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16 May 2024

Ajita Wilson (1950 – 1987) prolific actress

Original March 2007.


Wilson was born and raised in Brooklyn.

After a start as a transvestite entertainer in New York in the last remaining burlesque spectacles of the time, Wolson also posed for some adult magazines,

Around 1970, bankrolled by a rich boyfriend, said to be from Denmark, Ajita Wilson went to Europe, and had completion surgery. It is rumoured that she was featured in hardcore loops at this period – however such are not documented.

Her first non-porno film was Cesare Caneveri’s La Principessa Nuda,1976. in a leading role as Miriam Zamoto, an African princess on a fund-raising mission who encounters Italy’s La dolce vita. The film is a light Comedy/satire poking fun at celebrities and the so-called jet set. Suddenly Ajita Wilson was a star.

With an uncritical approach to scripts, Ajita was constantly employed throughout the 1970s, in both mainstream genre movies, and also in softcore and even hardcore porno. She was often top-billed.

She often played characters simply named ''Ajita''.

In 1978 she made a crossover into Euro-trash such as women-in-prison flicks, and a number of films directed by Jesus Franco.

There were suggestions that she was trans, but they were not taken too seriously. Some knew, other did not. She was frequently featured in European nudie magazines simply as a woman.

1981 was the year of her best-known film, Jesus Franco’s Sadomania, aka Hellhole Women, where Ajita plays the cruel lesbian prison warden who takes delight in the inmates’ suffering – who is named, for some reason, Magda Urtado (said to be the maiden name of Ajita’s real-life mother). In a confusing scene, director Franco, in the role of a gay brothel owner, is sodomized by Ajita, in a second role as a mustachioed man. 

That year she was featured in magazines: the Afro-American magazine Jet featured Ajita as their “Beauty of the Week”: 

“Beautiful Ajita Wilson from Rome is a movie actress in Europe”. 

She was also featured on the cover of Players Magazine and High Society.

She co-starred opposite trans singer/actress Eva Robin’s in Eva Man (1980) and El Regresso de Eva Man (1982). 


Another Jess Franco film, Macumba Sexual, has Ajita in the role of Princess Obongo, a voodoo princess returning from the dead and haunting a woman by using sexual hallucinations.

In the 1980s she starred again in women-in-prison films such as Hell Behind Bars, Hell Penitentiary and Savage Island (with Linda Blair from The Exorcist, an incoherent production using footage of two other movies from the 1980s).

By the mid-1980s Ajita’s career was declining. She was mainly in obscure Greek softcore films. Part of the decline was that softcore porn was being pushed out by US hardcore porn at this time, and the advent of VHS videos.

In 1986 she was arrested by the carabinieri in a brothel in Florence and tried to escape running naked through the street. In 1987 she died from the complications from a road accident.

The rumour that she was trans was more said after her death.

After Wilson's death, an interviewer for "Sinister Tales" asked director Carlos Aured to comment on speculation as to whether she was a transsexual. Aured simply replied, 

"She was charming, beautiful and very professional. The rest is not important.".

Alternate accounts:

There is an alternate story that says that she is Magda Urtado from Rio, but that is the name of her character in Sadomania – it is also supposedly her mother’s maiden name.

Jesus Franco suggested in the 2003 documentary Sadomaniac, that the mysterious star hailed from Ethiopia.

According the October 1981 edition of the American magazine Players (vol. 8, no. 5), she was born in 1951 in Flint, Michigan, the offspring of a Brazilian mother and a US father. In Marco Giusti's book Dizionario Dei Film Italiani Stracult, Sergio Bergonzelli, who directed her in “La Doppia Bocca di Erika”, said that “Ajita had been a firefighter in an American city".

  • “Ajita Wilson, mujer de la noche”. Interviu, 189, 27 diciembre 1979.
  • “Beauty of the Week: Roman Beauty”. Jet, August 20, 1981:43. Online.
  • “Ajita Wilson la veneren era”. High Society, Edizione Italiana, Settembre, 1981.
  • “Film Star: Ajita Wilson Goes Nude”. Players Magazine, 8, 5, October 1981.
  • Bob McCann. “Ajita Wilson” in Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland, 2009.
  • Monica Roberts. “Black Trans History-Ajita Wilson”. TransGriot, august 21, 2012. Online
  • “Before Laverne Cox there was Ajita Wilson”. Welkom, 8.sep, 2015.
  • Johnny Stanwick. “Created by Cinema: The Enigma of Ajita Wilson”. The Grindhouse Effect, Online
  • Matt Richardson. “Ajita Wilson: Blaxploitation, Sexploitation, and the Making of Black Womanhood” Transgender Studies Quarterly, 7, 2, May 2020. Also at edu.
  • Sierre B Holt. “Ajita Wilson’s Jet Set Style”. The Stylestorian, July 26, 2020. Online.
  • Rebekkah Mulholland. Historical Erasure is Violence: The Lives and Experiences of Black Transgender Women and Gender Nonconforming Women of Color in the 19th And 20th PhD thesis, The University of Memphis, May 2020: 28,38, 63, 69-71,73-4 . Online.

IMDB      EN.WIKIPEDIA       FINDAGRAVE      MySpace       Cult Sirens

La Principessa Nuda (aka The Nude Princess, 1976)
Gola Profonda Nera (aka Black Deep Throat, 1976)
Sylvia im Reich der Wollust (aka The Joy of Flying, 1977)
Candido Erotico (aka Copenhagen Nights/The Exhibitionists, 1977)
La Bravata (1977)
Nel Mirino di Black Afrodite (aka Black Aphrodite, 1978)
Le Notti Porno Nel Mondo nº 2 (1978)
L´Amour Chez Les Poids Lourds (aka Traveling Companions, 1978)
Proibito Erotico (1978)
La Pitoconejo (1979)
Pensione Amore Servizio Completo (1979)
Libidine (1979)
Femmine Infernali (aka Escape from Hell, 1979)
Eros Perversion (aka Twelfth Night, 1979)
Los Energéticos (1979)
Una Donna di Notte (1979)
Luca il Contrabbandiere (aka Contraband, 1980)
Orinoco-Prigioniere Del Sesso (aka Hotel Paradiso, 1980)
Evaman, La Máquina Del Amor (1980)
Erotiki Ekstassi (aka Love, Lust and Ecstasy, 1980)
Sadomania - Hölle der Lust (1981)
Erotiko Pathos (aka Blue Passion, 1981)
Apocalipsis Sexual (1982)
Catherine Chérie (1982)
Triferes... Gatoules (1982)
Bacanales Romanas (1982)
La Amante Ambiciosa (1982)
Macumba Sexual (1983)
Töchter Der Venus (1983, aka The Pussycat Syndrome)
Inferno Dietro Le Sbarre (aka Detenute Violente/Captive Women Hell: Hell Penitentiary/Hell Behind Bars, 1983)
La Doppia Bocca di Erika (aka Naked Wild Erections, 1983)
Anomali Erotes Sti Santorini (1983)
Corpi Nudi (aka Nude Strike, 1983)
Stin Athina Simera... Oles Ton Pernoun Fanera! (1984)
Ke To Proto Pinelo (1984)
Idones Sto Egeo (1984)
Savage Island (1985; re-uses scenes from 1979´s Femmine Infernali)
Bocca Bianca, Bocca Nera (aka Love Boat. 1987)
Joe D'Amato Totally Uncut (1999, stock footage)


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IMDB lists her as appearing almost 50 films. This compares with 6 for Aleshia Brevard, 26 for Eva Robin's, 28 for Holly Woodlawn, 79 for Bibi Anderson and 75 for Alexis Arquette. Most of Alexis' film were in her pre-op phase, so on the crude criteria of counting films Ajita is second only to Bibi as the major transsexual film star of that period.



08 May 2024

Annette/Sheldon (1931-1971) businessman, engineer

Sheldon was raised in Idaho, grew to 6’2’’ (1.88m) and served in the military as a Marine sergeant. Sheldon had been cross-dressing since early childhood, with an initial emphasis on shoes. He married but did not tell his bride, Gail, of his cross-dressing until two months afterwards. She did not understand, but allowed him to ‘dress-up’. He over-did it and Gail was afraid of friends finding out. So, Shelden quit doing so but fell into periods of deep depression – which led to Gail consulting the family doctor. 

The doctor called Sheldon in for a talk, and referred him to a psychiatrist in another city. This doctor advised that his feminine side not be pushed aside. Sheldon worked with his wife on finding a balance. She suggested the name Annette. Annette needed a place to go to, and they confided in two couples who were close friends and Annette was accepted – although they still referred to her as Sheldon and treated her as a man, even when they went to a restaurant as a foursome. Annette and her wife also went to costume dances and to movie theatres. 

On the psychiatrist’s advice Sheldon wrote to his mother, explaining his hobby and enclosing photographs. She wrote back "you do make a snappy looking gal", and remembered the child Sheldon in dresses.

This was only a few years after the 1955 “Boys of Boisie” homosexual scandal and witch hunt in the Idaho state capital, when adult men loving other adults were accused of paedophilia.

Sheldon was an engineer and business manager, and was appointed to a position in the Lewiston city council.

Annette sent an account of herself with photographs to Virginia Prince’s Transvestia newsletter. 

Transvestia #5 1960 featured its first cover girl. Potential cover girls were asked to supply several photographs and a personal history, and were requested to pay for their page of photographs. The first such was Annette of Idaho. A year later, issue #10 contained supportive letters from Sheldon’s wife and mother.

Word spread about Sheldon being Annette. He even passed around photographs of Annette at the city offices. Annette never passed himself off as a woman; on meeting strangers he always mentioned that he was a man. Some refused to believe it. Once at a party, a young man, making a play for Annette, had it confirmed again that Annette was a man and grabbed her wig in fury. Not a wise move against an ex-Marines sergeant.


In 1962 Donald Wollheim/Darrell Raynor, planning a business trip to the US Northwest, used the Transvestia mail forwarding system to contact Annette, and was duly invited to visit. Raynor flew to the Lewiston airport where he was picked up by Sheldon. Raynor described the home where Annette/Sheldon lived with Gail, two children and his mother: 

“Imagine then that on the outskirts of this town there suddenly rises one single hill, a hill that looms above the city and dominates it. Imagine that on top of this solitary hill, there is a grove of trees, the only such orchard to be seen for miles around. Within this grove of trees there is a ranch-type, sprawling house, surrounded by lawns, concealed from view by the encircling green arbors. This was Annette’s house, as perfect a home for a cross-dresser as can be imagined. Complete privacy, open air, beauty against the drabness and sereneness of the land.”

The next year, using his femme name of Doris, Raynor wrote an account of the visit for Transvestia. This first draft was reworked as Chapter 10 of Raynor’s 1968 book.

Sheldon, after much consideration, started his own business, including a car-wrecking yard. He also invented a mobile car crusher designed to pick up abandoned cars and compress them into a cube of scrap metal on the spot. 

Most years Annette invited members of Virginia Prince’s FPE and others to her home with an overflow to a local motel if needed. She spoke to the local police officials explaining what transvestism is and promising to be “the model of discrete behavior, conducting herself as a lady should and drawing no public attention to herself” (Maureen).

In 1968 Katherine Cummings and most of the Seattle Chapter went. Virginia drove up from Los Angeles. Cummings observed that Virginia managed to alienate most of the wives by telling them that she was just as female as they were. (Cummings: 185).

The 1970 event was written about by Virginia (Transvestia 62) and by Maureen (Transvestia 63).


Only a few months later, Sheldon died of a sudden heart attack at age 39. There were several fond rememberings in Transvestia # 68. 

1971 was also the year that a new Idaho criminal code repealed the anti-sodomy laws dating from 1864. However strong opposition from the Mormon and Catholic churches and Republican Party led to a reinstatement of the anti-sodomy laws just one year later.

  • “Miss Annette – Our COVER GIRL of the Month”. Transvestia, 1.5, 1960: Cover, 3-13. Online.
  • “My son is a Transvestite” and “My husband is a Transvestite”. Transvestia, 2,10, Aug 1961: 68-73. Online.
  • Darrell Raynor writing as Doris. “Visit to a Happy Man”. Transvestia 2, 20, 1963:32-4. Online.
  • Virginia Prince. “Travelling Saleslady”. Transvestia, 2,62, 1970 :65-6. Online.
  • Maureen. “Weekend Women”. Transvestia, 2, 63, 1970: 73-80. Online.
  • “In Memoriam”. Transvestia,2, 68, 1971 :26-31,
  • Darrell G Raynor. A Year Among the Girls. Lancer Books, 1968: Chp 10, 76-83.
  • Katherine Cummings. Katherine’s Diary: The Story of a Transsexual. Beaujon Press, Revised edition, 1993: 104-5, 185.
  • Robert S Hill. As a man I exist; as a woman I live’: Heterosexual Transvestism and the Contours of Gender and Sexuality in Postwar America. ‘PhD Thesis, University of Michigan 2007: 1-6, 9, 44, 92-3, 147n28, 238, 354-62.
  • Sophie McMahon. “Finding Annette: Uncovering Trans History in Idaho, 1950-70”. Outhistory, 2023. Online.

-----------------------------------

McMahon makes no mention at all of the books by Cummings and Raynor nor the thesis by Hill that discuss Annette. She uses Raynor writing as Doris –but ignores Raynor’s book.

McMahon writes: “I try and picture Annette sitting cross legged at the kitchen table reading articles such as these that condemn homosexual life, and then taking off her long white dress and earrings and going out into the world as a man named Sheldon, knowing that she could likely face similar levels of anger and villainization if people knew about her secret life as a woman.” Surely this misses the point. Annette/Sheldon – remarkably – was by force of personality, social skills and self-confidence able to be semi-out as trans in the 1960s– even in the city council – in a state noted for its homophobia.

Darrell Raynor writing as D Rhodes in Turnabout #3 1964 contributed “Overs and Unders” in which he proposes two kinds of male heterosexual transvestites, of both of which he says: "The ‘Overs’ first fixate on shoes, the ‘Unders’ first fixate on under garments".  In this scheme Annette would be an ‘Over’, and was probably in his mind as he wrote.

The major book on the homosexual panic in 1955 Boise is John Gerassi’s The Boys of Boise: Furor, Vice and Folly in an American City, 1966, in which he proposes that the investigation began as a means for the wealthy elite of Boise to assert and maintain economic control of the city and the state. He asserts that a gay millionaire known as "The Queen" was the target of the probe, although he was never charged. This person is still anonymous almost 70 years later – “the name itself carries the name of one of the big huge families in America, entrepreneur families dating back a century”. Other men with less money, clout and access to lawyers were charged instead, some being sent to prison – one was given a life sentence. Collateral damage!!

Of course Annette/Sheldon – like Virginia Prince – maintained that transvestites were not homosexual. However this perception was not common in the general public or in most police forces.

30 April 2024

Pierre Vacher (1892-1990) doctor and sexologist

Vachet was raised in Givry, Saône-et-Loire, and qualified as Docteur en médecine, Paris, 1915. He later became the Director of the École de psychologie and editor of La Revue de psychologie appliquée.

Vachet and the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld were both active nudists and had first met when German and French nudist groups had joint meetings. It is most likely that it was from Vachet that Hirschfeld learned of the French practice of permissions de travestissement, which dates from November 1800 and continued through into the 20th century - and was also introduced to the French word travestissement which he rendered in German as Transvestismus, and travesti/e which he rendered as Transvestit(in).

In 1927 it was proposed to create a French section of the World League for Sexual Reform. The French branch was called Comité Pro Amore—Ligue de la Régénération Humaine, and was initially under Vachet.

In 1931 Vachet translated and likely edited (for there is no German original) an anthology of writings by Hirschfeld with a few by Felix Abraham, which we have already considered.

Two years later Vachet published Psychologie du Vice : Les Travestis.


Despite the suggestion of the title that Psychologie du Vice would be a series, no other books were published under that rubric.

Synopsis:

The page after the title page tells us: “Eight copies of this work were issued on pure wire velin lafuma, numbered pure wire velin 1 to 5 and i to iii; and sixteen copies on satined outhenin-chalender alfa, numbered alfa 1 to 10 and i to vi.”

Forward

“FOR a long time I have been proposing to publish a series of studies on the Psychology of Vice. Some of my previous works have already dealt with general insights into sexual life and its anomalies. Today I would like to use the material of my clinical observations in more fragmentary and detailed studies. The transvestites will inaugurate the gallery of obsessed and maniacal vice. 

The term ‘vice’, which in its vulgar use fits very well with the system of sexual anomalies, belongs both to the vocabulary of the moralist and to that of the doctor, the former judging and condemning according to social values, the latter limiting himself to explaining by the causes. Freudianism must be given credit for having stripped sexual immorality of that sacrilegious character which still inspired the best alienists of the last century, who had to deal with this subject, with the virtuous accents of bourgeois indignation.

In fact, it is not easy to determine where vice begins and ends, because the distinction between the normal and the abnormal, the natural and the artificial, cannot be a sufficient touchstone for human behaviour.

The origin of perversions is not always easy to determine. Obscure physiological actions may play a part, as in the tendency of the individual to play the role of the opposite sex, or to choose the object of his desire in the same sex as his own. Deficiencies or excesses of glandular secretions may lead to an insufficient differentiation of the morphological characters and instincts of a given sex. But it is in the imagination of the individual that the main source of these vices is to be found, in the attribution of the power of sexual excitation to objects, situations, behaviours, more or less artificially associated with the satisfaction of desire.”

PART ONE: STORY OF PIERRETTE


This is an extended (48 page) case study of one of Vachet’s patients, a 28-year-old with anxiety and despair. A university graduate with a male body and a job that required a male uniform, Pierrette’s one aspiration was to be free to live as female when not at work, and she knew of the sex-change operations that had already been done in Berlin and Vienna and wished for the same in France. Vachet sent for the parents, explained that the condition was harmless, and that their son’s depression and despair could be relieved. They agreed that he should have his own flat. 

“What strikes you first of all about Pierrette's mentality is the contrast between the embarrassment, the inhibition, the anxiety he feels under the male costume and the freedom, the euphoria, the ‘nerve’ that the wearing of female clothing assures him.” 

The operations were not available in France (although this was a couple of years after a Danish artist resident in Paris, Lili Elvenes, had gone to Dresden for such surgery). 

Pierrette was not gynephilic, nor would she consider sex with a man until she had the operation. She had first dressed as a girl for a party when 14, followed by parts in amateur theatre. From age 18 Pierrette explored costume balls and what other opportunities there were to present as female. In 1932 she approached Dr Vachet, although with a major caveat: 

“I have not come to ask you to ‘cure’ me but to help me. To accept the slightest attempt at healing, i.e. to return to my male nature, would be a crime against myself, a mortal sin. I feel like a woman before God, a woman in my soul, and this feeling is infinitely stronger than any reasoning.”

Part Two

This contains three chapters, on D’Éon, de Choisy and Victor Barker.  The first two, D’Eon and de Choisy have been retold many times, and Vachet’s retellings contain anecdotes that later and better researched accounts have debunked. Vachet writing in 1933 mainly summarises Barker’s sensational trial in 1929, with only a passing mention of the British Fascist Party (actually the splinter group, the National Fascisti), and of course nothing about what happened in later years.

Part Three: nature and psychology of transvestites

“Transvestism is one of the most curious sexual anomalies to study, and also the most difficult to explain. It seems that the same explanation is not valid for all cases, that the wearing of the garment of the other sex has different causes according to the individuals, that it constitutes a symptom whose value is essentially variable. I will try to untangle this skein as best I can.”

  1. “pseudo transvestites, those whose disguise is only a means of concealment or masquerade”. Some of these are criminal. Vachet gives an example: “It was a wartime deserter who had found it convenient, in order to escape danger, to pass himself off as killed in action and to lead a life under the guise of the female sex which he knew would never be exposed to the danger of the review boards”. The facts are slightly off but this could be Paul Grappe. For some of these, “it is linked to that well-known mentality which we call mythomania. These are individuals who are more or less unbalanced, fundamentally vain, always on the lookout for anything that might make them interesting, essentially fabulists, inventors of stories.” As an example of this Vacher suggests D’Éon.
  2. Homosexual transvestites. “In this case the justification of the instinct of transvestism is confused with that of the tendencies which push them to sexual passivity. But it is very remarkable that even in common homosexuality the taste for transvestism can be discerned as a mobile element, alien in its essence to pure homosexuality. There are homosexuals who enjoy transvestism, there are other homosexuals to whom transvestism is more or less indifferent. When the latter take on the clothing of the opposite sex, it is rather as an accessory.” Vachet gives a seven-page account (p147 – 153) of a gay female impersonator/trans woman whom he refers to as “comtesse de B…” who would seem to be Pauline Bergolet also known as Arthur W. and “la comtesse” although he does not mention her 1874 autobiography The Secret Confessions of a Parisian: The Countess, 1850-1871, which was published in 1895.

Vachet then discusses male-dressing lesbians. Some wear “mixed clothing”, for example “a short skirt and a male-cut blouse. The blouse has the characteristics of a man's shirt and is completed with a collar and tie”. He does not mention that this had been the height of fashion in the 1920s, nor does he name Radclyffe Hall as its most famous exemplar.

There are others who completely dress, work and marry as men. He gives a two-page account (p155-6) of “X …” who did so. Only once did X agree to marry a man – that lasted eight weeks.

Vachet then mentions cases from the newspapers or found in the book by Havelock Ellis: John Coulter, Murray Hall, “Catherine Coome”.

Vachet adds a footnote to this section: “Another Hirschfeld statistic on gay men's occupations is of interest in a transvestism study. Half of the male comedians who imitate women, and half of the women who play male comedians on stage are homosexuals and lesbians.”

  1. Fetish. Vachet gives several examples from Krafft-Ebing and Albert Moll of persons (all male) who are sexually aroused by certain items of clothing. “But transvestism can be just a special form of fetishism. For example, a man will dress as a woman in order to put on women's clothes in a more intimate relationship with his own body; to create the illusion of having a woman at hand, to draw his pleasure from a woman by drawing it from himself.”

“Hirschfeld tried to differentiate the transvestism of the fetishists from that of the automonosexuals, the latter being essentially individuals who find in themselves the object of their sexual desires, who like to contemplate themselves clothed or unclothed in mirrors (narcissism) and are therefore often inclined to transvestism and adorn themselves.”

  1. Heterosexual transvestites. Vachet gives several anecdotes about men whose affairs or marriages with women are complicated by their cross-dressing.
  2. False heterosexual transvestites: “transvestites who have married in some way by mistake, believing themselves capable of normal intercourse, or more often believing that they have found in marriage a remedy for a mania which may be bothering them in some way. These people usually divorce promptly and do not repeat the experience.” He also gives an example from Hirschfeld of a shoemaker who had married believing that this would cure his tendency. After 35 years and two adult daughters, at the age of 62, he felt that he must live full-time as female. This quickly led to divorce.
  3. Masochistic transvestites. These particularly like corsets, and as tight as possible. Vachet groups these with metatropists – role reversal, a feminine man with a masculine woman – regarding attraction to “strong, imposing women, especially authoritative ones” as a form of masochism. He also mentions cases of ‘involuntary suicide’ where either the corset was too tight or by autoerotic asphyxiation. 
  4. Pure forms of transvestism. [This resembles what was later called transsexuality]. “The wearing of the garment is only one element of a very curious overall psychological attitude. The subject feels completely alienated from his true sex. He experiences feelings, even sensations, peculiar to the other sex. He is not necessarily attracted to homosexuality; often he even abhors it. The case of Pierrette, which we reported at the beginning of this book, illustrates this anomaly perfectly.” (p182)

“Very often the transvestite begins by indulging in his mania in the secrecy of the flat, in the evening after work. Then, little by little, the idea imposes itself on him to go out in transvestism, to mingle under his disguise with public life. The transvestite does work corresponding to the sex he would like to have. The male transvestite does housework, cleans the flat, shops, cooks, sews, washes, mends clothes and even makes clothes for his transvestism. He embroiders, makes cushions and doilies. He likes music, has delicate tastes, abstains from smoking and drinking. On the contrary, the transvestite woman disdains housework, is fond of good food, drinks dry and smokes a lot, especially cigars and pipes. Housework is a real pleasure for the male transvestite, so he makes the most industrious and devoted servant. Hirschfeld states that in his Institute he frequently employed transvestites as housekeepers.” (p183)

He then gives some examples of trans men (women soldiers as Vachet calls them). Marie-Antoinette Lix/Michaël le Sombro who rallied the Polish troops in the 1863 rising against Russia. (p185-6); Antonio de Erauso, a nun who became a soldier in South America (p187-9).

He then gives a 20-page account (p191-210) of the doctor patient of Krafft-Ebing, actually Case 129, who married and had children, never transitioned but “observed in myself since my complete effeminacy” including “periodicity of monthly disorders” and “constant sensation of being a woman from head to foot”. This is followed by a 5-page account (p210-15), Krafft-Ebing’s Case 130, of a masculine woman, a tomboy who married at age 21, but remained indifferent to men. She submitted to marital duties and bore six children. At age 36, she suffered stroke and had to stay in bed for two years. Afterwards she found disgust in the femaleness of her body and her life, and her features became masculine, and finally she grew a beard.

  1. “Advanced transvestites always push to the extreme their desire to assimilate to the opposite sex. They regularly ask the doctor to remove the specific organs of their sex and, if possible, to create more or less approximate organs for the opposite sex. Women ask for the removal of their breasts and even more so for the suppression of the female function par excellence of menstruation; they want their ovaries removed or at least suppressed by radiotherapy. Men ask for castration, or the removal of the penis; often even the creation of an artificial vagina among the partitions of the perineum. Such operations have been performed in Germany, particularly at the Institute for Sexual Sciences which Magnus Hirschfeld founded in Berlin and which was recently destroyed from top to bottom under the impulse of Hitler's moralism and anti-Semitism. Hirschfeld repeatedly tried to justify his interventions by citing cases of suicide of transvestites who had been denied this sex change. Here are two observations, one relating to a man, the other to a woman, who underwent operations of this kind. These were homosexual transvestites.”

Vachet then tells two success stories (p216-9), those of Hirshfeld’s patient who worked as a maid in his Institute, Dorchen Richter, and of Gerd Katter, then only 23, but who had already obtained a double mastectomy and a Transvestitenschein.

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Vachet sums up (p223-232):

“Transvestism can be dissociated from other sexual anomalies, that it can even occur in its pure state outside of any erotic preoccupation in individuals who are above all concerned with leading a public life in the clothing and with the occupations of the other sex. What then is at the root of this singular anomaly? The various explanations that have been given by authors can be roughly reduced to two modalities.”

  1. “For some, Hirschfeld for example, the transvestite obeys a physiological determinism. He is a "constitutional". In favour of this explanation is the precocity of these manifestations. Also, in many cases, the transvestite presents some morphological characteristics which deviate from the template of his sex: proportions of the larynx and voice, skin texture, hair system, gracility or coarseness of the forms. It cannot be denied that in certain cases the transvestite represents an intermediate morphological type.”
  2. “… according to Havelock-Ellis, the transvestite is basically a heterosexual preoccupied with the desire for complete assimilation to the sex he loves and envies. For this explanation to be valid, the subject must manifest in some way his attraction to the opposite sex.”

“I think that the factors of transvestism are not simple. Various determinisms can interfere. A glandular physiological determinism is admissible in certain cases; but in other cases, psycho-pathological mechanisms must be considered.”

Vachet died at the age of 98.

*not the film director

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From a modern perspective this is an awkward text. Sometimes Vachet is helpful and supportive. At other times he repeats transphobic assumptions. His typology is not precise. In “7. Pure forms of transvestism” he appears to be giving examples of persons who would be regarded as transsexual if alive in later generations, including some who transitioned without the aid of 20th century science. But then he gives the two case studies from Krafft-Ebing of persons who made no attempt to live in their preferred gender.

I could not find any information about what happened to Pierrette after 1933.

Vachet gives no citations at all, and no bibliography.

I obtained the book via Abe Books.

Psychologie du Vice : Les Travestis was published 1 January 1934, which is why I refer to it as being written in 1933.

Vachet mentions the issuing of Transvestitenscheinen in Germany but surprising does not mention that France had been issuing permissions de travestissement since 1800, 110 years earlier.

  • Pierre Vachet (ed). Perversions sexuelles, d’après l’enseignement du docteur Magnus Hirschfeld, par son premier assistant le docteur Félix Abraham. Paris: François Aldor, 1931.
  • Pierre Vachet. Psychologie du Vice : Les Travestis. Éditions Bernard Grasset, 1934.
  • Sylvie Chaperon. “The Revival of Sexuality Studies in France in the Late 1950s”. in Gert Hekma & Alain Giami (eds). Sexual Revolutions. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014: 142
  • Gonzague de Larocque-Latour. “Girl or Boy? The French Birth of the Word Sexologie (1901-1912)”. In Alain Giami & Sharman Levinson (eds). Histories of Sexology: Between Science and Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, 2021: 200.

BnF

25 April 2024

Lorraine Channing (1923 - ?) magazine illustrator

Lorraine was a magazine illustrator. When Turnabout: a Magazine of Tranvestism was founded in June 1963, she was the Art Editor, working with Siobhan Fredericks and D.Rhodes/Darrell Raynor.  For the 3rd issue in 1964 she supplied a poem, “Each Day I Live a Lie”:

Issue 1 p18

“Would that I were as other women are! Yet I am not a woman either in body or in the life they lead. I am a woman in my soul, in my fantasy. In the deep recesses of my being, I am like them. Inside me, I am one of them. How can I be !!!QI.! in their likeness?

That is what I want, yearn for, seek more than anything. Now I live only incompletely. I am in a prison -- the prison of my body, the prison of a society which does not understand.

Until I can become more like other women -- if I ever can I must live a lie, day after day. Physically I am a man; mentally and emotionally I am a woman.

I am a transsexual.”

This was reprinted in Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon two years later.


Also in the 3rd issue she started advertising as a Certified Grapho-Analytical Psychologist. For $3 and a sample of your handwriting, she would provide “a general scientific analysis of your handwriting and what it reveals of you”.

In the 4th issue she reviewed Vance Packard’s The Naked Society on how in the 1960s in the US persons were losing their privacy.


Issue 2 p31
In the 6th issue she reviewed Antony James’ The Abnormal World of Transvestites and Sex Changes:

“This work is so shoddy and nonsensical that if the author does enlighten his reader, the reader must be indeed beyond psychiatric help or have been too long "in the closet." Some factual information is present, but it's scanty and misleading. Disappointing also is the printing of the book ~ enough typos occur to make the least literate TV squirm in his panty girdle.”

She did illustrations for the transvestite books published by Siobhan Fredericks’ Abbé de Choisy Press, in particular for the forced femininity stories by Nan Gilbert.




Channing had become a patient of Leo Wollman, attending the office that he shared with Harry Benjamin at 1045 Park Avenue, and in September 1967 she flew to Casablanca for completion surgery by Dr Burou. This was announced in a press release by Dr Wollman, and the story was carried in the New York Daily News and elsewhere.

  • Harry Benjamin. The Transsexual Phenomenon. Julian Press, 1966. Warner Books Edition 1977: 91-2. PDF: 41-2.
  • Paul Meskil. “Albert Now Lorraine & the List is Growing”. New York Daily News, Oct 10, 1967

18 April 2024

Mowry Saben/Ralph Werther/Earl Lind/Jennie June: Part III - Comments and bibliography

Part I: early life

Part II: publications

Part III:  comments and bibliography 

Comments:

Jennie June was also the pen name of Jane Croly (1829-1901), journalist – and definitely a different person.

---

While our June’s writings were the earliest first-person accounts of being a feminine invert, the publication in books restricted to professionals, and in medical journals that ordinary persons never see, means that the example was not available to other inverts, androgynes and trans persons. Autobiography of an Androgyne cost $4 when first published in 1919. An average worker making circa $10 a week would be unlikely to spend 40% of a weekly wage on the book even if they were permitted to do so. Even more so the fairies in the Bowery where lodging could be obtained for fifteen cents, and a meal for ten cents.

Apparently, Saben/June chose the name ‘Earl Lind’ in that ‘Earl’ rhymes with ‘girl’, and from the noted singer Jennie Lind.  There is no mention of the noted Swedish female impersonator ?Lind? who had toured the US several times.

While the masquerade balls at the Hamilton Lodge did not become the so-called Faggot’s Ball or Dance of the Fairies until a new group of organizers took over in 1923, transvesting persons had been attending since the original Masquerade and Civic Ball in 1869. There is no mention of this in either of June’s published books, although in the second the Philhedonic Ball is mentioned – which may be another name for the same.

Accounts of Paresis Hall, other than by Werther-June, are less effete, and present it as a gangster-owned brothel pimping trans girls and boys in drag.

Saben/June was proud of their German. So why no mention of Hirschfeld’s 1910 Die Transvestiten in the second book? They had made a point of reading Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis and even Otto Weininger.

When Saben-June say that they have read Havelock Ellis, of course they mean Sexual Inversion, 1900. Eonism and Other Supplementary Studies was not published until 1928. This is unfortunate in that Eonism and Hirschfeld’s Transvestiten (which apparently Saben-June did not read) provide examples of the variety of lives lived by trans women at that time.

The other oft-cited example of ‘fairies’ or ‘tantes’ living with, cruising or even loving young toughs is Jean Genet’s 1943 novel Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs. When I first began to transition in the 1970s I met a few older trans women who assumed that I would live that kind of life. I – being a gaylib allumna and for other reasons – dismissed the idea completely. My problem with the Werther-June books is its assumption that if trans, that is the life. Plenty of trans women of Saben-June’s generation did otherwise. We recently saw the example of Stella Angel, born the same year as Saben, who was trans and sometimes in New York, without being a fairie. 

There is another aspect that alienates Werther-June from modern trans women. As Meyerowitz, 2011 puts it: 

“There is something else that troubles the categories that we routinely use today. In the book, Lind not only describes himself as feminine but also portrays himself as a baby. …When promenading the streets as a fairy, Lind insists that he is not an adult but a baby or ‘baby-doll.’ His fairy persona includes a loud and proud infantilism. It partly reflects Lind’s version of womanhood, in which the height of femininity is the ‘helpless cry-baby species of woman.’ Acting the baby also seems to be a way to try (not always successfully) to get young men to comfort, pet, and coddle a fairy.”

“Their craze for fellatio is only the abnormal survival through adulthood of the infant's feeding instinct”. Really? Freud said something similar – although he is not mentioned in this context. I am informed that if this idea comes up in modern gay pornography, it is a clue that the author is a woman.

Saben was of course a nepo baby who unlike the other fairies on the Bowery had a second life that provided an income and respectability. Some commentators have used Saben as a example of slumming. The ability to consult some of New York’s top doctors – for which one required both comportment and money – was also a priviledge denied the other fairies.  Some impoverished trans women or fairies did get reported on by top doctors - if referred by the police, or if incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals - something significantly different from a consultation.

Incidentally, a young and unkown German doctor had opened a medical practice in New York in 1914. His name was Harry Benjamin.

Saben apparently was not drafted in 1917 when the US joined the ongoing war. As he was then 47, this is not surprising.

It is ironic that the iconic androgyne of the 1910s was so anti-feminist, and insistent that women contribute nothing to culture. This despite taking the name Jennie June, who was a pioneer female journalist, and then the surname Lind from a noted female singer Jennie Lind. Saben wrote: “Women are quite as free as men. There is nothing but their lack of innate capacity to prevent them from becoming the great Poets, Musicians, Artists, Scientists, Philosophers, Inventors, and Reformers of the race” – this from someone who was educated at Harvard which did not permit women at all until the 1940s, and not propertly until 1970.

In 1895 in Oxford, Saben went bankrupt owing £388/16/6. This at a time when a standard working wage was £1 a week.

Comments from other writers:

The Little Review, November 1914, said: “The Spirit of Life, a series of nine essays by Mowry Saben (Mitchell Kennerley), is the kind of book that makes me savagely controversial and then cross for heeding it at all. Its platitudinous optimism meanders along through some two hundred and fifty pages. … There are indubitably certain good things in the book, but they are by Goethe, Carlyle, Emerson, Dante, Shakespeare, Whitman, et al.” Online.


Joanne Meyerowitz, 2011 wrote of the Autobiography: “In his own telling, Lind spends most of his days living the seemingly uneventful life of a college-educated, native-born Protestant, middle-class white man, a deeply religious scholar with aspirations to missionary work, but he also leads a secret “double life,” compelled by strong sexual longings — irresistible cravings to perform fellatio — that torment and distract him. In the late nineteenth century he becomes a flaneur, wandering at night through the poorer neighborhoods of New York City, dressed as a down-at-the-heels man, but with a distinctive fairy style — red bow tie, white gloves — and the assumed street names of Ralph Werther and Jennie June. This is a classic “slumming” narrative told by a class and ethnic outsider. In the story Lind pursues rough young men, mainly the native-born sons of Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants, and he also shows a special fondness for soldiers, sailors, and other men in uniform. And he goes into great detail about his sex life, resorting to Latin phrases when the English might seem vulgar or obscene.”


Long Island medical journal. Associated Physicians of Long Island. Medical Book News. June, 1919, №6:

“The name of the author of this abnormal biography is of no interest. She, to accept his own classification, tells the inconveniencies, trials and sufferings of her unsocial condition for the purpose of securing some amelioration through legal recognition of his invasion. A woman’s mind, ways and proclivities encased in a body which is only one third feminine, and in particular possessing organs for which (s)he has no use but lacking an orifice for which she would have great use! helas, what a mess! Of course every person who is not normal is to be pitied, and so far as is consistent with running a world should be allowed all possible freedom. Whether the attitude of scientists and moralists toward the relation of the sexes which is so peculiar to this century, and bids fair to be its high light when looked at by the twenty-first can be made to include a benevolent view of congenital inverts, or ought to, is a fine subject for the expression of variant opinions. The author makes this plea — pity us, spare us: we are what we are against our wills. As for the substance of the book itself, — the reader will do well to have some apomorphine at hand. $4.00 is some price, too. A. F. E.”



Other Persons who knew Saben-June:

Jennie May Saben Burnap (1873-1971) 

Saben’s sister became Mrs Burnap after marriage in 1895 to Willard E Burnap.  Find a Grave names her as Jennie May (thereby suggesting Saben’s femme name of Jennie June). However the Mowry Saben death notices name her only as Mrs W E Burnap (her husband’s name). The Burnaps had one daughter, Ruth. 

Jennie was three years younger than Mowry. In her second book, p93, Jennie June wrote: “As for the genesis of my first feminine name, I chose "Jennie" at four. I have always considered it the most feminine of names. When I began my double life, I appended ‘June.’ I adopted that surname because of its beautiful associations,”

What Jennie May Saben Burnap thought about her brother riffing on her name is not recorded.


Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

A poet and playwright from Maine, who befriended Saben at Harvard. He won the Pulitzer Prize three times in 1922, 1925 and 1928, and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1927. Bisexual, never married. 

  • Scott Donaldson. Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet’s Life, Columbia University Press, 2007.

Wikipedia 


Clark Bell (1832-1918)

LLD, founder and for many years, editor of Medico-Legal Journal. Employed Saben under the name Earl Lind.



Prince A Morrow (1846-1913)

A sex hygienist who founded the Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis, the first Social Hygiene association in the United States, in New York City in 1905. In 1910, this organization joined with various other Social Hygiene associations across the country to create the American Federation for Sex Hygiene with Morrow as president. He translated works of the French dermatologist Jean Alfred Fournier (1832-1912), and he became the leading publicist of the syphilis problem.

During the 1890s, he had opposed plans for the annexation of Hawaii on the grounds that its population had high rate of leprosy. 

  • Prince A Morrow (ed). A System of Genito-Urinary Diseases, Syphilology and Dermatology. 1893.


Robert S Newton (1857-1903)

Neurologist and alienist who was well known in New York for providing expert testimony at trials.



Alfred W Herzog (1866-1933)

Herzog, physician and lawyer replaced Clark Bell as editor of Medico-Legal Journal. He published and wrote introductions for both of the Werther-June books.

He lived at 123 West 83rd Street, NY. He was arraigned in May 1925 charged with felonious assault after rescuing a female neighbor, one of his tenants, who was being beaten by two brothers with a club. He used his gun and put the two men in hospital.

His first wife, 30 years younger, divorced him in 1928.

Died of apoplexy at age 67.

  • Alfred W Herzog. “Homosexuality and the Law”. The Medical-Legal Journal, 34, 8, December 1917.
  •     “Doctor who shot 2 to save woman arraigned today”.  Daily News, May 19, 1925:2.

  •  “Chivalrous Doctor shoots 2: Woman in peril while Brothers raged, he avers”.  Daily News, May 19, 1925
  • Alfred W Herzog. Medical Jurisprudence. Bobbs-Merrill, 1931.


William Robinson (1867-1936)

Physician, sexologist and birth control advocate. Editor, American Journal of Urology and Sexology. Father of Victor Robinson. In 1919-20 the AJUS published several articles by Werther-June.


Victor Robinson (1886-1947)

Editor, Medical Review of Reviews. Published Werther-June’s "The Biological Sport of Fairie-ism, and had a contract to publish Riddle of the Underworld, the third part of Werther-June’s trilogy – although this never happened.



Robert Shufeldt (1850-1934)

Mycologist, ornithologist, army doctor and eugenicist. He worked as a surgeon in the campaign against the Sioux. He is credited with coining the word "paleopathology", the study of diseases and cause of death of decomposed specimens. He took many nude photographs.

In 1906 he examined and then wrote a paper on the fairie J W (Loop-the-Loop).

As a eugenicist he was obsessed with the purity of the white race. He wrote two book length harangues against black persons, The Negro: A Menace to American Civilization, 1907 and America’s Greatest Problem: the Negro, 1915. He also saw ‘perverts’ as an impurity that should be prevented by controlled breeding – but as most people were ignorant of their existence they should be written about.

He married three times. The first wife Catherine committed suicide in an asylum. His second wife, Florence Audubon, (granddaughter of John James Audubon, the noted ornithologist) left him after two months of marriage, accusing him of adultery with their Norwegian housekeeper, who would later become his third wife. Around this time he published a pamphlet titled On Female Impotency which included a photograph of a nude woman whom he described as a mulatto but likely was Ms. Audubon. This paper describing his personal problems, thinly veiled as medical research and meant to blackmail Florence, stated his affiliation to the Smithsonian Institution which outraged the Smithsonian leadership and led to his dismissal in 1897. Shufeldt refused to pay alimony following the divorce and claimed bankruptcy which was taken up in the US Supreme Court Audubon v. Shufeldt, 181 US 575 (1901). He took back many of the specimens that he had collected for the Smithsonian and later deposited them with the New York State Museum.

  • R W Shufeldt, "Dr. Havelock Ellis on Sexual Inversion," Pacific Medical journal (San Francisco), vol. 45 (1902), p. 20.
  • Robert W Shufeldt. “The Medico-Legal Consideration of Perverts and Inverts”. Pacific Medical Journal, XLVIII, July 1905:391-3. Online.
  • R W Shufeldt. “Biography of a Passive Pederast”. American Journal of Urology and Sexology, 13, 1917: 451-60. Online 

Wikipedia 

Excerpt from The Negro

Hugh Ryan On Shufeldt




Mitchell Kennerley (1878-1950)

From England, Kennerley was sent to New York to manage US branch of John Lane Publisher. Later he started own imprint. He published many books by the early 20th century avant garde including books about sex, some of them books by queer writers (including Wilde and Whitman). He published Saben’s The Spirit of Life, Saben wrote for his magazine, The Forum, and their 1924 correspondence in which they discuss homosexuality and inversion has survived.


There is no mention of Saben in Bruccoli’s biography except the The Spirit of Life is included in the long list of the books that he published in an appendix. In fact the word ‘homosexual’ appears but once – in connection with Wilde’s The Portrait of Mr. W. H.

  • Matthew J Bruccoli. The Fortunes of Mitchell Kennerly, Bookman. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986.



Secondary publications:

  • “Local Failure – Re Israel Mowry Saben”. Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 2 Mar 1895. 
  • Robert W Shufeldt. “The Medico-Legal Consideration of Perverts and Inverts”. Pacific Medical Journal, XLVIII, July 1905:391-3. Online.
  • William Lee Howard. "Two Souls in One Body: A Realistic but Scientific Account of a True Psychological”, The Arena; 34, 192, Nov 1905: 467-9. An account of Jennie/Karl.
  • “Mowry Saben Dies in San Francisco“. 
  • Richard Cary. “Mowry Saben About Edwin Arlington Robinson”. Colby Quarterly, 9, 6, March 1972.
  • Bert Hansen. “American Physicians' Earliest Writings about Homosexuals, 1880-1900”. The Milbank Quarterly, 67, 1, 1989.
  • George Chauncey. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. Basic Books, 1994: 42–44, 51, 52, 54, 55, 59–60, 62, 77, 79, 110, 118, 187, 190, 291–292.
  • Anne Herrmann. “The Androgyne as ‘Fairie’: A Self-Authored Case History” Queering the moderns: poses/portraits/performances. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000: 143-163. Discusses Werther as one of six early examples of writers who cross boundaries and “queer the traditional spaces of modernism”.
  • Henry L Minton. Departing from Deviance: A History of Homosexual Rights and Emancipatory Science in America. University of Chicago Press, 2002: 19-29,
  • Melissa Norelle Stein. Embodying Race: Gender, Sex, and the Sciences of Difference, 1830-1934. PhD thesis, Rutgers University, May 2008: 217-235. Online.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. “Thinking Sex with an Androgyne” GLQ 17.1, 2011.
  • Aaron Shaheen. “Strolling through the Slums of the Past: Ralph Werther’s Love Affair with Victorian Womanhood in Autobiography of an Androgyne”. Journal of the Modern Language Association of America (PMLA) 128.4, 2013. 
  • Emma Heaney. The New Woman: Literary Modernism, Queer Theory, and the Trans Feminine Allegory. Northwestern University Press, 2017: 172-8.
  • Bjorn Klein. „Voyeurismus und die Macht des Blicks in den Sexualwissenschaften und der New Yorker Unterwelt um 1900“. L’Homme, October 2019.
  • Francisco Araujo da Costa. „Original Reviews of Autobiography of an Androgyne”. Medium, Jun 23, 2019. Online.
  • Channing Gerard Joseph. “Who Was Jennie June?”. Outhistory, October 10, 2022. Online.
  • Lee Lanzillotta. “How an ‘Androgyne’ Upended Gender in 1899”. Gay & Lesbian Review, November-December 2023. 

Find-a-Grave            Wikipedia(Jennie June)                  Wikipedia(Mowry Saben)

17 April 2024

Mowry Saben/Ralph Werther/Earl Lind/Jennie June: Part II - publications

 Part I: early life

Part II: publications

Part III:  comments and bibliography 


In 1907 Mowry Saben wrote a short newspaper article.  'Woman – An Age-Haunting Problem' which was published in the Detroit Free Press and elsewhere. In it he proposed that all of our culture comes from men: 

“Turn where we will, the objects of our veneration are all the monuments of man. From man have come the cities and the industries of the globe: all the great inventions are his; of him are all the religions, the ethical systems, the sciences and philosophies; he has created all the great poems, paintings, sculpture, architecture and music of the world.”

He further declared: 

“The woman of the Feminist is a fiction: she forms no part of manifested reality.” 

Six years later he expanded the same sentiments to a five-page article in Neale’s Monthly called simply ‘Feminism’. 

“I hold, indeed, that man's indebtedness to woman is a very large and deep one. There is nothing finer in Nature than motherhood; and feminine influence at its best, like masculine influence at its best, is always of a divine quality. But I will say that the history of the world gives no sanction to the claims put forth by Feminists. In her sphere woman is supreme; but her sphere is not man's. … Our Feminists have indulged in loud talk, but they have proved nothing and accomplished nothing. Women are quite as free as men. There is nothing but their lack of innate capacity to prevent them from becoming the great Poets, Musicians, Artists, Scientists, Philosophers, Inventors, and Reformers of the race.”

That was the polite version. Werther-June had already written in Autobiography of an Androgyne: 

“I have always felt that a woman should adore her husband so much as to delight in being treated as a slave, and to suffer gladly any abuse by her lord”. (p98) 

And there is no mention in either of their books of the ongoing campaign for female suffrage.

In that year, 1913 the editors of Neale’s Monthly described Saben as “one of the most vigorous essayists of our day”. They also published a long essay by Saben, “Broken Lights”, 78 pages in five chapters and seven parts, wherein he examines the ideas of his time and finds most of them lacking.

Saben’s major book under his male name was The Spirit of Life: A Book of Essays, which came out in 1914 and had a chapter on morals, and another on sex. In the latter we find:

“I do not object to sex-worship in itself. I have stood at its altar; have myself been a worshipper, and am, in a measure, one even yet. But I am not a Monotheist; I am a Polytheist. I have many gods, and some goddesses. My temple is the Pantheon. I bow low whenever I stand before a Holy Image. But I am a Catholic, and insist that there shall be no neglect of any divinity or saint.” (p138-9).

“The tenderness of Gautama was feminine, and was not Jesus very much of a woman in some of his characteristics? Goethe said that there was something

feminine in all genius, while Coleridge went further, declaring that the mind of a genius must be androgynous. Tennyson dared in The Princess to prophesy that the sexes were destined to become more and more alike” (p151)

“It will not do for the man or woman who indulge from necessity their hetero-sexual tastes to throw stones at the man or woman who indulge from necessity their homo-sexual tastes”. (p160-1)

A paragraph by Saben, published in Mitchell Kennerley’s The Forum, was reprinted in many newspapers across the country in 1915: 


“Our moral codes were invented, not to prepare man for heaven, or for Utopia; they were invented by men who were none too good themselves for people who were not much worse. There are great differences in human beings as to the amount of knowledge and wisdom which they possess, but there is small difference in regard to the amount of goodness or rascality that they manifest”.


 

1917: Werther-June was diagnosed with gonhorrhea.

In 1918 Saben wrote to a friend: 

“Germany did me a lot of good, a fact to which I am still bound to bear witness even in this terrible twilight hour of the ages. One of these days, if life and health are spared to me, you shall know all about it, for I am preparing the material for a book of confessions — ‘The Confessions of a Philosopher,’ I call it, using the word ‘philosopher’ in the original, or Socratic, sense. I believe that the book will be a big one, if I have all the courage requisite for my task.”


The autobiography - by Werther-June rather than Saben - was finally accepted by the Medico-Legal Press, whose new editor, Alfred Herzog, wrote an introduction. The book, Autobiography of an Androgyne, carried a publication date of 1918, but was not actually sold until January 1919. Only 1,000 copies were printed and it was sold through the mail [despite Comstock’s refusal of the text] only to “physicians, lawyers, legislators, psychologists, and sociologists”. Herzog wrote: 

“For, although I hope to fill with the Autobiography of an Androgyne a void; yet, had this void been recognized, were the want felt to have this void filled, my task would be easier of accomplishment. The void whereof I speak is the colossal ignorance of the reasons for homosexual practices on one side, and the pharisaical pulchritude on the other side, which, although knowing that homosexuality has been practiced uninterruptedly from biblical times up to the present, refuses to study its causes or its devotees; and while not endeavouring to make this world a better place to live in through its own abandoning unwholesome practices, vices and other actions which, although approved, condoned or ignored by the multitude —because these actions are popular —are condemned by philosophers and thinkers, yet will crucify those whose vices are much less harmful, because they are vices for which this pharisaical pulchritude has no taste, which therefore it cannot understand, and not understanding them, cannot condone.”

1918-20 Werther-June wrote and had published a series of articles in American Journal of Urology and Sexology, Medical Review of Reviews and Medical Life. They were mainly self-case studies, explaining to doctors what it was like to be Werther-June. 

Of particular interest is “Studies in Androgynism”, in Medical Life, 1920, which is Werther-June’s summary of the topic. They write: 

“As in this article I have to refer to the fact that I myself have had an extensive experience as a fairie, I think it wise to state at the outset that this line of conduct was not mine because of moral depravity, but because of irrepressible instinct, and that though my open career lasted twelve years, I made a gainful occupation of my propensities for only the nine weeks during which otherwise I would have been penniless. From the age of nineteen to thirty-one, obedience, to these propensities was absolutely essential for living out the scholarly life that I was regularly privileged to do. … Psychicly fairies have always felt that they belong to the female sex. They always adopt feminine names during the periods while they are under the influence of the sexual movings. Particularly they borrow the names of star actresses. With the more cultured, it has been a lifelong regret that they had not been born physical females, as well as psychic. As to the age of professional fairies, one over thirty is almost unknown. Nearly all appear to be between eighteen and twenty-five. Their career must be confined to youth. But they retain the freshness, slenderness, and litheness of youth-what might be described as "the small-boy appearance" – an abnormally long time, at least until the age of thirty. They are like women in that they have little tendency to baldness. … To sum up the natural endowment of fairies: they are not merely humans with a female soul in a male body, but they have, from the sexual point of view, never grown out of babyhood. Their craze for fellatio is only the abnormal survival through adulthood of the infant's feeding instinct. … As to the frequency of fairie-ism , I estimate that the raw material that is, the congenital girl -boys or androgynes throughout the world, one to every three hundred physical males. The writer has resided in fifteen different civilized countries, and in many of these countries has explored the underworlds of the great cities. The conditions as to fairies are about the same in all civilized countries. For fairie-ism is not due to example or moral degradation; but entirely to Mother Nature. At the dawning of adolescence, either because afflicted with congenital psychic nymphomania, or because thrown into intimate contact with a band of tremendously virile young bachelors, about one girl-boy out of every ten becomes extensively promiscuous-in other words a fairie. … Fairies may be divided into high-class and low-class. The former are for the most part recruited from the middle class of society, and have at least a grammar-school education, and rarely a high -school. As a rule, the high-class fairies are decided æsthetes. In embellishment of both their dress and their living apartments, most people would judge that they go to extremes. The author is the only university graduate he himself has encountered in the ranks of intensive fairies. But he has been acquainted with a number of such graduates who were addicted to fellatio with one or two trusted ultra-virile friends. The combination of high intellectuality with the frivolousness of the fairie is perhaps unique in the case of the present author. … The low-class type were born and brought up in the slums, and are much inferior in intelligence-not to say culture. While the high-class are subject to spells of acute melancholia in the realization of their condition of being misunderstood by their sexually normal fellows, and being pariahs, and from time to time even resort to suicide, the low-class fairie is perfectly contented with the niche in life which Mother Nature intended "him-her" to fill. Low-class fairies are likely to be deeply depraved. But this depravity has supervened upon their congenital effeminacy, and is something separate and apart.”


In addition to writing about Androgynes, in 1919 and 1921 Saben did some editing/writing work for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Immigration and Naturalization. This involved so little work that he was able to complete Werther/Junes’ next book, The Female Impersonators – which was published in 1922, again with the restriction that it was to be sold only to “physicians, lawyers, legislators, psychologists, and sociologists” despite Werther-June having written it in a popular style for the benefit of general readers. It contained nude photographs taken by Dr Shufeldt and also by Dr Alfred Herzog. 

It also contained an account of Columbus Hall better known as Paresis Hall, presented as 

“the headquarters for avocational female-impersonators of the upper and middle classes … In front was a modest bar-room; behind, a small beer-garden … A score of us have formed a little club, the Cercle Hermaphroditos. For we need to unite for defense against the world's bitter persecution of bisexuals. We care to admit only extreme types —such as like to doll themselves up in feminine finery.” (p146-156)

There was a third volume by Werther-June, Riddle of the Underworld, to complete the trilogy. However, it was never published. It was partially rediscovered in the 21st century.

In 1924 Saben spent several months in Montreal, but returned for medical treatment on an anal fistula. He told the publisher Mitchell Kennerley that some mistakenly viewed him as “an almost saintly individual”, and continued: 

“If I were to write an absolutely truthful book of confessions, telling what I have done, etc., they would refuse to believe it, and they would try to convince the public that my mind, at the time of writing the book, had become unhinged.” 

From 1926-29 Saben worked as assistant to Secretary of Labor James J. Davis with the title “Commissioner of Conciliation” – where his main job was writing the Secretary’s speeches, etc. He then ghosted for a senator for a year. In 1934 he became editor of The Argonaut, based in San Francisco.


In September 1950, Saben was hospitalized with heart, liver and kidney ailments, and died a few weeks later. Apparently, he was given a blood transfusion of the wrong blood type – however the inquest ruled that this did not hasten his death.

He was 80 years old.

An unnamed friend was said to have removed Saben’s personal papers from his San Francisco apartment after his death. They were never seen again.


Publications by Saben/Werther/Lind/June:

  • Mowry Saben. The twilight of the gods: an essay.  Unity Pub House, 1903.
  • Mowry Saben. “Woman – An Age-Haunting Problem”. Detroit Free Press, Aug 04, 1907: 42. 
  • Mowry Saben. “Feminism”. Neale’s Monthly, July 1913. Online.
  • Mowry Saben. “Broken Lights”. Neale’s Monthly, In seven parts, September 1913 - March 1914. Online: 1913 1914.
  • Mowry Saben. The Spirit of Life: A Book of Essays. Mitchell Kennerley, 1914. Online
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "The Fairie Boy. An Autobiographical Sketch." American Journal of Urology and Sexology (October 1918) v. 14, n. 10: 433-37.
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "The Girl-Boy's Suicide." American Journal of Urology and Sexology, v. 14, n. 11 (November 1918): 495-99.
  • Earl Lind (“Ralph Werther” – “Jennie June”) Autobiography of an Androgyne. Ed., with an Introduction by Alfred W Herzog. The Medico-Legal Journal, 1918 (but not published until January 1919. Reprinted Arno Press, 1975. Digital Transgender Archive. Wikisource.
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "Boy – But Never Man“. American Journal of Urology and Sexology, v. 15, (March 1919): 97-100.
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "The Sorrows of Jennie June“. American Journal of Urology and Sexology, v. 15, (April 1919): 160-4.
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "The Sorrows of Jennie June“. American Journal of Urology and Sexology, v. 15, (April 1919): 160-4.
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "The Female Impersonator “. American Journal of Urology and Sexology , v. 15, (June 1919): 241-5.
  • Ralph Werther --Jennie June. "Protest from an Androgyne“. American Journal of Urology and Sexology, v. 15, (July 1919): 313-5.
  • Ralph Werther -Jennie June. "The Biological Sport of Fairie-ism." Written 1920 for Victor Robinson. Published in: Medical Review of Reviews (Anthropos 2) 40 2, (1934) 40: 185-96.1934).
  • Ralph Werther -Jennie June. "Studies in Androgynism." Medical Life (NY), (1920) 27: 235-46. Online.
  • Ralph Werther-Jennie June (“Earl Lind”). The Female Impersonators; a sequel to the Autobiography of an androgyne and an account of some of the author's experiences during his six years' career as instinctive female-impersonator in New York's underworld. Ed., with an introduction, by Alfred W. Herzog. The Medico-Legal Journal. 1922. Reprinted Arno Press, 1975. Digital Transgender Archive. Wikisource.
  • Ralph Werther. The Riddle of the Underworld, 1921. Unpublished. Online.
  • Mowry Saben. “Socialism and Freedom of the Press”. The National Republican, February 11, 1922. Online.