This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

30 April 2016

Berlin's Eldorado. Part II: 1928-33

Continued from Part I.

Motzstrasse 15. 

Success at the Lutherstrasse 30 encouraged Konjetschni to find larger premises, and he opened in the former Grand Cafe Luitpold early in 1928. Both Lutherstrasse 30 and Motzstrasse 15 were open, and many customers visited both. Marlene Deitrich and other celebrities were sometimes seen here. The “HIER ISTS RICHTIG!” banner was now outside.

Ossy Gades transferred to the new premises.

1929. Sinclair Lewis’ novel Dodsworth, takes the eponymous character on a Berlin pub crawl. In an unnamed transvestite bar, probably Eldorado: “And there was a girl in lavender chiffon – only from the set of her shoulders Sam was sure that she was a man”.

Mugette was a star performer. Her photograph by Elli Marcus was featured in Der Querschnitt 2/1931.

1930. “Our Excursion to ‘El Dorado’” by French writer Bernard Zimmer, Le Crapouillot, 23. He visited both locations. “The life of these “transvestites” is interesting to observe: Most live in couples with a thousand jealousies and intrigues. Some are small-time prostitutes, others husbands, and a few are fathers with families. And the prostitutes are treated like members of any other respected profession.” “The other Eldorado [on Motzstrasse] is more elegant. Sophisticated types spend the evening there for the performances and to savour a bottle of German champagne. On a small stage, some danseuses in tutus twirl on point: Again transvestites. (Many are from Paris.)”

Another observation from a Berliner: “You’d see always famous people there, like Max Pallenberg. Not much of a show, but the most fascinating thing was ... you had lesbians looking like lesbians with short hair, lesbians looking like beautiful women, lesbians dressed exactly like men and looking like men. You had men dressed like women so you couldn’t possibly recognize they were men, it was so realistic. Then you would see couples dancing and you wouldn’t know any more what it was “.

1931. Lutherstrasse 30 was closed.

September 1931, the Berlin journalist, Rumpelstilzchen, took his visiting provincial uncle Artur to the Eldorado. Artur did not understand the gender of the persons, but found them to be stunning.

The English journalist Denis Safton Delmer, was friendly from previous visits with Ernst Röhm, commander of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Röhm took Delmer to a restaurant and then on to Eldorado. One of the hostesses came over uninvited and chatted with Röhm about a party a few days previously. Delmer made a comment about about how no female hooker would talk like that to a previous customer in front of a stranger. Röhm  snapped: “"I'm not his client. I'm his commanding officer. He's one of my SA men. "

Michael Fry, son of White Russian Paquita Louise de Shishmareff, who blamed Jews for both Capitalism and Communism, visited with revulsion. In his 1934 Hitler’s Wonderland he blames gay decadence on the existence of Hirschfeld’s Institute, and beyond that as a Jewish plot to undermine German culture: “ The corrupt administration of the cities did not censure the Institute, so why should it forbid Pervert-Clubs, Homosexuality Leagues or ‘Daisy’ Bars?” (p19) “Now that your eye is trained, you can pick out fifty of these ‘Daisies’ at a glance-most of them are rather unattractive. That is because we are in the ‘Eldorado’, the popular resort. For those who can afford them, there are smaller, more exclusive night-clubs, where you find no creatures with rough chins dressed in imitation Paris models. There you would see the cream of the "Daisies" -the beau-monde of homosexuality­ - the better class of male prostitutes of which Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne, etc. are full.”

May 1932. American Vogue attempted a send-up of the Eldorado. A reporter goes in search of Berlin’s most perfect female. Measuring everything from shoes to nose length, the reporter fails to find a suitable woman in the grand hotels, in the chi-chi cafés. Finally he checks the Eldorado, where a trans woman meets his criteria. However the Berlin that the article described was already over.

July 1932, new Chief of Police Kurt Melcher began implementing the strict Catholic policies of the new Von Papen government and announced “an extensive campaign against Berlin’s depraved nightlife”.  All “amusements with dancing of a homosexual nature” were now subject to an earlier closing time of 10pm and many bars and dance halls turned themselves into private clubs in an attempt to sidestep the new laws.

October 1932 Chief of Police ordered a ban on same-sex couples dancing in public.

Fearing for his family and livelihood, Ludwig Konjetschni closed the Eldorado and handed the premises over to the local Sturmabteilung (SA) – many of whom had worked for him and he placed his future in their hands. The SA turned the Eldorado into their new local headquarters.

January 1933 Hermann Goering ordered the closure of gay bars, and gay men and transvestites were routinely arrested and imprisoned.

1933. Ossy Gades was working as a man at the DéDé Bar on Bülowstraße. It was part-owned by a Sturmabteilung (SA) Lieutenant and, by 1934 renamed the Bülow-Krug. Despite this Gades was arrested several times and beaten for having dressed in women’s clothes. He explained that he was not homosexual, and went out en-femme only when accompanied by his wife. He was still regarded as homosexual.

July 1933. Despite his gift, Ludwig Konjetschni was not safe. He and his family fled Germany.
30 June/1 July ex-Eldorado customer, Ernst Röhm deposed, arrested and executed by his own Nazi Party. The Night of the Long Knives.

May 1935. Ossy Gades sent to Lichtenburg concentration camp. This camp was one of the first and housed mostly political prisoners and gay men. He died there a year later.

1935. Christopher Isherwood. Mr Norris Changes Trains. A novel based on his experiences set in pre-Nazi Berlin, and with scenes in Eldorado.

1939 Christopher Isherwood. Goodbye to Berlin. More based on his Berlin experiences.
  • Gustave Binet-Valmer. Sur Le Sable Couchées-. Roman Inédit. 1928.
  • Lewis, Sinclair. Dodsworth. Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1929.
  • Bernard Zimmer “Our Excursion to ‘El Dorado’” Le Crapouillot, 23, 1930. Translation in Gordon, 2006.
  • Curt Moreck: Führer durch das „lasterhafte“ Berlin. Moderne Stadtführer, Leipzig 1931; Reprint 1996.
  • Wyndham Lewis. “The Berlin Eldorado”. Hitler. Gordon Press, 1931.
  • Michael Fry. Hitler’s Wonderland. John Murray, 1934: 19-20, 24-5,27.
  • Christopher Isherwood. Mr. Norris Changes Trains. Hogarth Press, 1935.
  • Christopher Isherwood. Goodbye to Berlin. London: Hogarth Press, 1939.
  • Denis Sefton Delmer: “Ein Photo von Stalins Ohrläppchen”. Der Spiegel,  44, 31.10.1962, S. 46.
  • Wolff, Charlotte. Magnus Hirschfeld: Portrait of a Pioneer in Sexology. Quartet, 1986: 443-4.
  • Norman Page. Auden and Isherwood: The Berlin Years. St. Martin Press, 2000: 13, 18, 62,89.
  • Gregory Woods. “The Sodomite Reputation of Weimar Berlin”. Niteroi, 14, 1, 2003: 9-27. PDF
  • Mel Gordon. Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin. Feral House, 2006: 118-129, 289-291.
  • Florence Tamage. A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris 1919 – 1939. Algora, 2006: 245, 250.
  • Colin Storer. Britain and the Weimar Republic: The History of a Cultural Relationship. Tauris Academic Studies, 2010: 88, 136.
  • Robert Beachy. Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity. Knopf, 2014: 198-9, 205.
  • Tobias Churton. Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin: Art, Sex, and Magick in the Weimar Republic. Inner Traditions, 2014: 322-5.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis. University of Toronto Press, 2015: 151, 156, 175, 198.
  • Karin Wieland translated by Shelley Frisch. Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives. Liveright, 2015:
DE.Wikipedia    Cabaret Berlin    Deviates, Inc 


Storer says that Wyndham Lewis’ visit to Eldorado was during his 1921 visit to Berlin; Woods opts for Lewis’ much shorter 1930 visit. I have gone with the former.

Cabaret Berlin and Mel Gordon disagree on opening dates. I have gone with the earlier in each case.

 Unlike Paris' Le Carrousel, only 15 years later, we do not know many of the names of those who worked in the various Eldorados.

Also unlike at Le Carrousel, the performers were not able to take female hormones.   Hormones were being developed during the 1930s, by German, Bristish and US scientists, but did not become available until after the Second World War.

28 April 2016

Berlin’s Eldorado. Part I: to 1928

There were several Eldorados in Berlin in the interwar period. Our major interest is in the three opened and run by Ludwig Konjetschni. Other bars catering to transvestites were Hannemann, opened in 1892, and later the Mikado Bar, the Monocle Bar, Silhouette and the Bülow-Kasino. Many of the sources do not clarify which Eldorado is meant. I have sorted them out as well as possible.

Alte Jakobstrasse 60

 in the Kreuzberg district of the city (not owned by Konjetschni). Opened in 1919.

1921 Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957) Vorticist painter/author visited Berlin. His impressions of Eldorado appear in his 1931 pro-Nazi book, Hitler. The first 3 chapters are devoted to a diatribe against ‘the Haupstadt of Vice’. He derided the “Nigger dance luxury-spot[s]’, the ‘night-circuses, Negertanz palaces, naktballeten, flagellation-bars, and sad wells of super-masculine loneliness”. Of the transvestite bar, the Eldorado, he wrote: “[p]re-Hitler Berlin was a sink of iniquity – the fingers of any moderately fussy patriot must have itched to spring-clean it. Its male prostitutes alone, with their India-rubber breasts and padded hips – the fairy hostesses of the Eldorado – were a standing invitation to the Prussian to organise a “March on Berlin”. He further presents Adolf Hitler as a man of peace. Lewis did change his mind about Hitler during a visit to Berlin in 1937.

Kant-Strasse 24

in Charlottenburg. Opened 22 March 1922 by Konjetschni. It was advertised in gay and lesbian publications as ‘Treffpunkt der Internationalen Mondänen Welt (“Meeting Place For The International World)”, and was for three years a huge success.

1923. US novelist, Robert McAlmon (notional husband of Bryher) wrote: “Several Germans declared themselves authentic hermaphrodites [sic—transvestites], and one elderly variant loved to arrive at the smart cabarets each time as a different type of woman: elegant, or as washerwoman, or a street vendor, or as a modest mother of a family. He was very comical and his presence always made for hilarity.” “At nights along the Unter den Linden it was never possible to know whether it was a woman or a man in women’s clothing who accosted one. That didn’t matter, but it was sad to know that innumerable young and normal Germans were doing anything, from dope selling to every form of prostitution, to have money for themselves and their families, their widowed mothers and younger brothers and sisters.” McAlmon also wrote a short story, “Miss Knight” about a US trans woman in Berlin who does lots of alcohol and cocaine before moving back to New York.

1924, Nazi Party Reichstag Deputy Ernst Röhm moved to Berlin and spent personal time at homosexual bars including the Eldorado. A year later, one of his tricks attempted to blackmail him. He instantly reported him to the police.

The film Geheimnisse einer Seele (Secrets of a Soul), 1926, was partly filmed there. G W Pabst (dir) Hans Casparius (camera). Casparius intended to make a second film at Eldorado, Sex Shades, and met what he took to be a suitable transvestite. However when he asked why she was a transvestite, she replied “Because I earn much more that way”. Casparius was repelled by her lack of integrity, and called off the project.

Lutherstrasse 30

 in the main entertainment district in Schöneberg. Opened in 1926 by Konjetschni in the former August-Victoria-Sälle dance hall directly opposite the famous Scala Variety Theatre. This venue was featured in most guidebooks, and attracted celebrities. It also featured transvestite taxi dancers – you could buy a chip to exchange for a dance.

A huge banner inside the entrance proclaims: “HIER ISTS RICHTIG! (here it is right!)” Nearby are two oversized frescoes that show Ulysses being beckoned by gorgeous Circes (of course, in drag) and the trial of Paris, who hesitates between a trio of male Graces. The orchestra wear unisex silk blouses and play French and Argentinian music. The customers amuse themselves attempting to guess the birth gender of the dancers. The floor-show is at midnight, and plays on the ambiguity of the gender of the performers.

Curt Moreck’s 1931 guidebook to Berlin: “It’s all staged, and only completely naive people think it’s real. Even the real transvestites who place their abnormality in the service of the business become actors here. Between the dances, in which even a normal man can enjoy the spicy pleasure of dancing with an effeminate man dressed as a woman, there are floor shows. A male “chanteuse” with a high-pitched voice sings ambiguous Parisian songs. A male star who looks like a young girl does graceful feminine pirouettes under the spotlight. He is naked except for a bras and a g-string, but even this nakedness is deceptive: it puzzles the audience and still leaves doubt as to whether it’s a man or a woman.”

 Ossy Gades was a regular transvestite door-host and taxi-dancer.

1926. Hansi Sturm was chosen as Miss Eldorado.

1927. Painter Otto Dix visited Eldorado, and made paintings of some of the trans women.

Magnus Hirschfeld was sometimes seen here, partly out of professional interest.

Francis Bacon’s father attempted to straighten him out by sending him to Berlin in the care of a distant uncle. However the young Francis soon bedded his uncle. In Berlin he was delighted to discover the transvestite bars such as Eldorado and the rent-boy culture.

1928 Gustave Binet-Valmer, a male Swiss novelist, wrote a lesbian novel, Sur Le Sable Couchées includes scenes in Eldorado, Paris’ Club de Faubourg and the psychoanlyical circles in Vienna.

Continued in Part II.  

25 April 2016

David R Wesser (1933 – 2008) sex-change surgeon

David Wesser gained an MD degree from New York University-Bellevue College of Medicine and was trained in Reconstructive Surgery. During the Vietnam War he served as a Major in the US Army Medical Corps and afterward as a consultant for the US State Department in Vietnam caring for war-wounded children.

He taught and practiced surgery in the New York area, usually at the Yonkers Professional Hospital. He also had an office at east 86th St and Park Avenue. His first transsexual patients were those who had surgery elsewhere, and corrections were needed.

In 1972 Rupert Raj had his mastectomy from Dr Wesser and later said “a finer set of (man-made) male pecs I have yet to see”. In 1977 Rosalyne Blumenstein had an orchidectomy and a nose reduction. By 1980 Wesser had done 200 sex-change operations.

One of his patients that year was Sharon Davis, 24, who was well pleased with the results.

Another was Romain, 30, previously a social worker with a city child-welfare department, and also an organizer of S&M parties. His friends knowing that he thought himself to really be a woman, had suggested Dr Benito Rish, who sent him to a panel of experts including a psychiatrist, all of whom approved her for surgery. Rish sent her for surgery with Dr Wesser. However as she later remembered it, she developed doubts while under sedation and on the gurney. As she was medicated, she was not considered rational. Seven months later, after failing to find a surgeon who would reverse the operation, Romain killed herself. Dr Wesser then started requiring a full-year of living as the target gender before surgery.

This was a few months before the Yonkers Professional Hospital was closed down after a surprise inspection by the state.

Also in 1980, David Wesser married. They had several children.

In 1981 he was charged before a panel of the New York Department of Health with
“negligence or gross incompetence, or both, in connection with the care of five gender-change patients. The basis for the charges was that he had diagnosed transsexualism and performed the gender-change operations without obtaining an adequate medical history, adequate physical or psychiatric consultations and without having obtained an adequate informed consent. Petitioner denied the charges and alleged that he had relied upon the psychiatric evaluations of a board-certified psychiatrist”.
His lawyer describes the panel:
“The Chairperson of the panel was a psychiatrist who believed homosexuality to be a deviant criminal activity. Another doctor on the panel was a close friend and professional colleague of the expert witness testifying for the prosecution. The lay person, non-medical professional member of the panel was a Roman Catholic Monsignor.”
Wesser’s license was suspended for one year in 1983, but the case had been pursued for seven years and Wesser was left psychologically broken, and in diminished health.

Dr Wesser started doing silicone injections, although by the end of the decade the procedure was being done by non-doctors such as Jimmy Treetop.

Wesser suffered a heart illness in 1993.

In December 1994 Dr Wesser admitted to the truth of allegations of malpractice endangering the life of a patient receiving liposuction and breast reconstruction. His license to practice medicine in New York State was revoked and he was fined $10,000.

He then lived in Palm Coast, Florida, and was a Counselor at the Stewart Marchman Center in Bunnell where he was an advocate for substance abuse treatments, especially for youths. He died at the age of 75.
  • Edward Falces, David Wesser & Mark Gorney. “Cosmetic Surgery of the Non-Caucasian Nose”. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 45,4,April 1970: 317-3324.
  • A Robert Beck & David R.Wesser. "Constrictive Digital Injuries in Infants, Caused by Human Hair". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 49, 4, 1972: 420-422.
  • David R.Wesser. "A Single Stage Operative Technique for Castration, Vaginal Construction and Perineoplasty in Transsexuals". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 7, 4, 1978: 309-323.
  • Sharon Churcher. "The Anguish of the Transsexuals". New York Magazine, 13, 25, June 16, 1980.
  • “Matter David R. Wesser V. State New York”. Supreme Court of New York, May 24, 1983.
  • Sharon Davis. A Finer Specimen of Womanhood: A Transsexual Speaks Out. Vantage Press, 1986:
  • Rupert Raj. “Metamorphosis: Man in the Making (A Personal and Political Perspective)”. In Bonnie Bullough, Vern L. Bullough, James Elias (eds) Gender Blending. Prometheus Books 1997: 480-4.
  • Rosalyne Blumenstein. Branded T. 1stBooks, 2003: 83 -5.
  • David R.Wesser. "Repair of a Cryptotic Ear with a Trefoil Flap". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 50, 2, 2006: 192-193.
  • Laura Rena Murray. “The High Price of Looking Like a Woman”. New York Times, Aug 19, 2011.
  • Deyan Ranko Brashich. “Transgender’s Dark Ugly Past and Present”. Litchfield County Times, June 10, 2015.
Obituary    License termination

12 April 2016

Ossy Gades (1902 – 1936) performer, barman

From 1929-31 Ossy Gades worked as the transvestite door-host and taxi-dancer first at the Eldorado nightclub at Lutherstrasse 30, and then at the new and larger premises at Motzstrasse.
Ossy was probably one of these

By 1933, Ossy was working as a man at the DéDé Bar on Bülowstrasse. It was part-owned by a Sturmabteilung (SA) Lieutenant and, by 1934 renamed the Bülow-Krug. Despite this Gades was arrested several times and beaten for having dressed in women’s clothes. He explained that he was not homosexual, and went out en-femme only when accompanied by his wife. He was still regarded as homosexual.

On 25 May 1935 he was arrested again, and sent to Lichtenburg concentration camp. This camp was one of the first and housed mostly political prisoners and gay men. He died there a year later.
  • Rainer Herrn. Schnittmuster des Gesch-lechts. Transvestitismus und Trans-sexualität in der frühen Sexual-wissenschaft. Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag 2005: 159.
  • C-J Charpentier. Isherwood och Berlin. 2015: 6. PDF


09 April 2016

Benito B. Rish (192? - 2007) plastic surgeon

Benito Rish became licensed to practice in the State of New York in 1949. He was mainly a plastic surgeon, and became known as a urologist and for his rhinoplasty and other facial surgery. He worked at Yonkers Professional Hospital, 27 Ludlow St, Yonkers, NY, and in time became a part-owner of the hospital. Among other responsibilities he became president of its board of directors, chief of plastic surgery and head of the Gender Identity Center.

Both Harry Benjamin and Leo Wollman referred patients to Dr Rish for genital surgery. These included Erica Kay in 1968; Liz Eden and Puerto Rican Soraya Santiago in 1973; Mario Martino in 1977.

Dr Rish was also known as willing to sell female hormones without a prescription, if you looked trans. It is said that Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn and International Chrysis used this service.

In 1971, Debbie Hartin spoke about her problems with ‘her family, her neighbors and her daughter’ at a meeting that was supposed to be the inaugural meeting of Transsexuals Anonymous held at Dr Rish’s office.

That same year Dr Rish was named to the advisory board of Reed Erickson’s EEF, and was subsequently on the list of surgeons sympathetic to transsexuals issued by EEF.

Dr Rish was sued for malpractice in silicone injections in 1972; for surgery in 1973 and again in 1974. In 1985 he was sued re a 1977 rhinoplasty and subsequent injection of silicone into the nose.

In 1980 Yonkers Professional Hospital was closed after a surprise state inspection, stood empty for almost a decade, and was then converted into apartments.

Dr Benito Rish went into partnership with Canadian Sonia LaFontaine as the Lafontaine-Rish Medical Associates. LaFontaine and her husband, Arthur Kissel, also ran a clinic in Toronto. In 2000 LaFontaine and Rish were taken to court charged with hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraudulent insurance claims. As the New York Daily News put it:
“Lafontaine herself, who has no formal training as a doctor, is charged with performing hundreds of procedures at the now-defunct clinic, from silicone lip enlargements to vein treatments”.
The most serious charge concerned an overweight Jersey City man who went for liposuction in January 1998 in the hope of becoming a New York cop. He died from complications due to anesthesia. The anesthesiologist, who already had a suspended license because of a morphine addiction, quickly surrendered her license. Dr Rish pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, admitted to allowing two unlicensed individuals to perform under his name, and surrendered his license.

Kissel was arrested in Toronto for working illegally in Canada. He appealed his extradition to the US in every way that he could, and was not tried in New York until 2009, by which time his wife had completed her sentence. Dr Rish had died in 2007.

Yonkers Professional Hospital


The trans persons whom we know had surgery with Dr Rish are not reported as complaining.

Are we discussing a one-time good doctor whose standards slipped over the years?

All-right, I will say it.  There is a question hovering about Dr Rish.   We know that two of his non-surgical patients died young:  Candy Darling in 1974 at age 29, possibly of side effects of taking the wrong hormones;  International Chrysis in 1990 at age 39.   Was Chrysis still a patient of Dr Rish in the 1980s after the Yonkers hospital closed?  There is no indication of that in Ellen Fisher Turk's docuemntary.

04 April 2016

Selena Robbins (193? - ) actress

Selena Robbins, now almost forgotten, had already completed transition when she became involved in the New York cinema-theater underground of the late 1960s.

Sexploitation auteur Andy Milligan cast her in his 1968 film, The Filthy Five. The plot features a boxer caught between two women, and Robbins’ stripper who has a three-some with two men. Robbins was featured prominently on the film’s poster.
McDonough p162

  • Jimmy McDonough. The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan. A Cappella, 2001: 162-3, 166, 342.
  • Andy Milligan (dir). The Filthy Five. With Fredric Forrest as Johnny Longo, Jackie Colton as Rose White and Selena Robbins as stripper. US 96 mins 1968. IMDB

29 March 2016

40 trans persons in Australia who changed things by example and/or achievement

  • Norman Haire (1892 – 1952) Australian sexologist, colleague of Hirschfeld. GVWW   book
  • Herbert Bower (1914 - 2006) co-founder of Monash Gender Dysphoria Clinic. Obituary

  • Trudy Kennedy (1936 - 2011) co-founder of Monash Gender Dysphoria Clinic.
  • Peter Haertsch (1945 - ) best-known Australian sex-change surgeon. Discussion   Newsarticle

  1. Edward de Lacy Evans (1830 – 1901) Irish immigrant in Melbourne, labourer outed when entered lunatic asylum in 1879. GVWW
  2. Steve Hart (1859 – 1880) Irish immigrant in Victoria State, part of Ned Kelly Gang. GVWW
  3. William Edwards (1874 – 1956) from Melbourne, sheep shearer, performer. GVWW
  4. Harry Leo Crawford (1875 – 1938) manual worker in Sydney convicted of murdering his wife. GVWW   EN.Wikipedia
  5. Bill Smith (1886 – 1975) Queensland jockey, brewery worker. GVWW
  6. William Smith (190? - ?) farm worker sued to get wages at male rate. GVWW
  7. Harry Foy (1901 – 1942) Sydney female impersonator 1940s GVWW
  8. Lea Sonia (191? - 1941) female impersonator in 1930s. GVWW
  9. Rose Jackson (1934 – 2011) Sydney performer, costumier. GVWW
  10. Kate Cummings (1935 - ) immigrant from Scotland, librarian who spent much time in North America meeting pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s. First Australian to get her Naturalization Certificate reissued with the revised gender. TSSuccesses
  11. Kathy Anne Noble (1935 - 2015) UK immigrant, Brisbane activist, founder of Agender Australia and Changeling Aspects. Book
  12. Peter Stirling (1936 - ) shoe retailer, store detective, female-born XXY  GVWW
  13. Pip Wherrett (1936 – 2009) Sydney motorsports journalist, broadcaster. GVWW   EN.Wikipedia
  14. Janine Roberts (1942 - ) UK immigrant, investigative journalist. GVWW
  15. Carlotta (1943 - ) Sydney entertainer, 1st trans to play trans on television in 1973. GVWW   EN.Wikipedia 
  16. Raewyn Connell (1944 - ) sociologist at the University of Sydney, specializes in the social construction of masculinity EN.Wikipedia
  17. Sarah Parry (1945 - ) ship's captain in Hobart. GVWW
  18. Westerley Windina (1950 - ) Queensland champion surfer. GVWW
  19. Doris Fish (1952 – 1991) Sydney drag performer who found fame in San Francisco. GVWW
  20. Rachael Padman (1954 - ) from Melbourne, physicist at Cambridge. GVWW
  21. Adele Bailey (1955 – 1978) NZ-born sex worker in Melbourne whose murder became an ongoing mystery. GVWW
  22. Catherine McGregor (1956 - ) Australian soldier, cricketer, sports writer, political aide GVWW   EN.Wikipedia
  23. Roberta Perkins (195? - ) author of Drag Queen Scene: Transsexuals in Kings Cross, and books on prostition, co-founder of Tiresias House, which grew into The Gender Centre. Books    Gender Centre
  24. Tracie O'Keefe (1957 - ) British-born hypnotherapist in Sydney, author of books on TSity Books   Gender Centre
  25. Penny Whetton (1958 - ) climate scientist in Victoria State. GVWW   EN.Wikipedia
  26. Olivia Watts (1961 - ) police officer, naturopath, Wicca  GVWW
  27. Norrie May-Welby (1961 - ) Immigrant from Scotland, pursued legal status of being neither male nor female. EN.Wikipedia
  28. Madison Hall (1964 - ) NSW murderer, first Australian to have TG surgery in prison. GVWW
  29. Estelle Asmodelle (1964 - ) NSW dancer. Model, activist. GVWW  EN.Wikipedia
  30. Mianne Bagger (1966 - ) pioneered permissions for trans women to compete in ladies' golf. EN.Wikipedia
  31. Alan Finch (1967 - ) UK immigrant. Much cited changeback. GVWW
  32. Sally Goldner (1968 - ) co-founder of Transgender Victoria, activist, GLBTI Person of the year 2015. VictoriaHRC
  33. Christine Chappel (1972 – 2000) from Perth, Western Australia, murdered in Suffolk, UK. GVWW
  34. Tony Briffa (1971 - ) PAIS raised as a girl, lived as a man, now neither/both. Intersex activist, Mayor of Hobsons Bay, Victoria. EN.Wikipedia   GVWW
  35. Savannah Jackson (1972 - ) financier. Newsarticle
  36. Veronica Baxter (1975 – 2009) Queensland aboriginal died in Sydney police custody. GVWW
  37. Bridget Clinch (1979 - ) Army Captain whose struggle to stay forced Army to change its policy of terminating trans persons. Newsarticle
  38. Delilah Slack-Smith (196? - ) martial artist. Gender Centre   Star Observer
  39. Jordan Raskopoulos (1982 - ) comedian, actor. EN.Wikipedia
  40. Kate Doak (198? - ) Sydney journalist DeadlyNewt

24 March 2016

Carys Massarella (1965–) physician.

Calum Massarella grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1990, cum laude, and completed an FRCPC in Emergency Medicine at McMaster University in 1997.

From there Massarella took a position in the emergency department at the associated St Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario, and became Chief of Emergency Medicine there in 2001. Massarella also married and had two children.

When Massarella was 42, a trans patient suffered a cardiac arrest and died. This brought home to Massarella that he did not want to die as a man, and as Carys she completed transition in 2009, with surgery in the US.

Carys remains an attending Emergency Physician at St. Joseph’s and is the lead Physician for the Transgender Care Program at Quest Community Health Centre in nearby St Catharines. She is President of the Medical Staff Association.
“The biggest obstacle for most transgender individuals is access to medical care,” she says. “In our clinic, we no longer refer patients to psychiatrists. Being transgender is not a pathology. Gender dysphoria is not a psychiatric illness.”
“What I always tell people is, you’re always going to have a transgender identity. That’s never going to change. Whether or not you transition, that’s a personal decision. But at the end of the day, the vast, vast majority of people do better after they transition, or they feel better after they transition.”
“I must say, my American colleagues…every time I tell them I did this at a Catholic hospital they are like ‘no you didn’t’ and I’m like ‘yes I did.” 

14 March 2016

Deborah Hartin (1933 -2005) sailor, activist

The AP wire photo of Debbie
Austin Hartin joined the US Navy in 1953. He married while serving in Florida the next year. Later Hartin would explain that he married to escape from having to live in the all-male environment on the navy base. A daughter, Deborah, was born a year later. The Hartins separated in 1957.

Hartin became a patient of Leo Wollman, and then had surgery from Dr Burou in Casablanca, April 16 1970. She was granted a divorce later that year from the wife not seen since 1957. A name change to Deborah Hartin was also granted. The mother retained custody of the daughter. The case attracted press attention as it was one of the first divorce cases where one party had transitioned.

In 1971 Debbie was featured on local cable television and in Screw magazine. Both appearances included a clear view of her vagina. Later, in March the Queens Liberation Front presented themselves in a class on homosexuality at New York University, where Debbie also spoke. Later Debbie spoke about her problems with ‘her family, her neighbors and her daughter’ at a meeting that was supposed to be the inaugural meeting of Transsexuals Anonymous held at the office of Dr Benito Rish.

That same year she was on the New York David Susskind Show, and later was filmed being interviewed and examined by Leo Wollman. Again this examination included a close-up of her vagina. The segment was eventually incorporated in the 1978-released film Born A Man... Let Me Die A Woman. She was living with her parents at that time.
from Let Me Die a Woman

Deborah had been able to get her name and sex changed on her baptismal certificate and certificate of discharge from the navy. She applied to get the same changes on her New York birth certificate. The name was changed but sex left blank. The Bureau of Records had adopted a committee report in 1965 to omit a sex designation from amended birth certificates for transsexuals. This had been tested legally but unsuccessfully in Matter of Anonymous v. Weiner, 1966. This was re-inforced by an amendment to the New York City Health Code which was adopted unanimously in 1971 that a re-issued birth certificate for a transsexual should not indicate the applicant’s sex. Nevertheless Deborah sued the Director of the Bureau of Records in 1973 in that she was not issued a revised birth certificate saying ‘female’ and that this was arbitrary and capricious and constituted an abuse of discretion. However the court denied her suit ruling that the Board had acted in a rational manner and made no error with regard to their own rules. They cited the 1966 precedent.

In 1976, Jude Patton and Deborah were guests on the syndicated The Phil Donahue Show.

Deborah died age 71.
  • “Father divorced, wants to remarry as woman”. Seattle Daily Times, October 7, 1970: F1. Online.
  • “Transsexual Divorce Is Approved”. Mobile Register, October 8, 1970: 7F. Online.
  • Heidi Handman. “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Mother”. Screw, 109, April 5, 1971: 4,center spread.
  • Drag, 1,3, 1971: 10. Online
  • Garry Pownall, “AV View”. New Scientist, 54, 793, 27 April 1972: 221. Online
  • Hartin V. Dir. Of Bur. Of Recs. Supreme Court, New York County, August 3, 1973. Online
  • Doris Wishman (dir). Born A Man... Let Me Die A Woman. Hosted by Leo Wollman, with trans persons Deborah Harte, Leslie, Lisa Carmelle, Ann Zordi, and porn stars Harry Reem, Angel Spirit and Vanessa del Rio. Scientific and medical advisor: Dr Leo Wollman. US 78 mins 1978. Debbie is featured from 90-100 minutes.
  • M.J. Lucas. Let Me Die A Woman: The Why and How of Sex-Change Operations. New York: Rearguard Productions. 1978: 22-4.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press, 2002: 202, 236, 249, 278.
  • Samuel E Bartos. “Letting "privates" be private: Toward a right of gender self-determination”. Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender, 15,67, 2008. PDF

EN.Wikipedia     IMDB


Deborah is the only trans woman that I have come across who took her daughter's name.

11 March 2016

Moscow, 1926

In Nikolai Krementsov's Revolutionary Experiments: The Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction, Oxford, 2013, we find on page 152.

"Available evidence indicates that at least one Moscow clinic did practice such operations.  As an Evening Moscow reporter informed his readers in December 1926, professor Il’ia Golianitskii, well-known for his work on plastic surgery and tissue transplantations, had successfully performed sex-change operations on both men and women.  Entitled “Underdeveloped people” and illustrated by  a photograph of one of the patients, the reportage described five successful sex-change operations: four on women and one on a man."

Unfortunately, that is the only mention of professor Golianitskii in the entire book.

 1926 is earlier than the pioneering operations carried out at Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute in Berlin.  If this is so, the early history of surgical transsexuality will be changed.  

04 March 2016

Curt Thomalla (1890 – 1939) doctor, writer

Thomalla, from Silesia, studied law and then medicine at the universities of Lausanne, Kiel, Würzburg, Erlangen und Breslau.

A volunteer in the War, he was severely injured in 1914. He passed the state exam in Breslau (now Wrocław in Poland) and worked at the city's Nervenklinik specialising in neurology and psychiatry.

From 1918 to 1925 he was head of the medical film archive at the UFA film studio in Potsdam. From 1924-6 he worked as a physician and as freelance writer, and was interested in the ideas of Eugene Steinach, rejuvenation and internal glands.

In 1924 he wrote for Uhu, the Berlin women's periodical, an article “The Riddle of the Glands: The mysterious Effects of Inner Secretion”, where he argued that 'sex intermediates' are the result of inner secretions, rather than of degeneracy. However he regarded this as a disease to be fixed by glandular means. The article was accompanied by a photograph of four 'women' who lived and worked as male, and had acquired police permits to do so.
Uhu, 1924, reprinted p104 in Sutton

From 1926 Thomalla worked for the German state as a popular educator on hygiene. In 1929 he was head of the press office of the association of German professional associations.

After the Nazi takeover he worked as a speaker in the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. In 1936 he published a book on eugenics with the then-required anti-Semitic aspects.

In 1939, feeling in disagreement with the governemnt, he and secretary both gassed themselves.
  • Curt Thomalla. “Ein psychiatrisch-neurologisches Filmarchiv. Zeitschrift für die gesamte” Neurologie und Psychiatrie, 45, 1/2, 1921.
  • Curt Thomalla. “Hygiene und soziale Medizin im Volksbelehrungsfilm”. Zeitschrift für Medizinalbeamte und Krankenhausärzte 21/23, ss. 589-593, 606-610, 631-635, 1922.
  • Curt Thomalla. “Steinachs Forschungen und Theorien im Lehrfilm”. Zeitschrift für ärztliche Fortbildung 20, ss. 52-56, 1923.
  • Curt Thomalla. “Vom medizinischen Lehrfilm zum Steinach-Film”. Der Bildwart (1), ss. 170-171, 1923.
  • Curt Thomalla. “Medizin und Arzt im Spielfilm”. Der Kinematograph, 805, 1923.
  • Curt Thomalla, “Das Drüsenrätsel: Das geheimnisvolle Wirkung der inneren Sekretion,” Uhu, no. illeg., November 1924, 82-91, 142-44.
  • Curt Thomalla. Innere Sekretion; Probleme der Blutdrüsen und Verjüngung, 1925.
  • Curt Thomalla. “The Sterilization Law in Germany”. The Scientific American 126, September 1934.
  • Curt Thomalla. Gesund sein – Gesund bleiben. Ein volkstümliches Hausbuch für den gesunden und kranken Menschen. Berlin: FW Peters, 1936
  • Katie Sutton. The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany. Berghahn Books, 2011: 103-4.
  • Andreas Killen. Scientific and Medical Films in the 1920s-1930s. PDF

29 February 2016

Peggy Wijnen (1945 – 1967) barmaid.

Jean-Marie Wijnen, Antwerp, was the only boy in a family of several girls. Wijnen always preferred to play with girls, and later quit technical school after being deemed too frail to work in a steel mill, and then was discharged from military service.

As Peggy, Wijnen worked as a hairdresser and as a barmaid.

Peggy approached a clinic in Uccle, Brussels and was assigned three doctors: Andre Fardeau, plastic surgeon, Jean Slosse, endocrinologist and Victor Leclarc, urologist, and with the consent of the Wijnen family, they agreed to supply transgender surgery. This was done 13 October 1967. However 11 days later, Peggy died of a blood clot.

The three doctors were charged with inflicting fatal blows and wounds with premeditation and willingly but without intent to kill. Dr Leclarc died before the trial ended. Drs Fardeau and Slosse were acquitted in that consent, both of Peggy and her family, had been given, and that no medical mistake was noted.
  • “Two Doctors Are Acquitted in Death Case”. Associated Press, Sep 28, 1969. Online
  • Internacional Areco: entre o sítio e as eleições Bélgica Um Julgamento Transexual. Online

The Internacional Areco article tells us that the going rate for transgender surgery in Belgium in 1967 was 100,000 Belgian francs, which at that time was about £725, which this site says would be the equivalent of £11,870 now.

26 February 2016

Chris Moore (191? - 1975?) sailor, performer

Chris, originally from California, was four and a half years in the US Army, and then was a merchant seaman. He lived a year in east Asia. He then settled in New York.

In the mid 1960s, he took up female impersonation, and appeared with Frank Bennet in the Follies Mantisque. This led to work with the Jewel Box Revue, at first doing a comedy strip. However it was discovered that he could impersonate Ethel Merman rather well, and started singing songs from Gypsy. He then added Marlene Dietriche and Bette Davis to his repertoire. He used a special heavy makeup to hide the tattoo on his upper arm. He was also partially blind and required thick glasses.

He met Lee Brewster and Vicky West in the Mattachine Society, and left with them to found the Queens Liberation Front. In 1971 Chris won the Most Outstanding Performance at the April in Paris Ball, and again at Lee's Mardi Gras Ball.

Chris was a constant at QLF parties, but after a few years she was diagnosed with cancer. She was able to fight it for over five years. Lee Brewster put on a special ball for Chris so that she could perform and be the star, and Vicky drew her for the cover of Drag magazine.
  • Avery Willard. Female Impersonation. New York: Regiment Publications, 1971: 26-9. Online
  • “Six Foot Chris Moore”. Female Impersonators, 2, Summer 1969: 18-21. Online
  • Cover. Drag, 3,11, 1973. Online
  • “Chris Moore Revue”. In Lee G Brewster's Mardi Gras Ball, 1974: 4-7. Online
  • Veronica Vera interviews Bebe Scarpe about the late Vicky West. “Forever Mardi Gras”. Transgender Tapestry, 111, Winter 2006/7: 32-43. Online
  • “The Kurt Mann Story”. Queer Music Heritage.

20 February 2016

Toni Fricke (189? - 193?) activist

Toni Fricke was living as female in Berlin in the 1920s, and she strongly desired to change her body. She wrote of the “persistent, nerve-murdering (nervenmordenden) psychological pressure” constantly threatening to undermine the health of transvestite individuals, that led to mental health problems, social rejection, and suicides.

Toni underwent blood tests with the Swiss researcher Emil Abderhalden at the University of Halle hoping to prove “that I am, so to say, internally a hermaphrodite”.

She proposed to replace the term 'transvestite' with 'transsensible' for those like herself for whom dressing was not enough.

From 1924 the women's magazine Die Freundin (Girl-friend) included a transvestite section, and Toni was a frequent contributor.

p60 in Sex and the Weimar Republic

  • Toni Fricke, “Der Transvestit: Aus dem Empfindungsleben eines 'Transvestiten'!” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin, no. 2, 12 September 1924, 1–2.
  • Torri Fricke, “Einiges über das Problem der Namensänderung für Transvestiten,” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin 15, May 1925.
  • Toni Fricke, “Ein Transvestit ist vogelfrei,” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin 3, no. 18, September 19, 1927, 5–6.
  • Rainer Herrn. “Vom Geschlechtsumwandlungswahn zur Geschlechtsumwandlung”. GenderWunderLand, 1995.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Among Abnormals: The Queer Sexual Politics of Germany’s Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. PhD Thesis, Rutgers University, 2008. :101. PDF
  • Katie Sutton. “Sexological Cases and Prehistory of Transgender Identity Politics in Interwar Germany” In Joy Damousi, Birgit Lang, Katie Sutton (eds). Case Studies and the Dissemination of Knowledge. Rourledge, 2015: 85, 93, 94, 98, 102.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis. University of Toronto Press, 2015: 61,63.

Professor Abderhalden’s work is controversial.   At different times he developed blood tests for pregnancy and dementia praecox.   They were initially replicated by other doctors, but then they were discredited.  His theory was extended by Nazi scientists, including Josef Mengele at Auschwitz concentration camp, hoping to find a blood test to separate Aryans from non-Aryans.  There is a debate as to whether Abderhalden was simply grossly mistaken or perpetuated deliberate fraud.  

16 February 2016

Capucine (193?–) performer

Original March 2007.

Capucine was a performer at Le Carrousel and was frequently mentioned along with Coccinelle and Bambi.

Capucine and Coccinelle

April Ashley comments:
"Anyway, Capucine's heart was pierced by a conflict: the ancient sugar-daddy and luxury, or the young blades and penury?  Of course the luxury always won in the end because Capucine's keeper was a very famous millionaire, enabling Capsy to compete with and overtake Coxy's mink collection.  But unlike Coxy, Capsy wanted to be 'a lady' as well.  This put him into agonising quandries when he fell for a bricklayer or a road-digger (which was frequently, because Capsy couldn't resist the boue)."
In 1960, the same year as Bambi and April, Capucine went to Dr Burou clinic in Casablanca for surgical completion.

In 1961 she starred in the Amsterdam extension of Madame Arthur. In 1963 she was part of the first Le Carousel tour of Japan. She also performed at Le Boeuf sur le Toit in Paris.

*Not the French film actress.
  • Vittorio Sala (dir).  I don giovanni della Costa Azzurra.  With Curd Jurgens, Coccinelle and  Capucine.  Italy 98 mins 1962.  IMDB
  • “Capucine”. Female Mimics,1,6, August 1965: 27-37. Online.
  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey. Jonathan Cape, 1982: 67-8. Arrow 1983. Online.

Capucine is the French word for the nasturtium flower.

Unlike Coccinelle, Bambi and April Ashley, Capucine never published her autobiography. We don't even know where she came from. Is she Parisian? Nor, what happened to her after the mid 1960s. The Female Mimics article is mainly photographs with content-less text. There is an obvious comparison to Hans Crystal who was in also a star female impersonator at the 82 Club, had her surgical completion in the mid 1960s, and likewise disappeared from view.

There is a confusing tradition among drag performers of taking the name of an established cis star. Germaine Lefebvre was an established French film star from the early 1950s using the name Capucine. Other drag performers to take an established name include Lynne Carter who took his name from the 1940s actress; Murry Pickford , was not Mary Pickford); Gloria Swanson (who was a big name in Chicago and New York drag circles in in 1920s, but not the Hollywood actress): Jean Malin who performed drag under the name of Imogene Wilson, one of the most famous of the Zeigfeld Follies showgirls otherwise known as Mary Nolan; Helen Morgan who used the name of the famous torch song singer; Brenda Lee the Brazilian activist who was not the country singer; and Bibíana Fernández, the transgendered actress who used to be known as Bibí Andersen, only two letters away from the name of the Swedish actress Bibi Andersson.

Both IMDB and EN.Wikipedia claim that the Capucine in I don giovanni della Costa Azzurra (Beach Casanova) is the other Capucine, Germaine Lefebvre (1928 – 1990). This conflation went so far that after Lefebre took her life in 1990 by jumping from her eighth-floor Lausanne apartment, some actually said that she did so because she was transsexual.  !!!

For some reason, Capucine is not mentioned at all in April Ashley's second autobiography, The First Lady.