2019 Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient

Transgender Pioneer Award Banquet

Hallow-Thanksgiving Theme

Crown & Anchor Restaurant and Paramount Room

247 Commercial Street, Provincetown

Tuesday, 22 October, 2019, 6:30 – 10:00 pm


Author and Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan, Pioneer Award Recipient, 2016.

Since 2002, the Transgender Pioneer Award has honored trans leaders once a year, at Fantasia Fair. It is a lifetime achievement award to those who have sacrificed their careers, their families, and their fortunes to change the world so trans people could begin to come together in safety and comfort. Without them, we would not be here; we would be at home, hiding in our closets. We meet to honor their work and thank them for all they have done for us and to give them back a little in return for their decades of work on our behalf.

The award, presented by the board of directors of Transgender Education Association, is given at a banquet on Tuesday night. We meet at the Restaurant and Paramount Room at the historic Crown & Anchor, 247 Commercial Street. The Cabaret Room will feature donated items for a raffle. Fair staff will be selling tickets and winners will be drawn during dinner. Proceeds from the auction will apply 100% to the scholarship fund for the 2020 Fantasia Fair.

After hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, the award ceremony will be held in the Paramount Room. Afterward, we will convene in the Crown’s restaurant for a repast of a traditional Thanksgiving feast.. The theme for the night is Hallow Thanksgiving. Wearing a costume is requested, but not required. Last year, transgender pioneer Dr. Aaron H. Devor received the award. This year we are happy to present the 2019 Transgender Pioneer Award to Dr. Marisa Richmond.

Marisa Richmond, a Nashville-based trans activist and and professor of history, women’s studies, and gender studies at Middle Tennessee State University,  The Pioneer Award was created by TEA in 2001 and the first awards presented in 2002. Recipients are the best and the brightest and the hardest-working members of the trans community. They have a history of working tirelessly on behalf of others, sacrificing time and sometimes their careers for others.

Marisa is one those hard-working and selfless people. She has been active since the early 90s. In 1992 she co-founded the Tennessee Vals support group, which is still in existence. She served on the board until 2003. She also served as board member of the International Foundation for Gender Education (2000-2002) and as board chair of the American Educational Gender Information Service.

Most of Marisa’s work has been on the local front and with the Democratic Party. She served on the Board of the Davidson County Democratic Women and as President in 2013, and four times on the Davidson County (TN) Democratic Executive Committee. In 2016 she was appointed to the Metro (Nashville) Human Relations Committee by Mayor Megan Barry, becoming the state’s first transgender person appointed to a local government board or commission. She served many years as President and Lobbyist of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, where she lobbied at state and federal levels and introduced and sometimes succeeded in passing bills to guarantee trans rights.

Marisa is a member of the Transgender Task Force of the Tennessee Department of Health and the only openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee. In 2008 she became the first black trans delegate from any state. She was also a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and in 2018 was a Podium Officer. As a DNC member, she is an automatic delegate to the 2020 convention and Ex-Official Member of the Board of the Tennessee Federation of Democratic Women.

Marisa is a nationally-known speaker on transgender issues. Often she works quietly behind the scene, and she gets the job done!

Congratulations, Marisa, for being named the recipient of the 2019 Transgender Pioneer Award.



Past Transgender Pioneer Award Recipients

Aaron H. Devor, Ph.D. (2018)


Dr. Aaron H. Devor

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2018


Aaron H. Devor, Ph.D. Photo by Brian Sargent.

Dr. Devor is no stranger to Fantasia Fair; he recently presented a keynote speech on the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria. Five years or so ago, Fantasia Fair collected and sent him more than 850 crossdressing fiction titles for his archive. Here’s his bio:

Aaron Devor has been studying and teaching about transgender topics for more than 35 years. He holds the world’s only Chair in Transgender Studies, is the Founder and Academic Director of the world’s largest transgender archives, and is the founder and host of the Moving Trans History Forward conferences. He is the author of three books and numerous well-cited scholarly articles about trans, non-binary, and gender-variant people. He has delivered lectures to audiences around the world, including more than 20 keynote and plenary addresses. He is Historian for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), has been on the Standards of Care committee since 1999, and is in charge of translating the Standards of Care into world languages. Dr. Devor, an out trans man, is a former Dean of Graduate Studies (2002-2012) and a professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria, Canada.

Gwendolyn Ann Smith (2017)

Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2017


Gwendolyn Ann Smith is a tireless champion for transgender rights and a well-spoken and highly articulate advocate for our community. From 1993 until 1998, she oversaw the Transgender Community Forum on America OnLine. The Forum was the first place where transpeople could congregate in cyberspace, and so played a huge role. Unfortunately, the words transgender, transvestite, and transsexual were forbidden words, and using either word the title in a forum, or even in chat was a violation of AOL’s terms of service and could result in a ban. Gwen successfully lobbied AOL for a removal of the words from the organization’s list of forbidden words. In the early 1990s Gwen created the website Remembering Our Dead, which published names of transpeople who had been murdered. In 1999 she launched Transgender Day of Remembrance, which holds memorials every November 20th. in 2010 TDOR was observed in more than 185 cities in more than twenty countries. It is now called International Day of Remembrance. Since 2000, Gwen has written a column, Transmissions, for the Bay Area Reporter.  She is managing editor for the website GenderFork. She has served on the advisory board of Gender Education and Advocacy, National Center for Transgender Equality, and the San Francisco City and County Transgender Civil Rights Implementation Task Force. Ms. Smith also served on the board of FTM International. In 2017, Trans/Active, Sophia Cecilia Leveque’s biography of Gwen, we published by Library Partner’s Press. The Board of Directors of Real Life Experiences was delighted to recognize Gwen Smith as a Transgender Pioneer for 2017.


International Transgender Day of Remembrance Website


Martine Rothblatt (2017)

Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D.

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2017


Martine Rothblatt is an American lawyer, author, pilot, astronomer, astronomer, and entrepreneur. She came out as transgender in 1994, at age 40. Her 1995 book The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender, which was an early look beyond the gender binary. She is married to Bina Aspen, an electrologist, and has a grown daughter named Jenesis. Ever listen to satellite radio in your vehicle? Heard of Sirius XM Radio? Well, guess who founded it? There were three co-founders, but Ms. Rothblatt was the driving force. In 1974, when Martine was just 20 years old, when, on a break from college, touring the world, she developed the idea of uniting the world with satellite communications. She returned to UCLA and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in communication studies and a thesis about international direct-broadcast satellites. She continued her education at UCLA, graduating in 1981 with a joint MBA/JD degree, and went to work. She was soon retained by NASA to obtain FCC approval for tracking and data relay satellites. That same year she went to work as Vice-President of the company Geostar. Martine left Geostar in 1990 to found Sirius. She was the first to lobby the FCC to reserve unused radio frequencies for satellite to ground transmissions. Martine’s daughter Jenesis suffers from life-threatening pulmonary hypertension. In 1996 Martine founded the biomedical technology company United Therapeutics and acquired the patent for a medicine that helped those with pulmonary hypertension, but was off-list for that condition, meaning it was not approved for that purpose. Martine, of course, managed to get the FDA to place it on-list. Along the way she picked up another graduate degree, this one a Ph.D. in medical ethics.

Bina48, a robot designed to push the limits of artificial intelligence.

In her spare time—ha! Martine conceived and developed the world’s automated flight of a full-size helicopter. In 2004 she founded the transhumanist Terrasem Movement. If you don’t know what transhumanism is, it’s the belief that humanity can evolve beyond its biological limitations. Martine has published several books about transhumanism. Ms. Rothblatt is Executive Producer of two films, one a science fiction techno thriller, and the other a documentary, These are JUST A FEW of the things Martine has done! Martine is the highest paid female executive in the world. The Board of Directors of Real Life Experiences was delighted to recognize Martine as a Transgender Pioneer for 2017.

Jennnifer Finney Boylan (2016)

Jennifer Finney Boylan

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2016


Jennifer Finney Boylan has been described as “a role model for her brisk prose and high spirits as well as for her public advocacy and attention to her wife and sons.” She is an activist for LGBT people in general and trans men and women in particular. A widely praised author and professor, She is also a nationally known advocate for civil rights. Ms. Boylan was chosen as the first openly transgender co-chair of the National Board of Directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBT people worldwide. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and serves as Special Adviser to the President of Colby College in Maine. In addition, she has served on the Policy Advisory Board of Gender Rights Maryland. Jennifer is author of thirteen books and is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her 2003 autobiography, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first book by an openly transgender American to become a bestseller. She’s Not There is popular both as a textbook in high schools and colleges and with readers’ groups. The work won an a Lambda Award in 2004. She has been a contributor to the op/ed page of the New York Times since 2007 and in 2013 became contributing opinion writer for the page. Her 2013 work, Stuck in the Middle with You: Parenthood in Three Genders, is a memoir about the differences between fatherhood and motherhood. Stuck in the Middle holds that “having a father who became a mother has helped my sons, in turn, become better men.” Jenny has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show on four occasions; Live with Larry King twice; The Today Show, The Barbara Walters Special, NPR’s Marketplace, and Talk of the Nation; she has been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’ 48 Hours and The History Channel. She was a consultant and cast member for the television reality show I Am Cait, a docu-series about Caitlyn Jenner, and served as consultant to the Amazon series Transparent. It was with great honor that the Board of Directors of Real Life Experiences, Inc. recognized Jennifer Finney Boylan as the Transgender Pioneer awardee for 2016.

Jennifer Finney Boylan’s Website

Monica Roberts (2015)

Monica Roberts

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2016


Monica Roberts is an award-winning blogger, history buff, thinker, lecturer and passionate advocate on trans issues. In 1994, after seeing an article with a problematic representation of Black trans people in a trans-centric magazine, Ms. Roberts resolved to participate in the next GenderPac trans lobby day in Washington DC and increase the visibility of Black trans leaders in the transgender movement. Since then, she has advocated for trans human rights protections and has lobbied at the federal, state and local levels in Kentucky and Texas. Monica is a founding member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition and served on its inaugural board as its Lobby Chair from 1999-2002. She co-hosted a GLBT radio show in her hometown from 1999-2001, founded the Transsistahs-Transbrothas Internet discussion list for African-American transgender people in 2004, and helped organize the 2005 and 2006 Transsistahs-Transbrothas conferences that took place in Louisville. Ms. Roberts is also a prolific writer. She wrote for the Louisville-based GLBT newspaper The Letter and since 2006 has authored the award-winning blog TransGriot. According to GLAAD, the writings at TransGriot made Monica Roberts “the first African American trans woman to create a news outlet that not only reports trans women of color issues but also showcases the leaders in the fight for equality of trans people… filling a void in the blogsphere.” Her writing about transgender issues from a Black perspective has appeared at Ebony.com, Loop21.com, Transadvocate, Racialicious, Feministe, Global Comment, The Bilerico Project, What Tami Said, and Womanist Musings. Monica seeks to not only end the erasure of African-American trans voices from a movement they played significant roles in starting, but to get African-American transpeople and other people of color more involved in empowering themselves. Her activism focus is educating the GLBT community and allies about our issues and concerns and shedding light about the struggles of GLBT people across the African Diaspora. It was with great honor that the Board of Directors of Real Life Experience recognized Monica Roberts as the Transgender Pioneer awardee for 2015.


Monica Roberts’ TransGriot Blog

Jamison Green (2014)

Jamison Green, Ph.D.

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2014


Jamison Green is an accomplished internationally-respected author, educator, and advocate for transgender health, civil rights, and social safety. Dr. Green has held many mentoring and leadership roles, including being the head of FTM International, a two-term board member of IFGE, a board member of TransYouth Family Allies, and a co-founder of the Transgender Law & Policy Institute and Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc. Jamison has trained officers in the San Francisco Police Academy on transgender awareness. He has done policy consulting and transgender diversity training for corporations for over 20 years. He is the architect of the effort to remove transsexual or transgender exclusions from health insurance plans, and he worked with the Human Rights Campaign to provide them with the tools and information they needed to motivate Fortune 500 corporations and diversity leaders to demand trans-inclusive health insurance products from their carriers and third party administrators. His work on non-discrimination laws and removal of insurance exclusions has earned him numerous awards for advocacy and inspirational leadership. After a 30-year career in corporate technical publications in the financial, medical, computer design, and manufacturing industries, Jamison undertook his doctoral studies in law to further his ability to do transformative work at the intersection of law and medicine. Mr. Green earned a Ph.D. in Law from Manchester Metropolitan University in England with a specialization in transgender and transsexual legal issues; he is the 8th person in the world—and the first American—to earn such a degree. From 2009-2011, he worked as the Primary Care Protocols Manager for the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California at San Francisco, and from 2012-2013 acted as their International Guidelines Manager. Dr. Green was elected to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health board of directors in 2003, was re-elected to the board in 2007, and in 2011 he was elected President of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the primary organization for physicians, psychologists, and other professionals who work with transgender people. He was the second trans person to be elected president of that organization in its 35-year history. Jamison has drafted non-discrimination ordinances and contributed to the text of innumerable laws and policies now in force around the world. He is a co-author of the WPATH Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People (Version 7). He has appeared in more than a dozen documentary films. He is the author of the prize-winning 2004 monograph Becoming a Visible Man, has contributed to several academic anthologies, and has written a book of short stories. Jamison has been called a pioneer, a grandfather of the movement, an inspiration, a rock star, even a saint. Here at Fantasia Fair, we also know him as an engaging entertainer and charming dinner companion! It is with great honor that the Board of Directors of Real Life Experience adds to Jamison’s long list of honors by naming him theTransgender Pioneer Award for 2014.

Jamison Green’s Website

Mariette Pathy Allen (2013)

Mariette Pathy Allen

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2013


Mariette Pathy Allen has been a professional photographer, writer, and speaker on and on behalf of, the trans community. Her work has greatly impacted the way our community is seen and how our community sees itself. Ms. Allen became involved with the trans community in 1978, when attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans. As Mariette describes the event, she happened to be befriended by “a group of people, dressed in evening gowns, with full make-up and cascading wigs, who invited me to join them for breakfast. When we finished, I took my first photograph of the group as they stood around the hotel’s swimming pool, and when I did, my life changed. As I lifted the camera to my eyes, I found myself looking into the eyes of the person standing in the middle of the group. Suddenly, I no longer saw a man or a woman, but the essence of a human being, a soul.” Soon afterwards, Mariette attended her first Fantasia Fair conference, and by 1981, became the Fair’s official photographer. Her work helped people change their sense of self from feeling scared, guilty, and unlovable by helping to create “a space to explore who they were, literally and emotionally.” She showed crossdressers as “lovable people who could be seen in the daylight of everyday life,” often in stark contrast to the harsh, negative portrayals found in most media at that time. Mariette’s work extended to the family and friends of those in the community–and not only with photographs, but also with interviews with them. For many, it was the first time they felt they were heard. By the mid-1980s, Mariette was working for Transgender Tapestry magazine, not only doing the photography, but also producing articles and suggesting content. In 1988, she received a New York State Council on the Arts grant, to organize exhibitions and talks related to her efforts. In 1989, E.P. Dutton published her first, pioneering book, Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them. This ground-breaking collection of photographs and interviews with crossdressers and their loved ones offered insights into the differences between sexual orientation and gender presentation that was virtually unknown outside the trans community. Prints from the book were made into an art exhibition, Transformations, held at the Simon Lowinsky Gallery in 1990. After the release of Transformations, Mariette began to work with female-to-male transsexuals as well as gender-variant youth. Her photographs make a significant contribution to Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Her photographs illustrate Riki Anne Wilchins’ Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender, and are included in many other books. Mariette’s second book, The Gender Frontier, was a collection of photographs, interviews, and essays covering political activism, youth, and the range of people who identify as transgender in mainland USA. It won the 2004 Lambda Literary Award in the Transgender/Genderqueer category. In 2014, Daylight books published her third book, TransCuba, which focuses on the everyday lives of transgender women in Cuba. Mariette has participated in numerous political events, lobbying efforts, and vigils. She has given slide presentations for a wide-range of groups in the United States and abroad, including schools, social service workers, The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and many trans-focused conferences. She has made numerous appearances on television and radio, and in newspapers and magazines. She was also involved with several films including  Lee Grant’s What Sex am I? in 1985; Rosa von Praunheim’s The Transsexual Menace in 1996; and Kate Davis’ Southern Comfort in 2001. Southern Comfort won the 2001 Documentary Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Mariette’s work is archived at Duke University’s Rare Book and Manuscripts Library, and the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s Studies. Also, her work is included in collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the George Eastman House, and the Bibliotheque Nationale among others, and has been exhibited internationally. Mariette’s impact on society’s perception of the trans community is hard to overstate. From the 1980s to the present day, her work has reached multitudes of people across the globe and has had a significant, positive effect in the lives of many. Recognition of Mariette Pathy Allen’s contributions to the trans community include The International Foundation for Gender Education’s Trinity Award in 1991, a Rainbow Award in 2006, and now, in 2013, the Transgender Pioneer Award.


Mariette Pathy Allen’s Website

Joanne Roberts (2013)

Joanne Roberts

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2013


JoAnn Roberts was not just a transgender pioneer; she was also a community builder. Her many contributions helped shape the way today’s society perceives transgender individuals as well as how many transgender individuals perceive themselves. Although JoAnn is well known for hosting the annual Paradise in the Poconos retreat for crossdressers, her impact was far broader and far more significant than any single event. JoAnn was a prolific writer. Through her Creative Design Services, business, she published the magazines LadyLike and TranScript, and, in 1985, her book Art & Illusion, A Guide to Crossdressing. CDS published a variety of trans self-help books and videos, including Alison Laing’s Speaking as a Woman, Dallas Denny’s Identity Management in Transsexualism and JoAnn Altman Stringer’s two-volume Transsexual Survivor’s Guide. In 1990, Joanne wrote and published the prescient A Gender Bill of Rights. This was an opening salvo in the fight for trans rights and sparked not only vigorous discussion, but other statements of  rights and independence. In 1987, JoAnn, with Alison Laing, Angela Gardner, Trudy Henry, and Melanie Bryant created the nonprofit Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc. and served as that organization’s first managing director. She was co-founder of the Congress of Transgender Organizations, the Transgender Alliance for Community, GenderPAC, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition. She served as Chair of the board of the American Educational Gender Information Service and on the board of directors at The International Foundation for Gender Education. In 1996, JoAnn partnered with Cindy Martin and Jamie Faye Fenton to create the online Transgender Forum (now TG Forum). She was a driving force for The Second International Congress on Crossdressing, Sex and Gender in 1997. Although JoAnn Roberts is no longer with us, her presence is still felt in a great many ways. It was with great respect that the board of directors of Real Life Experiences recognized JoAnn Roberts as a Transgender Pioneer in 2013.


TG Forum Website

Yvonne Cook-Riley (2013)

Yvonne Cook-Riley

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2013


Yvonne Cook-Riley is truly a pioneer of the transgender movement. She worked with advocacy organizations in the early 1990s to incorporate the word transgender and its associated concepts, and that effort took off into the “transgender movement” that we see today. Ms. Cook-Riley became involved with others in what we would now call the transgender community in 1981. She started organizing support groups in 1983. In 1985, she became active with the International Foundation for Gender Education and served that organization in a number of capacities, including Director of Operations, Treasurer, and member of their Board of Directors. She appeared on dozens of television talk shows and more than 200 talk radio shows in the 1980s and 1990’s and made eight appearances on behalf of IFGE at the American Psychiatric Association’s national conferences. Yvonne helped in the establishment of other conferences in the U.S., including Southern Comfort, Texas Tea Party, California Dreaming, and Be All. She has been involved in numerous other trans-related organizations, including Blue Ridge Pride, Kindred Spirits, and Transgender American Veterans Association. Yvonne’s dedication to the trans movement has been recognized many times. She received the Outreach Institute’s Outreach Medal and IFGE’s Trinity Award also 1991, and IFGE’s Virginia Prince Lifetime Service award in 1995.
The board of directors of Real Life Experiences, Inc. was proud to present Yvonne with the Transgender Pioneer Award in 2013.

Mara Keisling (2012)

Mara Keisling

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2012


Mara Keisling is a transgender-identified woman and a parent and is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading voices for transgender equality. Ms. Keisling is a graduate of Penn State University and did her graduate work at Harvard University in American Government. She is a founding board member of the Stonewall Democracy Fund and has served on the board of Directors of Common Roads, an LGBTQ Youth Group, and on the steering committee of the Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition. In 2003, recognizing the need for a cohesive voice in Washington for transgender people, Mara founded the National Center for Transgender Equality, a social justice organization dedicated to advancing equality through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment. Mara and NCTE were among the leaders of UnitedENDA, a coalition of more than 400 GLBT organizations lobbying for a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Mara regularly appears on news outlets such as CNN and CSPAN, and is often quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and hundreds of other national and local print and electronic media. Mara was named Harvard University’s Outstanding LGBT Person of the Year in 2005.
The board of directors of Real Life Experiences, Inc. was proud to present Mara with the Transgender Pioneer Award in 2012.


National Center for Transgender Equality

Monica Helms (2011)

Monica Helms

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2011


Monica Helms has been an activist in the transgender community for more than a quarter of a century. She helped form the Tri-Ess chapter Alpha Zeta in 1983 and It’s Time, Arizona in 1999. She was the Director of Operation for It’s Time, Arizona through 2000 and Executive Director for Trans=Action in Georgia from 2000 to 2006. In January 2003, Helms Co-Founded the Transgender American Veterans Association with Angela Brightfeather and has served as the President since then. Ms. Helms has served on the Board of National TransAdvocay Coalition, as Secretary of Georgia Stonewall Democrats, and on the boards of LaGender, Inc. and the Southern Association for Gender Education. Currently, she is on the Advisory Board for NCTE, Military Equality Alliance, and Founder and President of the Transgender American Veterans Association. In 2003, Monica received the International Foundation for Gender Education’s Trinity Award. In July, 2004, she was elected as the first transgender delegate from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention. She was a regular columnist for Transgender Tapestry and Bi-Magazine, is an Op-Ed writer, and was a contributor to the book Trans People in Love. Her novels Valhalla, The Straits of Hell, The Wayward Star, and Time Hostages and her Tales from a Two-Gendered Mind are for sale on Amazon. She has released numerous video on her YouTube channel and regularly writes about trans-related topics on her blog, Trans Universe. Monica is the creator of the Transgender Pride flag. The original is held by The Smithsonian Institution.
The board of directors of Real Life Experiences, Inc. was honored to present Monica with the Transgender Pioneer Award in 2011.


Monica’s YouTube Channel

Sandra Cole (2011)

Sandra Cole, Ph.D.

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2011


Dr. Sandra Cole is a sexologist, is nationally AASECT-Certified as a sexuality educator and sexuality counselor, and for 40 years was on the faculty of the University of Michigan in academic medicine. She has long been friend and colleague with the transgender community, working with transgender individuals and their partners on topics of sexual health, intimacy and relationships. Over a period of 20 years she has conducted scores of important group discussions at Fantasia Fair, where she experienced many wonderful friendships, amazing programs and creative events. Sandra is founder of the unique and large University of Michigan Health System Comprehensive Gender Services Program, which opened in 1993. She served as its Director for 7 years, retiring from that position to continue her work with the transgender community and strongly advocate for civil rights and social justice for transgender individuals and their families. Sandra retired from her position at the University and remained professor at the University of Michigan Medical School. Sandra was also a founding member of Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences, Inc. was proud to award Sandra the Transgender Pioneer Award in 2011.

Ethan St. Pierre (2010)

Ethan St. Pierre

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2010


For more than a decade, Ethan St. Pierre has been making a difference for many, both inside and outside the GLBT community. His efforts to help educate people about anti-transgender hatred and bias has reached people at the local, state, and national levels–and even the halls of Congress. Ethan is no stranger to the impact such hatred and bias can have on individuals and families. He is the nephew of a hate crime victim, Debra Forte, a transsexual woman murdered in 1995, ironically, while transgender activists gathered in protest at the trial for the murder of transsexual Brandon Teena. Since then, Ethan has been involved with the Garden of Peace Memorial, Boston’s memorial to the victims of murder. Ethan became a board member of Families United Against Hate and the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence project. Ethan also works with the Remembering Our Dead Project as coordinator of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance,  where he investigates and updates the statistics of those murdered because of anti-transgender hatred or bias. In 2003, Ethan St. Pierre lost his job as a security supervisor because of his transition. He has told his story to many, including legislators in Boston and in Washington, DC. Ethan has worked tirelessly for the passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against persons based on gender identity or expression. Ethan is founder and creator of the TransFM internet broadcasting network, where he co-hosted a live talk show on transgender issues called Sodium Pentothal Sunday. Both the show and network have been important for their educational value on issues affecting the LGBT community. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences we proud ot present Ethan with the Transgender Pioneer Award in 2009.

Dallas Denny (2009)

Dallas Denny

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2009


Dallas Denny is renowned for her work on advocacy, policy issues, and health practices involving transsexual and transgender people. She has served as an adviser to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, The University of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control, the city of Atlanta, journalists, and filmmakers. For nearly twenty years she taught a class on transgender issues at Emory University. She has made hundreds of presentations and delivered dozens of keynote talks at universities, businesses, professional organizations, and conferences. Dallas has published three books and written or co-written more than 20 chapters in textbooks, hundreds of articles, editorials, and columns for magazines and journals, and assorted booklets and pamphlets. She is former Editor-In-Chief of the journals Chrysalis and Transgender Tapestry and founding executive director of the American Educational Gender Information Service, Inc, which is now known as Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc. She is one of the many founders of the Southern Comfort conference and has been an organizer of Fantasia Fair since 1992. In the early1990s Dallas donated her extensive collection of books, papers, magazines, and ephemera to AEGIS. The collection, now known as the National Transgender Library & Archive, is permanently housed at the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan Library. Dallas was founding board chair of Transgender Health & Educational Alliance, one of a number of founders of the Southern Comfort conference,  past Director of the Fantasia Fair conference, board chair of Real Life Experiences, Inc, and board member of Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc. She has been honored with the major awards of the transgender community: The Outreach Institute Award, the International Foundation for Gender Education’s Trinity and Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Ms. Fantasia Award. She was named one of the Trans 100. In 1990, Dallas founded the still-existing Atlanta Gender Explorations Support Group. She is past board member of The Outreach Institute and Atlanta Pride and past director of the Montgomery Medical & Psychological Institute. Dallas holds the B.S. and M.A. degrees in psychology and for many years was licensed to practice psychology in Tennessee. She retired her license after moving to Georgia, which has no equivalent license. She is an accomplished applied behavior analyst with extensive experience in behavioral programming with adults and children with developmental disabilities. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was proud to present Dallas with the Transgender Pioneer Award in 2009.


Dallas’ Website

Alison and Dottie Laing (2008)

Alison and Dottie Laing

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipients, 2008


For more than twenty years, Alison and Dottie Laing have worked to improve the lives of those in the Transgender community and have made a difference in the way transgender individuals live in the greater society. In 1986, after Alison attended her First Fantasia Fair, both Alison and Dottie eagerly volunteered their time and energies to help make the Fair happen. By the mid-1990s, Alison became Director of Fantasia Fair–a role she filled for many years. When medical issues prevented Alison from continuing as Fair Director, it was Dottie who stepped in to ensure the smooth operation of the Fair. Between them, Alison or Dottie held the role of Director or Assistant Director for eight Fairs. In recent years, Alison was a member of the Fair organizing committee and a member on the board of directors for Real Life Experience, Inc., Fantasia Fair’s parent organization. Alison continues to advise the organizers of the Fair and present workshops. Dottie continued her outreach work with significant others until her passing in 2009. The efforts of the Laings were not isolated to Fantasia Fair. Alison was a founder of Renaissance Education Association and served that organization in numerous capacities, including Chairperson. In addition, she has served on the boards of American Educational Gender Information Service, GenderPAC, and the Rikki Swin Institute Advisory Board. Alison was Executive Director of the International Foundation for Gender Education Secretary to their Board of Directors from 1998 to 2004, and was co-chair of the IFGE annual convention from 1999 through 2008. Dottie often provided informal counseling to both spouses and transpeople at gatherings and after events by telephone. She has participated in and led workshops involving couple relations at various gatherings. When Renaissance co-hosted the 1993 IFGE Convention in Philadelphia, she assisted in organizing the S.O. activities and programs, as well as conference meals and social activities. Over the years she has provided editing and proofreading of numerous letters, columns and press releases. She worked on convention planning, assisting in the convention site selections, meal planning and registration. Thankfully, the efforts of Dottie and Alison have not gone unnoticed. In 1995, Dotty received the Outreach Award for her work with Fantasia Fair. In 1992, Alison was named Ms. Fantasia Fair, and in 2008 she was able to bestow that same honor on Dottie. In 1996, after Dottie led a critical fund raising project for IFGE, she received a special award by the IFGE staff for her success. Alison was awarded the IFGE Trinity award, and in 2003, along with Dottie, IFGE’s Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement award for Outstanding Service to the community. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was proud to give the Transgender Pioneer Award to Alison and Dottie Laing in 2008.

Stephen Whittle (2007)

Stephen Whitten, Ph.D., OBE

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2007


Stephen Whittle, OBE, Ph.D is an active member of the United Kingdom TransActivist organization Press for Change. He is Professor of Equalities Law in the School of Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, co-ordinator of the United Kingdom’s FTM Network, and vice-president of Press for Change. Stephen has actively worked towards changing the laws and social attitudes surrounding transgender and transsexual lives. His activism led to the important XYZ case before the European Court of Human Rights in 1996. In 2002 he was awarded the Human Rights Award by the Civil Rights group Liberty for his commitment and dedication to ensuring the advancement of rights for transsexual people through judicial means in the UK, Europe, and around the world. Stephen was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to gender issues. Mr. Whittle has written extensively on the law surrounding transsexual and transgender people, as well as several academic articles on the history and theory of transgender. His writings have included, among other things, an article on the ground-breaking transsexual employment discrimination case decided on by the European Court of Justice. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Stephen in 2007.

Holly Boswell (2006)

Holly Boswell

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2006


 Photo by Mariette Pathy Allen

Holly Boswell is one of those special individuals who have helped launch and define the transgender movement–and more than that, they are a gentle spirit who has touched the lives of thousands of people in the trans community. In 1990, Mx. Boswell’s groundbreaking and influential essay The Transgender Alternative was published in the journals Chrysalis Quarterly and Transgender Tapestry. By many accounts, this essay planted the seeds of the transgender revolution that today bears fruit. In fact, Holly’s work was one of the references used to define the term transgender by the Oxford English dictionary. Holly’s contributions were not limited to their writings. In the mid-1980s, they co-founded the Phoenix Transgender Support Group in Asheville, NC, one of the oldest open trans support groups (meaning everyone is welcome) in the world. In 1990, Holly’s joined with other activists to create the Southern Comfort conference and served on the board and planning committee for many years . By 1993, had Holly took the lead in founding the alternative trans spiritual community known as Kindred Spirits, which produce the Traveling Medicine Shows. At the turn of the millennium, Holly opened the Bodhi Tree House, a mountainside retreat for transpeople in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Holly was long a popular speaker and seminar presenter at various trans conferences, including such events as California Dreaming, Southern Comfort, The International Foundation for Gender Education’s Coming Together, and of course Fantasia Fair, where they focused on gender expression beyond the binary, the spiritual aspects of our gender journeys, and the beauty of humanness, regardless of gender. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Holly held many Kindred Spirit Spiritual Retreats for transpeople in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Holly Boswell’s efforts earned them two service awards from the Asheville, NC LGBT community, as well as the 1998 Trinity Award and the 2003 Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Award– both presented by the International Foundation for Gender Education. Holly was the designer of the transgender symbol pictured above. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Holly in 2006.

Joanne Law (2005)

Joanne Law

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2005


Joanne Penny Law describes herself as a transgender activist with more than two decades worth of experience assisting individuals, corporations, and unions, and policing organizations in the most effective manner to address transgender and gay/lesbian/bisexual issues. Joanne has fought tirelessly for the acceptance of all individuals, independent of their orientation and gender identity and expression. Ms. Law is a long-time member of Gender Mosaic, a transgender social support group in Ottawa. She has been a member of the Ottawa Police Service Liaison Committee, President of the Association of Lesbian, Transgender, Gay and Bisexuals of Ottawa, and a member of the Ottawa Carleton Hate Crime Task Force. Her opinions and insight have been presented on the Internet, at large national conferences, on Canadian national radio, and on television. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Joanne in 2005. .

Nancy Nangeroni (2005)

Nancy Nangeroni

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2005



Nancy Nangeroni (L and Life Partner Gordene MacKenzie

Nancy Nangeroni is a widely respected transgender activist, author, lecturer, musician, and media producer on issues of gender. After transitioning in early 1993, Ms. Nangeroni became a leading voice in the emerging transgender movement,. She established a long history in community support efforts and collaborative activism. Nancy has served as Executive Director for the International Foundation for Gender Education. She founded the Boston chapter of The Transsexual Menace and authored the transgender amendment to the Cambridge Human Rights Ordinance. Nancy is a regular presenter to classes at local high schools and colleges, as well as for professional and GLBT organizations and transgender gatherings across the US. She has appeared on local and national commercial prime-time radio and television broadcasts to discuss issues of gender and transsexualism. With her partner, Gordene Mackenzie, she produced and hosted the leading radio talk show about gender and trans issues, GenderTalk, which aired weekly on WMBR-FM in Cambridge, MA, and worldwide via the Web at www.gendertalk.com. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Nancy  in 2005.


Listen to Gender Talk Radio

Sister Mary Elizabeth / Joanna Clark (2004)

Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark (Joanna Clark)

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2004


During a trip to rural Missouri in 1990, Sister Mary Elizabeth met a number of people living with AIDS who were unable to obtain the latest news and information about the disease for fear of losing their privacy. “I realized that electronic bulletin boards were the answer,” the 57-year-old Episcopalian nun says. “Users would have up-to-date information and could retain their anonymity.” That same year, Sister Mary Elizabeth followed her inspiration and founded the AIDS Education Global Information System, which became the world’s largest database for AIDS and HIV information. AEGIS, which Sister Mary Elizabeth ran from her mobile home in the old California mission town of San Juan Capistrano, was the hub for hundreds of thousands of electronic files that included all the AIDS-related contents of the National Library of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although AEGIS was free to users, the $20,000 annual cost of maintaining the service was acquired through contributions and Sister Mary Elizabeth’s part-time work as a computer consultant. After the development of the world wide web and broadband, AEGIS was moved online. Before her gender transition, Joanna Clark was a Chief Petty Office in the U.S. Navy, where she taught anti-submarine warfare. In 1976 a recruiter who knew of her history signed her up for the U.S. Army. A year-and-a-half later, when higher echelons learned of her gender transition, she was discharge. She sued the Army and won a settlement of $25,000 and an honorable discharge. Throughout the 1970s, Joanna engaged in advocacy on behalf of transpeople:

[She was] instrumental in winning the right of Californians to have their gender changed on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses. In 1980, she founded and led the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee.    –Wikipedia, Mary Elizabeth Clark

In the 1980s, Joanna became an Episcopal, and then an American Catholic nun and took the name Sister Mary Elizabeth. With Jude Patton she carried on the work of the Erickson Educational Foundation, providing information and assistance to transsexuals, their loved ones, helping professionals, and journalists. In 1992 Sister Mary passed on this work to another AEGIS, The American Educational Gender Information Service. Sister Mary is the recipient of the Award of Courage from the American Foundation for AIDS Research,[8] the Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights from the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care,[9] the Crystal Heart award from the San Diego GLBT Center and the Joan of Arc award from the Orange County, California Community Foundation. In 2005 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Sister Mary Elizabeth in 2004.


AEGIS: AIDS Education Global Information System

Judy Osborne (2004)

Judy Osborne

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2004


Judy Osborne, a transsexual woman, began her involvement with the community in 1977 when she joined a Tri-Ess affiliate in Portland. She joined the Emerald City support group when it was formed in 1983 and joined its board in 1985, serving a total of twelve years, four of them as the club’s President. She was a member the Seattle Police LBGTQ Advisory Council and taught classes at the Seattle/King County Police Academy before it merged with the State Academy. Judy has written extensively for Transgender Tapestry and TG Forum and prepared and distributed a series of twenty-four monthly letters on transgender topics for psychologists. She has done considerable political work for the LGBTQ community in and around Seattle. She’s a board member of Seattle’s Ingersoll Gender Center, where she chairs the Outreach and Communications Committee and writes a monthly letter to psychologists about transgender topics. She especially likes working with queer youth, speaking with various youth groups and classes and serving on a unique American Friends Service Committee GLBTQ youth program committee. Judy is a member of the Seattle Police Chief’s Sexual Minorities Advisory Council and teaches classes of cadets at the Police Academy about transgender topics. Judy’s work for Soulforce has taken her into a remarkable variety of places, situations and, occasionally, jails. She serves on the Soulforce national advisory board. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Judy in 2004.

Phyllis Randolph Frye (2003)

Phyllis Randolph Frye

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2003


Phyllis Randolph Frye is a force of nature and a judge for the Municipal Courts of her home city, Houston, Texas. For many years, she was an attorney in Houston. In her earlier life, Judge Frye was an Eagle Boy Scout, her high school’s ROTC commander, a member of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, a military officer, a civil engineer, and a father. She has been involved, consistently, on the front lines of the LGBT freedom movement, for more than 25 years. In 1980, she changed the Houston law against crossdressing. In 1991, she founded the  groundbreaking Transgender Law Conference. Phyllis was a pioneer in the national movement for transgender legal and political action. In 1995, she received the Creator of Change Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. In 1999, she received the Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Foundation for Gender Education. She and attorney Alyson Meiselman of Maryland,took the Christie Lee Littleton case to the Kansas Court of Appeals, which declared that genitals were not dispositive in the legal definition of sex, so a transgender woman who had had a vagina for more than twenty years, was declared to be legally male. Phyllis and Alysson petitioned the U.S. Supreme court, which denied certiorari. Phyllis has taught as an adjunct professor of law and was elected and served four times as a delegate to the Convention of the Democratic Party of the State of Texas. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Phyllis in 2003.


Phyllis Frye’s Website

Ariadne Kane (2003)

Ariadne Kane, Ed.D.

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2003


Dr. Ariadne (Ari) Kane has long identified as an androgyne and a bisexual; she promotes the androgyne lifestyle as a model of gender balance in the face of societal changes. She earned her doctorate from The Institute for the Advanced Study of Sexuality. For many years she ran Theseus Counseling Service, in Maine. Ari now lives in the Albany, New York area. Ariadne became an activist in 1971, when she joined and helped to restructure the Boston Gamma chapter of The Society for the Second Self, an organization for heterosexual crossdressers and their wives. Boston Gamma eventually dissociated from Tri-Ess and members formed the support groups The Cherrystones, The Tiffany Club of New England, and Kay Mayflower Society. In 1974 members of the Cherrystones, including Ari, began to plan the first Fantasia Fair.

It struck me that we could create a dynamic program of activities that were educational, social and practical for all CDs [crosdressers] and TSs [transsexuals] who were willing to come out from the closets of shame, guilt and shyness. I believed that in a tolerant and open community they could learn some things about being femme or masculine; get much needed help about comportment and presentation and, have truly educational experience out of the closet. It was with this guiding premise that FanFair was created. It was with the help and financial backing of three members of the Boston Cherrystone Club and myself that FanFair One became a reality in 1975. —Boyd, Helen, (En)Gender Blog, Five Questions with…Ariadne Kane

In 1975, Ariadne founded and became executive Director of the Human Achievement and Outreach Institute (Later the Outreach Institute for Gender Studies), the 501(c)(3) nonprofit which oversaw Fantasia Fair through the end of the twentieth century. Through Outreach, she appeared on The Phil Donahue Show, held seminars for professionals to learn about trans issues, created The New Woman Conference for post-operative transsexual women, published the excellent Journal of Gender Studies, and held Gender Attitude Reassessments, which applied techniques from the Sexual Attitude Reassessment to gender. Ari is co-editor, with Vern Bullough, of Crossing Sexual Boundaries (Prometheus Books, 2005). The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Ariadne in 2003.

Merissa Sherrill Lynn (2002)

Merissa Sherrill Lynn

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2002


Merissa Sherrill Lynn was founding director of the International Foundation for Gender Education and for many years was editor of Transgender Tapestry Journal. In the early 1970s, Ms. Lynn was a part of the Cherrystone Club, whose members envisioned Fantasia Fair. By 1997, the Cherrystone Club split into two groups, one of which became The Tiffany Club. As the Tiffany Club of New England, this organization continues to thrive and provide a safe, secure, non-sexual, friendly place to meet and dress. In the late 1980s, working with the Chicago Gender Society, Ms. Lynn helped organize the first International Foundation for Gender Education convention in Chicago, Illinois. For more than ten years, this conference was considered one of the most influential and prominent annual transgender events. Throughout this century, Merissa was a recluse, but the board of directors of Real Life Experiences was thrilled to convince her to come to Provincetown in 2002 to accept her Transgender Pioneer award.

Virginia Prince, Ph.D. (2002)

Virginia Prince

Transgender Pioneer Award Recipient, 2002


Virginia Prince is the founder of the first national crossdressing support organization in North America, The Society for the Second Self, and a well known pioneer in our community. She was the publisher and editor of the early crossdressing journal Transvestia, and an active and ardent spokesperson, author, and researcher for the crossdressing community for more than fifty years. A staunch promoter of heterosexual crossdressing since the late 1950s, Virginia Prince had a powerful impact on what would become the transgender community. She was the first person to establish a systematic organizational structure that provided a safe setting for crossdressers to correspond with one another and meet in cities all over the world in safety. Virginia’s advocacy came at a high personal cost.  In 1961 she was investigated by postal inspectors and arrested for corresponding with another crossdresser by mail. When prosecutors offered to drop the charges if Virginia would shut down her post office box and cease publication and distribution of Transvestia, she refused, knowing she faced up to five years in a Federal penitentiary. Virginia’s advocacy of a non-surgical transgenderist position since the late 1960s constituted a major conceptual and identity innovation. At the same time, her policy of excluding gay crossdressers and transsexuals from the groups she started kept many isolated and out of touch with one another. She took one for the community. Fortunately, she was given probation and did no jail time. Virginia started many crossdressing support groups, but her policy of exclusion also led to the formation of publications that countered her views and support groups, including many defectors from her Society for the Second Self, that welcomed all transpeople regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The board of directors of Real Life Experiences was pleased to present the Transgender Pioneer Award to Virginia in 2002. The link below offers an interesting and balanced perspective on Virginia and her work.


Melanie Yarborough, The Curmudgeon We Needed, 2009

Getting Started at the Fair


Fair check in (@Boatslip 1-5 pm)
Review your welcome packet and Fair schedule for the week
Stroll around town and get your bearings
Attend the Welcome Reception


Check the day's schedule
Kick Off Brunch
Attend the Welcome Dinner/Dance


Check the day's schedule
Attend the Newcomers Lunch

You've settled in. You've got the hang of it.
Enjoy the Fair!


Afternoon Key Note and Workshops
Mingle in the courtyard at the Crown