This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

10 May 2008

John Edgar Hoover (1895 - 1972) police management.

John Edgar was born and raised in Washington D.C. He studied law at George Washington University. He worked for the Justice Department during the Great War, and was promoted to head of the Enemy Aliens Registration section. He was then head of the new General Intelligence Division and then in 1921 he joined the Bureau of Investigation as deputy head.

Hoover was Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 until his death. A vocal patriot, he had avoided service in the First World War; a public Christian, he never went to church; a man with black ancestors, regarded by the black community as passing as white, he proved his whiteness by refusing to employ black agents, by ferociously opposing all movements for racial equality, by slandering and persecuting Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King.

Publicly homophobic, he started an affair with rookie agent Clyde Tolson in 1927, promoting him to Assistant Director within three years. The affair continued until Hoover's death 45 years later, although they never lived together.

On the take from, and being blackmailed by, organized crime, Hoover always insisted that there was no such a thing as the Mafia, and always understaffed or removed any team that was supposed to be fighting organized crime. He always made sure that he had information about the current U.S. president so that he would not be removed.

Anthony Summers' 1993 biography tells how photos of Hoover in drag were being circulated in a political gay crowd associated with the Maystat Tavern at 1628 L St NW in Washington in 1948. Susan Rosentiel, wife of Lewis, the owner of Schenley distillers, has told how she met such right-wing gays as Roy Cohn and Cardinal Spellman, and how twice in 1958 and 1959 she attended an orgy party at New York's Plaza Hotel, next to Central Park, where she met 'Mary' Hoover in short skirt, wig and stockings.

Hoover was made a Knight of the British Empire (KBE) 1950, and was warded the National Security Medal 1955, and the Distinguished Service Award 1966.

He introduced the 1945 film The House on 92nd Street which is about a female German agent in New York who passes as male.

In Woody Allen’s film Bananas, 1971. Dorothi Fox plays a middle-aged black woman who is J. Edgar Hoover in disguise. Had Woody Allen heard some rumors?


Anonymous said...

These allegations about J. Edgar Hoover are totally irresponsible and lacking in merit. Anthony Summers took hearsay from a deranged old woman and tarted it up some more. There is no corroboration for tales of Hoover in drag.

Zagria said...

Your position is so radical that of course you have to proclaim it from behind a cover of anonymity. No one would wish their name to be associated with the idea that Hoover was not a transvestite.

Marisa said...

Well I'll be non-anon on this. While the allegations are hardly "totally irresponsible and lacking in merit" calling rebuttal of them "radical" is, ummm, pretty radical.

As I understand it, Rosenstiel's account is generally considered questionable. Absent it, "evidence" of Hoover's crossdressing is naught but anonymous rumour. It's OTT to get one's panties in a bunch about unsourced anonymous disagreement with unsourced anonymous allegations.

While I don't especially doubt that Hoover wore a wig, I don't necessarily credit it either. Nor care one way or the other. Given the rather more compelling suggestions that Hoover was (in the broadest sense, at least) "homosexual" I'd certainly not consider him a "transvestite" (more draggy/campy) in the usual modern sense.

There's a lot of misunderstanding created by imposing era and culture-specific conceptions of identity on persons who lived outside of them. E.g: I believe berdache were most often gentle homosexuals who adopted a best-comprimise culturally acceptable female role (see modern Iran) rather than proto-transsexuals. I believe that most "disguised women" soldiers of the 18th/19th century were prot-FtM, rather some sorta "socio-economic refugees" motivated by freedom and self-betterment (echoes of this latter narrative ludicrously imposed even into the 20th century; see Billy Tipton).

That given; try this on for size. You are at a mid-century Georgetown cocktail party. You are dishing about Hoover rumours you have heard. Frank discussion of homosexuality would be offensive in the extreme (not to mention your insider knowledge of such things might bring you into question). Further, some in your company (the ladies, at least) might not even understand what homosexuality is, beyond equating it with stereotyped "sissy" behaviors. So you say "I've heard Hoover wears a dress, and his friends call him Mary!" It's "coded" communication. Scandalized titters from some, while others think "I see! He's a faggot!" Since the overt "wears a dress" story is more socially acceptable to spread, it get's retold far more often than the "filthy sodomite" subtext. Gossip-Darwinism ensures that the jokey "transvestite" rumour propogates better than the true "homosexual" one.

Just addressing this particular (very likely, to my mind) scenario. Not to criticize your viewpoint, Zagria, or this truly impressive site! I get the sense you well understand that your broad definition of "gender variant" encompasses those who regard(ed) themselves as such, those regard as such by peers/contemporaries, and those regarded as such purely in retrospect.

Zagria said...

Anonymous seems to think that there is something negative about being a cross-dresser. Apologists for Hoover are never concerned about the claims that he was racist, in with the mob and ruined many people's lives. That is okay: it is gender normative. It is the cross-dressing that must be denied.

Marisa you are not 'non-anon'. Your Google profile is private and none of us can even send an email to you.

It is not a good idea to say "There's a lot of misunderstanding created by imposing era and culture-specific conceptions of identity on persons who lived outside of them", and then immediately use the word 'berdache', a Persian word for a male prostitute.

You want to remove the North-American third/fourth gender roles and the passing women from our history? May we infer a) that you approve of Jonathan Katz' books as written b) that you regard the biological component in trans people as minimal for you have just removed most 19th-century trans persons?

I grant that your deconstruction of the transvestite J Edgar Hoover is spirited and has much merit. Would you like to equally deconstruct the rumours that he was of black descent?