Audio Interview, Pamela Barres, May 17, 2012

  • PAMELA BARRES: I had no time.
  • It's kind of off the cuff.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That's OK.
  • You have an incredible story, number one.
  • PAMELA BARRES: OK.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Number two, your involvement in the Alliance,
  • and your involvement at Kodak with Lambda at Kodak,
  • and your beginning the Transgender Book Group here
  • in Rochester a number of years ago,
  • and the ensuing struggle to get GENDA passed, and, well, ENDA
  • passed first, and now GENDA.
  • So I think, where we want to begin is--
  • PAMELA BARRES: SONDA passed, not GENDA, not ENDA, SONDA.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: GENDA?
  • PAMELA BARRES: SONDA.
  • SONDA.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: SONDA.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination
  • Act.
  • ENDA is still hanging in the Congress.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • Where we want to begin is with Kodak.
  • Were you there when the group was formed?
  • Or were you--
  • PAMELA BARRES: No, I was not there
  • when the group was formed.
  • But I think I got involved with the group not that long
  • after it was formed.
  • And I was a part of the--
  • I don't even know how long after I got involved.
  • But I was a part of the committee for the first dinner
  • that they had, where Elizabeth Birch came and spoke and did
  • everything we asked her not to do as part of the committee.
  • We didn't want her to talk about Domestic Partner Benefits
  • and really bring up politics and stuff.
  • And of course, Elizabeth talked about all the things
  • we kind of asked her not to do.
  • But it turned out to work very well.
  • We did not know at the time that George Fisher was
  • going to be a person that would be
  • very supportive of the gay community.
  • It turns out that his daughter was a lesbian.
  • But at the time, of course, nobody knew that.
  • And so we were all kind of like, oh my God,
  • what the hell is she saying?
  • You know, talking.
  • So because she kind of put them on the spot.
  • Apple's done this.
  • Why haven't you done this?
  • Polaroid may have done it at that time, too.
  • So she was like challenging them.
  • And this is what, being in the conservative culture of Kodak,
  • you weren't going to challenge the CEO.
  • We were like, oh my God, we're going to get
  • blown out of the water here.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Let me ask you.
  • Do you remember where that was held?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, I do.
  • I'm almost positive that it was held down in Burgundy Basin
  • Inn down on Marsh Road.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I remember being there filming
  • one of those management reception
  • dinner things with Elizabeth Birch.
  • But I don't know.
  • Because you brought her in twice?
  • PAMELA BARRES: No, I think only once.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Just once?
  • So that must be the one I filmed then.
  • PAMELA BARRES: I believe that was the first one.
  • And I--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I just don't remember going
  • to the Burgundy Basin Inn.
  • But I probably did.
  • PAMELA BARRES: I'm pretty sure that's where it was.
  • Because there were two very closeted gay men at my table.
  • And everyone was very afraid to come out.
  • Even though people were there, no one went around the room
  • and said that they were part of Lambda.
  • There was one guy there who worked
  • in the factory, who was kind of open about being gay.
  • But the other people were all kind of listening and, "oh, um,
  • yeah."
  • And so I went up to these two guys that I knew them from--
  • I was in HR at the time.
  • And I believe they were both in HR.
  • And I went to them and said, you know, I know that you're gay.
  • You should know that I may have only identify myself
  • as a cross-dresser at that time I'm not sure.
  • And I don't remember what year it was, damn it.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well, it was probably about '94.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because when I first met you--
  • PAMELA BARRES: I knew I was a transgendered person.
  • I knew I was probably transsexual.
  • But at that point, it was all kind of fluid.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because when I first
  • met you through David Kosel.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Right, I met you through David, right.
  • You were his housemate.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You were not yet Pam.
  • PAMELA BARRES: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I think you had just started
  • thinking about transitioning.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, that's probably true.
  • Yeah, it took me--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Because I think I met you even with your wife.
  • You were at David's house with your wife.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Oh yeah, I was still married.
  • It's going to be forty-eight years this year,
  • which is amazing actually in and of itself.
  • She's the one that has got all the--
  • I mean, the credit goes to her really.
  • I mean, most wives are long gone by this point.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: OK, so let's backtrack a little bit then.
  • Let's first talk about why you got
  • involved with Lambda at Kodak.
  • What were you personally seeking from that experience?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Well, since the first time that I started--
  • this whole journey started for me really in 1988.
  • And I had been thinking about it for a while.
  • And it was really bothering me.
  • And my spouse and I would have some arguments.
  • And my daughter was going to college
  • in Ohio University, Athens, Ohio,
  • which is in the middle of no place.
  • And it's a fairly long drive from here.
  • And so we'd get in the car.
  • And she couldn't get out of the car.
  • And then we'd scream at each other for eight hours
  • until we got to Athens, about how I needed to do something.
  • And I don't know what to do.
  • And I always had this weird fear that I
  • was going to be blackmailed.
  • And everything would be-- and so the whole thing
  • was very strange.
  • But when I decided to go start doing some stuff,
  • well, the catalyst for me was my cousin,
  • who was the same age as I was, forty-four at the time.
  • He died on the way to work of a massive heart attack one day.
  • And I went.
  • And he was, at the time, living in Washington DC,
  • working down there.
  • But he was more like a brother to me than a cousin.
  • And we'd gone to high school together.
  • And we were friends.
  • He got me in Drum Corps, The Crusaders, at the time.
  • And it was just we hadn't seen each other in a long time,
  • but I had seen him a couple of months before that.
  • And he had a lesbian daughter that they didn't talk about.
  • And I had found out about the same time
  • that Linda was a lesbian.
  • And George and I were someplace talking.
  • I was trying to give him an indication
  • to tell me that his daughter was a lesbian.
  • At which point, I would have said, George,
  • there's something I want to tell you about myself.
  • Because I'm just starting to think about it.
  • And I hadn't done that much about it yet.
  • But it was like it was this driving need.
  • I'd shaved off my mustache.
  • Because it was my birthday when we saw him.
  • We went down to that place in Hilton Head, the timeshare.
  • And we went down there.
  • And on the way down, I had shaved off my mustache.
  • Because it was my birthday.
  • And I decided women don't have mustaches.
  • Well, some women do, but not to the size that one was anyway.
  • And so it was kind of like the beginning.
  • I have to do something.
  • But I still don't know what to do.
  • I was still so afraid.
  • And when George died, I went home from his funeral
  • and said to myself, I could die, too.
  • And then, what?
  • I'd never know who I really was.
  • I'd never know, never have lived my real life.
  • And so I called up--
  • and I had been seeing a psychiatrist, whose advice was
  • don't do this, don't give into it, never cross-dress.
  • It's great being a guy.
  • You can go out in the winter and write your name in the snow.
  • I could never understand the significance of that.
  • You'd either have to drink an awful lot
  • or have a very short name.
  • But why would you want to do that?
  • But it was great being a guy, you
  • don't want to do this, and never give into it.
  • And so I wasn't getting any place with him.
  • And I was just becoming more and more depressed
  • and having more and more stomach problems.
  • And my temper was like a hair trigger.
  • And it wasn't good.
  • So I called up the Monroe County Medical Society.
  • And I said, I need somebody who knows something about this.
  • And they recommended I see a woman
  • by the name of Pamela Walter, Pam Walter, who turns out
  • is a lesbian.
  • But she would never admit to any of us that she was a lesbian.
  • Boy, she's strict.
  • But my little bit of gaydar went off.
  • And she always struck me as a lesbian.
  • But anyway--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Was she medical or psychology?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Psychology.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Psychology.
  • PAMELA BARRES: She was a social worker,
  • a certified social worker.
  • And so I started seeing her.
  • I saw her a couple of times.
  • And she was, stay away from the gay community
  • here if you don't think you're gay, if you still like women.
  • And I wasn't sure.
  • Maybe I'm bi, maybe I'm not.
  • But anyway, so I went to some clubs in Denver.
  • I was always afraid to do a lot of this in Rochester.
  • But I had a girlfriend, friend, who I've known for a long time.
  • And she was in our wedding.
  • And her husband had left her.
  • It turns out he was a gay man.
  • And so I was I was comforting her.
  • And my suitcase didn't arrive on time.
  • It's kind of an interesting story.
  • It probably should-- not part of this Shoulders to Stand On.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: This is fine.
  • PAMELA BARRES: But it's kind of fun.
  • I haven't thought about this in a while.
  • And so I was at her house.
  • And I was on my way to San Diego.
  • And I stayed over in Denver, took the weekend away,
  • I did it.
  • And my suitcase didn't arrive.
  • And I don't know what I said.
  • I said, "They're eventually going to bring it."
  • But I said, "This is really irritating me.
  • My clothes are in there and stuff like that."
  • I said, "I'm staying here with you and your daughter.
  • And I should maybe dress up like a woman.
  • And we could take my picture and say,
  • see what I was forced to do because my clothes."
  • So she said, "Oh yeah, that's cool."
  • She's fun.
  • So I had some kind of a skirt on and a weird top.
  • Because she was a larger woman.
  • And so she took a picture of it, of me.
  • And so she let me have her bed.
  • And she was sleeping in the guestroom or something,
  • which is a little strange.
  • And she brought me up breakfast.
  • She said, "How about I go bring you breakfast?"
  • They had a little veranda out overlooking--
  • they were in the foothills of the Rockies, very nice.
  • And so she gives me this-- you know,
  • we have breakfast together up on that little veranda
  • looking out.
  • And she said, "I don't know how this came along,
  • but what would you really like to do with your life?"
  • Or something, I think she was trying
  • to decide what she was going to do with her life,
  • now that David had left.
  • And she was still heartbroken about this.
  • And I said, "Well, you know, last night, when we dressed up
  • and we took the pictures fooling around."
  • I said, "Well, I think I want to be a woman, Carol.
  • I think that's who I really am.
  • And I guess I want to be like that all the time."
  • And she said, "Oh, you want to try on my clothes?"
  • And opened her closet door.
  • (laughter)
  • It was really kind of funny.
  • And she was in some kind of a support group.
  • And one of her best friends in that support group
  • happened to be a gay man.
  • And anyway, so she introduced me to him.
  • And we talked.
  • And he talked.
  • And we drank a lot of stuff.
  • And so I spent a week in--
  • how'd this happen?
  • I think it was the next time I went out there.
  • We all went to a gay bar together.
  • And I had some clothes.
  • As a matter of fact, I wore some Carol's clothes.
  • And we went out and bought the world's worst wig
  • at some wig shop up in the Capitol Hill
  • District of Denver, which is the gay Cheesman Park.
  • Anyway, it was a really bad wig.
  • And I felt very comfortable and very at home.
  • And then, when I was in San Diego,
  • I found a couple of gay bars.
  • I don't remember how I did it.
  • But I found a couple of gay bars.
  • And I went there and I'm watching all these guys, mostly
  • guy.
  • Eh, women and guys were both dancing.
  • I just felt that these are my people.
  • This is my community.
  • And I just immediately felt comfortable.
  • Now, I identify as bisexual maybe now.
  • And maybe there was this whole--
  • I was giving myself permission to do certain things.
  • It's hard to know.
  • So when there was going to be a Pride Parade--
  • one of the ones that started at the AIDS Garden
  • and ended up in the park--
  • not Highland Park, but it started at Highland Park,
  • and ended up at the Genesee Valley Park.
  • And we marched up Highland or Elmwood.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Probably Elmwood, yeah.
  • PAMELA BARRES: And then, we ended up
  • marching all the way to the park.
  • Because the festival, the picnic started right after the parade.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I think there was Highland Bowl.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Hm?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Highland Bowl.
  • PAMELA BARRES: No, it wasn't Highland Bowl.
  • No, that was another time.
  • No, this started at the AIDS Garden.
  • We actually started on Highland, we started in Highland
  • and then took Highland, I think, up to South--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Elmwood.
  • PAMELA BARRES: And then, over down to Elmwood.
  • And then, we marched, I think, on Elmwood.
  • I think we had half the lane or something,
  • and under the big bridge by the U of R.
  • And people were up there on the railroad bridge
  • screaming and yelling.
  • And then, we went into the park.
  • I distinctly remember that.
  • And so I was just tagging along.
  • And I had a friend with me, a trans woman,
  • another friend of mine.
  • And we went to this.
  • And we thought we were being kind of brave.
  • And I had my wig on and was trying to look butch,
  • like a lesbian.
  • But anyway, I kind of tagged along with the Kodak group
  • somehow.
  • The Lambda group was marching.
  • And I met David.
  • But we didn't really introduce ourselves all that much.
  • And I marched along with David.
  • And so then I think he was telling me about the fact
  • that there was this Lambda thing.
  • Or I was an HR Rep.
  • So I knew about the networks and stuff.
  • And the first meeting was right outside my office.
  • So the first meeting I attended, they
  • were meeting in this conference room right outside my office.
  • So I went in there.
  • But I made sure I sat on the end of a table,
  • where anybody walking by the door couldn't see me.
  • And then, I announced who I was.
  • And that's how I started to become friends with David.
  • I said, "Oh, I met you.
  • I was in the parade.
  • Oh, you know."
  • And then, we used to have long arguments, whether transgender
  • people belong in the GLB community or not,
  • and blah, blah, blah.
  • And I had a crush on David, take that off the tape.
  • I had a crush on David for quite a while.
  • (laughter)
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Go up to him, "David, guess what?"
  • PAMELA BARRES: He knows, not that anything ever
  • happened, but anyway.
  • So that's how I started.
  • Because it just seemed like the right thing to be part of.
  • And I was an HR Rep.
  • So I didn't have to come out to be part of the group,
  • if I didn't want to.
  • Because I was just practicing diversity, and leading
  • the way, and stuff like that.
  • And so for quite a while, that's what I was.
  • And then, we had different groups
  • talking about different things at my local HR department.
  • After that time, we looked after the corporate staffs,
  • the communication, public affairs, the finance people,
  • stuff like that, and a couple of others.
  • And so I was in that group of HR people.
  • And our manager would have each of us
  • kind of make a presentation on something.
  • And so I had the people from the Lambda network
  • come and make a presentation to these HR people.
  • And I mentioned that I was proud to be a member of this group.
  • And so my assistant came in to me
  • and said, "So what kind of a diverse person are you?"
  • And I came out to her.
  • And that started me down the road of being very much more
  • open about it.
  • But I was not coming to work at Kodak as a woman, never
  • really did, though I went to social events as a woman.
  • And we had an off-site meeting.
  • And I went as Pam.
  • We were at our little group meeting at the art
  • gallery at Cullery Union there.
  • And so I went to that.
  • And I had sent around to a lot of people.
  • Because I was going from office to office.
  • And I had like an hour or a half presentation to come out to--
  • after a while, I could do it in two and a half minutes.
  • But initially, I was setting the stage and, you know,
  • the whole thing.
  • And there was two people that were coming that didn't know.
  • Because I sent an email saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner?"
  • And went.
  • And then, I realized, oh my God, I never got to those people.
  • So I ran outside and caught them as they're walking in the door
  • and said, "By the way, here I am!
  • Hi!"
  • And that just kept happening.
  • Sue and I had made an agreement.
  • Because I had separated from her for a while.
  • I moved out.
  • And we had made an agreement that I would not
  • try to transition while we were both working at Kodak Office.
  • Because it was just too much of a strain on her, look at her.
  • You know what her husband--
  • blah, blah, blah.
  • And I mean, even though most everybody knew anyway,
  • I think it still happened.
  • But that was still part of our deal.
  • And so when I went to the first Lambda meeting,
  • I went in a three piece male business suit with my wingtips
  • on, which I still have someplace in the closet.
  • And I came out as a member of the network
  • to the high level management.
  • Because we had all high level managers at each table.
  • And then, we talked a little bit about ourselves
  • to try to give these people some cultural sensitivity
  • to the issue.
  • And that was the last one I went to as Peter.
  • After that, I always went as Pam.
  • And yeah, it really changed my life.
  • And I got on the board of Lambda.
  • They asked me to be on the board.
  • Because I was an HR person and didn't have an hourly job.
  • I guess I had a salary type job.
  • And so after a couple meetings, I
  • think we were going to do something new.
  • I suggested that we include-- we were working on our mission
  • statement.
  • And I suggested that they include
  • the word transgender in the we serve,
  • this is the community that we're part of.
  • And so they put it to a vote of the membership
  • basically online.
  • And while it didn't get 100 percent approval,
  • it did get a decent size number of people
  • thought it was a good thing to do.
  • And so it became part of the official mission
  • statement of Lambda.
  • Then, it was not only gay and lesbian, but gay, lesbian,
  • and bisexual.
  • And I don't know if that would have happened if I didn't ask,
  • but I did.
  • It wasn't like, oh, if you don't do this
  • I'm going to walk out the door.
  • Because I've never felt that that was the way to do it.
  • If you want somebody to support your issues,
  • you have to support their issues.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Can I just clarify something here?
  • So you submitted language into the mission statement
  • for bisexuality or transgender?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Transgender.
  • I think bisexuality was already in there.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, OK.
  • PAMELA BARRES: My belief is--
  • I don't know that for fact, but I think so.
  • But I wanted the word transgender.
  • Because yeah, while I'm cool with being
  • part of the gay community and everything,
  • you do feel more inclusive once in a while
  • if they use the term that actually describes you.
  • I know a lot of lesbians.
  • They're talking about the gay community.
  • Well, you know, they don't want to be gay women necessarily.
  • They prefer to be lesbians.
  • So the LGBT, GLBT, whatever which way
  • it is, it's nice to have the T there.
  • And it's nice that people actually mention it.
  • And it's even nicer if they know what it
  • means, which doesn't always--
  • you know, a lot of times it's lip service.
  • But we're making progress.
  • So that's how that came about.
  • And when I left Kodak, obviously, I
  • planned one of the dinners.
  • And we had it at the--
  • ah, what the hell is the name of it?
  • It went right out of my head.
  • It's across from where Tara's used to be.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, the Harro East.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, the Harro East.
  • Yeah, I planned a dinner that we had there.
  • I was on the planning committee.
  • And I don't know.
  • I think I worked with a venue at determining
  • what the menu was going to be.
  • And saying it.
  • But I did all of that.
  • I'd go from work.
  • And of course, I was at Kodak Office.
  • I was still going to work there with a suit and stuff on.
  • So I was planning it as Peter.
  • But then, I showed up and I ironed out the details as Pam.
  • And so I thought, oh God.
  • I was always so paranoid that--
  • I don't know.
  • Are you going to arrest me or something?
  • It was ridiculous.
  • It took me a long time to get over that.
  • And I find it amazing sometimes that I stand up
  • and tell my life story to college groups,
  • maybe shorter than this.
  • Because I was so afraid of who I was, so afraid.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Is it indicative that maybe you still
  • would quite sure exactly who you were?
  • Were you still trying to figure it out?
  • PAMELA BARRES: No, I think it was--
  • well, yeah, maybe.
  • No, I think I already knew.
  • I didn't know how to do--
  • I wasn't sure how to go to get there.
  • I knew where I wanted to go.
  • But I didn't know how I could get there without losing
  • everything that I had, Kevin.
  • I think I always knew where I wanted to go.
  • I just didn't know what to do about it.
  • And you know, I'm sixty-nine.
  • So when I got married, it was 1964.
  • There wasn't any internet.
  • And I use it with the library and look up transportation.
  • Because maybe would be something like transgender
  • or transsexual.
  • And that's when we had card catalogs.
  • I mean, we were talking--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You were in the trans section.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, right, you're looking for something,
  • you know?
  • I was looking for the book on model railroads,
  • if anyone ever asked me.
  • I mean, it just bizarre.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That was life back then.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah.
  • And so I did one dinner.
  • And that was, I think, the only time
  • I actually saw anything that resembled nudity
  • in a woman's restroom.
  • Because Cindy Martin, who had then come out to George Fisher,
  • because she was his assistant, after the first spring dinner--
  • spring dinner, that's ESPA--
  • after the first management dinner,
  • she had the courage, after what she
  • heard from him and everything, she came out to him.
  • And so she was then at the dinner
  • not necessarily in her role as his assistant,
  • but she had came to that dinner in her role
  • as a leader of Lambda and as a lesbian.
  • And she might have got a different job by then.
  • But I don't remember.
  • But so we're both in the ladies room together.
  • And she just hikes up her skirt.
  • And she's pulling up her pantyhose.
  • And I thought, OK, well, she's accepting me.
  • And I don't think I've ever seen anybody ever
  • do that in the ladies room since, only Cindy Martin.
  • But anyway, because she wasn't in the stalls.
  • She was just standing there.
  • We were talking at the sink.
  • And she goes, OK, let me adjust these damn things.
  • Because I don't think she normally didn't dresses,
  • I think.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, I always seem
  • to remember her in a pantsuit.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Always.
  • Yeah, so anyway, that was just a little humor there.
  • What else do you want to know?
  • I'm losing my train of thought.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: When did you transgender then?
  • When did you totally move from--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Well, it was a progression.
  • I stopped wearing suits to work.
  • I'd wear sweaters.
  • I stopped wearing ties.
  • And I was going through electrolysis
  • to get rid of my beard.
  • I have about ten thousand dollars in my face actually.
  • A little at a time.
  • Every Saturday morning, I'd go out there
  • and have them stick me with-- it's a painful process.
  • It separates the boys from the girls.
  • It truly does.
  • And I was doing it in such a way that I wouldn't take food
  • off the table.
  • I wouldn't jeopardize my family.
  • So I drove the same damn car for over ten years, which
  • a lot of people do anyway.
  • But I would have liked to and could've afforded a new car,
  • except, I was putting the money in my face
  • and that kind of stuff.
  • And little by little, I started changing.
  • I was the Director of Latin American Human
  • Resources for Kodak when this whole thing began.
  • But I didn't think I could keep that job and ever
  • transition on the job.
  • I didn't think I could possibly do that in Latin America.
  • And so I transferred to the Domestic Division.
  • And that's when I actually first started
  • getting involved with David.
  • That was in the early nineties.
  • That's when this parade would have been.
  • That's when I joined Lambda.
  • I was in domestic HR.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Now let's see, the parade would have
  • had to have been after '93.
  • That's when we broke ground for the Garden.
  • PAMELA BARRES: OK, well then, it might have been that.
  • Because the Garden was brand new.
  • I know that.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: It was between '93, '94 then.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, and that would be about the right time.
  • And so at that point, I'd been going out a lot more.
  • And I was becoming more and more open about myself.
  • But it was a slow progression.
  • So as I started changing my appearance little by little,
  • people started asking me.
  • A couple of the managers asked me questions
  • about what's going on.
  • And so I told them.
  • Because people would come in for meetings.
  • I would be going over HR policies.
  • Some of these people hadn't seen me in six months or something.
  • And they started noticing that I now had permed hair.
  • My face looked different.
  • You know, I'd been taking hormones for a while.
  • So maybe my weight was shifting a little bit.
  • I was developing some breasts.
  • And so I told them.
  • And so all the management of Health--
  • my client at that time was Health Imaging,
  • the x-ray people.
  • And maybe there was a good group of people
  • to have as a client base.
  • Because they were somewhat in the medical field.
  • They kind of maybe were more open to it
  • than the amateur photographers might have been.
  • I don't know.
  • So they basically said, it's not your looks
  • that we're hiring you for.
  • It's the information and the advice
  • you provide to us is why we value you as our employee,
  • as our HR guy, or whatever it was.
  • And so that was just a gradual progression.
  • How do I not keep my job--
  • how do I keep my marriage, how do I keep my job, and not--
  • because I saw people do stupid things.
  • I had a lot of friends that leapt into this thing.
  • And their marriage went out the window.
  • And they got fired from their job.
  • And so I was progressing at an extremely slow pace.
  • But I had made the decision that I was very uncomfortable
  • in the men's room.
  • That's not the decision I made.
  • But I was uncomfortable in the men's room.
  • And that's when I think I decided
  • I was probably bisexual.
  • Because I was watching a friend of mine.
  • I guess I had been at the urinal urinating.
  • He was standing there.
  • And I was talking to him.
  • I was over by the door or the sink.
  • We were chatting.
  • And I was saying, (unintelligible) a pretty good
  • looking guy.
  • I mean, he has nice hairy arms.
  • And he's well built. And I'm thinking
  • he's got all those things that I don't have anymore
  • and don't want.
  • But I just found him quite attractive.
  • And I think I was starting to--
  • I don't know if it was the hormones or whatever was.
  • Or I was just becoming more comfortable with myself.
  • But I started giving myself permission
  • to think about that would be an OK thing to look at.
  • And it was probably sometime after that
  • that I realized I had a crush on David.
  • So that's the second time or third time I've said that now.
  • Hm, look at this a little closer.
  • Anyway, so I'd stopped going to--
  • I'd made arrangements with a nurse's office to just start
  • using the bathrooms.
  • Because it was one floor above me, where my office was,
  • or two floors.
  • But the elevator was like out that door.
  • It was very close.
  • So and then, I got the early retirement opportunity.
  • And then, Sue got laid off just before.
  • I had a month left to work when Sue got laid off.
  • Was when they just threw me all the downsizings.
  • And so I could have started coming
  • to work as Pam at that point.
  • I mean, I almost was anyway.
  • I was so close.
  • People would come into my office at Kodak
  • and say, pardon me, ma'am, I'm looking for Pete Barres.
  • And I would say, well, you found her and things like that.
  • But I didn't.
  • Because I thought I'd be a bit of an asshole,
  • if I would have had to put-- because when you transition
  • at work, you're putting your coworkers
  • through a little bit of a process here.
  • And so why bother for one month?
  • I mean, I thought that would be really kind of dumb.
  • So I got a certificate for a dress shop
  • for my going away gift from the group and everything.
  • So I mean, this was not a secret to anyone.
  • It was a lot of fun.
  • And we had a good time with it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And what year was this, Pam?
  • PAMELA BARRES: '98.
  • This was '98.
  • And that's when I left Kodak.
  • And at that point then, I had been living pretty much
  • full time, except for those occasions where I would
  • go to work and with my mother.
  • I hadn't come out to my mother.
  • My dad had already died.
  • I came out to him.
  • But he was in a coma.
  • I never did know if he knew it or not.
  • It just showed a lot of courage on my part.
  • But I believe if he would have lived and I could--
  • because he was very homophobic.
  • He was the St. Paul, hate the sin, love the sinner, shit.
  • And I think, if he got-- and they had gay friends.
  • My mother was very active in drama, amateur drama,
  • particularly with the church and stuff.
  • And there was a couple of guys that there was no doubt
  • that they were gay.
  • And everybody knew it.
  • And they knew it.
  • And my parents knew it.
  • But it was great people, but man that homosexuality,
  • can't deal with that stuff.
  • And he was a lay minister for the Lutheran church
  • and talked to people all over the world, wrote letters.
  • This was before the internet.
  • And I really think I would have made a difference.
  • But I might have been wrong.
  • I don't know.
  • But so I went through some of his papers after he died.
  • And I was really devastated.
  • I was, wow, God maybe it's a good thing I didn't.
  • You know, my mother, later when I came out to her, said,
  • your dad would have had a real hard time with this.
  • So I don't know.
  • And so I got involved right after I left, and maybe
  • even before I left Kodak.
  • David was bringing-- Kosel was bringing--
  • he was the chairman of Out & Equal at the time,
  • planning to bring their first thing here.
  • And I was on the committee.
  • I was on that committee.
  • And I think I made a speech as Pam.
  • I came to the thing as Pam.
  • It was right after I had left.
  • And I decided I didn't need to work.
  • Because things were looking good.
  • I had it pretty good, took my lump sum
  • money and stuff like that.
  • And then, I lost fifty thousand dollars in the market.
  • I retired in February.
  • And by September, I was fifty thousand dollars less
  • than I had when I walked out the door.
  • And I'm thinking, shit, this keeps up--
  • you know, because I was fifty-six.
  • When this keeps up, I'm going to be in real trouble.
  • By the time I'm sixty, I won't have any money left.
  • So I better try to find a job.
  • And I could not find a job as Pam.
  • I was trying.
  • But I could never get beyond--
  • if I'd have a phone interview, they'd never called me back.
  • I'd send out all kinds of letters with my resume.
  • HR jobs is what I was looking for.
  • And I would get lots of great feedback coming back in.
  • But then, I would bring up the transsexual stuff.
  • Because I figured they're going to find out anyway.
  • And there's all my references.
  • I mean, how am I going to finesse this any other way?
  • And I had changed my name.
  • And I had changed my driver's license
  • at that point to say female.
  • But my name, I had changed my name a couple of years
  • before from Peter to P. R. My legal name
  • is P. R., two initials.
  • And I was doing my mother's--
  • well, that's not the main reason.
  • But she was developing Alzheimer's.
  • So I was handing all her-- you know, paying her bills
  • and handling her stuff.
  • And so I would have to be dealing with people.
  • And on the phone, it was just simpler
  • to be P. R. I could sign everything and nobody knew.
  • My voice has never sounded feminine on the phone,
  • never will.
  • And so I changed it to P. R. And so I had everything changed.
  • And then, I changed my gender after I changed my name
  • on my driver's license.
  • So I was essentially living as a woman.
  • And I was interviewed by the paper for this Out & Equal
  • thing.
  • And so it was supposed to come out on the Sunday morning.
  • So I went zooming down to my mother's house, my mother's
  • apartment, where she was living, and came out to her.
  • Because she knew.
  • They found a stash of clothing I had when I was maybe eighteen.
  • But we never talked about it, other
  • than you need to see a psychiatrist or somebody.
  • And you need to tell Sue.
  • Because we were just engaged then.
  • And they asked me, have you done that?
  • Which I did.
  • It did force me to do that.
  • But at that time, we didn't know what Sue was getting into,
  • nor did I for that matter.
  • And I went once to the psychiatrist.
  • And that was it.
  • So I never went back.
  • Oh yeah, I'll come back.
  • Sure, I'll talk to anybody.
  • I never went back and went deeply into the-- you know,
  • I was in the closet through most of my life.
  • And I lost my train of thought again.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That's good.
  • PAMELA BARRES: I could ramble forever.
  • Ask me another question.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Yeah, I'm just going
  • to pull you back a little bit.
  • Because I don't want to go too far ahead.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, and I don't want to be here
  • all night either.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Your work with Lambda,
  • if you were to kind of sum it all up,
  • what would be, in your mind, your personal greatest
  • achievements with that group or your proudest moment
  • with that group, or your most memorable moment
  • with that group?
  • PAMELA BARRES: No, I think the thing I accomplished
  • was getting them knowledgeable of what transgender was
  • and getting them at least officially paying lip service
  • to it in the mission statement.
  • And so this was making the trans community
  • a part of their mission.
  • That's the simplest thing.
  • And it helped me.
  • It helped me grow.
  • Certainly, it helped me grow.
  • And I think I helped give them a better understanding of what
  • it was all about.
  • And I got to meet people who didn't really understand what
  • the hell we were talking about.
  • I got sent down to the Out & Equal conference
  • in Washington as a representative of Kodak,
  • that Kodak paid for it, that Diversity and Pride paid for.
  • I went down with Dan Samper and--
  • God, I can't think of her name, a straight woman.
  • Everyone thought she was the lesbian.
  • It'll come to me at three in the morning.
  • But anyway, so yeah, I think--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Lisa.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, Lisa Vitelli, yeah.
  • Helping those people that I came in contact with at Kodak
  • understanding what it was and helping
  • get the transgender as part of the network.
  • Really basically, that's it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Now--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Go ahead.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: When you left Kodak and began
  • looking for work, did you have a sense
  • that you weren't finding work because--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Oh yeah, I mean, that
  • wasn't all that hard to determine, of course, yeah.
  • Oh yeah, no, I mean, I know exactly that's yeah.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: So had you been--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Because when I went back and said,
  • I've got to go back as Peter, and I went to a very nice wig
  • shop that dealt with women that were having masectomies,
  • and going through chemo, and losing their hair,
  • and I went in there and I said, "I
  • need to get a wig that looks like this."
  • And the woman asked me, "Why?"
  • I said, "Because I want my hair all cut short.
  • I'm going to have to go to work as a man."
  • She said, "Well, why would you want to do that?"
  • I said, "Well, because."
  • You know, yeah, and then I got a couple
  • job offers within a month.
  • I had a very nice job offer in Washington,
  • which I almost took, which I did take, and then turned down.
  • Because my mother was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
  • And things weren't going to work.
  • So yeah no, no doubt I was discriminated
  • against in that part of my life.
  • Yeah, I couldn't get a job.
  • Now, could I have eventually?
  • Maybe I don't know.
  • But I had this sense of urgency.
  • Because I was losing money and didn't feel that I--
  • it wasn't happening.
  • I mean, nothing was happening.
  • I wasn't getting beyond the first opportunity at all.
  • And so once I went back and started working as a guy,
  • or looking for a job as a guy, yeah, it wasn't so hard.
  • It was a lot easier.
  • And yeah, I mean, I was still older.
  • I still had to work only for a large corporation.
  • But yeah, there's no doubt about that in my mind at all.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: It was at that time,
  • I think, that the Alliance hired you as Executive Director,
  • wasn't it?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Well, yeah, there's a little bit more
  • to it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You were on the board.
  • PAMELA BARRES: There's a little bit more to it than that.
  • Yeah, asked me to be.
  • I was asked to be on the board.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: What year was that?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who asked you?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Actually, Tanya Smolinsky
  • is the first person that had recommended me, yeah.
  • Tanya, because the Trans Group at that point
  • was meeting in the old building there
  • on Elton Street, the old GAGV Building.
  • And so I got to know Tanya a little bit.
  • Because I was facilitating-- running the group at that time.
  • And we had started as--
  • there was one group in Rochester called the CD Network, which
  • was the cross-dressing group.
  • Initially, it was formed in 1985,
  • I believe was when it was first founded.
  • It was founded as TVA, Transvestites Anonymous.
  • And when you went up to the mailbox to get the mail,
  • you were hardly anonymous.
  • When it would be something large that you
  • had to go pick up at the window, it was hard to be anonymous.
  • So I had joined that group.
  • I got involved with that group right after I first came out.
  • They had gone on hiatus.
  • And they had come back.
  • And they changed.
  • I went to the first meeting, kind
  • of a reorganizational meeting.
  • They changed the name from the TVA to CD network.
  • Because the CD could be called an investment group.
  • It could be exchanging music, CDs, instead of cross-dresser.
  • So they changed it.
  • We met at Horus Leatherbridge's house on Wellesley Street,
  • I guess it is.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yeah.
  • PAMELA BARRES: I just walked by there.
  • It's all boarded up.
  • It's terrible.
  • Anyway, and so I was going to that.
  • And then, we kept looking for places.
  • We used to be right across the hall
  • here, when the Church was here.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Unity?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Metropolitan Community Church--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: MCC.
  • PAMELA BARRES: --were here first,
  • before they moved out to the place on Norris,
  • and then where they are now.
  • So we were allowed to use their space.
  • And we kept looking for spaces to meet.
  • For a while, we did it at a beauty salon.
  • There was a drag queen by the name of Freddie Bass, who
  • was a hairdresser.
  • He had a salon down on Ridge Road.
  • So we met at his salon, which was perfect for cross-dressers.
  • Because they had all the mirrors.
  • So I mean, what could be better?
  • And then eventually, that closed.
  • And so we were looking for other places to meet.
  • And I'm wrong.
  • Because at that point, I had separated from Sue.
  • And I had this house in East Rochester
  • that I was house sitting for someone, living in.
  • And there were a lot of us in the CD Group
  • that identified as transsexuals.
  • We didn't want to know how to cover our beard.
  • We didn't want to know where the best falsies could be bought.
  • We wanted to have our own.
  • And we didn't want to have a beard and that kind of stuff.
  • So we were starting to identify as transsexuals.
  • And we didn't seem to fit with the cross-dressers, at least
  • at that time.
  • And so I started having them get together.
  • We would get together.
  • I would invite all the transsexuals I knew.
  • And we would get together at my house.
  • And we'd have drinks and probably
  • carry on having wild parties.
  • Because the neighbors were complaining, apparently.
  • I don't know.
  • They didn't like the people coming and going.
  • They were strange looking people.
  • And so that's how we started that.
  • And then Perette Barella started a specific group
  • called the Rochester Transgendered Organization.
  • And she picked up a nest.
  • But when I lost the house, she started
  • having spaghetti dinners at her apartment.
  • And it was just the transsexual folks.
  • And that then led to Perette forming the Rochester
  • Transgendered Organization.
  • And after about a year, I got involved in it.
  • And she was burning out and didn't want to be part of it.
  • And I kind of took over being the leader of the group.
  • And I changed the name, with everyone's approval,
  • to the Rochester Transgendered Group,
  • as opposed to Organization.
  • Because there was nothing organized about us.
  • And so that's kind of where we went.
  • And then, we started meeting at the Gay Alliance.
  • And I got to know Tanya.
  • And I got on the board.
  • And I was on my second term as a board member,
  • when, we as a board, terminated Holly,
  • whose first name is Bill.
  • Bill Holly, yeah.
  • We terminated him.
  • And I was retired at the time.
  • And Shirley Bowen was retired at the time.
  • But everybody else on the board was working.
  • And Shirley didn't want to do it for whatever reason.
  • And I guess I got the short straw.
  • And I was asked if I would be Executive
  • Director on an interim basis.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Do you remember what year this was?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, 2002, June seventeenth, I believe.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Who was president of the board?
  • Do you remember?
  • PAMELA BARRES: It might have been Kelly at the time.
  • It was either Bill Kelly or Shirley Bowen.
  • But I think it was Bill Kelly.
  • I think, Kelly was the whole time that I was ED, Kelly was.
  • Yeah, Kelly was.
  • Yeah, it was Bill Kelly.
  • And so I was asked to do that.
  • And it was June.
  • And I did.
  • And I loved the job.
  • I really did.
  • I really got to love this community
  • and love this organization.
  • And I love the job.
  • I had been an HR manager at Kodak.
  • I'd been purchasing.
  • I was a sales person for Kodak, a marketing person.
  • And it seemed that it was a place to use a lot of my skills
  • that I developed over the years and still be myself.
  • I mean, the big joke is I learned
  • about comfortable shoes.
  • Susan Jordan loves that line.
  • But you know, I was the most feminine
  • of the women working there at the time.
  • And I stopped.
  • I didn't come with heels anymore.
  • And maybe I didn't carry the big purse anymore.
  • And I kind of became--
  • my role models were these lesbians,
  • who I loved very much, except for Tanya, we
  • had some problems.
  • But then, who hasn't?
  • (laughter)
  • And I mean, I put her on final warning,
  • which should not ever be.
  • Because that's a personal thing.
  • But I'd had it just right up to here.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes.
  • PAMELA BARRES: I had it.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: As many--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, so I was the Executive
  • Director for exactly nine months and gave birth
  • to Rosemary's baby, is the way I like
  • to describe Chuck Docketts.
  • Because he was big hat, no cattle.
  • And it was just a bad choice.
  • I've never seen anybody interview
  • quite as well as he did.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, he was smooth.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Well rehearsed.
  • PAMELA BARRES: And oh, he was tremendous.
  • But it was just a fucking facade,
  • if you pardon my language.
  • And the guy was a crook, I think, also.
  • He certainly ran us into the ground.
  • I mean, he destroyed the organization.
  • He really did.
  • But it was nine months to the day.
  • It was the seventeenth.
  • March seventeenth, I think, was when he officially took over.
  • And so anyway, I think it was the seventeenth.
  • But it was, yeah, nine months.
  • And yeah, you can ask me anything you want about that.
  • That's where we are.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: But he did accomplish--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Well, he got us here.
  • He certainly accomplished breaking the bank.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes, and he also got rid of Tanya.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Well, yeah, no, he did.
  • I mean, he said that Bill told him
  • that was a condition of taking the job.
  • And Bill denies that.
  • And so I don't know.
  • I really don't know.
  • But I mean, I had a letter in there
  • that, if you ever do this, this, or this again, you are gone.
  • There will be no if's and's, or but's about it.
  • Because one of the things that we never really did very well
  • was document performance issues.
  • And you just can't--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: You're coming from an HR standpoint.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, you really can't just fire somebody.
  • I mean, you have to go through a little bit of a process
  • and have a bit of a trail.
  • And I built a trail.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes, and the third time Tanya told Chuck,
  • no, she wasn't going to do something,
  • she was out the door.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Oh, I'm sure, yeah.
  • I mean--
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I forgot what her title was here.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Chuck Bowen?
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: No, Tanya.
  • PAMELA BARRES: She was the program person.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Oh, she was Center Director before.
  • And then--
  • PAMELA BARRES: When we hired--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Bill Holly.
  • PAMELA BARRES: No before Holly.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Gelder, Rob Gelder.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, Rob.
  • When we hired Rob, I mean, she couldn't get along Rob.
  • I mean, because she wasn't in charge.
  • She wasn't in charge.
  • She couldn't deal with that.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Once you ended your position
  • as Executive Director, was it then
  • that you got involved with ESPA or were you--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, it was essentially then.
  • Because I started going to ENJ days and stuff.
  • Because when the city ordinance was put into effect here,
  • in 2001 I believe, I think was when
  • the non-discrimination ordinance in Rochester went into effect.
  • The folks from ESPA came up, a foreman and somebody else
  • came up with him.
  • They wanted their language to go into the thing.
  • But you know, we already had an agreement
  • with Tim Manes and stuff.
  • And they worked with the corporate council.
  • And I didn't want to see that thing be changed.
  • They wanted to have the thing amended at that point
  • to include the words gender expression
  • and identity and all this kind of stuff,
  • which would have been great.
  • Except, we came very late to the table.
  • I got involved.
  • They asked me to come way late.
  • I looked at the thing.
  • And Tim was very sure that it covered trans people.
  • But it was covered in the definition of sex, I think,
  • or of gender, something.
  • But it included both-- it talked about the social and physical
  • characteristics of a woman.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Yes, I remember that.
  • PAMELA BARRES: And I thought--
  • and my understanding of logic, if something said "and,"
  • it had to fulfill both of the conditions.
  • Or it wouldn't be wouldn't be true.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: Instead of and/or.
  • PAMELA BARRES: So I wanted to I wanted to add to that and/or.
  • And Tim ran it by the corporate council.
  • And they said, well, they think it was fine the way it was.
  • But they would not be upset about doing that.
  • So right after the thing-- and I spoke at that city council
  • meeting.
  • And right after that, they came back
  • and made an immediate amendment to change it,
  • as the minutes would show, to cover the transgender
  • community, which is what Tim had said and did do.
  • So I had a small role to play in having that ordinance include--
  • well, in fact, I had more than a small one.
  • I'm the one that said--
  • EVELYN BAILEY: You were the one.
  • PAMELA BARRES: --it has to be and/or.
  • And so that happened.
  • And so then, I started going to ENJ Days.
  • And I got to know Matt Foreman a little bit and other people.
  • I'm not sure exactly how it came about.
  • I got a call from Ross Levi, who was the lobby
  • person in the program.
  • What's the word?
  • What the hell was Ross's title?
  • Program manager wasn't quite the right word, public policy.
  • And he asked me if I'd be interested in being
  • on the board.
  • And I guess I said yes, at least I'd explore it.
  • So I got a phone--
  • Sue and I were in Florida.
  • And we sat there.
  • And I was interviewed by phone and apparently said
  • the right things.
  • And so they asked me to be on the board.
  • And I was.
  • And so that was probably, I think, five years ago.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And then, SONDA passed.
  • PAMELA BARRES: SONDA passed while I was Executive Director.
  • And I know I was interviewed on the television, which
  • is when a couple of people realized, some of my aunts
  • realized, oh, I think we know that person.
  • But that's a different name.
  • He looks a little different.
  • And in the paper, but I was interviewed
  • for the news at night.
  • And I remember saying that this is a great thing.
  • But it doesn't cover all members of our community,
  • that the transgender people are still not covered.
  • And I don't know if I identified myself as transgendered.
  • I don't think I did.
  • I just was the Executive Director of the Gay Alliance.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: That must have been in the transition period,
  • though.
  • Of you and Chuck.
  • PAMELA BARRES: No, no, they had not hired Chuck yet.
  • This happened in December is when
  • it passed in a special session of the Senate.
  • The Senate came back after the election,
  • after Pataki won that election.
  • Because the Empire State Pride Agenda
  • had endorsed Pataki as opposed to the black gentleman who
  • was running against him, who had been a controller,
  • which upset an awful lot of people
  • in the Democratic Party that were
  • members of the gay community.
  • But they had a deal with Pataki and Bruno.
  • And that's what they did.
  • And then, it happened.
  • So that was in 2002.
  • Yeah 2002.
  • 2002?
  • 2001?
  • 2002.
  • Yeah.
  • And it went into effect January something of 2003.
  • And at that point, that's about the time when they finally
  • decided to hire Chuck.
  • Because initially as I said, this
  • was supposed to be like a three month job.
  • But they couldn't find anybody.
  • And I was getting very irritated with the board
  • at that point, which seems to be what Executive Directors do
  • with gay boards, no matter what the organization is.
  • There's this antipathy that develops between the Executive
  • Director and the boards.
  • And I was getting like, who are these jerks?
  • Why can't they find someone?
  • How come they can't?
  • And then, they would ask me to come down.
  • Well, are you coming down as a member of the board?
  • Because I was still kind of ex-official.
  • Or are you coming down as Executive Director and this
  • is a board thing?
  • And we had some semi-hard mixed feelings.
  • Yeah, so finally, he was at the Sweetheart Ball,
  • which we do in February.
  • That's when he was that's when he
  • was introduced to the community as the new Executive Director.
  • And I was extremely happy that we'd hired him.
  • And he looked great.
  • He looked really good.
  • But we didn't firm that up until just
  • before the Sweetheart Ball.
  • And so up until then, it was kind of iffy.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: And then, you stayed on the board of ESPA.
  • PAMELA BARRES: I'm still on the board of ESPA.
  • I'm on the board of ESPA Foundation,
  • which is the 501(c)(3), and also on the board and an executive
  • committee of the Inc. portion of the 501(c)(4),
  • which is the group that lobbies.
  • And the money for the dinner goes to the (c)(4).
  • And it's used for lobbying purposes.
  • Also part of that is the PAC, Political Action Group.
  • And the Inc. board is also the PAC.
  • I guess there's a couple people that aren't on it.
  • But most of us are.
  • And we're the ones that determine
  • how much we're going to give this person or that person.
  • So yeah, this is my second year in that capacity.
  • And I think I have one more year to go as a board member.
  • Because it's like the Gay Alliance, at least the way
  • they Gay Alliance used to be, two, three year terms.
  • And you have to be off for a bit.
  • It's been a great experience.
  • I have enjoyed being on the board of ESPA.
  • I've met a lot of people I would not have met otherwise.
  • And they have met and got more exposure to the trans community
  • than they were getting otherwise.
  • And I think I have made a definite impact.
  • And my friend, Julie Owens, who's
  • from Long Island, also a trans woman,
  • she's a bit different to me.
  • She works as a guy.
  • And she's afraid to transition.
  • And she just got married again to a woman.
  • And so we're different.
  • We're similar but different.
  • And so they've seen--
  • and Hawk Stone was on--
  • Moonhawk River Stone, which I swear
  • was a Native American name.
  • Turns out, it has nothing to do with being a Native American.
  • And so they've got a different-- he
  • was a trans man that was on the board for a bit.
  • So they're developing a much stronger understanding of what
  • transgender is all about.
  • And it is now our only legislative objective
  • that we currently have is to pass the GENDA bill.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That was my next question.
  • PAMELA BARRES: And I am very, very--
  • yeah, we've been run over by the marriage express way too
  • many times.
  • And you know, I'm great.
  • I'm really happy, love marriage, great
  • that marriage equality has passed.
  • But it is being proven all the time is
  • that it's somewhat symbolic to only have a state marriage.
  • With DOMA in place, you really don't have the big benefit,
  • which for a lot of people is social security, survivor
  • benefits, and that.
  • And so you know, passing GENDA is about life and death,
  • to some degree, much more so than marriage equality was.
  • Well, you can make some cases that, in some cases, it was.
  • But overall, I think GENDA is more of a civil rights
  • imperative than marriage is, not that I'm anti-marriage.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: No.
  • PAMELA BARRES: But we thought we should have come first.
  • We should have.
  • But it wasn't going to happen.
  • I mean, once there was an inkling that you could
  • pass marriage, let's face it.
  • The majority of the community is not transgendered.
  • And I don't know why, for whatever reason,
  • everybody wants to get married, but a lot of people do.
  • And so yeah, there was no-- and that was the sexy one.
  • That was the one the press was interested in.
  • And that got all the publicity and all the information.
  • And you know, it was just like tire marks
  • on and on the back of the trans community.
  • But at the same time, we wanted to get out of the way.
  • Because as long as that was there and that wasn't passed,
  • you were never going to get around to doing GENDA.
  • So now, we're around for trying to get GENDA.
  • And of course, now, it's being coded as the Bathroom Bill.
  • And then, if we pass this, oh yeah,
  • the Republicans all know this as the Bathroom Bill.
  • And the debates that they've had in the assembly,
  • where they passed it five times now,
  • the debates are just horrendous, that this
  • is going to destroy Western civilization as we know it.
  • I mean, we're going to traumatize
  • all the little girls.
  • And women are going to be raped by men in dresses,
  • wearing wigs.
  • If GENDA is passed, there'll be all these men swarming
  • into all the ladies rooms.
  • And they won't be able to be arrested.
  • Because they can say it's their gender expression.
  • That's fucking bullshit.
  • And everybody knows that it is.
  • But man, it's a really good argument.
  • And it it's working.
  • It's working.
  • And we do not have the votes.
  • Because we need Republican votes.
  • And it would have been passed in '98-- excuse
  • me, 2008, until the Senate blew up.
  • I got a call from Tom Duane, who was
  • the Senator that sponsored the bill in the Senate telling me--
  • because we'd been-- we were pushing and pushing.
  • Because we did counts.
  • We were sure we had the votes.
  • And we had a Democratic controlled Senate.
  • Why couldn't it get-- well, they couldn't bring it to the floor.
  • They couldn't bring it to the floor.
  • And finally, in the very beginning of June,
  • Tom Duane's office called me to tell me, Tom has heard you.
  • He's bringing it to the floor.
  • This week, it'll happen.
  • Because he wouldn't have brought it to the floor
  • if he didn't think it could pass either.
  • I get home.
  • I turn on my computer.
  • And all hell is breaking loose in Albany.
  • The Democrats are leaving the Democrats.
  • They're moving to the Republicans, Espada
  • and Padilla.
  • And that was the end of it.
  • And so we're close, but no cigar.
  • Elisi would have been a vote.
  • He told that me in many cases, and then some other people,
  • too, privately that he would support.
  • He won't publicly come out for it.
  • But now, he's not going to run for re-election.
  • The only chance we've got--
  • I think we have a good shot at getting it in 2013.
  • But this year, it's never going to happen before the election.
  • It will not happen.
  • And Mike Long, who's the head of the Conservative Party
  • for the State of New York, has said this is now a litmus test.
  • Anybody that publicly supports GENDA
  • will not get the endorsement of the Conservative Party.
  • So an awful lot of these Republicans, their winning
  • margin is because of the people they
  • pull on the Conservative Party.
  • So I don't think Grisanti in Buffalo will--
  • it's not going to happen.
  • They're not going to let it up.
  • They're not going to let it come for a vote, period,
  • it's the end of it.
  • So if we can have a special session, like the PASAN did,
  • we have a shot.
  • Because we still have Elisi.
  • But if Sean Hannah gets elected, he has publicly--
  • he's one of the ones who are talking about raping
  • and pillaging in bathrooms.
  • So I'm overstaying my time.
  • That's where I am.
  • Hi.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: This is Pam Barres.
  • Maria Scipione.
  • MARIA SCIPIONE: Hi.
  • Nice to meet you.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Hi Maria, how are you?
  • EVELYN BAILEY: (unintelligible).
  • PAMELA BARRES: I've heard your name.
  • I don't think we ever met, though.
  • MARIA SCIPIONE: No, I don't think so.
  • Can I have a seat?
  • PAMELA BARRES: You certainly can.
  • MARIA SCIPIONE: OK.
  • PAMELA BARRES: So that's kind of, you know,
  • that's where I am today.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: That's a good stopping point, actually,
  • unless you have more questions.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: I just wanted to ask you
  • one other question about, if you were to look back--
  • and I know you're still on the board of ESPA--
  • if you were to look back at the past ten years,
  • what are you most proud of?
  • What are you most pleased, happy,
  • excited about that you have contributed to this community?
  • PAMELA BARRES: I think I've integrated trans people
  • into this community, locally to some degree,
  • and also on this on a state level to some degree.
  • I mean, I have been a trans person
  • that's been willing to stand up and be a GLBT activist, not
  • just a trans activist.
  • I don't consider myself a trans activist.
  • I consider of myself a GLBT, gay activist, whatever
  • phrase you want to use.
  • I guess that's it.
  • You know, just about ten years ago,
  • when I was on the board of the Gay Alliance,
  • they were redoing their bylaws.
  • I'm the one that suggested they put the words transgender
  • identity and expression, or transgender whatever it is,
  • into the bylaws.
  • And again, you know, maybe it would have happened eventually.
  • But it happened when I asked for it.
  • And I said, hey, since you're redoing these,
  • why don't we become more inclusive
  • and add this to it as well?
  • So that was just about ten years ago that that happened.
  • Excuse me.
  • And I've worked very hard to try to get other people,
  • trans people active.
  • And you know, the gay community doesn't bite.
  • That if we want their support, we
  • have to give them our support.
  • And we are really all part of this,
  • the root cause of homophobia is really
  • gender variant behavior, expressing your gender
  • a little bit differently.
  • And I think, for most straight people,
  • there's nothing more gender variant
  • than wanting to be involved with someone with the same genitals
  • as yourself and finding those genitals attractive to you,
  • however you do that.
  • I think there's nothing more gender variant
  • to a straight person than that.
  • And so having people understand that protecting trans people
  • is also protecting gay, and lesbian, and bi
  • people as well, that this whole thing is not
  • just about men in dresses, which it's not
  • about men in dresses at all.
  • But it's about protecting all of us
  • to be able to be and express ourselves,
  • the way we feel and want to do it,
  • without fear of being discriminated against.
  • So I think it's just awareness.
  • I'm trying to be real.
  • I don't have a lot of private agenda.
  • What you see is what you get, pretty much.
  • EVELYN BAILEY: Right.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I have one question.
  • Maybe you can answer concisely in--
  • PAMELA BARRES: Concise?
  • Come on, come on.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm almost a little embarrassed.
  • PAMELA BARRES: We've been talking for an hour now, Kevin.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: I'm almost a little embarrassed to ask this.
  • Because I should actually know it.
  • PAMELA BARRES: Just ask.
  • KEVIN INDOVINO: But can you define for us
  • the difference between transvestite, transsexual,
  • and transgender?
  • PAMELA BARRES: Yeah, I can, I think, to a certain degree.
  • First of all, as it's most commonly used but not
  • exclusively, the word transgender
  • is an umbrella term that is used to--
  • and there's lots of different groups
  • of people that fit under the term of transgender.
  • So when we talk about transgender in its most
  • common sense-- though, with younger people,
  • it's changing a little bit-- but in its most common sense,
  • it is all of these groups of gender variant people, that
  • are expressing their gender differently
  • than their sex they were born with, or identified
  • with as birth by a doctor.
  • Cross-dressers, or transvestites-- transvestite
  • is not a term that's used very much anymore.
  • Its kind of a medical term.
  • And most transvestites don't want
  • to be called transvestites.
  • Cross-dresser is the much preferred term.
  • These people-- and they're mostly all men.
  • Because women have so much latitude
  • in what you're wearing that, maybe a hundred years ago,
  • that'd be cross dressing.
  • But it's not today.
  • So women have a lot more latitude.
  • But it's mostly men that like to wear women's clothing some
  • of the time, all of the time, but are very happy
  • identifying as men.
  • Very few of them want to do anything that would inhibit
  • the function of their penis.
  • They are men.
  • They like being men.
  • But some of the time, and mostly it's some of the time,
  • not all the time, they like to dress up as women.
  • Now, some people only wear women's clothes
  • underneath their street clothes.
  • And they only do this maybe in the privacy of their house.
  • And there are some that like to dress up and go out.
  • And some of them make very attractive things.
  • They're different than drag queens.
  • Because drag queens is a performance art, OK?
  • And they may be different.
  • But a lot of queens that maybe don't do a lot of performance
  • but enjoy going out in drag and stuff like that
  • are probably in their cross-dressing mode.
  • There are gay cross-dressers.
  • And there are straight cross-dressers.
  • But at least with a heterosexual cross-dresser,
  • it's much more of a-- the getting dressed
  • and the going through the transformation
  • is much more a solitary thing.
  • And there may be a certain sexual excitement
  • and connotation to it, as they're
  • going through this process.
  • Where a lot of gay guys and particularly drag queens,
  • it's a kind of a communal thing.
  • We're all getting dressed together in the same--
  • so there's a little bit of difference there.
  • But as it were, transsexuals are pretty comfortable,
  • are pretty sure that they're born in the wrong gender,
  • that I should have been a woman.
  • I am a woman.
  • This shorthand of being trapped in a man's body
  • or being trapped in a woman's body when you're really a man
  • is overly simplified.
  • But there's a real strong kernel of truth to it
  • also, which is probably why it's still hanging around.
  • It's somewhat of a medical condition, a birth defect.
  • I was born with the wrong genitalia.
  • It doesn't match my brain.
  • Deep in my heart, most transsexuals--
  • heart, brain, whatever you want to say--
  • know that they are something other than what
  • they were identified as birth.
  • And then, you get into the definition of what's a woman.
  • What makes a woman?
  • Do you have to have surgery to be a woman?
  • I know an awful lot of trans men that have vaginas and don't
  • have penises.
  • But they also have full beards.
  • And they're functioning every day very much so as men.
  • And no one would say that they are not anything but men.
  • There are trans women very much the same way.
  • Surgery, for the most part, is not paid for by insurance.
  • It's twenty thousand dollars, if you're going from--
  • about twenty thousand dollars probably.
  • You can find some cheaper.
  • B