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!

31 March 2020

San Quentin Prison, California

(All photographs within the prison via the Digital Transgender Archive)

San Quentin is one of the world’s best-known prisons. It is the oldest and largest in California, and the only one in the state where executions have been done. It is known for recorded concerts by Johnny Cash and BB King.


The prison was opened in 1852. It was so named as it is located on San Quentin Point. That, also, is not named for the 3rd century saint in Gaul. It is named for a renowned sub-chief of the Coast Miwok first nation.

There has been more drag and trans at San Quentin than you might expect.

See also: Trans in prison which I wrote in November 2012.
Part II: to Stonewall

1914

Artie Baker, 14 years for bank robbery, San Francisco, was in San Quentin for some time before being discovered to be female-bodied. (Peter Boag. Re-dressing America's Frontier Past, 2012: 211)

Prison Vaudeville Show featured cross-dressed prisoners.


1915

Prison Vaudeville Show again featured cross-dressed prisoners.


1930

The 17th annual field meet held at San Quentin in 1930 when James B. Holohan was the acting warden. Olympic Club member, Frank G. Kane, was Master of Ceremonies. The entertainers depicted are San Quentin inmates; the cross-dressers were a popular attraction.

1933

20th Annual Olympic Club Track & Field Meet at San Quentin prison was sponsored by the Olympic Club of San Francisco. Prison inmates held a field and track day. Consisted of some 29 athletic events, stunts, chorus girls and vaudeville acts performed by prisoners. Some 5000 inmates attended.

1940

  • Leo L.Stanley & Evelyn Wells. Men at Their Worst. By L. L. Stanley ... with the collaboration of Evelyn Wells. Illustrated. [The autobiography of the Chief Surgeon of the California State Prison, St. Quentin.], 1940: 203. Dr Stanley relates that while examining an apparently male prisoner, he discovered that the prisoner had been surgically transformed into a woman.

1950

Josephine Montgomery was arrested and convicted of strong-arm robbery. After two months in the women’s wing of the Imperial county jail, and one night in the women’s prison at Tehachapi, a routine physical exam resulted in a transfer to a man’s cell at San Quentin. NewsArticle.

1972

Katherine Marlowe, author of Mr Madame, 1964, met her future husband while lecturing at San Quentin prison, and finally transitioned to female in 1972. (Richard Nelson. Call Me Kate: The Story of Katherine Marlowe, a Transexual, 1999)

1980

Guthrie Danowski, 24, who was serving a life sentence at the prison, apparently slipped into some of his wife's clothing in a restroom of the crowded prison visiting room. His wife arrived at the prison early in the day, checking out two hours after her arrival. About five hours after that, San Quentin officials realized that Danowski was missing. (The Gateway, 2,12, June 1980: 9. Online)

1990

Janet Kolmetz on death row at San Quentin – at that time the only known trans woman in San Quentin. (TV-TS Tapestry, 55, 1990: 15-6. Online)

1998

Jeanne Hoff, the last doctor at Harry Benjamin’s practice, had become a psychiatrist after transition in
the 1980s, and was employed at San Quentin. She was in the news in April-May 1998 when she was the only one of three psychiatrists to testify that murderer Horace Kelly might be competent to be executed, and the defense attorney attempted to impeach Hoff. Although Horace Kelly's lawyer subpoenaed Hoff's prison personnel file in an attempt to impeach her, he presumably hadn't heard rumors that she was transsexual, didn't find it in the file and didn't read her. Otherwise he probably would have used it to defame her. She had been in a 1978 television special under the same name, but that was 20 years earlier. Jeanne was also named as trans in Jayne County's 1995 autobiography, but presumably the lawyer didn't read punk biographies. GVWW.










2008


  • Stuart Cabb (dir). Louis Theroux: Behind Bars, with Deborah Worledge. UK BBC 60 mins 2008. Deborah was filmed shortly before her release on Sept. 2, 2008. Two days after release she was dead from a drug overdose.

2009

Skylar Deleon, who had killed to be able to afford transgender surgery, arrived at San Quentin death row.

2014

Mandi Camille Hauwert,  Correctional Officer at San Quentin. One of the first US Correctional Officers to transition on the job. Another is Meghan Frederick who works at the state prison in Sacramento.

2015

Lady Jae Clark, who came out in 1973 and has been in San Quentin since 2013, was the first trans woman to play Lady Macbeth in San Quentin’s production of the play. Newsarticle.  She co-founded a program called Acting with Compassion and Truth (ACT) in San Quentin to increase understanding and decrease violence toward LGBTQ inmates. Newsarticle.

Trans woman at San Quentin approached the Insight Prison Project. They asked for support for the formation of Acting with Compassion and Truth (ACT) at San Quentin. They didn’t want a support group. “We live our lives here every day surrounded by thousands of people who have been for the last 20 or 30 years who haven’t had exposure to the evolution that we know is happening out there.” A year-long curriculum was set up. Newsarticle.

Shiloh Heavenly Quine, incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison was approved for transgender surgery, which set a precedent so that other trans inmates in California could hope.


  • Kristin Schreier Lyseggen,. The Women of San Quentin: Soul Murder of Transgender Women in Male Prisons. 2015: 109 – 136. About trans women in prisons, but most are not in San Quentin, despite the title of the book.

2018

Lisa Strawn who transitioned at age 18, but has been in men’s prisons for 25 years following a three-strikes burglary charge, who had helped establish an LGBTQ group at Vacaville prison, was transferred to San Quentin and joined ACT. Newsarticle.

2019

The LGBTQ education program was replicated on death row. Newsarticle.

First TDOR at San Quentin’s Catholic Chapel emceed by Lisa Strawn, the first such in a California prison. Newsarticle.

Child killer death row inmate Jessica Hann filed for change of name and legal gender.

29 March 2020

Florence Hines (186? - 1924) male impersonator

It is quite possible to be famous and yet unknown. Florence Hines is one such.

Hines, an African American, became known as a male impersonator at the beginning of the 1890s, and therefore was probably born in the late 1860s. Her stated home town of Salem, Oregon had not been in a slave state, but it was the only state with a black exclusion law – one that stated that black people who did not leave were to be publicly whipped. This was not repealed until 1925, although it was apparently often not enforced.

In the 1870s and 1880 several white male impersonators came to fame in New York and touring across country.  Two of the biggest names were Annie Hindle and Ella Wesner.  Black male impersonators attracted less attention, but Florence Hines was beginning to get noticed.

Until 1890, all-black minstrel shows lacked representational freedom, the stereotypes of black people The Creole Show which ran 1890-7.  The show was produced by Sam T Jack, a white man, but he accepted the ideas put forward by his lead performer Sam Lucas.  The show featured multi-talented black women noted for their beauty, and shifted the focus from the plantation past to the urban present.  And notably the interlocutor, the master of ceremonies, a role usually performed by a white male, was performed by Florence Hines who was already known as a male impersonator. Hines’ act mocked the Dandy, flashy young men who drank and dated openly and wore the latest clothes.  Hines was not simply copying the white male impersonators who had preceded her: the Dandy was a way to resist the degraded images of black men and over-sexualized images of black women that were popular with white audiences.
had been established by the white actors in blackface who performed Zip Coon and Jim Crow.  These roles dominated into the twentieth century. The major breakthrough that took black performance in another direction was

The New York Age reported in 1891: 
“Miss Florence Hines impersonated a male character in a manner that would do credit to any variety actor on the stage. …  The grand Amazonian March, under the direction of Miss Florence Hines, with a superb tableau, concluded the performance.” 
Hines’ Dandy was a long way from the old plantation stereotypes. Abbott and Sheroff comment: “Hines’s male impersonations provided the standard against which African American comediennes were compared for decades.”

In 1892, while performing in Cincinnati, Hines was in a fight with singer Marie Roberts with whom she performed a duet.  The Cincinnati Enquirer, journalist wrote that
“the utmost intimacy has existed between the two women for the past year, their marked devotion being not only noticeable but a subject of comment among their associates on the stage.”
Despite this Hines continued working, performing not only to black audiences but also to both white working-class and well-off white audiences.  
By 1904 the Indianapolis Freeman reported that Hines 
“commanded the largest salary paid to a colored female performer.”
There are two rumors about her later years: that she became an invalid in 1906; that in 1920, the first year of Prohibition, she had returned to Salem, Oregon to become a preacher.

Hines’ death was reported to the Chicago Defender in 1924 by a Nunnie Williams in Santa Clara, California who said that Hines was her mother – although no-one has found any mention of the death in any California or Oregon newspaper.


  • WLM Chaise. “Gossip of the Stage”. The New York Age, June 6, 1891.
  • “Two Beautiful Creoles Pull Hair,” Cincinnati Enquirer, March 2, 1892.
  • “Miss Florence Hines,” Indianapolis Freeman, September 10, 1904.
  • “Florence Hines Dead”, Chicago Defender, March 22, 1924
  • Lynn Abbott & Doug Seroff. Out of Sight: The Rise of African American Popular Music 1889-1895. University Press of Mississippi, 2002: 154-6, 159-160, 167, 308, 339, 371, 388, 473.
  • Kathleen Bridget Casey. “Cross-dressers and race-crossers : intersections of gender and race in American vaudeville, 1900-1930”. University of Rochester, PhD Thesis, 2010: 174n452, 195-6, 199. Online.
  • Marvin McAllister. Whiting Up: Whiteface Minstrels & Stage Europeans in African American Performance. The University of North Caroline Press, 2011: 78, 275n15.
  • Hugh Ryan. “This Black Drag King Was Once Known As the Greatest Male Impersonator of All Time”. Them, June 1, 2018. Online.
  • Hugh Ryan. When Brooklyn was Queer. St Martin’s Press, 2019: 55-8, 116.

22 March 2020

Pipás Pista (1886–1940) farm worker convicted of murder

Note1: In Hungarian/Magyar third person pronouns are not gendered. Ő is used whether the person is male or female, and will be used here for the protagonist, but, to avoid complication, only for the protagonist. The accusative, him-her, is őt; the possessive is övé.
Note 2: Hungarians put the family name first, as do Basques, Chinese etc.
Note 3: If a traditional Hungarian woman takes her husband’s name, ő adds né to it. So when Fődi Viktória married Rieger Pál ő became Rieger Pálné.


Fődi Viktória was born in Átokháza ( which actually means 'curse house') , 40 km east of Szeged in what is now southern Hungary.   Ővé father a jobbing shepherd. Ő continued animal herding until age 17 while other girls were put to working as servants from age 12 or so.

Ő was then married without övé consent to 46-year-old Reiger Pál, a wagon driver, and became known, as per the local tradition as Reiger Pálné. As no dowry was provided, ő was regarded as a sort of unpaid domestic servant. A few months later Pál made a wrong accusation as to who was stealing his tobacco, and then found out that it was his new wife. Ő had been smoking since childhood on doctor’s advice because of a lung disease. He also learned that when working as a shepherd, ő had become accustomed to drinking in taverns. Most years they had a pregnancy, six in all, but most became miscarriages, and only one child survived. Ő hated having sex with övé husband, and he beat őt regularly.

In 1910, ő left him. Ő flattened övé breasts with rags and straps, wore male clothing and gave övé name as Pipás Pista (Pista is a nickname derived from Istvan or Steven, and Pipás is a pipe smoker). Ő travelled around the Great Hungarian Plain doing male jobs such as plowing, sowing, harvesting and slaughtering pigs. Ő was primarily employed by widows or wives whose husband was not able or not doing the job for whatever reason. The advent of war in 1914 increased such employment.

With the end of war, the dual sovereignty of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary fell apart. Austria became a republic. In Hungary, after a year of being a republic, strongman and last Admiral of the Hungarian Navy, Miklós Horthy took over, re-established the Kingdom of Hungary and declared himself Regent. The apparent king, Károly IV, twice attempted to take the throne, but was rebuffed, exiled to Madeira and died shortly afterwards. Hungary continued as a kingdom without a king. By the Treaty of Trianon, 1920, Hungary lost over 70% of its territory as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland came into being, and Romania was enlarged.

Szeged was now a border town close to both Romania and the new Yugoslavia. Pipás Pista went into a partnership with a wagon driver to smuggle goods from Subotica (Szabadka in Hungarian).

Some wives, having become used to independence, were not too happy with the return of their husbands from the front, especially if they were abusive. Divorce was not an option. In 1919 Pipás Pista performed övé first husband killing, that of Börcsök István, with the help of two male assistants, and in front of the wife and children. Pipás hiding behind the main door, put a rope around Börcsök’s neck, at which moment övé accomplices threw the other end of the rope over the beam, and started to pull it as quickly and as strongly as they could. They then carried the body to the stable—with the help of the victim’s oldest son—and hanged him so that it would resemble suicide. Pipás put a chair under the hanging corpse and knocked it down to look like it had been kicked away.

The widow did not feel secure alone and invited Pipás to live with her. However ő stole hens and was often drunk. The widow felt that Pipás was as bad as her husband. Ő did not co-habit with any other later clients, mainly being paid with agricultural products and some money.

It is not recorded how many husbands were removed by Pipás Pista. Word of övé services spread by word of mouth, but the authorities were not informed. The land was poor in the region, and small farmers were fairly often driven to genuine suicide.

In 1929 there was a big murder scandal in Tiszazug, 95 km north of Szeged.  Authorities were alerted by an anonymous letter that there was an epidemic of arsenic poisonings in the area.  The arsenic was mainly obtained by soaking it out of fly-papers, and many of the victims were unwanted husbands. Exhumations at the cemeteries found 162 corpses apparently murdered – the deaths dating back to 1911. People began to speak of the Angel Makers of Tiszazug (Tiszazugi méregkeverők). 34 women and one man were indicted. Afterwards, 26 of the Angel Makers were tried. Eight were sentenced to death but only two were executed. Another 12 received prison sentences. However the investigation had become inconvenient for the government, and further investigations were discontinued.

In June 1932 local police broke up a couple quarrel, and walked the woman home. The man’s former wife was the daughter of one of the husbands that Pipás Pista had eliminated. The woman talked too much, and soon afterwards Pipás Pista was arrested and with two of övé clients and övé assistants was put on trial. After the Tiszazug scandal, authorities wanted to minimize the charges against Pipás Pista.

The arrest of course outed Pipás Pista as having a female body, and ö was compelled to dress as a woman for the trial, something that caused őt obvious distress. Ő remained unwilling to admit to being a woman, even though it was reported that her gender was an open secret.

Pipás Pista was sentenced to death in January 1933, but the sentence was commuted by the Regent Miklós Horthy. Pipás Pista died in prison in 1940 suffering from emphysema and myocardial degeneration.
  • Judit Ember (dir). Pipás Pista és társai. MTV-2, Sepember 1983, Hungary
  • “The Cross-Dressing Husband-Killer For Hire: Viktoria Foedi Rieger – 1933”. Unknown Gender History, September 25, 2011. Online.
  • “P is for Pipás Pista, Cross-Dressing Assassin for Hire” . MopDog, April 18, 2014. Online.
  • Tamas Bezsenyi. “The First Female Serial Killer in the Kingdom of Hungary”. In: Nermin Ahmed Haikal and Morag Kennedy (eds) The Spectacle of Murder: Fact, Fiction and Folk Tales. Brill, 2016: 9-17.
  • Tamas Bezsenyi. “The Great War in the Backyard: The Unsettling Case of a Rural Hit(Wo)man”. In Nari Shelekpayev, Francois-Oliver Dorais, Daria Dyakonova & Solene Maillet (eds)i. Empires, Nations and Private Lives: Essays on the Social and Cultural History of the Great War. Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2016: 171-184.
HR.Wikipedia

____________________

As the old saying goes: divorce is better than murder.   However in a culture where young woman, that is teenage girls, are married off without their consent and divorce is not available ....

These are hardly the only examples of husband elimination.

Here is the case of Madam Popova executed in Samara, Russia in 1909 accused of over 300 such killings.

Tamas Bezsenyi, in The Spectacle of Murder comments:
"In fact, this kind of murder, the poisoning of men returning home from the war, was not a new kind of criminal activity among women, especially among rural women. In the Gendarme pocketbook (which was published every year) of 1904 an anonymous officer wrote an analysis about the poisoning crimes. He stated that this kind of crime was really well known among midwives (old women who assisted in childbirth), for whom active ingredients of various chemical agents was already known. These women distributed these agents in exchange for money or other benefits in several parts of the country. In a research group, we analysed the poisonings around Tiszazug. We found that the first case of poisoning took place in 1905. During the Horthy era the existence of poisoning can also be proven in other villages besides Tiszazug, e.g. in the county of Békés and Csongrád. Across the Danube, on the other side of Hungary, in the county of Zala, some cases also revealed the use of arsenic."

13 March 2020

Aleksa Lundberg (1981 - ) actress, author, activist

Original version May 2014.

All quotes from Bögtjejen via Collmar via Google Translator.

Lundberg’s father was a union organizer, but despite this the parents rejected her gender expressions. However there was an accepting grandmother, and it was a friend of the grandmother who introduced the child to a video of the drag show After Dark with Christer Lindarw.

At the age of 15, Lundberg was able to start an acting career with a recurring small male part in the Swedish television series, Kenny Starfighter.

Lundberg first came out as gay, then that she felt like a girl, and finally that she wanted correction surgery.  However Aleksa did not really fit in with the other trans women.
 “The difference between being transsexual and transvestite was important to point out. In no circumstances did I want to be taken to be like Birgitta or the other ladies. … In addition, I thought that the aunties at Gyllene Gåsen looked like boys in dress, which I myself was terrified to be perceived as. I was a girl born in the wrong body and otherwise normal. … It felt insanely sad not to order a large portion of meat. I had always loved luxurious steaks, clove potatoes and fatty sauces. But I had decided to appear as a woman in every conceivable part of my life.”

Transition was completed by 2002. In 2003 she was in the television miniseries, Veganspöket Lisa, but uncredited.

After 13 attempts she was accepted in 2006 to study drama at Teaterhögskolan, Göteborg. As she grew older she came to resent that Swedish law had prohibited her from freezing sperm before transition, and therefore from having children. She stopped hiding that she had been born male, and launched a one-woman show, Infestus, which told of her life as a boy, her transition, and life as a grown woman. She played this all over Sweden to acclaim.

In 2009 she graduated in drama, the first known trans person to do so in Sweden. However she found that she was not able to obtain work with any of the institutional theatres.

By 2010, apart from the Christian Democrats, the main political parties supported repeal of the 1972 law which prohibited transsexuals from having children after surgery. In 2011 Aleksa played in a stage version of Ingmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf.


The ban on freezing eggs or sperm was removed in 2013. Aleksa, and another 141 transsexuals claimed damages of 300.000 kronor each, but received neither damages nor an apology.

In 2014 she was cast in Jean Genet's The Maids, but after a few weeks of rehearsal realized that she could not play the transgender implications of the play. Then, in three days, she wrote Maids! The transgender version and premiered it at Stockholm's Theatre Three.

At that point she was insistent that she would never reveal her boy name, but, of course, as her first acting gig had been as a boy her name was available in IMDB.

In 2018 she published her autobiography, Bögtjejen (=gay girl). Here she first expressed some degree
of regret:
“I regret it. I'm not a woman. Never been”. although she quickly adds: "My temporary stage of regret passed so quickly".   
As Collmer paraphrases: “She questions the image of herself - the simplified narrative of being born in the wrong body, and she questions the value of being normal. She puts words on the internalized transphobia that requires her to be exaggerated and purely feminine, and instead tries to embrace that she also has masculine sides. Gradually, she seems to stop looking for something that already exists, and instead start looking for opportunities to change attitudes at the community level. She goes from wanting to fit in to wanting to change.”

In October 2019 Aleksa apologised for not having been sufficiently open about the depression she had felt after her operation.
“I would probably not undergo corrective surgery if I had the same choice today,” she wrote. “And I want to apologise to those who perhaps needed to hear that story earlier.”
  • Ann Tornkvist. "Aleksa Lundberg, Swedish Transgender Actress, Mourns Forced Sterilization". Huffington Post, 11/02/2011. Online.
  • "Sterilized transsexuals sue Swedish government". The Local: Sweden's News in English, 24 Jun 2013. Online.
  • Karin Thunberg. ”Vår sexualitet väljer inte kvinnor eller män”. SvD Kultur, 13 April 2014. Online.
  • “'It means it a lot': Sweden compensates transgender people for forced sterilization” CBC, Mar 29, 2017. Online.
  • Aleksa Lundberg. Bögtjejen. Brombergs, 2018.
  • Marcus Joons. “En bögtjejs uppväxt”. Göteborgs-Posten, 22 sep, 2018. Online. Review of Bögtjejen. Translation.
  • Katie Collmar.  “En bögtjej med lesbiska erfarenheter väcker tankar om vad kön är”.  Dagensbok.com, 2018.10.22.  Online.  Review of Bögtjejen. Translation.
  • Cecilia Nelson. “Medryckande om en bögtjejs uppväxt“. Göteborgs-Posten, 5 nov, 2018. Online.  Review of Bögtjejen. Translation.
  • “Hear Aleksa Lundberg - the gender dysphoria remained after the operation: ‘What the hell am I supposed to do?’”. Teller Report, 10/9/2019. Online.
  • Richard Orange. “Teenage transgender row splits Sweden as dysphoria diagnoses soar by 1,500%”. The Guardian, 22 Feb 2020. Online.
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Genet’s The Maids need not be cast for male or trans actors. The 1974 film version featured Glenda Jackson and Susannah York as the maids, and the 2013 Sydney Theatre Company version starred Cate Blanchette and Isabelle Huppert.