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.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

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

11 July 2008

Louis Gradon Sullivan (1951-1991) pioneer ftm activist.

Sheila Jean Sullivan was raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In her early 20s she worked as a secretary for the Slavic Languages Department at the University of Wisconsin, where she was noted for her speed and accuracy in typing even in Cyrillic, although she not understand the language.

Sullivan had begun to wear men’s clothing even to work, and helped with the typesetting and layout for the local gay magazine. Sullivan moved to San Francisco with boyfriend. Sullivan's parents and siblings were supportive of his identity as a man, and the going-away present was a man’s suit.

In San Francisco Sullivan eventually found a supportive psychiatrist and started taking male hormones in 1978. He changed his name to Louis and was able to grow a beard. He found a job at a sporting goods firm where the manager knew of his past but was not bothered. He had chest reconstruction in 1980, which ended the relationship with the boyfriend.

Louis was a pioneering organizer for female-to-male persons. He was the organizer of San Francisco’s Gay & Lesbian Historical Society.

He identified as an gay trans man, at a time when the medical establishment maintained that no such person could exist, and was rejected by gender clinics on these grounds three times. He had obtained hormones and surgery from doctors not associated with gender clinics. He lobbied the American Psychiatric Association and the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (now known as WPATH), to recognize his existence.

He wrote the first guidebook for FTM persons, and also a biography of the early 20th century San Francisco trans man, Jack Bee Garland. He did peer counseling at San Francisco’s Janus Information Facility, a clearinghouse for information on transgender issues; he was also active in the Golden Gate Girls/Guys (later the Gateway Gender Alliance). He was a frequent contributor to Rupert Raj’s FTM newsletter out of Toronto, Metamorphosis.

In 1986 he finally had genital surgery, but suffered complication afterwards. Also later that year he was diagnosed as HIV+. Aids-phobia cost him his job.

He spent the rest of his life developing support for FTM transsexuals and crossdressers. He founded FTM the first exclusively FTM organization. He is largely responsible for the modern acknowledgment that sexual orientation and gender identity are different things. He was also one of the first to talk about the eroticism of male clothing.

He died of AIDS. “I took a certain pleasure in informing the gender clinic that even though their program told me that I could not live like a gay man, it looks like I’m going to die like one”.

*Not the architect, nor the US Secretary of Health.
  • Louis Sullivan. Information for the female to male cross dresser and transsexual. Seattle: Ingersoll Gender Center. 1st Ed Janus Information Facility. 20 pp1980.2nd ed 48 pp 1985. 3rd ed.. iii, 123 pp1990.
  • Eli Coleman & Walter O. Bockting. “’Heterosexual’ prior to Sex Reassignment – ‘Homosexual’ Afterwards: A case Study of a Female-to-Male Transsexual”. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality. Vol 1(2). 1988 pp69-82
  • Louis Sullivan. Male to Female: the Life of Jack Bee Garland. Alyson Publications, Inc. 1990.
  • Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. Beacon Press, 1996: 144.
  • Pat Califia. Sex changes : the politics of transgenderism. San Francisco: Cleis Press 1997. Second edition by Patrick Califia 2003: 186-7.
  • Susan Stryker. “Lou Sullivan”. Third International Congress on Sex and Gender. 1998.
  • Susan Stryker. "Portrait of a Transfag Drag Hag as a Young Man: The Activist Career of Louis G. Sullivan," in Kate More and Stephen Whittle (eds). Reclaiming Gender: Transsexual Grammars at the Fin de Siecle. London: Cassells, 1999:62-82.
  • “Guide to the Louis Graydon Sullivan Papers, 1755-1991 (bulk 1961-1991)”. Online Archive of California. Contains full bibliography.;jsessionid=NcggwsRWO1_ivoF_?docId=tf9199n9v3&
  • FTMi Newsletter: the Lou Sullivan memorial Issue. Issue 58: Spring 2005.
  • FTM Newsletter: Special Issue Summer 2007.

Although Lou Sullivan wrote to Ray Blanchard 20 years ago explaining that gay trans men existed, Blanchard is still denying their existence.

Vern & Bonnie Bullough's Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender, 1993, the same book that totally fails to mention Reed Erickson, mentions Sullivan only in the 'transvestism' chapter, page 306, asserts that he was a 'cross dresser' and totally ignores his work for ftm transsexuals, and totally ignores that he was a gay trans man. They know of his death but not of his work.


  1. Lou Sullivan started a regular FTM support group in San Francisco in December 1986, which is still operating and is run by the organizers of the Lou Sullivan Society -

    For a copy of the Lou Sullivan Society's Special Edition newsletter about Lou Sullivan, click here -

    Zander Keig
    Lou Sullivan Society

  2. Lou was my brother, from the time I understood gender. Sheila was my sister, and I loved my sibling, whatever gender. I know, now, that I always knew. I am 62 now, and I just want to say that these things, that you may not understand, are sort of like asking a person with a disability how they get along. Lou was born with the wrong gender, not his fault. I am forever proud of him. And I will forever miss him. Bridget


Comments that constitute non-relevant advertisements will be declined, as will those attempting to be rude. Comments from 'unknown' and anonymous will also be declined. Repeat: Comments from "unknown" will be declined, as will anonymous comments. If you don't have a Google id, I suggest that you type in a name or a pseudonym.