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15 January 2008

Barbara (1912 - ) & Lauren Wilcox (? - ) transheterosexuality pioneers

When speaking of transgender persons the term 'heterosexual' is best used for persons who encouple with a person going in the other direction, that is an MTF with an FTM. Here is the first known such couple to attain surgery.



Edward Richards attended Pomona College, Los Angeles in the 1930s where he shared a dorm with Arnold Lowman, the future Virginia Prince. Edward worked as a salesman in Los Angeles.

In July 1941, as Barbara Ann Richards, she was featured in the press as she petitioned the Superior Court of California to change her name and to become legally a woman. Her story was that two years earlier changes to feminine had occurred spontaneously, that she was a hermaphrodite. An endocrinologist, Marcus Graham, presented her case at a medical conference, attributing the change to an hormonal imbalance resulting from a childhood illness. However at a hearing in October at which the judge granted the legal change, a medical report revealed that she had been taking female hormone injections.

Lorraine Richards played the role of a devoted wife, but in 1944, away from media attention, she also had a sex change and became Barbara’s husband.

They were friends of Louise Lawrence, the prolific networker who brought so many early transgender persons together. The newspaper accounts of Richards were inspirations to Virginia Prince. Barbara had her final surgery in the 1950s from Elmer Belt.

  • “’Man’ Asks Legal Right to Assume Woman Status”. Los Angeles Examiner. July 3, 1941.
  • Barbara Ann Richards, as told to Bart Lytton. “Nature Betrayed My Body”. Sensation. Nov 1941, 88.
  • “Young Bride Won’t Leave Mate Who’s Victim of Sex Change”. Oakland Tribune. July 4, 1941
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press. 363 pp 2002: 39-41, 48.
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In addition, let us look at:

  • Leah Cahan Schaefer & Connie Christine Wheeler. “Harry Benjamin's first ten cases (1938-1953): a clinical historical note”. Archives of Sexual Behavior 24:1 Feb 1995: 4-5. Online at www.helen-hill.com/pdf/hbfirst10cases.pdf.
They tell us us of

Carol (1913 – 1963) and Christian (1906 - ?). They were both only-children , and married twice: first in their gender roles as assigned at birth, and again after both had transitioned. They had met Karl Bowman and Alfred Kinsey, and the latter referred them to Harry Benjamin who became their hormone prescriber. He introduced them to Dr Elmer Belt in Los Angeles for surgery in 1956. Carol died of a coronary at age 50.
Are not Carol and Christian the same as Barbara and Lauren? It was common practice for doctors to use pseudonyms when writing up accounts of patients.

3 comments:

Lani said...

I remember Shelia and Jean Reynolds from Benson, Arizona back in the 1970's. They appeared on the Phil Donahue Show once or twice speaking about their role reversals and gender switch.

Zoompad said...

This is weird. That woman has the same name as me, Barbara Ann Richards, and I had someone come onto my blog recently, anonymously, and accuse me of being a Transexual. I am very much a woman, and always have been a woman, and dont want to be anything else but a woman!!!

But the funny thing is that I am a campaigner against child abuse, and especially against criminals like Alfred Kinsey, and anyone else who thinks its ok to abuse little kids and wreck their lives and wreak havoc upon decency and the right for families to live happy healthy wholesome unabused lives.

Zagria said...

Unless you are 102 years old and have spent most of your life in California there is no reason to assume that you are the same Barbara Ann Richards. Surely the name is common in English-speaking countries.