Angela Lynn Douglas and Transsexual Action Organization
Angela Lynn Douglas was born in 1943 in Detroit as a boy named Douglas Carl Czinki. Czinki and his family lived in Miami where he learned to play the guitar and chose to sing and perform professionally. He formed a rock band called “The Casinos” until 1958. Before he grew up into a young adult, however, his family relocated to Tokyo, Japan where he was able to finish his schooling at Yamato High School. Even in Tokyo, Czinki found his place in the music scene. He gathered some friends and performed with several American rock bands including “The Red Devils” and “The Nomads” in clubs and on the Japanese radio. He became fairly popular among his peers, earning the “most talented” title his senior year of high school. Post graduation, Czinki moved back to the United States and joined the Air Force and played for another rock band called “The Charades” in Oklahoma City.
In 1961, shortly after joining the Air Force he married a Cuban woman named Norma Arcadia Rodriguez and had a daughter named Joann. Soon, in 1964, Czinki left the Air Force with an honorary discharge and subsequently moved back to Miami to further his musical career. During this brief stay, he played with the band “The Sovereigns” before moving to Hollywood and forming a new band called “Euphoria”. As his musical career continued on, his marriage was coming to an end. In 1967, his wife, Rodriguez, wanted to separate from Czinki. The main reason behind this was her own coming out. She declared that she was a lesbian and fled away with her lesbian lover, taking with her their daughter. This was a source of agony for Douglas for the rest of her life. Czinki dedicated many years and much effort in conducting a search to find their daughter or to get in contact with Rodriguez in any way possible. The search involved the FBI and he tried to find and press charges for child theft, but the search was largely unsuccessful.
Even though Czinki experienced psychological pain and struggled after the separation, he finally had the freedom to do as he pleased. It was 1969 and Czinki officially came out and began to live as a woman, Angela Lynn Douglas. She also started her career as an underground writer for the Los Angeles Free Press and wrote hundreds and thousands of articles and columns for publications including The Berkeley Barb, The Advocate (a gay publication), Bay Area Reporter (another gay publication), and Everywoman (a woman’s paper). She decided to undergo sexual reassignment surgery and her transitional surgery was completed by Dr. John R. Brown in 1977.
Due to her popularity as an underground rock musician and writer for numerous publications, her name was popularized and gossip began to spread. People began to speculate on the reasons for her transition. In a news release from July 28, 1982 (ONE Archives, Subject Files, Douglas, Angela Lynn) Douglas was quoted as saying “At least this may end belief that I was a male homosexual prior to the sex change, which many believe. It simply wasn’t so. I changed sex in hopes of regaining Norma.” There is no way to discredit this quotation, but it is interesting to note, as it contrasts to another recorded quote that Douglas was also is self-described bi-sexual according to a news clipping from the Berkeley Barb. That essay, “Transexuals’ Dilemma” by Jennifer L. Thompson stated that upon being questioned why she underwent the transition (in another news article called “Angela Lynn Douglas: Transsexual Superstar”) Douglas replied “I developed inner feelings of wanting to be a female when I was a kid and probably had a basic hormone imbalance” (ONE Archives, Subject Files, Douglas, Angela Lynn).
The many press articles and intense exposure that Douglas received in the wake of her transition made her a target for others to exploit to make money off of her growing fame. One such instance was when a man named Stan Grossman and Newcastle Publishers of North Hollywood made a fortune by selling thousands of copies of X-rated magazines about her using erotic photos of her post-operation without paying Douglas her due royalties.
Douglas attempted to sue him, but it is unknown if she was successful in getting back the full amount or anything at all. However, perhaps this and many other experiences combined prompted Douglas to make a liberation organization to support and create a voice for transsexual people in 1970. It was called TAO, or the Transsexual Action Organization. She also put her passion for organizing and writing to publish two magazines, Mirage and later Moonshadow, which printed from 1972 to 1980. Both magazines had the intention of bringing together transsexual people and creating a community in a time when transsexuals were the most persecuted, both abandoned by transvestites, isolated by the heterosexual populations and alienated from the homosexual community as well. Particularly Mirage was a place where transsexual writers and artists of any medium could have a safe space to express and share their work. In a TAO information page in Moonshadow, it says, “...the TAO was instrumental in placing a transexual rights demands in the platform of the California Peace and Freedom party-- ‘The right to determine the uses of one’s body, as in sex change operations and others.’” TAO especially worked to aid those transsexual women who were taken advantage of, or often left out of feminist causes or women’s liberation simply because of their sexuality.
Though TAO came to an end in 1973 and both magazines stopped printing in 1980, Angela Douglas is remembered as an transsexual activist who worked throughout her life to help the community and normalize transsexuality.
Douglas, Angela K. “Transsexual Action Organization.” Moonshadow Aug. 1973 Published: Print.
Douglas, Angela K. “Transexual and Transvestite Liberation.” Mirage Vol. 1 No. 2, 1974 Published: Pages 15-16. Print.
Douglas, Angela Lynn, ONE Subject File collection, Coll2012-001, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California