It was the most successful event in public health history. Four million Americans were cured of the same illness, all at once. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association agreed (with some of us) that homosexuality was not a mental illness. Our battle was won, but the war for gay rights continued.
In a landmark 1974 court case, I testified for a woman living as a lesbian who fought for child custiody after divorce. Our victory was dampened by subsequent losses.
When I advocated same-sex marriage on a US television debate in 1974, few viewers thought they would see that as reality. It took three decades.
I challenged “the face on the Florida orange”, evangelist singer Anita Bryant in her anti-gay crusade of 1977. She championed a referendum to deny equal rights for gays in Miami. The discriminatory law was approved 2-1. It would be two decades before this was repealed.
My twenty-five page legal document in 1987 on behalf of a gay man trying to serve in the US miltary was unsuccessful. It would be two decades before this ban was reversed.
When I challenged the Boy Scouts (in my first trial as an attorney in 1990) for refusing to apppoint a gay teenager as a scout leader we lost. It would be two decades before a change in Scout policy.
When Colorado passed a law denying gays and lesbians equal protection in 1992, I testified for its repeal. That time we won at the US Supreme Court.
I wrote letteers for American patients to foreign surgeons recommending what was then called “sex-change surgery” in 1965 because no US medical center was helping the transsexual.
The strength of resistance from American doctors to transsexual treatment was demonstrated by my questionnaire sent to hundreds of physicians. The majority of pychiatrists and surgeons would condemn a transsexual to likely suicide rather than enable sex reassignment.
The breakthrough occurred in 1966 when a handful of us referred transsexual patients to The Johns Hopkins Hospital. When this prestigious medical center performed their surgery, transsexual treatment wss legitimized.
As treatment became increasingly available, I testified in court from the 1970s to enable transsexuals to progress in their new life. As with gays and lesbians, they were challenged in employment and parenting.
A commercial airline pilot with many years’ flight experience as a man took medical leave and tried to return to pilot as a woman. The airline refused.
A school teacher wanted to return to work after completing transition from a man to a woman. The school refused.
During gender transition to live a s a woman, the divorcing father of a four year old daughter sought continued parental contact. The mother insisted that the father must appear as a man.
A man, born female, married a woman and the couple adopted childtren. For years they had sexual intercourse, always while the man wore a prosthetic penis. When the relationship failed, the wife insisted that she never knew that the penis was artificial, or that the the man had been born a woman. The marriage was invalid becaue, at the time, two persons born female could not marry. She demanded that he have no further contact with the children as he was neither their legal nor their biological father. I argued psychological parenthood. This was the only father the children had known.
These court cases were often bitter. As with gays and lesbians, sometimes we won.