This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

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30 December 2008

Some Events of the year 2008

++ = added later.

This is just some of what happened in 2008.


Sou Southevy (193? - ) Cambodian sex worker, made a formal complaint to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, in the hope that the extermination of transgender, lesbian and sex workers will be acknowledged.

Stu Rasmussen (1948 - ) elected mayor of Silverton, Oregon as an open transgender.

Alejandra Victoria Portatadino (1959 - ) on International Women’s Day, she was recognized as one of 20 Argentinian women who ‘broke traditional molds’.

Choochat Dulayapraphatsorn (1962 - ) elected village chief of Tai Ban Mai, Thailand.

Leo Kret (1983 - ) elected to city council of Salvador, Bahia.

Bishni Adhikari (1987 - ) a Nepali, acquires an identity card with gender=third.

Robin Mathy (1957 - ) US sociologist filed ethics complaints against Alice Dreger and Michael Bailey.

Pascale Ourbih (? - ) ran for office in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

Ramesh Venkatesan (1980 - ) using name Rose is host of television program in Tamil Nadu.

Nepal's Supreme Court confirms full rights for all GLBTI persons.

Bangadeshi court rules that transgenders are citizens and have the right to vote, along with travellers, prisoners and 1947 migrants from India.

Australia considers third sex recognition

Sweden removes transvestity from the list of illnesses.

First Indonesian Islamic school for waria (transgender) set up in Yogyakarta.

Colombia's constitutional court rules that a five-year-old intersex child can choose her own gender against her parents' wishes.

Philippines Supreme Court rules that Jennifer Cagandahan, an intersex, could change her legal gender to male.

Pan-African meeting for transgender activists held in South Africa.

The UK Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations extended to Northern Ireland.

++ At the London pride March, trans women where denied the use of women's toilets, and were told incorrectly that they had to produce their Gender Recognition Certificates.

++ A court in Karlsruhe ruled that a trans woman who transitioned after being married to a woman for 50 years could both remain married and change her legal gender.

++ The Irish High Court ruled that Irish Law was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights with respect to Lydia Foy's attempt to get her birtt certificate changed.

Uganda High Court ruled in favour of GLBT activists (including Victor Mukasa) and against the Attorney General.

UN statement on universal rights of GLBT persons. The participating countries urged all nations to "promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity," and to end all criminal penalties against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This was conceived by Louis Tin, the founder of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), and adopted by France during its rotating presidency of the European Union. 66 countries including all EU countries (including Poland, Latvia and Lithuania) and several African countries signed. Notable among the non-signers were South Africa and Turkey, and, as expected, the US. Opposition came from the Vatican and the Islamic Conference.

China re-introduces optional sex testing at the Olympics.

National Fatwa Council of Malaysia issued a fatwa saying that tomboyism, where a girl behaves or dresses in what is seen as a boyish manner, is forbidden by Islam.

Turkish court bans Lambda Istanbul, and police raid its cultural centre on grounds of "frequent visits by transgender people".

New Kuwaiti law against cross-dressing used to arrest transgender Kuwaitis.

Police in Bangalore, India, forced 100 hijras from their homes, after a scandal about some hijras kidnapping and castrating male children.

Yet more US States banned equal marriages.

California voted in referendum to abolish all personal and business contracts except marriage where the persons are of different genders - details.

US DHHS regulations "Provider Conscience" rule permits any healthcare provider to refuse service to any gay or trans person on grounds of moral, religious or personal beliefs.

The CAMH Clinic gains more power by controlling restored funding for some Ontario transsexuals.

Ken Zucker and Ray Blanchard at Toronto's CAMH appointed to APA's DSM-5.

Bo Laurent closed down the Internet Society of North America, and joined The Accord Alliance.

Transphobic Julie Bindel shortlisted by Stonewall as lesbian journalist of the year.

Alice Dreger's "The Bailey Affair: Political Correctness and Attacks on Sex Research". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 37,3. June 2008.


Felicity Chandelle (1906 - 2008) airline pilot, USA.

++ Herman Ratjen (1918 - 2008) high jump for Germany, 1936, as Dora. Hamburg.

Erica Rutherford (1923 - 2008 ) artist, Prince Edward Island.

Lynne Braithwaite (1934 - 2008) aircraft engineer, Morecambe, Lancashire.

Steve Dain (1940 - 2008) San Francisco teacher.

Raymond Sheehan (1958 - 2008) New York cop outed as a transvestite when his abused wife killed him.

Jahna Steele (1958 - 2000) Las Vegas show girl.

Jennifer Gale (1960 - 2008) perennial political candidate, Austin, Texas.

Madeleine Blaustein (1960 - 2008) New York comic artist, writer, voice actor.

Jang Chae-won (1982 - 2008) Korean game-show contestant in apparent suicide.

Private Events

Jan Morris (1926 - ) formally rejoined her wife of nearly 60 years in a civil union in Wales.

Westerly Drouyn (1950 - ) Australian champion surfer transitioned.

Bülent Ersoy (1950 -) Turkish singer, was put on trial but found not guilty for saying on television that if she were a mother she would not want her son to be in the Turkish forces in Iraq.

Desiré Dubounet (1951 - ) arrested at Budapest airport.

Melanie Parltrow (1951 - ) Staffordshire lorry driver and lottery winner. Her ladies darts team was ejected from the league for questionable reasons.

Jillian Page (1952 - ) Montréal Gazette journalist, transitions.

Olli Aalto (1954 - ) vicar of Imatra, Finland, announces transition.

Lana Lawless (1953 - ) Palm Springs ex-cop, wins female Long Drive Championship.

Gwynedd Thomas (195? - ) engineering professor Auburn University, Alabama, transitioned at work.

Nicole Dolder (195? - ) in Scotland, has her play Painted Eggs based on her experiences as a transsexual presented by the theatre group, The Luvvies.

Lily Savage (1955 - ) awarded an MBE.

Stephen Whittle (1955 - ) became President of Transgender Europe (TGEU).

Julie Yoo (1959 - ) diner manager, Tarpon Springs, Florida, transitioned, and lost her diner.

Mike Penner (1959 - ) Los Angeles Times sports writer, transitions and then changes back.

Christiane Völling (1960 - ) Düsseldorf nurse, awarded €100,000 against the surgeon who removed her uterus and womb and hid her intersex status from her.

Adrian Poleglase (196? - ) Stockwell, London, civil servant, survived after a trick tied him up and set his flat on fire.

Enza Anderson (1964 - ) Metro party columnist, was Grand Marshall for Toronto Pride.

Valdimir Luxuria (1965 - ) lost her seat in the Italian Parliament, but was later the winner in the reality television show, Celebrity Island.

Raven Navajo (1965 - ) pleaded guilty in Las Vegas of first-degree murder, but convicted of second degree, and sentenced to 10 years.

Vikki-Marie Gaynor (1970 ) lorry driver, awarded £20,000 against DHL for discrimination.

Calpernia Adams (1971 - ) featured on Transamerican Love Story.

Darlene Harris (1973 - ) Atlanta police officer, goes public about her intersex status.

Hussain Rabie (1974 - ) Bahraini shot-putter, finally recognized as male by High Civil Court.

Thomas Beatie (1974 - ) gave birth and became pregnant a second time.

Eulis Campbell/Madeline Monroe (1980 - ) pleaded guilty to murder in Florida and sentenced to 40 years.

Aderet (1976 - ) Israeli singer, top of the playlist in Lebanon.

Cat Tuyen (1977 - ) Vietnamese singer, married.

Betheny Black (1978 - ) Manchester goth lesbian standup comedian, appeared at the Glastonbury Festival.

Balian Buschbaum (1980 - ) German champion pole-vaulter, transitioned.

Christy Nicole Lewis (1981 - ) sentenced to 4 years in Alabama for bank robbery.

Susanna Achora (? - ) herbalist, publicly exposed as male-bodied when she went into Mbale Hospital, Uganda, with meningitis.

Natasha Thoday (1966 - ) teacher in Brighton. Tribunal rules in her favour after she was fired and harassed.

Issa Fazli (196? - ) who converted from a female Muslim to a male Christian, was detained by his parents in Pakistan for four years. On return to the US his Permanent Residence had expired.

Lindiwe Ringane (? - ) rejected from Miss South Africa pageant.

Isis King (1986 - ) on America's Next Top Model.

Films & Television programmes

Chen Kaige (dir & scr). Mei Lanfang, with Leon Lai as Mei Lanfang. China 2008.

Becca Goldstein (dir). The Lisa Jackson Documentary. With Lisa Jackson. US 2008.

James Rasin (dir). Beautiful Darling. With Candy Darling, Andy Warhol, Holly Woodlawn. US 2008.

Jules Rosskam (dir). Against a Trans Narrative. With Desi del Valle. US 61 mins 2008.

Randolph Viverito (dir). My Name is Jackie Beat. With Jackie Beat, Roseanne Barr. US 65 mins 2008.

Marleen Gorris (dir). Heaven and Earth. With Natascha McElhone as James Barry. UK 2009. In pre-production.

Anand Tucker (dir). The Danish Girl. Based on the novel by David Ebershoff, with Nicole Kidman as Einar Wegener and Charlize Theron as Greta Wegener. US 2010. In pre-production.

The film biography of April Ashley with Catherine Zeta-Jones as Ashley is apparently not happening.

Born in the Wrong Body: Girls Will Be Boys. MSNBC US 60 mins 2008.

Born in the Wrong Body: A Change of Heart. With Joseph Kirchner, Michael Berke. MSNBC US 60 mins 2008.

Born in the Wrong Body: Tying the Knot. MSNBC US 60 mins 2008.

Taboo: The Third Sex. National Geographic Channel. Oct 27, 2008.


Michael Seth Starr. Hiding in Plain Sight: The Secret Life of Raymond Burr. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. 2008: 120-8. (on Libby Reynolds).

Kate Cummings. Katherine's Diary‑the Story of a Transsexual. William Heinemann Australia 1992. Revised and updated 2008.

Katrina Alicia Karkazis. Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.

Nicholas Clapton. Moreschi: the Angel of Rome. Haus, 265pp 2008. A castrati.

Susan Stryker. Transgender History. Seal Press. 190 pp 2008.

Savannah Knoop. Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT LeRoy. Seven Stories Press. 224 pp 2008.

Tracie O’Keefe (ed) Trans People in Love. Routledge 2008.

++ Terri O'Connell. Dangerous Curves. BookSurge Publishing 2008.

Terry Noel (1936 - ) performer, housewife, programmer/analyst.

From a small town in Kentucky, Terry won a Halloween contest in 1958, and sent the photographs to The Jewel Box Revue and was hired as a performer. From 1960 she worked at Club 82 in New York City, where she dated actor Jim Hutton.

She took female hormones for only 18 months, starting in 1961. She was on the cover of Female Mimics in 1963.

She had been scheduled to have genital surgery at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn in 1964, but the surgeon felt wrong and she cancelled. She did have the operation the next year with Dr Trowbridge in Illinois. Her mother took the surgeon’s and psychiatrist’s letters to the county clerk and got Terry’s birth certificate re-issued. However there were complication with her bladder that continued until she had extra surgery in Yonkers.

She continued at the Club 82 until she found an office job as a typist. In 1969 she moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she married a US naval officer, and was with him and his son for 14 years without either knowing her past.

After divorce she retrained as a computer programmer/ analyst, and then worked for the US federal government.

She retired in 1997.

*Not the New York DJ.

29 December 2008

David Raven (193? - ) master grocer, performer & James Court (194? - ) performer.

David was adopted by a couple in pub and hotel management. He trained as a master grocer. He married a woman at the age of 19, and at 21 was manager of the Norwich Co-op. At 29 he was assistant manager at Selfridges food hall in London, when he realized that he was really gay.

He got up and sang at the Cricketers pub in Battersea, and found that he had a natural talent. With James Court he won a talent competition and they became The Trollettes, David adopting the name Maisie Trollette, and James as Jimmy Trollette. They appeared regularly at the Union Tavern in Camberwell.

David was the first to revive own-voice singing in drag acts. He was in the London stage version of Boys in the Band, and has also played dames in pantomimes many times, especially Widow Twanky and The Ugly Sisters. He won £12,000 on the football pools and bought a hotel in Brighton which he ran with his boyfriend for 18 years.

He has a successful one-man show, and has played around the world. He was a founder member of Brighton Cares, the HIV charity.

Although he never went to Pattaya, Thailand, until 2003, he has become enthusiastic and now visits there at least twice a year.

James (Jimmy Trollette) has also done dame parts, especially the Ugly Sisters with David, and likewise has done lots of charity work.

The Trollettes were the model for Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough when they played on television as Ada and Cissie.

*Not the footballer, nor the drummer.

27 December 2008

Ben Schatz (1959 -) and Irwin Keller (? - ) lawyers, performers.

Ben graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985. He founded a US-wide legal program to combat Aids-related discrimination, and was executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. He wrote position papers for then US presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

Irwin graduated in law from the University of Chicago. He was director of the Aids Legal Referral Panel of the San Francisco Bay Area. He authored Chicago’s gay rights ordinance, which was passed in 1980 and is still in effect.

In 1993 Schatz, Keller and others attended a Bette Midler concert in San Francisco dressed as the Andrews Sisters. They were offered engagements, and even discovered that they all could sing.

Ben let his Rachel persona evolve, and the group became The Kinsey Sicks. After a few years of a double life Ben quit his law jobs and became a full time drag performer. Irwin followed in 2002 to become Winnie.

Kinsey Six is of course the exclusively gay end of the Kinsey scale.

24 December 2008

Ali Saleem (1979 - ) performer.

Born in Islamabad, Ali is the son of a now-retired colonel in the Pakistani army, and a government official.

Saleem describes himself as ‘a woman in a man’s body’, who fantasized about growing up to be a woman since he was a child.

He built a reputation impersonating former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Diane Spencer, Princess of Wales and actress/singer Noor Jehan. Bhutto herself asked Ali to do his impersonation of her and burst out laughing.

He has now become famous as Begum Nawazish Ali, a flirtatious widow on The Late Night Show on Aaj TV, where she poses taboo questions, that journalists regularly avoid, to imans, celebrities and politicians. Pakistan’s military government has threatened to ban the program.

Saleem is openly bisexual.

The show was finally banned in July 2007.
There is a very good video clip here on Ali and Nawazish. Usually I filter out clips that show us putting on makeup etc, but I make an exception for this one.

22 December 2008

Whatever happened to Pussy Katt (1929 - ).

Steve Clayton was born in Dayton, Ohio.

He moved to San Francisco, took the name Pussy Katt, lied about his age and started work as a female impersonator at Finocchio’s.

There was a rumor that Errol Flynn, David Niven and two others had taken Pussy Katt and friends back to a hotel suite at the Fairmont for a night of ‘debauchery’. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons heard this, but couldn’t use it.

Howard Hughes, who had first met Katt when he escorted Ava Gardner to Finocchio’s, returned for another meeting, and then he invited her to his suite at the Fairmont. Hughes had read a book that claimed that ancient Egyptian eunuchs were regarded as better sex objects after castration. In 1945, Hughes flew with Katt to Mexico City where she was castrated and was paid $50,000.

Afterwards he installed her in a villa in the new resort of Acapulco, and repeatedly visited her for almost two years. When he grew bored with her, he gave her enough money to open a local drag club, which flourished for three years before the police closed it down with charges of drugs and prostitution.

Katt was later reported as performing at Madame Arthur’s in Paris.

  • Darwin Porter. Howard Hughes, Hell’s Angel: America’s Notorious Bisexual Billionaire, The Secret Life of the U.S. Emperor. Blood Moon Productions 2005: 575-7,593-4.

There is no mention of Steve Clayton/Pussy Katt in Joanne Meyerowitz' How Sex Changed. However she is obviously one of the very early sex changes, 7 years before Christine Jorgensen. Her operation is simply described as a castration, and therefore did not include vaginoplasty. So that is practically the same as Jorgensen had from Dr Hamburger in Copenhagen, except for hormones. One wonders if Katt later did have vaginoplasty and take hormones as they became available in the next decade.

So Katt was 16 when she had her operation. The Gender Clinics that sprang up in later decades would have rejected her on this ground alone.

Katt has certainly kept her head down as regards media exposure. I cannot find anything about her except in Porter's book.

There was nothing about any drag queens or transsexuals in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, 2004, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.

Dan Dailey (1915 – 1978) dancer, actor.

++ revised  24/01/11 to incorporate more sources, and to resort the facts chronologically.

Dailey was born and raised in New York City. He appeared in a minstrel show, and then in vaudeville before his first Broadway show in 1937. He was signed by MGM in 1940.

He served in the US Signal Corps during the Second World War and was discharged as a Captain.

In 1946 he was taking Linda Darnell's dresses from the Fox wardrobe department. Howard Hughes made him return them, but gave him a gift certificate for $5,000 at a leading department store.

He was teamed with Betty Grable in Mother Wore Tights, 1947.  He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in When My Baby Smiles at Me, 1948 – also with Grable. It is said that she also lent him some of her screen wardrobe - the best couture that Hollywood had to offer.  Dan became one of the top male leads at Twentieth Century Fox in the early 1950s.

Andre Previn, the composer, tells in his biography how Dailey turned up drunk and in female clothing for the press screening of It's Always Fair Weather in 1954.  Dailey co-starred with Johnnie Ray in There's No Business Like Show Business the same year, and was close to him afterwards. There were rumors that they were more than friends.

He married his fourth wife, Gwen Carter, in February 1955. In June Inside magazine wrote that "After every binge he shows up around the film colony, decked from head to toe in outlandish female attire". In September that year Uncensored ran an article dispelling the rumors that he was a transvestite (which was a way of repeating the stories without being sued).

In January 1957 Confidential ran "The Night Dan Dailey was Dolly Dawn" claiming that he had danced in a pink tulle dress in a New York gay bar the previous March. Betty tried to save Dailey's career by pointing to his wife and family, but his film career was essentially over by that point, although he continued in television into the 1970s.

In 1976, actress cum gossip columnist Joyce Haber was on television promoting her novel about Hollywood, The Users. Asked to dish some gossip, she mentioned that one of the top dancer-actors was a closet transvestite with a costly and beautiful wardrobe that many women would envy.

After the suicide of his only son (from his third marriage), he was an embittered alcoholic. He died three years later, just after he had played boyfriend Clyde Tolson in The Private Files of J.Edgar Hoover, 1977. He appeared in over 60 films.

  • "The Night Dan Dailey was Dolly Dawn". Confidential. Jan 1957.
  • Spero Pastos. Pin-Up: The Tragedy of Betty Grable.  Putnam, 1986: 76-7.
  • Andre Previn. No Minor Chords: my days in Hollywood. Doubleday 1991. Toronto & London: Bantam 1993:64
  • Boze Hadleigh. The Vinyl Closet: Gays in the Music World. Los Hombres Press, 1991:229-30. Republished as Sing out! : gays and lesbians in the music world. Barricade Books 1997,  Robson Books 1999.
  • William J. Mann. Behind the Screen: How gays and lesbians shaped Hollywood. Viking, 2001: 314-5.
  • Darwin Porter. Howard Hughes, Hell’s Angel: America’s Notorious Bisexual Billionaire, The Secret Life of the U.S. Emperor.  Blood Moon Productions 2005: 630.


21 December 2008

Lazlo Pearlman (1972 - ) actor.

Ilya Pearlman has been acting since she was 10-years-old.

She played male characters all over the US, from Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls with the Provincetown Players to all the male roles in Medea, Macbeth and A Comedy of Errors with Dan Savage-led theatre company Greek Active in Seattle. She also played the matron in Women Behind Bars. In New York Pearlman was a member of WOW Theater, playing the memorable role of Sandy Sonnenshein, the dyke Card Sharp in Lynn Hayes' Guitar Boy.

She was one of the Jew Girls in the jazz- performance-art-comedy group Sister Theresa and the All Jew Girl Band. As a lead singer and bass player she fronted such bands as the reggae/ska Small Axe, wave/punk bands Skinny Wires and Jezebel's Kiss.

In 1994 she created and directed an all-girl Romeo and Juliet, set in the modern day Seattle snakepit of rival women's softball teams.

She adapted and directed an oddly gendered and award-winning version of the Douglas Sirk/Ross Hunter/Lana Turner movie Madame X; and a surrealist The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Lawrence Welk; and a series of fantasy/nightmare performances for the fetish balls of Seattle.

At age 30 he transitioned to male, and directed the female-to-male comedy short, Unhung Heroes, 2002. He is currently located in London.

As most of you know, a film biography of James Barry the 19th century trans man doctor is currently being made. Why have they cast a cisgendered woman in the part when a trans man with as much acting experience as Lazlo is available? I suspect very much that the film will deny that Barry was a trans man, and will pretend that he was a woman in disguise.

20 December 2008

Méi Lánfāng (1894 - 1961) opera star.

Méi Lán (male name) was born into a family of Beijing Opera performers. He made his debut at age 10 at the Guanghe Theatre.

He acted for 50 years and almost exclusively played the qingyi role, a type of the dan role, that is he played female parts. He is generally known as Méi Lánfāng (a female name). His style became renowned as the ‘Mei school’.

He was the first Beijing opera star to tour abroad and took his art to Japan and the United States. He was welcomed to Hollywood by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. In the Soviet Union he was filmed by Sergei Eisenstein.

With the Japanese invasion in 1937, Méi moved to Hong Kong. He later returned to Shanghai, but grew a beard and moustache and refused to perform until 1946. In 1948 he appeared in Sheng si hen, China's first colour film.

After the Communist takeover he was director of China Beijing Opera Theatre and the Chinese Opera Research Institute, and was elected a deputy to the National People’s Congress.

He died of a heart attack.

Méi is the subject of a star-studded new biographical film by Mei-Juin Chen.
  • George Kin Leung, Rushan Qi, and Jiuyao Huang. Mei Lan-Fang, Foremost Actor of China. Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1929.
  • Mei Lanfang. Wutai shenghuo sishi nian (Forty Years of Life on the Stage). Beijing: Zhongguo Xiju Chubanshe, 1961.
  • Mei-Juin Chen (dir). The Worlds of Mei Lanfang. Taiwan/China/US 57 mins 2000.
  • Chen Kaige (dir & scr). Mei Lanfang, with Leon Lai as Mei Lanfang. China 2008.
  • “Mei Lanfang”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ella Wesner (1841 - 1917) male impersonator.

Ella Wesner started in showbiz as a ballet girl. She was Annie Hindle's dresser for a while which enabled her to learn the tricks of male impersonation.

She was very popular in the 1880s. Like Hindle she recycled British Music Hall material for American audiences. Her best remembered act was as a tipsy dude getting a shave. Some found her act rather coarse or dubious, but this contributed to its masculinity.

She never married and seems to have preferred female lovers. Her only reported romance was with Josie Mansfield, the notorious mistress of crooked financier Jim Fisk. After Fisk was shot by another of Josie's lovers, Edward Stokes, Ella and Josie went to Paris and presided over a salon at the Café Américan.

Ella asked to be buried in her male costume.
  • Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. Gender in performance. London, New York: Routledge, xvi, 540pp. 2000: 331.

15 December 2008

Carol S. Riddell (? - ) sociologist.

Sociologist David Riddell, married and with a daughter, was a lecturer at the University of Lancaster, when he co-authored Approaching Sociology: A Critical Introduction, 1970, a work inspired by humanist Marxism, symbolic interactionism, phenomenological sociology and ethno-methodology. This work inspired the then undergraduate Richard Ekins who later wrote on the sociology of trans persons.

David completed transition to Carol with surgery from Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca in 1972. She was in the clinic there the same time as Jan Morris. The revised edition of Approaching Sociology in 1972 names the co-author as Carol S. Riddell.

Also in 1972, she presented a paper to the National Deviancy Conference 10 on “Transvestism and the Tyranny of Gender” in which she analyses the two-gender system as a feature of capitalism – which was an early influence on sociologist Dave King who also later wrote on the sociology of trans persons.

In 1980 Carol wrote a critical pamphlet reviewing Janice Raymond’s 'The Transsexual Empire' criticizing its factual errors, its betrayal of feminist ideals and its use of masculinist ideas. This was well received and much reprinted.

In 1985 she became a devotee of Sai Baba and the Findhorn Foundation, and her later work is devoted to the sect and to the Hebrides where it is located.
  • Carol Riddell. “Divided Sisterhood : A Critical Review of Janice Raymond's 'The Transsexual Empire' “. Liverpool: News from Nowhere 1980. Parts 2,3,5 reprinted in Richard Ekins & Dave King (eds). Blending genders: social aspects of cross-dressing and sex-changing. London and New York: Routledge. 257 pp. 2002; reprinted in Stephen Whittle & Susan Stryker (eds). The Transgender Studies Reader. Routledge. 752 pp. 2006.
  • Richard Ekins & Dave King. The Transgender Phenomenon. London: Thousand Oaks; California: Sage. 2006: 2, 5. Excerpt online at
  • No longer available.
  • Carol Riddell. Social Self-Government: Theory and Practice in Yugoslavia. Our Generation, 1970.
  • Margaret A Coulson & Carol Riddell. Approaching Sociology. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972. 
  • Carol Riddell. The Findhorn Community: Creating a Human Identity for the 21st Century.  Findhorn Press, 1990.
  • Carol Riddell. The Path to Love Is the Practice of Love: An Introduction to Spirituality with Self-Help Exercises for Small Groups. Findhorn Press, 1995.
  • Carol Riddell. Tireragan: A Township on the Ross of Mull : a Study in Local History. Highland Renewal, 1996.
  • Carol Riddell. Introducing ESOL Skills for Life Provision in a Further Education College: The Quest for Materials. University of Manchester, 2005.
  • Carol Riddell.  A Way Forward for Humanity: The Spiritual Basis of the Findhorn Community. 2013.

13 December 2008

Alfred Finnie (? – 1943) hustler, ball organizer.

There had been interracial drag balls in Chicago since the late nineteenth century.

In 1935, following the raid on the double wedding at the Cabin Inn, Alfred Finnie organized a small extra ball on the South Side at 25¢ to get in, mainly attended by blacks.

Each year it grew, and by the 1950s Finnie’s Balls attracted thousands both gay and straight, black and white, and was featured in Jet and Ebony magazines.

Apart from the balls, Alfred worked as a club doorman and street hustler. He was killed in a gambling brawl in 1943, but the balls continued in his name.
  • “Gays and Lesbians”. Encyclopedia of Chicago.
  • Baim, Tracy. Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community. Chicago: Surrey Books, 2008: 29. 
  • St. Sukie De la Croix. Chicago Whispers A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012: 146, 152-3.

Zhong Jie Xi /Jessie Chung (197? - ) doctor.

Malaysian Zhong Xuan Tai, who used the English name Jeffrey Chung, studied in Canada, USA, China, Singapore as well as Malaysia. He qualified as an American Naturopathic Doctor, and as a Chinese Medical Doctor. He did an M.Sc. in at the University of Health Science in Hawaii.

Chung completed her transition to Jie Xi/Jessie in 2003. She had met her boyfriend Joshua Beh Soo Kiang, an accountant, four years earlier. He proposed to her six times, the last time in blood, before she accepted – as she was afraid that she would ruin his life.

However Malaysia does not permit the reissue of identity papers for post-operative transsexuals, and her identity card and passport say ‘male’.

She and Joshua were married in a big ceremony in 2005 at a hotel in Sarawak state on Borneo Island, Their parents gave their blessing, and the ceremony was blessed by the Charismatic Church, but the marriage will not be recognized by the state. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, which represents more than 2,000 churches in Malaysia, also said it would not recognize the marriage.

Jie Xi operates a health therapy business in Kuala Lumpur. She is also a singer.

12 December 2008

Pierre Molinier (1900 - 1976) painter, photographer.

Molinier, the son of a house painter, lived most of his life in Bordeaux, France.

As early as sixteen his sisters took him to a ball dressed as a girl. At age 18, when his sister died, he allegedly had sex with her corpse when left alone to photograph it.

Many of his paintings were of erotic images featuring sphinxes, sirens and chimeras.

In his late fifties he became involved with the Surrealists. In his sixties, he turned to erotic photographs, often featuring himself as female, that focused especially on images of black stockings. He was primarily a leg fetishist; the gender of the body connected to the leg did not matter as long as the leg was blackstockinged and hairless. He attached great importance to satisfying himself anally with dildos, which he referred to as 'godmiches', made from silk stockings in a condom. This was more important to him than regular intercourse. He associated the godmiches as closely as possible with high heels, as part of making them into feminine phalluses. The problem with a natural penis attached to a man was that it lacks ambivalence and therefore it cannot play any female part in his psychological projection as a transvestite. The implicit auto-sexualism of all this came to its acme in that Molinier has the body subtlety of being able to do auto-fellatio.

In 1967 he met Hanel Koeck, a German sadomasochist who was a leg and shoe fetishist. She became the model in many of his paintings and photomontages. Jean-Pierre Bouyxou made a film Satan bouche un coin, 1968 which included Molinier in drag. In 1975 he photographed the Swiss painter Luciano Castelli in drag. The next year he photographed Thierry Agullo, a Bordeau painter, also in drag.

He committed suicide at age 76 when his health was in decline
  • Peter Gorsen & Pierre Molinier. Pierre Molinier, Lui-Meme: essay über den surrealistischen Hermaphroditen. München: Rogner & Bernhard 1972.
  • Peter Gorsen, (English translation by Heidi Grundmann). “Pierre Molinier, Lui-Meme”. File Magazine. Spring 1982.
  • Pierre Molinier. Le chaman et ses créatures, Bordeaux : William Blake & Co. 96 pp 1995
  • Pierre Petit. Molinier, une vie d'enfer. Paris: Editions Ramsay/Jean-Jacques Pauvert 267 pp 86 ill 1992.
  • “Pierre Molinier”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
  • “Pierre Molinier”. Gay for Today.
  • “Pierre Molinier”. Citizendium.

Rahila Khan short story writer.

Rahila Khan had six of her stories about Asian girls and white boys in England broadcast on the BBC in 1986 and then published by Virago. The five stories about white boys were in the first person, while the seven about Muslim girls are in the third. There was no problem with Rahila writing about white boys in the first person.

When it came out that Rahila was the Reverend Toby Forward (1950 - ), there was a brouhaha, and Virago pulped all remaining copies.

Rev Forward has since been installed as canon residentiary and preceptor of Liverpool Cathedral, and has become an established children’s author under his own name.

Vanessa Van Durme (1948 - ) performer, writer.

Born and raised in Ghent, Belgium, Van Durme studied Dramatic Arts at the Ghent Conservatory, and worked as an actor.

Vanessa transitioned in the 1970s with surgery from Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca in 1975.

In the 1990s, she wrote plays and television scripts, especially for VRT, the Flemish public channel for which she directed Liefde Geluk (Love and Chance). She also did comedy on the radio. She returned to acting in the role of Tosca in Allemaal Indiaan (all Indians) at the Avignon Festival in 1999.

In 2005 she toured across Europe in a play based on the autobiography of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.

She wrote her own autobiography Kijk mama, in ik (Look Mom, I dance), 2006, which has also been turned into a monologue which she has performed.
  • Vanessa Van Durme. Kijk mama, ik dans : 's lands bekendste transseksueel vertelt. Leuven: Van Halewyck. 2006.

05 December 2008

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1928 – 2002) second-hand retailer, museum keeper.

Lothar Berfelde was born in Berlin-Mahlsdorf. When a young boy, his grand-uncle said that Lothar should have been a girl living at the previous turn of the century, while a transvestite lesbian aunt allowed young Lothar to roam around her Prussian farmhouse in girl's attire.

During the Second World War he helped a second-hand dealer clear out apartments of deported Jews, and sometimes kept items for himself.

His father was the local Nazi leader, and in 1942 Lothar had to join the Hitler Youth. When his parents split in 1944, the father pulled a gun on his son. Lothar killed him with a rolling pin while he slept. After several week in a psychiatric institution, he was sentenced to four years in a juvenile prison, but was released with the fall of the Nazi regime.

In the new German Democratic Republic, he worked as a second-hand dealer, and often dressed as female, and became known as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. She collected from the bombed-out houses, and also from homes abandoned by those who fled to West Berlin.

Her collection evolved into the Gründerzeit Museum. She became involved in the preservation of the Mahlsdorf estate in 1958 , and later was awarded the manor house, rent free. From 1974-6 the state tried to bring the museum and its exhibits under state control. Charlotte fought this by giving away the exhibits to visitors, and perhaps by becoming a Statsi informer, but was allowed to keep the museum.

After the union of the two Germanies, her museum was attacked in 1992 by neo-Nazis, and several people were hurt. This was the same year that Rosa von Praunheim made a film about her life. In 1993 she was awarded a Bundesverdienst-kreuz medal.

In 1997 she moved to Sweden and set up a similar museum in Porla Brunn. The City of Berlin bought the Gründerzeit Museum.

She died of heart failure while on a visit to Berlin. A memorial has been erected to her, but at the insistence of her relatives, it is dedicated to ‘Lothar Berfelde’ and uses male declensions.

Two one-person plays have been based on her life: by Doug Wright and performed in the US by Jefferson Mays; and one by Peter Süß, performed by Vanessa van Durme across Europe.
  • Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. Ich bin meine eigene Frau: ein Leben. St Gallen: Edition dia 1992. English translation by Jean Hollander: I am my own woman: the outlaw life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Berlin's most distinguished transvestite. San Francisco: Cleis 1995. Reissued as I am my own wife. San Francisco: Cleis 2004.
  • Rosa von Praunheim (dir) Ich Bin Meine Eigene Frau, scr by Valentin Passoni, based on the book by Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, with Charlotte von Mahlsdorf as herself, and Jens Tescher, Ichgola Androgyn and Rosa von Praunheim as Charlotte. Germany 91 mins 1992.
  • "Charlotte von Mahlsdorf". Gruenderzeit museum.
    Publish Post

The German word 'frau' can be translated into English as either 'woman' or 'wife'.

In Nazi Germany the sentence for a teenager killing his own father was only four years. That is a surprise.

Of course the real achievement is an out trans person being able to run her own museum in East Germany. I cannot think of any equivalent achievement by a trans person in the Nato countries before 1990.

03 December 2008

What happened to ... Lady Austin (1908 - ?).

Austin S. was a barman in Baron’s Court, London.

In 1932 he organized a “Hotel Staff Dance” in a private ballroom at 27 Holland Park, that was attended mainly by domestic servants, and hotel staff, mainly men, but many dressed as women.

The event was raided by the police; 33 men and 1 woman were arrested. The subsequent trial became the most widely reported 'pansy case’ of the 1930s.

Lady Austin had been running such balls for some time. She said to the police “There is nothing wrong in that”.
  • Matt Houlbrook. “'Lady Austin's Camp Boys': Constituting the Queer Subject in 1930s London. Gender & History. 14,1 pp31-62, 2002.
  • Matt Houlbrook. Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis.1918-1957. The University of Chicago Press 2005: 244-5.

02 December 2008

Willow Arune (1946 - ) lawyer, entrepreneur

Revised March 2009 to reflect Willow's feedback.

William Orobko was a lawyer, an entrepreneur and a television host. He was married to a woman and they had three children and a large house in West Vancouver. He had been an active nudist in the 1960s. He was also a bibliographer (he wrote a bibliography of the novels of C.S. Foster).

He gave up the law after a heart attack at age 32, and wrote a book on commuter cycling in Calgary. He also wrote a book on the law for musicians.

In 1995 he went to Thailand and became involved in a dubious $1million financial transaction with two Americans who turned out to have forged documents. All three were arrested. William was repeatedly raped by the guards in a Bangkok prison. Even after release on bail, the Thai authorities held on to his passport, and he could not return to Canada until Preston Manning, the leader of the Canadian Reform Party, went to Thailand and took up his case. He was for a while a fugitive from Thailand.

On return to Canada, he sought psychological counselling, and decided to become a woman. He says that he was not a crossdresser before this point.

He temporarily lived in Kelowna, and became a patient at the Vancouver Clinic. William transitioned to Willow. She was able to get permanent disability welfare for post-traumatic stress resulting from the incarceration on top of her earlier health problems. She has become a major apologist for Michael Bailey, and is antagonistic to Andrea James, Lynn Conway, and Deirdre McCloskey. She and her new female partner now live in Prince George in northern British Columbia.
  • William Orobko. The Musician's Handbook: A Practical Guide to the Law and Business of Music. International Self-Counsel Press, 1985.
  • William Orobko. Commuting by Bike. Rocky Mountain Books, 1995.

29 November 2008

Perry Desmond (1936 - 1984) performer, prostitute, sailor, beautician, occult retailer, pastor.

Perry was born and raised in Louisiana. His father was a pilot on a Mississippi River boat who was frequently drunk. His mother beat him once when she came home early and found him dressed in her clothes, but his great-aunt Edna let him dress up in her room. He was subjected to homophobic bullying at school, even in front of teachers who took no notice.

When he reached puberty several of the other boys, who had been rude to him, volunteered him as the one who would be sexually passive.

At Louisiana State University he found his first gay friends, but was ejected for being gay. He found a lover in Baton Rouge until his mother interfered. He then went to Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafeyette) and found another lover before being kicked out for doing so. In New Orleans he became a waiter and a prostitute, and as a kept boy started wearing female clothing full time, until his mother interfered.

He then joined the US Navy where he was a nurse, and married a woman from high school. However he found himself unable to have sex with her. He then told the Navy doctors that he was a woman, and was discharged within a week.

He returned to waiting, and did his first drag show at the My-O-My Club on Lake Ponchatrain. He was recruited for the Jewel Box Review because his size allowed him to take over the costumes of one who had left. He quit the Revue when his father was in hospital.

After that he opened a beauty salon, but then performed in various drag clubs. An agent in New York named him ‘The South’s Most Beautiful Boy’. In 1958 he and 142 others were arrested at a big costume ball at the Manhattan Center in New York. At the same time he came down with jaundice.

One day on the street he met an old friend who was close to completing transition, and demanded the name of her doctor. Perry then started on hormones injections from Dr Ritter in New York (probably Dr Benito Rish) , and started electrolysis. She also bleached her hair. She had a nose job and silicone injections.

Once she had breasts she passed easily as a woman, and went back to a mix of hooking and running a beauty salon. She gave that up to be a kept woman, but after a year of two-timing her husband, left him for the other man, Wayne.

In 1968 her father died, and she bought male clothing to attend his funeral.

She opened a new beauty salon in a haunted ante-bellum house in New Orleans, and then became a self-taught astrologer, and did lots of drugs. Her business evolved into an occult shop called The Age of Aquarius. She had her fortune read two or three times every day and constantly recalculated her horoscope.

After seven years together, Wayne beat her up and took off. Perry consulted a witch who sold her a spell to get Wayne to return.

After ten years on hormones, she contacted Dr Murphy Seeling in New York to be castrated. Wayne returned to go with her, and while she was there she had facial silicone implants as well. Seeling’s operation resulted in a painful abscess.

The next time that Wayne took off, Perry attempted suicide. Afterwards she bailed him out of jail and took him to a rehabilitation ward. In that ward Wayne embraced Jesus. After he got out, Wayne would not live with Perry because that would be a sin. He kept sending Christian leaflets to Perry and tried to get Perry to go to his church.

Perry found herself a new younger lover, but after a year of conflict with Wayne the new lover left for a ‘real woman’. This was 1974. Then her mother died, and wished to remember Perry ‘as you were’.

After an abortive visit to Wayne’s church she read the literature he had been sending to her, and approached the Baptist Church next to the laundromat. The minister visited her at home, and she converted, and was persuaded that to God she was still a man.

Perry reverted to male clothing, and he became a minister, and a celebrity on the Christian circuit. He became a pioneer in the Exodus movement. He supported the Anita Bryant crusade. He died of a heart attack at age 48.

*Not the singer, Perry Desmond-Davies   

  • Randy Hammer.  "Brother Perry Trades Satin for Tracts". Pensacola News Journal (Florida), Jul 3, 1976: 28.
  • James E Adams. "Transsexual wants to be male again". St Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct 7, 1976: 57. 
  • Lester Lee & Good News Gang. And such were some of you (1st Cor. 6:11) : introducing Perry Desmond and the Good News Gang. New Orleans: Good News 1976.
  • Perry Desmond & Dr. R. L. Hymers. Perry: A Transformed Transsexual. Ironton, MO: Metamorphis Books, 137 pp1978. Impact Christian Books 133 pp 2004.
  • April Kupfer.  " 'Tranformed transsexual' begins life as a man again".  The Orlando Sentinel, Mar 31, 1979: 25. 
  • Robin Witt.  "Cal Expo Evangelist Perry Desmond calls himself 'Eunuch for the Lord' ".  The Sacramento Bee, Jun 30, 1979: 23. 
  • Elizabeth Mehren.  "Ex-gay wants a Humility Week".  The Tribune (Oakland), Jul 1, 1979: 12.  
  • Lenita Powers. "Former gay delivers message of salvation".  Reno Gazette-Journal, Oct 27, 1980: 17. 
  • Keith Lawrence.  "Evangelist abandons trsnssexual lifestyle to preach gospel".  Messenger-Inquirer (Kentucky), May 8, 1982: 8. 
  • Perry Desmond. “The Final Transformation”.  No longer available.

Both Drs Ritter and Seeling are obscure. I cannot find any other information about them, nor any other transsexuals who used their service.

At the end of the book Perry issues a blanket forgiveness to the homophobic bullies and other who made his life difficult. Surely even within Christianity, forgiveness should only follow repentance -- which does not seem to apply here. This is more serious than it sounds in my summary of Perry's life. He mentions two female impersonators who were his friends, and who were murdered in really horrible ways by homophobes. Are we to take it that he forgives these murderers too?

From the way that Perry chooses Dr Ritter we see that she is impulsive on making such a choice. Therefore it is not strange that she chose a church equally impulsively. This is a shame for there are churches that accept transsexuals, but they are not usually the one next to the laundromat. It is an enormous pity that Perry did not find a trans-positive church before changing back.

23 November 2008

William Ernest Edwards (1874 – 1956) sheep shearer, barman, performer, bookie.

Marion Edwards was born to a Welsh-born blacksmith outside Melbourne. At 1896 she transitioned to William, giving the rational of earning more money. William acquired a horse and male clothing and headed for the bush, working on sheep stations. He learned to shoot, and to fight. Although only 5”4’ the work and exercise brought his weight up to 10st 4lb (65.3 kg).

On New Year’s Day 1900 Bill married a 30-year-old widow in a Catholic church, but they soon separated. In April 1905 he was arrested for burglary when found in a hotel at 3 am. He explained that he was trying to catch a prowler, but absconded to Queensland before his gender was outed. His wife who had put up £50 bail, was sentenced to one month’s gaol for his default.

In Queensland he worked in house painting, and as a barman. However an old associate outed him. In October 1906 Bill was arrested and returned to Melbourne as a celebrity. With the publicity, he performed as a sharpshooter at the Fitzroy cinema between film shows, and at the waxworks billed as 'The Far-famed Male Impersonator'. At his trial in November, he was found not guilty.

The police tried to make him live as a woman, but he would not. He also published his memoirs, with photographs of himself in both male and in female garb. He also claimed to have worked as a female impersonator entertaining troops in South Africa during the Boer War and to have delivered horses to India.

In 1927, he was working as pony trainer. In the 1930s, he worked in hotels, iron foundries and factories, and as a bookie. He was listed on the electoral roll as a dyer. Later in life neighbours described him as an ‘old gentleman’, although apparently most of them knew his original gender.

He finally entered the Mount Royal Geriatric Home in Melbourne, where they forced him to wear women’s clothes.

In 1984 he was the subject of a play, In Male Attire.

The accounts in the ADB and Radical Tradition are contradictory in several details, including Edwards' birth year. I have taken from both accounts.

22 November 2008

Ron Storme (1926 – 2000) performer, organizer.

Ron grew up in a working-class home in Richmond, west London. He started as a child dancer, and he then toured in the popular all-male drag reviews during the Second World War. He met his lover, George, in 1947.

To avoid the repression that accompanied the Coronation in 1953, he lived in Tunisia for some years where he made a living as a stripper and singer.

On return to London he worked in risqué shows including the Gaiety Box Revue fronted by Larry Grayson. He was skilled at costume making, and made outfits for many London drag-acts. He was often en femme at private parties, and out on the town – at a time when such off-stage behaviour was unheard of among female impersonators.

Ron and George became known for their parties at their home in Putney in the early 1960s which attracted name guests such as the spy Kim Philby, lesbian singing star Dusty Springfield and the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Legend has it that the Krays suggested what turned into the drag balls at Porchester Hall which Ron organized with Jean Fredericks. After Jean’s death he organized events at the Tudor Lodge in Bow.

In 1980 Ron opened a nightclub, Club Travestie Extraordinaire, in Stepney. This became an east-end institution, attracting both gay and straight transies, and as it lasted into the 21st century is arguably the UK’s longest lasting gay night spot. George died in 1981. Ron was an organizer and judge at the ‘Night of a Thousand Frocks’ in 1986 that evolved into the Alternate Miss London contest.

Ron continued at the club, always fabulously dressed, until he was taken ill in summer 2000. He died of liver cancer, age 74. The Alternate Miss London contest is now dedicated to him.

21 November 2008

What happened to ... Agnes (1939 -).

Agnes (a pseudonym) grew up the youngest of four children in a Catholic working-class family. Her machinist father died when she was eight. The mother did semi-skilled work in an aircraft plant to raise the children.

From the age of twelve Agnes took her mother's post-hysterectomy estrogen pills and feminized her body. At 17 she was living as a woman. She was tested in Portland Oregon, and found to have XY chromosomes, and neither a uterus nor the hypothesized tumor that might produce estrogen.

In 1958 she was working as a typist for an insurance company, and had a boyfriend. His insistence on intercourse and marriage led to a series of quarrels, and she disclosed her details to him. The affair continued.

She was referred to Dr Robert Stoller at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, and interviewed by him, Dr Alexander Rosen, a psychologist, and Harold Garfinkel, a sociologist interested in the way sex (gender as it would later be called) works in society.

Agnes was taken to be an example of testicular feminization syndrome. She refused to meet or be classified with any other trans person or any homosexuals. She was vigorously conventional (heteronormative) in her opinions on sexual matters. Agnes refused to discuss certain topics, and as she refused to let the doctors interview her family, this led to some suspicions being raised. Stoller and his colleagues did discuss whether she had taken external estrogens, but they decided that she was conventionally feminine, as opposed to the “caricature” and “hostility” found in transvestites and transsexuals, and therefore must be genuine.

She was recommended for surgery as an intersex patient, at a time when such surgery was regularly denied to transsexuals. Surgery was done in 1959 by a team of doctors including Elmer Belt. Stoller presented his findings at the 1963 International Psychoanalytic Congress in Stockholm; Garfinkel included an extensive chapter on Agnes in his pioneering 1967 book on Ethnomethodology.

Post-operative infection of and partial closure of her vagina, weight loss that led to a reduction in breast size, and unpredictable mood changes led to problems with her boyfriend.++However she subsequently married, and was accepted as a popular and attractive young woman.

In 1966 Agnes confessed to Stoller that she had indeed taken external estrogens. This did cause Stoller to doubt his own theories. He retracted his earlier findings at the 1968 International Psychoanalytic Congress in Copenhagen.  ++As stated by Stoller: "she began stealing Stilbestrol from her mother, who was taking it on prescription following a panhysterectomy. The child then began filling the prescription on her own, telling the pharmacist that she was picking up the hormone for her mother and paying for it with money taken from her mother's purse. She did not know what the effects would be, only that this was a female substance; she had no idea how much to take, but more or less tried to follow the amounts her mother took." (Stoller 1968: 135-6)

++Then for the first time Stoller was permitted to speak with Agnes' mother.   He found that mother and child had slept encurled until the child was eight.  The father worked nights, and was rarely seen.  The mother had, as a child, worn boys' clothes and played sports with boys as an equal.   However at age 15 when her breasts developed, she put aside her male clothes and activities, and acted feminine.  She married her first serious date.   Stoller notes that this was similar to the mother of Lance, the 'boy transvestite' who had come to the Clinic a few years earlier.

  • A.D Schwabe, David H. Solomon, Robert J. Stoller & John P. Burnham. “Pubertal Feminization in a Genetic Male with Testicular Atrophy and Normal Urinary Gonadotropin”. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 22, 8 Aug 1962: 839-845.
  • Harold Garfinkel and Robert Stoller. “Passing and the managed achievement of sex status in an ‘intersexed’ person”. Studies in Ethnomethodology. Prentice Hall, Inc 1967: 117-185. Online at:
  • Leia Kaitlyn Armitage. “Truth, Falsity, and Schemas of Presentation: A Textual Analysis of Harold Garfinkel's Story of Agnes”. The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality. 4, April 29, 2001.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press. 363 pp 2002: 159-161.
  • Robert Stoller. "Etiological Factors in Adult Male Tarnssexualism". Sex and Gender: On the Development of Masculinity and Femininity, Science House, 1968: 133-9.
  • Richard Green. “Robert Stoller’s Sex and Gender: 40 Years on”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 2010: 1461-2.

This is a really great story. The self-appointed experts and gatekeepers are outwitted by a 19-year old girl.

"Agnes" managed to keep her real name - the female one as well as her birth name - out of the press. Once she had finished at the UCLA Medical Center she disappeared from history. She will now be 69 80.

It is sad that she did not want to meet any other transsexuals. Her journey must have been very lonely.
I was put off by the conventionality of Agnes' opinions as reported by Garfinkel, but I had to remind myself that a) it was 1959 b) she is a pioneer in telling the doctors what they want to hear, and does not know just what will work.

Stoller - unlike Money especially - had the honesty to return to his professional peers and admit that he had been wrong.

There is nothing on Agnes in Lillian Faderman & Stuart Timmons, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, which there should have been, but then the book also has nothing on Edward Wood either.

19 November 2008

Cindy Filo (1969 - ) performer.

Cindy grew up in Samoa in a Seventh Day Adventist family, and became a fa’afafine, the traditional transgender role in Samoa. Like many modern fa’afafines, Cindy has adopted western morés and is much like a drag queen, although she lives as female, and is disapproved of by the elders for this reason.

By the age of 15 she was the first night-club female vocalist in Samoa. She had an affair with a member of the Australian High Commission, who was transferred back home, but he quit his job and returned to Samoa to be with her.

In 1989 Cindy toured New Zealand, was a great success and stayed until 1996 when she returned to Samoa and started her own cabaret show that became a must for every tourist. She was also crowned Miss My Girl and Miss South Pacific Beauty Queen.

In 1999 she went to the USA for a one-off show in Carson City, but the trip was expanded as a tour. In 2002 she won Sydney’s Poly Talent Quest. She specializes in impersonations of Tina Turner.


I hope that no-one is still reading Margaret Mead on Samoa. She never learned the language, couldn't tell when when people where having her on, and never noticed the fa'afafines.