Gender Identity Center of Colorado, Inc: Gender Community Organizing at the End of the Twentieth Century

By: Lee Bishop

Please note the author of this paper endeavors to refer to the people they are describing by the language they used for themselves, rather than imposing modern labels on them. As a result, words that may be considered offensive now are used throughout the paper.

Organization Profile: Gender Identity Center, OUT Front 15, no. 4, June 1, 1990, page 12.

In 1989, the Gender Identity Center of Colorado’s (GIC) board member Donna R. shared her journey of self acceptance through the GIC in an article in the organization’s newsletter: “It’s been three years since I walked through the door for the first time, and thanks to the GIC, I have finally found myself.”[1] She discussed her growing comfort in the weekly meetings, her mistrust of society, and her decision not to pursue identity-affirming surgery. “Most of these people spend a great deal of their lives fighting their feelings about themselves,” Donna reflected, “and if they’re lucky, they find a support group.”[2]

            When the group that became the GIC organized in 1978, members had good reason to reach out for support. Within a ten-month period in 1976 and 1977, Denver Police officers had killed two trans women, Tracy Levi and Irene De Soto.[3] The gender community[4] came together in response to these tragedies. In protest, De Soto’s friends Monique and Missy organized a march attended by members of the gender and gay communities, as well as members of allied organizations such as the Denver Socialists and the Denver Feminists.[5] Putting themselves at great risk, Monique and Missy attended the march in dress.[6] This historic protest galvanized a community that needed safety and support.

In this essay, I will explore the impact of Colorado’s first transvestite and transsexual support group, the Gender Identity Center of Colorado, Inc using the Julia Condolora Papers. This collection contains documents about the GIC and the wider gender community collected by Julia Condolora, an active member of the GIC. I argue that the GIC was vital to the lives of its members as a community space, offering a safe, supportive location to explore their identities. Though at times unstable itself, it was an essential stabilizing force for those who engaged with it, and it provided important community building in opposition to the discrimination faced by the gender community in Denver in the 1980s and early 1990s.[7]

            Throughout this essay, I attempt to refer to the people I discuss using the terms and pronouns they used for themselves. In its twentieth anniversary information booklet, the GIC defined a transexual as “a person who feels they are a member of one sex trapped in the body of the opposite sex.”[8] In contrast, it defined a transvestite as “a male with the desire to wear clothing appropriate to that of a female.”[9] Throughout GIC materials, transvestite is used interchangeably with the term “cross-dresser,” even though anti-crossdressing laws in Denver were not sex or gender specific.[10] As explained by Anne Bolin, an anthropologist who did her doctoral research on the early years of the GIC,s, members viewed transexual and transvestite as mutually exclusive and the organization helped members decide to which they belonged..[11] Additionally, I use pronouns that reflect the practice of group members, as described by Bolin. Transexual members generally intended to live full time as their desired sex, and thus used pronouns and names that reflected this. Transvestites and cross-dressers, on the other hand, still considered themselves to be their assigned sex at birth, and only took on the role of the opposite sex while they were in dress, when they used pronouns and names that reflected that role.

Few scholarly works take a historical approach to transgender community organizing, and none do so for Colorado. Though a number of scholars and students have studied Denver’s gay and lesbian history, I know of only one short paper published about Colorado’s transgender community in the twentieth century.[12] Its author, David Duffield, touches briefly on the GIC, but only within the larger historical context rather than the effects it had on its community. Other sources discuss the trans community in the United States more broadly. On a national level, Susan Stryker, a scholar of Gender and Women’s Studies, documents the social movements of the trans*[13] community in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She argues for the community’s position as a unified minority group rather than a collection of individuals and demonstrates this movement’s similarities to other social movements.[14] Though an important source of contextual information, Stryker’s approach is too broad to consider Colorado specifically. Peter Boag, a professor of history at Washington State University, has extensively studied gender non-conforming people in the American West. In his book Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past, Boag argues that our idea of the West as ruggedly masculine is socially constructed and that the broader narrative has erased gender non-conforming people in order to fit larger ideas of sex and the masculine frontier.[15] Though he does discuss Colorado history, Boag’s research is focused on the nineteenth century, with only occasional mentions of community organizing.

Through the lens of micro-history, I focus my research on the period from the GIC’s founding in 1980 until 1994. As Duffield notes, this period was one of unstable but persistent growth for the GIC,[16] and during this time the non-profit established itself and its identity. This period ended when the GIC left its original Highlands location in 1994.[17] I utilize sources from the Julia Condolora Papers held in the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection.[18] This collection, largely consisting of newsletters from the GIC and other similar organizations across the country, also contains limited meeting minutes, financial records, and various other publications by the GIC. My research primarily relies on the GIC’s newsletters from the years 1984 to 1994. I utilize these newsletters to consider the impact the GIC had on its members as an organizing institution.

Gender community organizing in the United States originated in California. At a 1942  San Francisco gender event, Louise Lawrence, a prominent organizer and community builder, met Virginia Prince. Utilizing Lawrence’s network, Prince began distributing the newsletter Transvestia, the first U.S. newsletter concerning the gender community.[19] In 1961, Prince would go on to found the first gender community organization in the U.S., which eventually became known as the Society for the Second Self (Tri-Ess).[20] Six years later, the first gender support group, Conversion Our Goal, met at Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco.[21]

Gender community organizing, however,  did not always look so formal in Colorado. Thanks to numerous documented examples and Denver’s first cross-dressing law passed in 1886, we know that gender non-conforming people were present and active in Colorado long before Lawrence met Prince.[22] After the arrest of a man in women’s clothing in Denver in 1883, the Rocky Mountain News made clear that this was “a very uncommon occurrence.”[23] However, Joseph Gilligan, a cross-dresser who was arrested for unrelated crimes, asserted that “Denver has others like himself,” implying that he was aware of and potentially in contact with other members of the gender community.[24] Certain locations, such as Lower Georgetown, came to be known as places of gathering for cross-dressers of both sexes.[25]

            Though the GIC was not formally established until October 1978, the gender community in Colorado had begun organizing over a decade before, though accounts of the early years differ. According to Sonya Smith, commonly referred to as the GIC’s founding organizer, three community members met in 1966 through the aid of Prince and went on to establish the Denver chapter of Tri-Ess, the state’s first gender community group.[26] From there, she said, the GIC originated from a gender identity study group, which she and another person named Christy created in 1978 through the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Colorado (GLCCC).[27] Original Tri-Ess member Barbara Cook, however, stated that the Tri-Ess chapter eventually listed itself with the GLCCC in order to attract new members. It later changed its name to the Gender Identity Center of Colorado when it came into conflict with Tri-Ess leadership.[28] Dianna C., long time member and vice president at the time of writing, describes these two groups separately, stating that when the Tri-Ess dissolved following the conflict with national leadership, some of the members began attending GIC meetings instead.[29] Regardless, Sonja, as well as many other people, helped see the gathering from a study group to a support group, and they are to thank for the establishment of the GIC later that same year as the first gender support group in Colorado.[30]

Growth and Decline

            In the years following its establishment, the GIC persevered through periods of growth and decline in order to cement itself within the gender community. The GIC experienced long term growth despite instability reflected in fluctuating membership numbers and financial reports. Throughout the years, changing programming demonstrated the different demands within the community, as well as how the GIC rose to meet them. As the wider, national gender community changed, the GIC continued to evolve as an organization.

            One of the GIC’s earliest and greatest examples of growth was their establishment of a permanent location. In 1983, the GIC submitted its first application for non-profit status (which  was denied) and began holding regular board meetings.[31] They also began searching for a house. Founding directors Anne Bolin and Marie hoped to develop a “home-style” meeting space where new members would feel comfortable quickly at 3715 W. 32nd.[32]

            The entire GIC community had to work together to afford such a large expense. Community ally D. Corliss and founding director Tomye Kelley purchased the building, while the GIC took on the responsibility of renting a portion of the house for $200 a month. This expense was significantly larger than the $23 a month they were paying at the time to rent a room in a church basement. Still, planning to charge door fees and member dues to cover the extra costs, the GIC moved in on June 28, 1983. They began to hold meetings there immediately while members and directors carried out necessary renovations..[33] Members donated all furnishings and performed cleanup of both the outside and inside on a volunteer basis.[34]

            The GIC’s membership numbers were another indicator of their growth. Though membership in the GIC fluctuated, it showed a general upward trend across the reporting records. The GIC newsletters provide occasional membership updates beginning in 1986, when they noted current membership at 63 people.[35] These reports always highlighted growth, such as in the August 1987 issue where the editor reported a four-month growth of nine new members and four renewing members.[36]

Conversely, board meeting minutes conveyed occasional concerns that were not revealed by the newsletters. In June 1992, meeting minutes noted that there were no changes in membership since the previous meeting in April.[37] Though the board explained away the lull in new members as possibly due to a gap in newsletter publications, the minutes provided no explanation for the thirty-member decline between 1988 and 1991. The same minutes that reported this decreased membership also noted an “incomplete” financial report due to “accounting and control problems,” suggesting a period of instability within the board.[38] Other possible explanations include internal divisions over relations with the gay community that came to a head in 1988 over the GIC’s participation in the Imperial and Sovereign Court Coronation events,[39] or the GIC’s planning for the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) convention that they would host in April 1991, which perhaps diverted their attention away from recruiting.[40] Regardless of what caused the decline, the publicity and outreach accomplished by the IFGE convention was almost certainly what led to membership numbers increasing again to 115 by April of 1992.[41]

Points scored

The GIC’s financial reports also showed fluctuation. The earliest indication the newsletter gave of the GIC’s growth was an article in 1986 announcing that the GIC was able to hire a part-time Office Manager to answer the phone.[42] In 1987, the newsletter noted that “because we continue to grow,” the GIC was able to rent the back office space in their building, expanding their space as well as their capacity.[43] Another significant sign of growth was the 1991 establishment of an investment account known as the Founders Trust Fund, the income of which would go toward funding the costs of the GIC, ensuring its financial security.[44] Between these events, however, the financial report noted periodic losses of hundreds of dollars, no small sum when their financial balance totalled only $2,902.90 at the end of 1990.[45]

Still, the board always seemed to speak of finances in an upbeat way. Despite the $581.67 losses reported in August of 1988, the mid-year meeting report assured readers that “the Center is financially sound.”[46] Secretary Deirdre O. noted, following a 1990 six-month surplus of $214.80, that, “essentially, we are holding our own.”[47] In January of 1991, despite what Secretary Roxann described as a “dismal financial report,” another member noted that other factors might redeem the report such as the purchase of a xerox machine for newsletter fabrication.[48] These positive statements show a need for leadership to convey a sense of optimism even as the GIC wavered in its early years.

The GIC also saw similar fluctuation and continuity in the programming it offered, often in response to the community’s needs. As early as February 1984, the GIC began offering Female-to-Male (FTM)[49] transexual programming, around the same time that FTMs began gaining wider national visibility.[50] Much later, Secretary Deirdre O. noted that since the first FTM member, Raine, started showing up and the GIC started offering a men’s group, “the men [had] been coming out of the woodwork,” supporting that FTMs had always been present but simply unrecognized.[51] Additionally, the GIC frequently offered popular programming such as Significant Others or Family and Friend seminars, Helping Professional seminars, the God and Gender series, and the Female 101 series.[52] Yet, the GIC canceled its Significant Others support group in 1988 due to lack of attendance.[53] Over the years, their core programming condensed as they went from offering weekly groups such as “Vocal Development,” “Coming Out,” “Adolescent Group,” “Women’s Group,” and “Social Night” in early 1984 to offering only two open groups and a transexual-only group in 1992, presumably due to demand and the difficulty of finding leaders for such a variety of groups.[54] Also notable, the GIC began hosting a “Both/And (In Search of Androgyny)” group in 1989, while an IFGE article about “gender blending/bending” that the GIC reprinted in its newsletter in 1992 indicates a wider shift in the gender community towards accepting androgynous identities.[55]

            As one of the greatest indicators of their growth, the GIC established two additional chapters across the state in these early years[1] [2]  of the organization. Beginning in the April 1984 newsletter, they began asking members for contacts in Colorado Springs, as the Pikes Peak Gay Community Center had offered them meeting space to start a chapter there.[56] By 1986, the GIC newsletter was listing Shirley K. as the Southern Colorado Coordinator and John N. as the Northern Colorado Coordinator.[57] It is possible these groups dissolved and reformed, though, because Vice President Dianna C. announced in the August 1991 newsletter that, “the GIC now has two remote Chapters!”[58] She detailed the stories of the two chapter organizers and noted that both joined the community as a result of the 1991 IFGE convention.

One of the organizers that Dianna described was Ladonna S of the Northern Colorado/Wyoming Chapter Organizer. She made special note of Ladonna S.’s struggle as a Black cross-dresser “in a red-neck cowboy city like Cheyenne.”[59] This mention of the complexity of Ladonna’s challenges is the first explicit mention of race in the newsletters. Published two years after Kimberle Crenshaw’s groundbreaking coining of the term intersectionality, this article indicates a growing awareness of the intersectionality of oppression, particularly within the GIC.[60] This is noteworthy considering that, much like similar organizations in the wider gender community, the majority of early GIC members were middle class and assigned-male-at-birth.[61] Ladonna’s participation is the beginning of a diversification in race, following a diversification of gender identities.

            Though founded prior to the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the GIC’s growth reflected a national surge in LGBTQ+ community centers across the U.S. The increase in the LGBTQ+ community’s activism in the midst of this volatile time led to the growth that brought the number of LGBTQ+ centers from zero in 1968 to over 200 in 2017.[62] The GIC’s growth in the 1980s parallels this growth in the wider LGBTQ+ community.

Community Connection

            A central factor in the GIC’s growth was its view of itself as a community-run organization. Early in the group’s history, this reliance on its members was apparent. In their first newsletter on January 1984, GIC Founder Marie[63] celebrated the GIC’s upcoming growth, but reminded members, “It is time for each and all of us to get involved in our future.”[64] She said, “up to now the burden has been carried by a few of us,” likely referring to the immense time and effort she put into the GIC’s founding and the financial contributions of Tomye Kelley and D. Corliss towards buying the house the GIC operated in.[65] This call to action was reflected in continuous appeals for volunteers in newsletters through 1986.[66] However, reminders of the GIC’s dependance on collaborative contributions did not stop. In 1988, Tomye Kelley called on readers to remember just how unique the GIC was as a self-sustaining organization. She reflected on the road to self-reliance, noting a healthy dose of trial and error, but assuring readers that the GIC’s positioning was “a situation of which staff and members can be justly proud.”[67] Again in 1991, President Laura S. reminded members, “Remember…YOU DO NOT BELONG TO GIC, GIC BELONGS TO YOU. So get involved and let us know what you would like to see GIC doing.”[68] Throughout its early years, the GIC maintained its dependence on and commitment to its community.

            At the same time that the GIC asked for aid, they gave back to the community. As a major site of community building, it served an important role in its members’ lives. By hosting social events like the annual picnic or a campout at Great Sand Dunes, the GIC provided spaces for its members to interact and form bonds beyond the important support group spaces.[69] Member testimonies reveal how important these community spaces were. Former member Kristina Nyberg wrote to her support group, “You have done much to unchain my heart and my feelings. The loneliness that I have felt most of my life, is now gone.”[70] Board Chair Laura Smiley also reflected, “for many of us, that first step out of the closet resulted in walking up the stairs of the GIC and discovering a world of love, of caring, of sharing, and a commonality of interest.”[71] These statements show a deep commitment and sense of gratitude towards the GIC as a space that sparked healing and self-awareness through community.

Resources and Information

            Another vital way the GIC served its members was by providing them with information and resources they didn’t have access to elsewhere. The GIC library and newsletter delivered much needed information to members in an age prior to the internet. Unique resources that eased transition were also available to members. Groups and programming offered members a new opportunity to interact with people like themselves. Altogether, these resources gave practical advice to members that helped them survive their daily lives.

The GIC produced abundant written information and made it widely available to members including the monthly newsletter which,[72] served as a widely distributed avenue for spreading information. A 1988 document describing the GIC’s history noted that “over half of the copies were sent to the medical/professional community across the country and around the world,” demonstrating that the GIC played a role in influencing widespread professional opinion of transexuals and transvestites.[73] Newsletters often shared relevant research and opinion pieces that revealed the perspectives of like-minded people.[74] The GIC also published brochures meant to be distributed more widely including one titled, “Questions Women Ask When They Discover That Their Husbands Cross Dress,” which sought to comfort these women’s fears, answer their questions, and make them feel less alone in their situation.[75] Additionally, the GIC produced its own Information Booklet which was available both in the GIC’s library or for a fee of $15.[76] This booklet included a long list of terms and definitions, as well as a number of articles on topics such as electrolysis, hormone replacement therapy, gender-confirming surgeries, and resolving emotional conflicts, many of which had first been included in newsletters.[77] A 1992 board decision demonstrates the usefulness of these resources when they decide to invest in expanding and securing the library, as well as recreating the original copy of the Information Booklet, which had been lost.[78]

The GIC also offered a number of unique resources that seem unremarkable on the surface but were meaningful to the gender community. As early as 1984, the GIC rented lockers to members, offering them the opportunity to store their clothes in a secure location where they could change before meetings, without the fear of being discovered by family.[79] Additionally, by 1993, the GIC was offering members ID cards of themselves with their preferred name and gender to use at a “growing number of gender friendly nightspots.”[80] The idea of the ID cards began circulating as early as September 1985 when staff approved the idea and began looking into necessary equipment.[81] In 1993, the availability of ID cards was advertised in letters going out to people whose membership had lapsed, suggesting its broad appeal. The board also attempted to organize a group insurance policy for interested members of the GIC.[82] Because no further mention was made of the plan, it would appear that nothing came of it, but these sorts of ambitious projects reflect the willingness of the board to take an active role in vital parts of members’ lives.

The most direct way the GIC delivered advice and information, which at times aided members in critical situations, was through its programming. The format of weekly groups varied from discussion groups to guest speakers to socializing time.[83] These groups offered members the chance to connect with each other, share perspectives, and gain valuable information about their own lives. Special seminars such as “Female 101” promised to “[explode] myths and [introduce] the participant to what life as a woman in this culture is really like.”[84] Though the language may seem dramatic and over-simplifying to readers now, these programs provided information that was vital to passing both in society and at the GIC. The August/September 1992 newsletter gives an example of how resources gained at the GIC helped one member. Roxann tells the story of an excursion to the grocery store that she made in dress. While there, her car was stolen, and instead of panicking, she remembered principles that she learned from her support group at the GIC. By following the advice of her peers, she stood her ground and avoided making the situation worse by showing people she was uncomfortable because she was in dress.[85]

Promoting Self-Acceptance

            The community offered by the GIC was vital in establishing self-acceptance among its members. One way it did so was by promoting a shared history of the gender community. In their brochure meant for wives of cross-dressers, the GIC explained that “the compulsion to cross dress has been present since the beginning of recorded history, and was even present in Greek mythology.”[86] This helped associate their husbands’ behavior with the authority of the past. The pamphlet sought to make the behavior seem natural and harmless by grounding cross-dressing g in history. At the GIC-hosted 1991 IFGE convention, Wendy Parker and Naomi Owen gave a presentation on the history of the gender community, from 4,000 B.C.E. to modern celebrities known to have cross-dressed. By discussing  this shared history, members of the gender community garnered respect for themselves and  established historical credibility.

            The GIC also utilized the newsletter as a tool for promoting self-love. It published a number of articles advocating self-worth, especially as the newsletter began to branch out from reporting strictly on GIC business as the 1990s neared. This shift parallels the resurgence of transgender activism at the beginning of the 1990s, mirroring the hope of improved social conditions.[87] Indeed, this period saw the widespread adoption of the word transgender as a term meant to “[encompass] the whole spectrum” of gender diversity.[88] One supportive article by Val F. expressed broad self-acceptance, stating, “we can accept ourselves; all of us.”[89] The 1991 newsletter reprinted another article, this time from Tapestry magazine, which asserted that in order to fully embody the compassionate nature of a woman, a transexual had to learn to care for herself first.[90] Though the premise is rooted in stereotypes, the author, Mary JoLynne White, finds a way to essentially connect self-worth and gender presentation, making it vitally important to gender community members. In a book excerpt included in the GIC’s August 1994 newsletter, author Rokelle Lerner told of how she had learned self acceptance throughout her life, regardless of the gendered expectations placed on her.[91] Her story and these other articles served as examples of how to reach a state of self-acceptance, regardless of gender.

Outreach and Wider Connection

            The GIC provided opportunities for its members to connect not just with each other, but also with the wider community. Whether with allies in Denver or other gender organizations nationally, the GIC used a variety of strategies to forge bonds and open doors to create opportunities for its members. This outreach also involved activism, which was sometimes related to gender issues and sometimes for the benefit of the Denver community as a whole.

            The GIC compiled resources on, and formed partnerships with, a number of local allies in the Denver area to benefit their members. In their 1991 IFGE conference brochure, they provided a list of local, “friendly” restaurants for those who would be attending the conference from out of town.[92] Over the years, the GIC offered a number of events in collaboration with outside organizations, the first of these being a Luncheon Fashion Show with Beeline Fashions in 1985.[93] Similarly, in 1987, they offered a workshop with a professional fashion consultant.[94] Such organizations would go on to become “Friends of the GIC” once the newsletter began including advertisements.[95]

            The GIC solidified community connections when they began selling advertising space in their July 1985 newsletter.[96] These ads were often for electrologists, wig shops, and therapists, a trend which continued through the period of this research.[97] In fact, some of these businesses, such as Hairfree Colorado,[98] consistently advertised throughout the period, indicating a strong connection between these businesses and the GIC. By 1989, “Friends of the GIC” were listed above the calendar of events on the first content page of the newsletter, and the GIC was offering member ad rates.[99] By 1990, the newsletter had begun interspersing the ads throughout the paper, making them a more integrated and integral part of the publication.[100]

            The newsletter also less formally shared news about the national gender community. In newsletters throughout the research period, the GIC shared numerous national events with its members. Most often these were conferences such as the IFGE annual conference, but they also included celebrations such as Fantasia Fair, the oldest continuous transgender event.[101] These advertisements not only provided opportunities to those with the means to attend outside events; they also gave members a reminder of outside national gender organizing, a subtle reassurance that they were not alone.

            Through their connection with the IFGE, the GIC gained opportunities to strengthen its connection with the national LGBTQ+ community, as well as enhance its visibility within the local gender community. The International Foundation for Gender Education, a Boston organization whose Tapestry magazine saw widespread circulation across the US, began hosting  annual conferences in 1987.[102] These conferences were intended for “Cross-dressers, Transexuals, Wives & Partners, Medical & Mental Health Professionals, Friends & Allies.”[103] In 1991, the GIC hosted the IFGE’s fifth annual conference in Denver. The conference received a letter of support from Denver Mayor Frederico Peña in which he lauded their work towards “increasing acceptance,” suggesting that audiences beyond the gender community were aware of the event. [104] The conference occurred in a time before the shadow of Amendment 2, a ballot measure outlawing anti-discrimination laws for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community, a time at which the GIC’s newsletter noted increasing acceptance.[105] The connection between the IFGE and the GIC did not begin or end with the 1991 conference, though. As early as 1987, the GIC made issues of the IFGE’s Tapestry Magazine available to its members.[106] In 1992, the board discussed placing copies of Tapestry in the Tattered Cover bookstore, using IFGE resources as a tool for broader community connection.[107] Vice President Diana C. noted increased meeting attendance following the IFGE conference in 1991, and President Laura Smiley pointed to the conference as the reason that they hadn’t experienced a seasonal attendance slump that summer.[108] During the 1991 conference, the GIC also conducted fundraisers with the IFGE in support of the Denver Foundation, a community foundation that distributes financial contributions to social causes.

            The GIC also connected with the Denver community through activism and engagement. For example, during the IFGE convention, the GIC and IFGE partnered on a fundraising party which raised $1279 for the Denver Foundation.[109] In addition to being stable enough to host a national conference, the GIC also demonstrated through this fundraiser that it was stable enough to give financially to other community organizations. The GIC also actively involved itself in the politics of the gay and gender communities when it passed “a resolution of support for the defeat of Amendment #2.”[110] Amendment 2 prevented the enactment of laws that protected lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from discrimination. It also dangerously threatened the rights of the gender community. An article in the August/September 1992 newsletter called members to action against this “Gay Rights Prohibition,” warning how recently-enjoyed freedoms could soon be lost forever.[111] Both before and after the devastation caused by the passing of the amendment, members of the GIC called for organization with the gay and lesbian community against the legislation. As Board of Directors Member Dianna C. said in her November/December 1992 plea, “Throughout all fourteen years of the GIC’s existence, we have fought to maintain our separation from the Gay and Lesbian Community.”[112] The passage of Amendment 2, however, required the communities to set aside old differences and work together for their collective survival.

Conflicts and the Closet

            Despite its role as a vital center of community cohesion, the GIC was not without its divisions. These rifts occurred both within the organization and outside, most notably with the gay community. These conflicts ranged from a hierarchy between transexuals and transvestites to conflicting messages about how to best accept one’s identity. These conflicts led to a tumultuous period in the GIC’s history, one which it largely overcame in order to serve the needs of its community, though a few conflicts followed the GIC into its more established years, from 1995 onwards.

            As previously noted, the division between the gender and gay communities was significant prior to the passage of Amendment 2. The reason for this division, as Anne Bolin noted in her doctoral thesis on GIC members, was because GIC members believed gay men did not see them as true women, but as drag queens.[113] This reasoning stayed consistent through 1992 as evidenced by Dianna C.’s article which stressed , “and don’t believe for one minute that the Gay & Lesbain community understands who we are. They do NOT have an honest clue” in response to Amendment 2.[114] This local division reflected a wider rejection of gender non-conforming people by the gay community. Violence at the first San Francisco Pride in 1972 resulted in the subsequent annual events forbidding drag and transgender people. Also in 1972, organizers in New York attempted to prevent prominent transvestite activist Sylvia Rivera from speaking, amidst the angry booing of the crowd.[115] Conversely, the early 1970s organization Trans Liberation vehemently asserted their distinction from gay people, outlining their unique demands in their 1971 newsletter.[116]

The earliest mention of collaboration came in the August/September 1988 newsletter, which mentioned both that the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Colorado (GLCCoC) had offered to train GIC phone volunteers and that the board of the GIC had narrowly voted to attend the coronation of the Emperor and Empress of the Sovereign Court, a yearly drag event to raise money for charity.[117] The article immediately following the announcement of the vote informed members of the resignation of two board members.[118] Though the reason for their resignation was not stated at the time, Dianna C’s 1992 article revealed that this vote heavily divided the GIC community.[119]

Still, remaining members continued in their commitment to engage with the gay community following this dividing point. In her “Where Are We Going in the Nineties?” speech, which was republished in the June 1990 newsletter, Wendy Parker, a national transgender organizer, called on gender community members to work with the gay community rather than walling themselves off.[120] A few months later, board members discussed GIC contributions to the Imperial Coronation, including volunteers, supplies, and a snack tray.[121] These efforts continued as, in 1991, the GIC endorsed a gender support group held by the GLCCoC.[122] Despite this work, board meeting minutes from 1992 mention that the gay community still lacked understanding of the GIC and the gender community, stating that “there is an[3] [4]  unawareness about the G.I.C. and its purpose and some misunderstanding on the issues we try to deal with.”[123] Undeterred, GIC board members proposed to strategize on how to raise awareness of their unique needs and suggested getting involved with the Equal Protections Ordinance Committee organized by members of the gay community.[124] Their efforts were reflected in their invitation to participate in Gay Pride Week that same year.[125]

The crisis of Amendment 2 finally brought the gay and gender communities together. In a plea to GIC members, Dianna C. wrote of how Amendment 2 would require the GIC to work with the gay and lesbian community in order to protect their rights, pointing out that the gender community alone did not have nearly as much political influence.[126] Though the two communities still had work to do, these efforts began bridging the gap and strengthening the GIC’s community connections as it reached the end of its formative years.

Relations with the gay community were not the only issues to cause deep conflict during this early period. At the end of 1986, members were concerned about Tomye Kelley’s position as executive director and her sole authority over the GIC. This issue was exacerbated because she held power as the owner of the GIC house of and held  sole access to medical referrals because she operated the Institute for Gender Research and Treatment out of another portion of the house. Around the same time, previous house owners Gerald and Gina Bryant foreclosed on the house.[127] They asked the GIC to stay and to move into the entire building, though for a much higher rent. The GIC agreed, simultaneously breaking ties with Kelley and forming a new board of directors.[128]

            There is also strong evidence for a divide within the GIC between transexual members and cross-dressing members. As Anne Bolin observed, the GIC worked hard to distinguish between these two groups.[129] Transexual members placed great importance on defining themselves as transexual rather than as cross-dressers or drag queens.[130] Virginia Prince’s Tri-Ess also went to great lengths to limit membership to transvestites at the exclusion of transexuals, a source of conflict not only between the two identities, but also between the GIC and its original parent organization.[131] One member in a 1988 letter to the editor said that this division resulted in transexual members having a “superior attitude,” while any cross-dressing member was made to feel inadequate or as if she was “obviously a pervert, since she has no desire to go ‘all the way.’”[132] She expressed that the GIC was not giving cross-dressers enough support nor time in meetings to discuss cross-dresser issues. As a result, she said, they stopped attending the group.[133] The GIC began to grapple with this division in the years that followed. In 1989, newsletter editor Donna R. wrote an article calling on readers to reject labels, urging them to be themselves rather than obsessing over how to define themselves.[134]            

Similar to the idea of labels, the GIC clung fast to its ideas of what it meant to “pass” in its first six years of organizing. As Bolin explained, members were expected to progress towards becoming a “natural woman” rather than being stuck in a stage of dressing akin to a drag queen.[135]  A good deal of evidence of this attitude comes from the May 1985 newsletter. A GIC women’s group advertised in this newsletter had the following prerequisites: “living entirely within the female role, working and earning a living, socializing and contributing to her community. She needs to be in a life situation where her associates know nothing of her genitalia of birth or her gender conflict, preferably sharing living arrangements with two or more genetic females.”[136] The affiliated men’s group had similar requirements.[137] Similarly, the newsletter described a new Women’s Group as being for women who otherwise did not acknowledge their gender past, offering support since they could not discuss those concerns anywhere else.[138] This newsletter also included an installment of the popular “Real Women Don’t Series,” which asserted behaviors members should avoid in order to appear like real women, all of which involved dressing too outlandishly.[139] These ideas tended to disappear from later issues, but still resurfaced from time to time even into 1994.

            Perhaps most interestingly, the GIC seemed to contradict its own stance on coming out of the closet. In 1990, the GIC newsletter reprinted Wendy Parker’s speech which called for a balance between exposure and safety in order to raise awareness about the gender community and decrease stigma. Parker called out groups and clubs for perpetuating secrecy from the rest of society, and she called on individuals to be visibly out instead of hidden away, saying, “the continuance to promote secrecy from the rest of society almost certainly creates a kind of prison for all of us.” Board Chair Laura Smiley discussed the topic in a 1991 article in which she pointed out how some members may simply have been going from one closet to the next in joining the GIC. She said, “we must help society conquer its fear of the unknown, of something different and we can’t do that in the closet.” However, in a June 1992 pamphlet, the GIC set its official stance on coming out: “it is best not to say anything to anyone unless they absolutely need to know.”[140] A brochure produced in the same time period stated, “it is not appropriate that the children be included in any way, or for that matter, that they even be aware of it.”[141] These statements give the impression that the GIC strongly supported the secrecy of its members surrounding their gender identities. The difference between the stance of the brochure and Smiley’s message shows that the GIC had not resolved this issue by the time they achieved stability as an organization.

After 1994

            Beginning in 1994, the internet allowed for more comprehensive national organizing, strengthening the gender community and beginning a new period of growth for the GIC.[142] Over the following decade, the GIC expanded rapidly as it engaged in ambitious fundraising and gained prominent donors. Thanks to this funding, the GIC was able to continue sharing resources and creating social events.[143] In July of 2018, however, the GIC suddenly lost its clinical director, halting all counseling done through the GIC.[144] After losing counseling as a source of income,  the GIC was forced to close in March of 2019, despite community fundraisers which brought in over $28,000.[145] As the GIC closed its doors, it deputized the Transgender Center of the Rockies (TCotR) to fill the space in the community that it had left.[146]

The TCoTR is different from the GIC, though, because the GIC was community led. Instead, TCotR is a program of Mile High Behavioral Healthcare.[147] This association with healthcare links back to dangerous assertions that being trans* is a mental illness and necessitates that something must be “wrong” in order for a person to receive aid.[148] When this aid comes from a community center, however, participants are able to find not only important resources, but also a sense of connection and celebration. Though the TCotR provides important help to those who feel comfortable seeking it out, it is missing the trans* led aspect that made the GIC so important to its founders and members.

At the same time, current LGBTQ+ community centers lack the trans* exclusive status of the GIC. Reflective of larger shifts towards acceptance of the gender community into the LGB community, all of Colorado’s LGBTQ+ centers cater to all queer identities.[149] As can be seen through the historic conflicts of the gender and gay communities , there is great value in a space where gender community members can be solely around people like them. The GIC provided that space for nearly four decades.

During its formative years from 1980 to 1994, the GIC became an integral source of community building for its members, providing them with community connection and resources that were, at the time, unprecedented in Colorado. Many members of the GIC went on to found their own gender community organizations, inspired by the structures and supports of the GIC. Unlike modern LGBTQ+ centers, historically LGB organizations did not cater to the needs of the gender community, therefore these independent gender organizations were necessary to provide a location of safety and information for this marginalized group. This web of support paved the way for a stronger transgender community in Colorado today.

There are still a wide range of subjects to be covered in regard to the gender community of Colorado. This paper is the first to analyze the history of the GIC and to interrogate the Julia Condolora Papers, which include information on the GIC from 1980 to 2019, as well as newsletters from similar gender organizations around the U.S. Further research could include analyzing the collection of gender organization newsletters from across the country that Condolora collected, other Colorado gender organizations such as the Mountain Rose Society, or the later years of the GIC and how it continued to develop under the influence of the internet.

            The GIC stood the test of time, originating and persisting through what Susan Stryker calls, “the bleakest stretches of the 1970s and 1980s.”[150] During this period of relatively few improvements in rights for the gender community, the GIC provided resources to help its members withstand the discrimination they faced. The GIC exemplified the type of grass-roots organizations that sustained transsexuals and transvestites through these trying years. Unlike many of these organizations, however, the GIC did not fade into obscurity but instead grew stronger throughout this difficult period.

[1] Donna R., “Be Yourself,” GICenter Newsletter, ed. By Donna R., July 1989, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, Julia Condolora Papers, Denver Public Library, Denver, CO,, 8. (Collection hereafter JCP.)

[2] ibid.

[3] David Duffield, “Power Embodied: An Essay for Transgender Visibility Day, 2017,” The Center on Colfax, 2017,!3525&ithint=file%2cdocx&authkey=!AHoyuxq9Sv-FGrI; 12-13.

[4] I use the term “gender community” throughout this paper to refer to people who define themselves in a way that does not reflect the gender they were assigned at birth, especially those who organize around this identity. I chose not to refer to them as the “transgender community” because some gender nonconforming people do not identify as transgender.

[5] ibid.

[6] “In dress” refers to wearing the clothes and/or makeup associated with the gender opposite of the one a trans* person was assigned at birth. This was a term used often in GIC literature. As often as possible, I try to use such terms contemporary to the GIC in this paper, even though they may not be appropriate in the modern trans community.

[7] I, the author, identify as non-binary and transgender, and I am engaged in the Boulder, CO, transgender community at the time of writing. I dedicate this paper to the members and organizers of the GIC, whose bravery in organizing made Colorado a more accepting place for trans people now.

[8] “The Gender Identity Center of Colorado, Inc. Information Booklet,” May 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 1.

[9] “Information Booklet,” 7.

[10] Duffield, “Power Embodied,” 4.

[11] Anne Bolin, “In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage,” (PhD diss., University of Colorado, 1983), 131-132. A GIC member, Walt Apple, raised criticism against Bolin’s dissertation because she failed to discuss AIDS. Interestingly, this criticism is one of very few mentions I have found of AIDS in any GIC material. Walt Apple, “Book Review,” ed. by Karen M., October 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, 5.

[12] For a list of these papers, see: “Research and Resources,” The Center on Colfax, accessed 4/7/22,; David Duffield, “Power Embodied.”

[13] Trans* is an umbrella term to refer to the wider gender community. I use it to refer to the broad spectrum of trans people that organized throughout this period, including transexual, transvestite, and transgender people.

[14] Susan Stryker, Transgender History (New York: Seal Press, 2017), 9.

[15] Peter Boag, Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

[16] Duffield, “Power Embodied,” 14.

[17] “20 Years in the Making: Helping the Transgendered,” 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 2, JCP.

[18] The collection’s namesake was an active member of the GIC who held several positions within the organization. “Collection: Julia Condolora Papers,” Denver Public Library, accessed April 16, 2022,

[19] Stryker, Transgender History, 64-65.

[20] Stryker, Transgender History, 74.

[21] Stryker, Transgender History, 99.

[22] Examples of 19th century Colorado GNC people include Charles Vosbaugh, Boag, Redressing, 53; John Hill/Helen Hilsher, Boag, Re-Dressing, 56; J.B. Winslow/Blonde Wilson, Boag, Redressing, 68; Robert Evans, Boag, Redressing, 71; Edward Martino, Boag, Redressing, 7.; Douglass McPherson, Boag, Redressing, 79; Joseph Gilligan, Boag, Redressing, 82; and the semi-biographical narrative of Mountain Charlie, Boag, Redressing, 111; Stryker, Transgender History, 47.

[23]  Boag, Re-Dressing, 63.

[24] Boag, Re-Dressing, 82.

[25] Boag, Re-Dressing, 67.

[26] “20 Years in the Making,” JCP. According to a history written by original member Barbara Cook, Prince reached out to two members in order to establish the Denver chapter. Barbara Cook, “The Gender Identity Group History,” c. 1990s, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 2, JCP, 1.

[27] Due to the necessary secrecy of members of the community, as well as the fluid nature of their names and identities, it can often be hard to identify full names for those involved in the GIC. Throughout the essay I provide the names given, which are often partial. Knowledge of Smith’s last name comes from Duffield, “Power Embodied,” 12, & Cook, “Gender Identity Group History, 4. Smith is alternately known as Marie throughout various GIC documents.

[28] Cook, “Gender Identity Group History,” 3.

[29] Dianna C., “The Highland House Heritage,” Newsletter, January 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP.

[30] ibid.

[31] Dianna C., “The Highland House Heritage,” Newsletter, January 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP.

[32] “20 Years in the Making.”

[33] Dianna C., “The Highland House Heritage”; “20 Years in the Making.”

[34] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: April 21, 1992,” 21 April 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 1.

[35] “Present Membership,” Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 3.

[36] “Membership,” Newsletter, ed. By Dianna C., August 1987, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 3.

[37] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: June 16, 1992,” 16 June 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP.

[38] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board Meeting: January 15, 1991,” 15 January 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP.

[39] Dianna C., “Aftermath,” Journal, ed. by Carlene Penwell, November/December 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 1.

[40] “20 Years in the Making.”

[41] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: April 21, 1992,” 21 April 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 1.

[42] “Say Hello to Katherine,” Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 2. This Office Manager, Katherine Beale, was not a member of the gender community.

[43] “Growing,” Newsletter, ed. By Dianna C., August 1987, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 2; Dianna C., “The Highland House Heritage.”

[44] “Board Creates Founders Trust Fund,” Newsletter, January 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP, 10.

[45] “Profit and Loss Statement, 1-1-1990 thru 12-31-1990,” 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 3, JCP.

[46] “Mid-Year Membership Meeting,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.

[47] Deirdre O., “Minutes of the G. I. C. General Membership Meeting: July 18, 1990” 18 July 1990, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 1.

[48] Roxann, “Minutes of the General Membership Meeting: January 30, 1991” 30 January 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 1.

[49] Today FTMs are widely referred to as transgender men.

[50] “Female-to-Male Group,” Newsletter, ed. by Sharon, 1 January 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 2.; Stryker, “Transgender History,” 142-143.

[51] Deirdre O., “Notes from the Middle Ground: The Kids,” GIC Newsletter, June 1990, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP, 7.

[52] “Seminars,” Newsletter, ed. by Sharon, 1 February 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 3; “God and Gender” Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 2; “The Woman’s Series: Female 101” Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 2; “Coming Events,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M. August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 1; “A Seminar,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M. August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 11; “A Seminar,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M. August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 12.

[53] “Significant Others Support Canceled,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.

[54] “Calendar of Events,” Newsletter, ed. by Sharon, 1 January 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1; “Scheduled Meetings,” Journal, ed. by Carlene Penwell, August/September 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 9.

[55] “Calendar of Standing Events,” GICenter Newsletter, ed. by Donna R., July 1989, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 1; Billie Jean Jones, “Gender Expressionism,” Journal, ed. by Carlene Penwell, August/September 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 3.

[56] “Operation Outreach,” Newsletter, April 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 3.

[57] “Staff,” Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1.

[58] Dianna C., “GIC on the Move!” Newsletter, ed. by Da’nelle M., August 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 4.

[59] ibid.

[60] Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989, no. 1 (1989).

[61] Stryker, Transgender History, 77.

[62] “Social Work Practice with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People,” ed. by Gerald P. Mallon (London: Routledge, 2017), 215.

[63] Earlier referred to as Sonja, but going by Marie in this newsletter.

[64] Sonja Smith, “Memo from Marie,” Newsletter, ed. by Sharon, 1 January 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1.

[65] ibid.; “20 Years in the Making.”

[66] “Weekend Coverage,” Newsletter, February 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1; “Volunteers Needed,” Newsletter, April 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 2; “Committee Positions Needing Volunteers,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1; “Services Needed,” Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 3.

[67] Tomye Kelley, “From the Desk of Tomye Kelley…,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 2.

[68] Laura Smiley, “President’s Message,” Newsletter, ed. by Da’nelle M., August 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 6.

[69] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: April 21, 1992,” 21 April 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 3; “Forth of July Campout,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1.

[70] Kristina Nyberg, “Dear Sisters and Members of the GIC,” GICenter Newsletter, ed. by Donna R., July 1989, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 9.

[71] Laura Smiley, “Reflections from the Chair,” Newsletter, ed. by Da’nelle M., August 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 5.

[72] Newsletter, ed. by Dianna C., August 1986, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 1.

[73] “20 Years in the Making.”

[74] Newsletters, 1984-1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11-14, JCP.

[75] “Questions Women Ask When They Discover That Their Husbands Cross Dress,” c. 1991-1994, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP.

[76] “Gender Identity Center of Colorado, Inc.” Yellow Brochure, c. 1991-1994, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP.

[77] Information Booklet, JCP.

[78] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: April 21, 1992,” 21 April 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 2. The date of original publication of the Information Booklet is not noted and remains unclear.

[79] “Remember,” Newsletter, April 1984, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 3.

[80] There is no mention of any legal issues caused by these IDs or how the GIC made arrangements for their use at these nightspots. Cynthia Kettl, “Dear John,” 6 March 1993, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 5, JCP.

[81] “ID Cards,” Newsletter, September 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 3.

[82] No insurance companies were willing to cover sex reassignment surgery. “G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: August 21, 1990,” 21 August 1990, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP.

[83] Cynthia Kettl, “Dear John,” 6 March 1993, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 5, JCP.

[84] “Female 101 – Women’s Reality,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.

[85] Roxann, “A Graduation Exercise for Advanced Transgenderism,” Journal, ed. by Carlene Penwell, August/September 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 1-2.

[86] “Questions Women Ask When They Discover That Their Husbands Cross Dress,” c. 1991-1994, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP.; citation needed?

[87] Stryker, Transgender History, 151.

[88] And the advent of the widespread use of the term “transgender.” Stryker, Transgender History, 153-154.

[89] Val F. “Love Yourself,” GICenter Newsletter, ed. By Donna R., July 1989, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 3-4.

[90] Mary JoLynne White, “Nurturing Comes From Within,” Newsletter, ed. by Da’nelle M., August 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 10.

[91] Rokelle Lerner, “Accept Yourself,” The GIC Journal, ed. Adrienne, August 1994, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 2.

[92] “A Brief Local Restaurant Guide,” Denver ‘Coming Together-Working Together’, 11 April 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP, 1.

[93] “Luncheon Fashion Show,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11, JCP, 2.

[94] Margaret C., “Workshops,” Newsletter, ed. By Dianna C., August 1987, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 2.

[95] “Friends of the GIC,” GICenter Newsletter, ed. by Donna R., July 1989, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 2.

[96] Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 9-10.

[97] Newsletters, 1984-1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11-14, JCP.

[98] Barbara Cook originally began meeting with Louanne Carter, founder of Hairfree Colorado, in the late 1960s. Cook recommended her services widely to other GIC members. Cook, “Gender Identity Group History,” 2.

[99] Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 9-10.;

[100] GIC Newsletter, June 1990, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP.

[101] Newsletters, 1984-1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 11-14, JCP; Stryker, Transgender History.

[102] Stryker, Transgender History, 152.

[103] “‘Coming Together-Working Together’ Convention,” 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP, 5.

[104] “Mayor Peña’s Letter to IFGE,” Denver ‘Coming Together-Working Together’, 11 April 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP, 1.

[105] “Back into the Closet, Forever?” 7.

[106] “Tapestry #50 in Stock,” Newsletter, ed. By Dianna C., August 1987, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 3.

[107] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: April 21, 1992,” 21 April 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 2.

[108] Dianna C., “GIC on the Move!” Newsletter, ed. by Da’nelle M., August 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP, 4.; Laura Smiley, “President’s Message,” Newsletter, ed. by Da’nelle M., August 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP, 6.

[109] “For Immediate Release,” 23 April 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 5, JCP, 1.

[110] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: June 16, 1992,” 16 June 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP.

[111] “Back into the Closet, Forever?” Journal, ed. by Carlene Penwell, August/September 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 7.

[112] Dianna C., “Aftermath,” Journal, ed. by Carlene Penwell, November/December 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 1.

[113] Bolin, “In Search of Eve,” 134.

[114] Dianna C., “Aftermath,” 2.

[115] Stryker, Transgender History, 128.

[116] Stryker, Transgender History, 121.

[117] Courts are philanthropic organizations that fundraise through events such as female impersonation shows. “Center Needs Phone Volunteers,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.; “Mid-Year Membership Meeting,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.

[118] “Loss of Board Members,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.

[119] Dianna C., “Aftermath,” 1.

[120] Wendy Parker, “The Gender Community: Where Are We Going in the Nineties?” GIC Newsletter, June 1990, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 13, JCP, 3.

[121] “G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: August 21, 1990,” 21 August 1990, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP.

[122] “Gender and Sexuality,” 11 December 1991, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP.

[123] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: April 21, 1992,” 21 April 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP, 1.

[124] ibid.

[125] “Minutes of the G. I. C. Board of Directors Meeting: June 16, 1992,” 16 June 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 4, JCP.

[126] Dianna C., “Aftermath,” 2.

[127] Documents state both that Tomye and D. Corliss bought the house and that they lost it when the previous owners foreclosed on the house. It is unclear from the documents how the previous owners were able to foreclose on the house.

[128] Dianna C., “The Highland House Heritage.”

[129] Bolin, “In Search of Eve,” 18.

[130] Bolin, “In Search of Eve,” 132.

[131] Stryker, Transgender History, 76-77.

[132] Alecta T. “Another Letter From a Member,” Newsletter, ed. by Karen M., August/September 1988, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 5.

[133] ibid.

[134] Donna R., “Labels,” GICenter Newsletter, ed. by Donna R., July 1989, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 12, JCP, 9.

[135] Bolin, “In Search of Eve,” 134, 136.

[136] “Women’s Group: Women in Transition,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 3.

[137] “Young Men’s Group: Men in Transition,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 3.

[138] “Three New Groups Introduced in This Newsletter,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 4.

[139] Stephanie, “From Stephanie: The Real Women Don’t Series,” Newsletter, May 1985, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 14, JCP, 5.

[140] “Gender Identity Center of Colorado Welcomes You!” June 1992, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP, 4. Though Colorado for Family Values had submitted Amendment 2 in March of 1992, polls indicated that it would fail, resulting in little concern from the public. Thus, it is unlikely the backlash of Amendment 2 contributed to this position.

[141] “Questions Women Ask When They Discover That Their Husbands Cross Dress,” c. 1991-1994, WH2449, Box 1, Folder 8, JCP.

[142] Stryker, Transgender History, 174.

[143] Duffield, “Power Embodied,” 15.

[144] Amanda Roman, “Help Save the Gender Identity Center of Colorado,” Amanda Roman (blog), July 17, 2018,

[145] Emma Shinn, “Save the Gender Identity Center of Colorado!,” Facebook, July 13, 2018,; Gic Colorado, “Gic’s fundraiser for Gender Identity Center of Colorado,” August 5, 2018,”

[146] Gender Identity Center of Colorado (@GICColorado), “After many years of support to gender variant people, their partners, families and friends in Colorado, the Gender Identity Center of Colorado has closed and…,” Facebook, March 23, 2019, 10:10 AM,[0]=AZWmPAgkEGA_a3f_RS_KdsL6nOZV6uSymGdLchYUiM9x16CRHsptP_PU-deCE4jdeM3Z-t4I7RCiD_kBeCT5jQPjen1zeSi0EIiRn6uF5bXIsx6onuyZo8AvziSdn_9E_fL1-mITgtXXsDL98R43_jbjH4r_P6ITddvzviFBbDR8Tb88bb3yU6j02S4Bip01FL0&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R.

[147] “Transgender Center of the Rockies,” Transgender Center of the Rockies, accessed Dec 15, 2022,

[148] “Social Work Practice,” 215.

[149] “CenterLink LGBT Community Center Member Directory,” CenterLink, accessed Dec. 15, 2022,

[150] Stryker, Transgender History, 152.


“Collection: Julia Condolora Papers.” Denver Public Library. Accessed April 16, 2022.

Bolin, Anne. “In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage.” PhD diss., University of Colorado, 1983.

Duffield, David. “Power Embodied: An Essay for Transgender Visibility Day, 2017.” The Center on Colfax, 2017.!3525&ithint=file%2cdocx&authkey=!AHoyuxq9Sv-FGrI.

Julia Condolora Papers, Denver Public Library , Denver, CO.

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Peter Boag, Re-Dressing America’s Frontier Past. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

 Social Work Practice with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People. Edited by Gerald P. Mallon. London: Routledge, 2017.

Stryker, Susan. Transgender History. New York: Seal Press, 2017.

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