In today’s world, people often imagine public awareness of transgender history as starting around the year 2000. Even those who recognize that events like Stonewall were led by trans women of color generally assume that knowledge was confined to what tiny, marginal, silent trans community there was.
In fact, there exists a much larger number of public archival documents attesting to trans people than is typically assumed today, such as this ad in the Berkeley Barb, and the radio programs it refers to. The Berkeley Barb, an underground newspaper, was hardly a mainstream publication, but it achieved wide circulation in Berkeley and other radical parts of the Bay Area. KQED FM, however, was a public radio station–one of the earliest public radio stations in the country, in fact–and maintained a larger audience. Its liberal orientation, unsurprising for a public news outlet in the Bay Area, is evident from the fact that not only were they hosting educational and sympathetic programming on transgender people at all, but that they scheduled either three or four hours of programming with a variety of prescheduled guests, which would have taken awhile to plan. While we could not find any recordings of this programming, KQED TV also aired programming on trans people, which we do have.
As was typical of the Berkeley Barb, this notice aired next to several ads for various gay and adult products, including three different ads for adult film theaters (one explicitly advertising bisexual adult films: “Now See Girls Discovering Themselves, Boys, and Other Girls”), and an ad for Fairmont Stationers, “The ‘Gay’est Stationary Store in San Francisco.”