfortable, trying to be as comfortable in my body as I could. I did not make an effort to pass as male. I was aware that sometimes I did because probably 50% of the time, strangers would perceive me as male and even on the phone. It wasn't even that I had to be visible. It was a struggle trying to figure out all this stuff.
Mason Funk: [00:51:00] I think to myself, just those walking up to somebody and effectively outing yourself, stating your truth, these are big moments for anybody. Maybe walk us beat by beat through just that as an anecdote of walking up to this guy, this legendary figure,
Mason Funk: [00:51:30] Steve Dain and initiating a conversation. What you were feeling physically even.
Jamison Green: When I first went into the meeting, Lou was greeting everybody at the door. There were a lot of people there because Steve was speaking. There was another guy who also had been in the film What Sex Am I?
Jamison Green: [00:52:00] that I think was produced in '85. They were there. There were a lot of people very interested in that, and I walked into the room and I thought, "There are all these men here." Then I realized, "Oh, they've transitioned. Hmm." There were partners there as well, female partners, probably some male partners,
Jamison Green: [00:52:30] but that was not visible. It was probably there. I went and sat by the wall and I was intimidated. I really wanted to take this in. Steve walks in the room and everybody just, "Ah," because he was big stuff. He was very physically fit
Jamison Green: [00:53:00] and burly and bright eyed and just happy seeming and just upright and amazing. He walks up to the front and he and this other guy talk. It's all great and he says, "I'll stick around in case anybody has any questions." I'm like, "I've got to speak to him. I've got to speak to him. I've got to speak to him." I literally had butterflies in my stomach.
Jamison Green: [00:53:30] I hate to use cliches, but really I hadn't really felt that before. Really serious nerves. I waited until some other people had faded away. Then I just walked right up and I put my hand out and I said, "My name is Jamie Green," which was short for Jamison. It was the cute safe androgynous form of ...
Jamison Green: [00:54:00] "I really need to talk to you," that's what I said. "I just really need to talk to you." I had done the same thing many years earlier with Ken Kesey when I was in the MFA program at school. He got on an airplane that I was on and I sat there for a long time until the seatbelt light went off. Then I got up and I went back to where he was sitting in an entire row by himself.
Jamison Green: [00:54:30] I said, "Mr. Ken Kesey, my name is Jamison Green. I'm in the MFA program at the University of Oregon. I really need to talk to you." He looked me up and down, and he said, "Sit down." Steve was like, "Yeah, well let's talk." He was real present. He was, "When did you start hormones?" "Ah, no." I hadn't done that.
Jamison Green: [00:55:00] He said, "Well, yeah, we definitely should sit down." Turns out we grew up in the same general neighborhood. We had a lot of ... He was seven years older than me. He passed away in 2007. We had had some of the same teachers in school and stuff like that. He says, "Oh, it must be something in the water then,"
Jamison Green: [00:55:30] because we're right there in the neighborhood. I don't know how to explain that, but we became very good friends. He put me through my paces in terms of-
Mason Funk: Let me pause you for a second there. Let's pause. I need to use the restroom. Let's take a little breath.
Jamison Green: There was this thing with one of my best friends, gay man.
Jamison Green: [00:56:00] We were with two lesbians and two other gay men. We were having dinner together. I had been on Cape Cod with him, my best friend, and his lover. They lived there for six months and I went to visit. His lover's parents live also on Cape Cod, so somehow we got 12 lobsters and we went over to their house
Jamison Green: [00:56:30] and did the whole lobster and all this. His father had all this great wine. We had a really wonderful time. His sister was also there. The sister was somebody who knew me before transition and after. They had told their mother, but they hadn't told their father. At some point ... Now, years later ...
Mason Funk: Let me pause you one second. Are we rolling? Okay, good.
Jamison Green: [00:57:00] Years later, we're having dinner with these other peers. My friend says, "Well, you know, after we had dinner with them, we had to tell the father about your past because everybody else knew, but him. We wanted to make sure he was in on the joke."
[00:57:30] Everybody froze. I just said, "I am not a joke." He's like, "You know what I meant." I may know what you meant, but I also heard what you said.
Mason Funk: This is your best friend?
Jamison Green: Yeah. No longer.
Mason Funk: [00:58:00] I think for me ... I'm curious to ask you about this. Female-to-male transgender folks have different lives and different [crosstalk] challenges than male-to-female.
Jamison Green: Oh yeah.
Mason Funk: You've been, I'm sure, asked about this. One of the differences is that female-to-male transgender people in some ways have a "easier time" blending in, disappearing, not having anybody guess off the top of their head.
Mason Funk: [00:58:30] I wonder if you can just talk about that from your own experience or from the experience of others. In some ways, that makes your lives probably some ways easier and maybe in some ways harder. I was curious to how you talk about that phenomenon. Let me know [crosstalk].
Jamison Green: There's this clich_ that female-to-male people have it easier than male-to-female people because they aren't as obvious. They can transition easily, pass easily,
Jamison Green: [00:59:00] disappear in society and be fine. Then as a result, if you're white, you end up with white male privilege and you become a pig. Those are false assumptions. I've met lots and lots of trans men who definitely are different enough physically and different enough in their demeanor
Jamison Green: [00:59:30] that people will question them, that people will suspect them. They don't know what to say because most people don't actually know that female-to-male exist. They don't think of it. Male-to-female people do suffer quite a bit because people are so disgusting about their prejudice.
[01:00:00] They're also disgusting about their prejudice about women, and that's the prejudice that rubs off onto trans men. "You're a woman. Of course you want to be a man. You're nothing, and it doesn't matter, but you're a man, and you chose to have your dick cut off and be a woman. I'm going to beat you up because you've broken the code. You have messed with me, my life.
Jamison Green: [01:00:30] You are making me look bad." People do do that. They make those assumptions about who trans people are, what trans people mean, why trans people do it, why trans people are trans. Almost all of those type of cliches are wrong. Trans women project a lot onto trans men because they often assume
Jamison Green: [01:01:00] that we were very feminine before we transitioned. Many times they were very masculine before they transitioned because they were trying to cover up how they felt. They're often trying to be the man that society expects them to be and then eventually they figure out they can't. By that time, they've had so much testosterone in their system that it's very, very difficult to modify that
Jamison Green: [01:01:30] and modify the effects that that has on the body. This is where some parts are easier. Estrogen's effects on the body are not as visible as testosterone's effects. Part of that I think has to do with our cultural perception of males and females. Males are culturally, historically more important,
Jamison Green: [01:02:00] so we spot the characteristics of masculinity because we're going to have to deal with them in a different way. Whereas, we look at a feminine person, I'm talking about the generic "we" in society that isn't necessarily anybody cognizant of anything, but we look at a woman on the street and we go, "Oh yeah, she looks interesting."
Jamison Green: [01:02:30] Now we've been encouraging women to look at men like, "Oh yeah, he looks interesting." Does that mean we're getting more sexist instead of more enlightened? I don't know. For trans people what happens is women suffer so much and women, especially women of color, are murdered in brutal, horrible ways.
Jamison Green: [01:03:00] Trans men also get murdered, but not in the same rates. Part of it is that the culture that trans men have grown up in is usually they've been told how to be a woman. They've never been told how to be a man. A lot times, they're very shy people, who will disappear in society anyway.
Jamison Green: [01:03:30] It's not because they have some privilege to disappear. It's because they're dealing with their own things. Trans men commit suicide at higher rates than trans women because of that isolation, because of the fears that they have about interacting socially, because of lack of confidence. These are serious problems that nobody looks at
Jamison Green: [01:04:00] and that we need to actually understand about how gender pressures exert themselves on anybody, everyone. Why do we do it to ourselves and to each other? It's crazy.
Mason Funk: That's a really interesting point, the idea that there's pressure obviously in all cases, tremendous pressure, but
Mason Funk: [01:04:30] that the pressure to live up to society's stereotypes of what a man is supposed to be like. In its own way, maybe more intense, more frightening than in the opposite direction, which is even the right terminology. Is there anything more you want to say about that? I don't want to gloss over it. It just feels important.
Jamison Green: I don't think so.
Mason Funk: [01:05:00] I think you covered it, so let's move on. Why did you call your book Becoming A Visible Man?
Jamison Green: I can't remember the title that I had originally suggested to the publisher, but it was actually the publisher-
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. I'm going to interrupt. Just give me a little [inaudible] , "When it came [crosstalk] choose a title."
Jamison Green: [01:05:30] When it came time for me to choose the title for my book, which was published in 2004 ... I hope to publish a few more books, by the way, before this is all over. I actually can't remember the title that I had, but it did have something about visibility because visibility is a huge issue for trans because visibility is a huge issue for trans men.
Jamison Green: [01:06:00] It was actually the publisher who suggested Becoming A Visible Man. I thought, "Oh yeah, that's got to be it." To me, visibility was a primary focus of the book, both self awareness and visibility to one's self as well as visibility externally and then there's the ironic disappearance
Jamison Green: [01:06:30] that trans men can do, that they can experience. I experienced it in my early transition that suddenly I just disappeared. Nobody noticed me on the street anymore, whereas previously people would actually cross the street to not go near me. I had actually seen people do that. People would not talk to me in a line for the ATM or at a grocery line. Because they didn't know what sex I was, they didn't know how to relate to me.
Jamison Green: [01:07:00] Then once I actually began transitioning and the testosterone started to have an effect and I looked like a much younger person than I actually was, but I definitely was much more male than androgynous, then people started talking to me. It was amazing, and sad.
Jamison Green: [01:07:30] I really think that nobody should have to transition unless it's the right thing for them and that people who are gender variant or gender diverse absolutely have a right to exist and should be treated like human beings. I was not always treated like a human being, as an androgynous person.
Mason Funk: [01:08:00] That's really interesting as well. I guess I want to go back to visibility. Now that I know that it was a thing where your publisher came up with the title and it fit and you were good to go. That all was great, but I want to then maybe just take the idea of visibility and just have you expand on that in terms of why for you visibility is such an important issue, the notion of visibility.
Jamison Green: Visibility is a really big thing for me personally
Jamison Green: [01:08:30] because most of my life I've felt unseen. People if they saw that I had a female body or they were assuming that I was female for some reason or other, like school officials or the teacher knows ... They just have that information. The doctor when you go to the doctor. All these things. They would treat me in a way
Jamison Green: [01:09:00] that made me feel invisible. They would never ask me questions that had to do with who I was and how I actually lived my life. Certainly, I became really attune to that through the Feminist Movement in the sense that women were beginning to talk about the fact that they couldn't go to a woman gynecologist
Jamison Green: [01:09:30] because there just weren't any women gynecologists. Clearly, the men didn't know anything about how their bodies felt. I was constantly thinking about visibility. Actually, I was seven years old when I thought, "I want to be a writer." I'm really clear that one of the reasons that I wanted to be a writer, besides the fact that I actually enjoyed writing,
Jamison Green: [01:10:00] was that my parents had all these books on the shelves and you almost never saw a picture of an actual writer, an author. The book jackets in those days didn't have a lot of author photos. I could be an author and people would not know what sex I was. I would just be able to be seen through my words. That, to me, meant a lot because those would be my words.
Jamison Green: [01:10:30] It didn't matter what they thought I was. They'd make an assumption, but it wouldn't have to reflect on me personally. That's a terrible place to be. It was what I experienced. It was what I thought the world was like. As I grew, I realized that that's not the way most people experience the world.
Jamison Green: [01:11:00] The fact that I experience it differently should also be visible. The fact that all these other trans people go through all the struggles that we go through also should be visible. Trans men are so invisible as trans people, as human beings. Our issues are not taken up in even medical contexts.
Jamison Green: [01:11:30] Surgery is always thought of as having to do with female appearance cultivation. It's like we don't exist, and as a result, we suffer. That's one of the reasons why I've really focused on ... Although there's a lot of political issues
Jamison Green: [01:12:00] in which trans people both male-to-female, female-to-male, in between, gender queer, all the other labels that you want to use, we have common struggles and we should really be in there together supporting each other ... When it comes to medical transition and there's medical issues, female-to-male need to be as well regarded and as studied
Jamison Green: [01:12:30] as male-to-female people just in the same way that women can't get tested for ... Nobody wants to test drugs on women so we never know. They only test drugs on men because women might get pregnant. We have to take care of them. We can't test drugs on them. That means that women's bodies and the ways that their chemistry reacts to these drugs is not studied.
Jamison Green: [01:13:00] Assumptions are made about women's bodies based on reactions of men's bodies, and that's wrong. There's all these cultural issues about why we don't want to test on women. Trans men suffer many of the same problems that women suffer.
Jamison Green: [01:13:30] Trans women suffer many of the things that non-macho men suffer. All of it's because of our society's prejudices about gender, none of which need to be with us.
Mason Funk: [01:14:00] Wow. It's really illuminating. Tell me about your work with NPATH?
Jamison Green: WPATH.
Mason Funk: I guess really what I wanted to get at, it's interesting in and of itself, but the idea of being a gatekeeper ... There's a lot of stories there about your struggles to even be included.
Mason Funk: [01:14:30] We told some of that in the very beginning, but tell us about the tension between gatekeepers and community activists in the world of transgender people.
Jamison Green: In 1993, I was invited to present at a conference at Cal State Northridge. That was the first international congress on cross dressing,
Jamison Green: [01:15:00] sex and gender. I was asked to present on a panel that had to do with psychology or something. I can't remember now exactly what the context was or anything, but one of the things I said very clearly was, "If you ... Psychologists, who were all in the audience ...
Jamison Green: [01:15:30] Don't want to be perceived as gatekeepers, don't be gatekeepers." Literally, people went, "Oh." They said, "How can we do that?" I said, "Stop trying to put brakes on people and start trying to help them.
Jamison Green: [01:16:00] Your role is not to distance yourself from your client and say, 'Wait a minute, I'm going to judge you now.' Your role is to say, 'How can I help you be more comfortable in your gender, whether that means transitioning, not transitioning, transitioning to an in-between state, whatever makes you comfortable.
Jamison Green: [01:16:30] That may be different than the stereotypes that you've been operating under.'" To me, it's all about really seeing people. Again, visibility is really important. That standard of care that said, "You have to be evaluated in this way, this way, this way. Then you have to live this long on hormones.
Jamison Green: [01:17:00] Then you have to go through this battery of tests and blah, blah, blah." In those days ... 1979 was when the first standard of care was created.
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. Say, "First standard of care for ... "
Jamison Green: For transexuals.
Mason Funk: Start that as a fresh ... "In 1979 ...
Jamison Green: The first standard of care for transexualism, if you will, was developed in 1979. It was revised in 1980.
Jamison Green: [01:17:30] One of the things they took out in 1980 was the concept of a real-life test. They took it out in 1980. You will still to this day hear people in the community talking about the real life test. "I'm going to go through some stupid real-life test. I don't need to go through a real-life test. I've been living my real life." Professionals began to realize fairly quickly that they had messed up,
Jamison Green: [01:18:00] but the community hasn't actually caught up with where the professionals have grown to. There's a lot of misunderstanding about the professionals' goals in helping trans people. A lot of trans people believe professionals are only in it for the money, that they see us a market niche and that they're
Jamison Green: [01:18:30] just going to get rich off of our bodies. That isn't true in probably 99.97% of the cases. There have been exploitative professionals. That is a fact, but most of the people that I've met ... I've met thousands and thousands of people all over the world who are concerned about the lives of transexual and transgender people.
Jamison Green: [01:19:00] They are not doing a lot of what they do for big money. A lot of what they do is sliding scale. A lot of what they do is reduced fees. A lot of what they do is volunteer. As I've heard some professionals say, "If I wasn't doing this, I could be wealthy."
Mason Funk: How is it for you because you're now ... By being so closely associated with WPATH,
Mason Funk: [01:19:30] you are perceived probably by some as a gatekeeper, as aligning with the enemy. It's like being a Republican for God's sake.
Jamison Green: Yeah. No. I didn't.
Mason Funk: Tell us about the role and maybe why you want to be in that space.
Jamison Green: One of the things that I noticed when I was in early transition was that my health insurance offered through my employer suddenly became useless to me. Not only was I paying some portion of it,
Jamison Green: [01:20:00] but I also was not able to use it. Once I started transition, the insurance company thought I was male, but I had a female body. There are all these physical issues that can go on that only happen to females or only happen to males. The system, which was becoming more and more electronic and binary,
Jamison Green: [01:20:30] guided you down these different paths. If you went across a line, suddenly your claim was thrown out. I felt that that was wrong, and I wanted to change that. I realized that it's not ... Individuals have no power to do this, but who has power is the customer. It's a business. Insurance is a business. Who is always right?
Jamison Green: [01:21:00] The customer. Who are the big customers of insurance policies? Large corporations. How do we get large corporations to start demanding that exclusions for transgender and transexual services or any service given to a person like that, those exclusions are removed? They have to be removed. I began working on that and as a result ... In the early '90s.
Jamison Green: [01:21:30] As a result, I began to realize that we needed a stronger medical voice because if you're going to get coverage by insurance, you have to have a diagnosis for an illness. If any service is going to be provided, there has to be a code assigned to it. There's a diagnostic code and a treatment code and you have to ... If you want coverage,
Jamison Green: [01:22:00] that's what you have to have. If you are infinitely wealthy and don't need to go through the insurance system, the medical system to get what you want, you can get anything in this world. It doesn't matter because you don't have to jump through those hoops. Most trans people are not in that situation. There are some who are, but most are not.
Jamison Green: [01:22:30] I felt that one of the major things that had to be done was to break down the barrier between trans people and the professionals. I already knew that there were professionals who would modify codes or fudge records in order to get people care.
Jamison Green: [01:23:00] I knew that people had ethical difficulties with that. I wanted to break all that apart and make it okay to be a trans person. In that process, I realized ... When I learned about this organization, the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, was in the mid '90s.
Jamison Green: [01:23:30] I even learned that my own surgeon was one of the founders of it. He never mentioned it to me. Why should he? It was a professional association. It wasn't for me as a trans person. It was for people who are dealing with practices and policies that affect trans people's lives.
Jamison Green: [01:24:00] I had already started working on legislation and policies around trans people. I thought, "Well, I'm going to go to one of their conferences." I submitted a proposal and got it accepted and I was invited to present. This was 1997 I went to the first meeting and
Jamison Green: [01:24:30] I was blown away by the fear that the professionals had about trans people. They have the same shame that trans people have. A lot of them. Not so much anymore. It's shifting because trans people have been shifting society, so professionals have been able to come along for the ride in that respect. Certainly, there were some who were already there, but the majority were very, very tense.
Jamison Green: [01:25:00] They felt there was a lot of responsibility in deciding whether or not someone could have surgery. They were very nervous about the idea that they might be perceived as being influenced by their patients. There was just a lot of trepidation everywhere. That attitude,
Jamison Green: [01:25:30] those attitudes made the patients, made the clients, made the trans people very angry. I decided that we need more help and that professionals needed more help from their professional association, that everybody needed more help and that that association needed to be more involved, more present.
Jamison Green: [01:26:00] The way it was set up, it was very academically oriented. They only met every two years. They didn't use the internet at all. They had no email communications. They had nothing in the '90s. Of course, most people didn't, but I worked for Sun Microsystems in the early '90s so I already knew about all those things.
Jamison Green: [01:26:30] They were just so insular. I thought, "Trans people need more support, and professionals need to be less fearful. They need to be more conscious about trans people's actual lives. They need to stop treating us only in their offices. They need to realize
Jamison Green: [01:27:00] that they have some responsibility for stepping forward in policy arenas and saying, "This policy is discriminatory. You need to include these people," whatever the situation was. We needed them to help us move these issues forward. I joined because that was my goal was to make that happen and to make the organization more productive
Jamison Green: [01:27:30] and better serve everyone. Of course, they wouldn't let me vote for the first four years that I was a member because I wasn't "professional." Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, in 2002, I got a letter from the chair of the membership committee saying, "Congratulations, you're now a voting member."
Jamison Green: [01:28:00] Interesting. How interesting. I learned that the board had been debating this actively for quite some time. There were some real divisions there because some people felt that I was too much of a radical. Because I was perceived as having power in the community and politically having power, they were afraid that
Jamison Green: [01:28:30] my presence would devalue the association. Then at the next election for the board, a therapist friend of mine from New York said, "I want to nominate you for the election. Would you serve if elected?" I said, "I just signed up for my PhD program in law. I'm going to have a lot of work to do. I don't know
Jamison Green: [01:29:00] if I have time to be on the board blah, blah, blah." She said, "Nobody ever wins the first time they're on the ballot. You need to get your name out there. Get your platform, your position known. Don't worry about it." I said, "Okay." She goes, "Because you know you want to be president of this organization some day." I said, "Well, yeah." I let her nominate me, and I wrote my little position statement and blah, blah, blah. Next thing you know, I was elected.
Mason Funk: [01:29:30] Let me interrupt you for one second. I just looked at the clock and I realized we're starting to run out of time. I'm going to have to pick and choose again.
Jamison Green: Sorry.
Mason Funk: That's okay. No, it's all ... I'm constantly in this tension between thinking in sound bites as if I were a TV producer and thinking in terms of actual fleshed out stories as if I was an oral historian. I'm both, but I'm more of an oral historian now than a TV producer, so it's good. All that stuff is really good, and at the same time, I know there's a few things I want to touch on before [crosstalk].
Jamison Green: [01:30:00] Yeah, sure.
Mason Funk: That's just my tension. Try to keep this answer as short [crosstalk].
Mason Funk: [01:30:30] Probably most if not every question I've asked you, you've been asked many times before, but is there a question that you feel like you don't get asked often enough in your role as a elder, pioneer, trans man? Is there a question that you still feel like sometimes doesn't get asked enough? It's kind of a weird way to ask a question.
Jamison Green: Gosh.
Mason Funk: [01:31:00] Or like, "I wish people would get ... What people still don't understand is ... "
Jamison Green: I really do think what people still don't understand is that trans people are not trying to deceive people. We are not trying to be something we are not. We are actually trying to be our authentic
Jamison Green: [01:31:30] and actual true selves no matter what that looks like on the outside to anyone. We may look like very, very tall women with square jaws or whatever. That doesn't mean we're not comfortable in our skin just because you don't see how we feel.
Jamison Green: [01:32:00] Trans men are often shorter than average. So what? Why should we make people feel bad about the way they look? There are things that they can't help, but when people do make an effort to do the thing for themselves that they can do to make themselves feel more at home in their body,
Jamison Green: [01:32:30] make themselves feel more productive in society. Then we say, "Oh no, I'm not at home with your body. I don't want you to be productive in my society." Why is that? That we can't look at the issues that people are actually struggling with and
Jamison Green: [01:33:00] not judge trans people for being different, for not looking right, for having a gender variance that doesn't feel quite within the bounds of comfort for the observer? Let it go. Let it go. There is no reason for you to be frightened of me.
Mason Funk: [01:33:30] Four final questions. This is standard. I have four for everybody. The first one is to someone who might come to you because he or she has decided to come out ... By the way, these are also intended to be as short and concise as possible. From your experience ... Some people are like, "I can't give that person advice."
Mason Funk: [01:34:00] I get that, but from your experience, if you could offer a couple of nuggets from your experience to someone who's just about to take a critical step from closet to out, what would those nuggets be?
Jamison Green: I think the most common advice that I give to people who are about to come out is be conscious of who you're talking to.
Jamison Green: [01:34:30] You can't deliver the message in the same way to every person. A lot of times when people are newly discovering themselves and really feeling excited that they ... They're ready to come out. They actually become more internalized as they're coming out so that they only see what they feel and what they want to say and how they want to express themselves.
Jamison Green: [01:35:00] I think coming out is less of an announcement than the initiation of a conversation. Every conversation is different. Every person that you're going to talk to has a different context in your life and perspective in your life. You need to be conscious of that and the boundaries that exist. If you cross those boundaries, it makes it very difficult for other people to hear what you're saying.
Mason Funk: [01:35:30] That's great. Secondly, what is your hope for the future?
Jamison Green: My hope for the future is that people will begin to respect each other, to cut each other slack, to not hurt each other, to treat people equally,
Jamison Green: [01:36:00] to acknowledge difference and not fear it, to just be better human beings. The fear and the anger and the hatred that exists is a waste of tremendous energy at a very, very high emotional cost and a physical cost. That kind of behavior needs to stop.
Mason Funk: [01:36:30] Having told your story many, many, many times, why is it important to you to tell your story?
Jamison Green: It's important for me that I tell my story because
Jamison Green: [01:37:00] I know what it was like when I had no role models, no examples and when people were afraid of me, when people were afraid of the fact that I, a person like me, existed. I feel I have a contribution to make. I want other people to recognize that they can live a good life,
Jamison Green: [01:37:30] they can make a difference if they choose to. They can be a human being and not have to suffer for it.
Mason Funk: Last, but not least, in terms of this project OUTWORDS, we're trying really for the first time ever to do a nation-wide survey
Mason Funk: [01:38:00] of all the different points of views and experiences that make up our community. That'll take a while, but what is the importance of doing something like OUTWORDS? If you can mention OUTWORDS in your answer.
Jamison Green: I think one of the great things that OUTWORDS can do for LGBT people, LGBTQ, LGBTQIAA people, whatever, all the letters of the alphabet,
Jamison Green: [01:38:30] is actually show that we are diverse, that we are not all stereotypical, that we don't conform necessarily to what other people expect a person like that is and that we all have made a contribution, we all have done something to change the world. We all have contributed. I think that that's ...
Jamison Green: [01:39:00] We've all suffered. We've all grown. We've had gorgeous, beautiful moments in our lives. We've had pain just like everyone else. We don't need to be objectified anymore. OUTWORDS can help to change that I hope.
Mason Funk: I like that. That's a great way of putting it. We don't ... That's what's the problem. People objectifying people. We're not objects.
Jamison Green: [01:39:30] Right.
Mason Funk: It's a great way of putting it. We're going to do 30 seconds of room tone-
Keith Wilson: Jamison Green, room tone. (silence).

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Keith Wilson
Date: May 12, 2017
Location: Home of Jamison Green, Union City, CA