IV. Transgender Day of Remembrance
Gwen is lucky because she is alive. We have danced around the indignities that one is
forced to suffer if they identify as trans, but we haven’t named it. It does have a name:
transphobia. The fear or mistreatment of people who are trans or who, in some way physically,
seem differently gendered is common.
Gwen fought against institutional transphobia when she got AOL to change their terms of
service. From 1993-1997, she ran Gazebo, the first public forum for trans people and tried to
help trans people fight transphobia in their lives by hosting the Sunday Gender Chat. In 1995,
she moved to San Francisco to work in the office for OnQ, a website which had absorbed her
Gazebo chatroom. She hosted discussions like: how to come out to your boss; how to ignore
people saying rude things to you at the grocery store; how to find a doctor; the effects of
hormone treatments on the body; working towards a name change on documents; how to help
partners navigate this change, etc. In 1998, she won the GLAAD Media Award for Interactive
Media for onQ (onQ was the name GLCF adopted after it was absorbed into Gay.com). Later in
1998, Gay.com was purchased by Planet Out. These are all websites that targeted what we now
think of as the LGBTQ community. Gwen worked through the merger and managed the
transgender community page for a while, but eventually the community sections dissolved.
Gwen was out of a job. But, not for long.