This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

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!

24 February 2020

George Traver Whittle (1927 – 2017) sex-change surgeon

George Whittle was raised mainly in New Jersey. His father, a Naval Commander, was in command at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937 when the airship, the Hindenburg, crashed and burned. Ten-year-old George was among the witnesses.

Whittle graduated from Princeton in 1948 with majors in psychology and chemistry, and acquired a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania two years later. He did an internship at the Graduate Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania and surgical residencies at the Bronx VA and Columbia Presbyterian Hospitals in New York. In 1952 he was called to active duty in the US Navy and served in Korea. On return, he and his first wife moved to Long Branch, New Jersey and raised four children. He started the first renal dialysis unit in central New Jersey. He performed lithotripsy surgery, and was on the teaching staff of Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. He was a Diplomat of the American Board of Urology and elected a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

In the early 1970s, Whittle attended a symposium in Elsinore in Denmark on Transsexuality. Upon return, at the request of Johns Hopkins University, The University of Minnesota and the UCLA Medical Center he volunteered to surgically treat transsexual patients at the Jersey Shore Medical Center. He completed eight such operations assisted by Dr John Clark, both male to female and female to male operations. In his obituary he is quoted as saying that it was one of the most gratifying and challenging aspects of his medical career. His nurse Gloria, who was with him from 1970, helped provide aftercare and counselling. One of his patients was the New York business woman Judy Bowen who was in pain for years afterwards and later sued. This led to the Medical Center barring any more such operations.


The Ashbury Park Press in 1981, quoted Whittle that he was only too happy to give up the work with transsexuals because of “the day-to-day headaches and aggravations” and because it was a “losing proposition”. Of ‘male transsexuals’ [that is trans women] he said that they “have all the usual things wrong – emotional instability, financial difficulties, bad work habits and rehabilitive potentials. They are largely being supported by welfare; they don’t pay their bills”. On the other hand, “The female transsexuals [that is trans men] who have been assigned to male identity are exactly the opposite: they are generally stable, responsible and often productive persons who can be depended upon to pay their bills, have good work habits and normally wind up as a responsible member of the community”.

George and his first wife divorced in 1975. Gloria became his second wife in 1994 on his 67th birthday. They retired the next year and moved to Florida. Whittle died age 90.
  • “Transsexual nears trial in malpractice suit”. Drag: The International Transvestite Quarterly, 7, 26. 1978: 4. Online.
  • “Doctor still believes in sex changes: A decade ago, area physician did controversial surgery”. Ashbury Park Press, 29 November 1981: 51. Online.
  • “Memorial: George T Whittle ‘48”. Princeton Alumni Weekly, September 13, 2017. Online.
--------------------------

Legacy.com says that the symposium was in Elsinore in Norway. Neither Wikipedia nor Google maps knows of such a place. Elsinore, the English name for Helsingør, the location for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is of course in Denmark. Unless what is meant is Helsingborg, just over the water in Sweden - but again not Norway. However the Danish town is more likely, and I have adjusted the account accordingly.

Legacy.com says of Whittle’s transgender surgeries: “This led to him becoming one of the leading surgeons of transsexuals in the country, completing both male to female and female to male.” Really! Eight surgeries makes a surgeon a national leader?  Stanley Biber, who started transgender surgery only a few years earlier, went on to complete several thousand such operations.  Biber was a national leader.

21 February 2020

Carolyn Mercer (1947 - ) headteacher

Mercer was raised by working-class parents in Preston, Lancashire, and left school at 16 with minimal qualifications to work for a plastering and tiling contractor. Mercer also played rugby and did weight lifting and boxing.

At 17 Mercer spoke to the family doctor about feeling as if in the wrong body but was told “Stop bothering your mother”. The vicar arranged a referral to a psychiatric hospital where Mercer was subjected to ‘five or six’ sessions of electric shock aversion therapy while seeing pictures of women’s clothes. It took 40 years to get over that experience.

Mercer was married at age 19, and they had two children. Voluntary work in a youth club led to training as a primary school teacher, but as there was a shortage of maths teachers, Mercer ended up in a secondary school. By age 26 Mercer was head of mathematics, and did a degree at the Open University followed by a masters in Education Management at Sheffield Hallam University.

Mercer became deputy head, acting head, and then headteacher at a school in Blackpool at the age of 37 and thereby the second youngest headteacher in the country.

In 1994, Mercer had begun transition by taking estrogen. Word and got around, and a news photographer came to the door and took a photograph that then appeared in the tabloids. Mercer was suspended and investigated for not having “the honesty or integrity to be a headteacher”. However there was no case to answer – but it did intimidate her into having her newly grown breasts removed.

Mercer finally met a supportive psychiatrist in 2000, retired in 2002 at age 55 and this time did complete transition as Carolyn.

Since retirement Carolyn has been a hospice trustee and vice-chair, trustee of a national hospice charity, a member of Lancashire Constabulary Independent Advisory Group and chair of Lancashire LGBT.

  • “Ex-headteacher 'pretended to be a man' for 55 years”. Lancashire Post, 4th April 2016. Online.
  • Unity Blott. “Transgender headteacher, 68, reveals she was forced to endure brutal electric shock therapy as a teenager to try to 'cure' her”. The Daily Mail, 4 April 2016. Online
  • Alice Evans. “Trans conversion therapy survivor: 'I wanted to be cured so asked to be electrocuted' “. BBC News, 23 August 2019. Online.

18 February 2020

M J Bassett (196? - ) film director

Michael Bassett was raised in Newport in Shropshire. Aspirations of being a wildlife veterinarian were dashed by low grades. At 16 Bassett left school and worked as a wildlife filmmaker’s assistant.

From there Bassett became a science-nature presenter on children’s television, and then was a children’s puppeteer. After quitting that, Bassett bought a VHS camera and made short films, some of which won amateur awards. A funded film was broadcast. Meanwhile Bassett spent years writing screenplays and attempting to get attention for them.

Finally a script for a horror movie set in the trenches of the Great War attracted attention from several financiers, although all but one dropped out when Bassett insisted on directing the script. It ended up being called Deathwatch, and was fairly successful. This led to another horror film, Wilderness, and the heroic fantasy Solomon Kane, and then to an adaptation of the video game Silent Hill. Bassett both wrote and directed, and for Silent Hill was in social media contact with the fans as the project developed. From 2013 Bassett began directing episodes in television series, first as a guest director, and the next year as lead director for Starz’ Strike Back.

In 2016, Bassett announced that she is trans. She is still working on major films and television. Since 2016 she is credited as MJ Bassett, and posts as emjaybassett.


  • Christina Radish. “ ‘Strike Back’ Director Michael J. Bassett on the Show’s Final Season, ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ ”. Collider, August 28, 2015. Online.
  • Mekanie McFarland. “"Strike Back" brings women into the action”. Salon, February 9, 2018. Online.
IMDB     EN.Wikipedia   ins-tag-ram  Twitter   Biography(archive)

16 February 2020

Sophie White (1957 - ) filmmaker, actress

Sophie, originally from Houma, Louisiana, was previously known as Rory, and under that name had been a motorcycle racer, a boxing promoter, and a chiropractor, at first in Roswell, Georgia, and then, with a wife and three children, in Houma.

White invested in a brother’s new local television station, but it went bankrupt and White was left with a lot of equipment. Instead of selling it at discount, it made more sense to learn how to use it. White obtained camera work, and worked up to director of photography and then producer.

By 2017, White could no longer suppress her feminine side and had begun to transition as Sophie. That year she won an International Screen Writers Association award. She also pitched a film called Hummingbird loosely based on her own story of almost being pushed to suicide. They started filming with Sophie in the lead role. However another trans woman brought in as a consultant died by suicide, and they did not have the heart to finish post-production. 

Based on what had been filmed and seen, an agent signed Sophie as an actress. Since then she has had several film and television acting roles.


  • “Transgender Filmmaker Transitions into New Career Roles” Ambush Magazine, October 8, 2019. Online.
  • Eve Kucharski. “Transgender Actress Sophie White Talks Acting Origins, Upcoming Projects”. PrideSource, October 23rd, 2019. Online.