One very interesting thing about this document is its first sentence: “It may be of interest to Barb readers to know that the Berkeley Post Office seems to be persistently engaged in the systematic intimidation and harassment of transsexuals.” The Berkeley Barb published articles on trans issues very frequently, probably more frequently than any other Bay Area newsletter at the time. The Barb, however, was a general underground newspaper covering all manner of radical topics, and didn’t really have any specific focus on trans issues (although they did have a number of trans contributors). Given the marginalization trans people faced even (and sometimes especially) in radical movements in the 1970s, the idea that the Barb is assuming that this information will be of interest to their readers in general is significant. As is the fact that, while they feel the need to quickly define the term transsexual, they assume the audience will side with a transgender woman over the people harassing her.
This is also one of the very few articles on trans issues that doesn’t spend a significant amount (or, actually, any) of time on medicalization or the details of a person’s transition. Instead, the flaw (and pathologization) is all on the harassers, while the trans woman is always gendered correctly, and the very common transphobia against her is all depicted as a deviation from what the norm should be. For example, they go out of their way to emphasize the fact that it was her legal right to be gendered correctly in the workplace, and they go even further in stating, “The sexists seem to be projecting their own gender identity conflicts onto her.” The use of the term sexist is interesting–the term cissexist had not been invented–both in that it requires understanding of the trans woman as a woman, but also doesn’t single out her oppression as necessarily distinct from the oppression of cis women (something many feminists of the era would not have appreciated).
Strikingly, the list of types of harassment feels, both in its content and in much of its word choice, very contemporary, especially in the assumption of the existence and persecution of closeted trans people. This is a different and more progressive understanding of trans people than featured in many articles–including many in the Berkeley Barb–which might be partly explained by the relatively late, 1976 publication date. Especially after Stonewall and the Compton Cafeteria Riots, the 70s did much to advance discourse around trans identities, especially within the trans community.