This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 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!

31 October 2008

Elizabeth R. Moberly (196? - ) theologian.

Moberly is a theologian and self-proclaimed psychoanalyst. She thinks that the primary cause of homosexuality is the failure of bonding with the same-sex parent, and that homosexuality is a reparative drive to repair this lack of affection. She advocates homosocial bonding instead. She implies that gay activists are basically dishonest.

She coined the term ‘reparative therapy’ to describe her therapeutic approach to restore one’s sense of gender identity. Where the failure of bonding is particularly severe, ‘a defensive detachment from the same sex implies disidentification: not just an absence of identification but a reaction against identification’. In other words, transsexuality is extreme homosexuality.
  • Her research did not involve psychotherapy with any gays or transsexuals.
  • She simply did an extensive review of the previous writings of Irving Bieber, Lawrence Hatterer, and Sigmund Freud. No trained psychologist or psycho-analyst would restrict themselves to just these three writers.
  • She admitted that she had done no new research.
  • Her work was never peer-reviewed by any psychologists or psycho-analysts.
  • The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics have all condemned reparative therapy as ineffective.
She was invited to speak at ex-gay conventions in the US in the movement that produced NARTH (National Association for Recovery and Treatment of Homosexuality).

Moberly's opinions continue to be endorsed in Christian circles as ‘scientific’.

She now works in cancer research.

I was unable to find a clear statement of what qualifications, if any, Moberly has. No writers claim that she has any qualifications in either psychology or psychoanalysis. The assumption is that she has a degree, a PhD even, in theology. Sometimes Cambridge is mentioned, sometimes Oxford. Or maybe she was a child in Cambridge.

28 October 2008

Veronique Renard (1965 - ) writer, Buddhist, activist.

Renard was born in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, to a business family, she socially transitioned at age 17, and had surgery 18 months later from a team including Dr Auke de Boer and led by Dr Louis Gooren at the Free University in Amsterdam. She was the youngest person in the Netherlands to have the surgery, and at that date possibly the youngest person the world.

After college she worked as a business manager, and was also a competitive rower. In 1995 she was the bow rower of the first female crew to complete the 220 km Friesland Rowing Marathon. An accident shattering her upper right arm ended her rowing career.

In 1997 she gained a PhD in Dutch Literature. She also wrote several novels but was unable to get them published.

In 2000 after depression and considering suicide, she quit her job and went to live in Dharamsala, India with the Tibetans in exile. She became a Buddhist and took the name of Pantau (=to be helpful in Tibetan, and a small peach in Mandarin). In 2002 she took her Bodhisattva vows as a layperson.

She edited Lobsang Yonten’s The Fire of Hell: My Life under Chinese Rule, and became involved in the Tibetan struggle. She published the book book Pantau in India, about living with the Tibetan refugees. After several phoned death threats, she was beaten by two thugs who knocked her unconscious and threw her off a remote mountain road. However she was found by monks who took her to the Tibetan hospital in Dharamsala. It took a year for her wounds to heal.

She then hid in a Tibetan settlement in south India. After seven years in India, she resettled in Thailand. She decided to come out of stealth living, and with the aid of Andrea James, published her autobiography where she talks about her gender change. She currently lives in Bangkok, and is married to a Chinese professor, Chan Hao.
  • Veronique Renard. Pantau in India. iUniverse, 2007.
  • Veronique Renard, edited by Andrea James. Pholomolo: No Man No Woman. iUniverse, 2007.    EN.Wikipedia.

    27 October 2008

    Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (1926 - 2003) academic.

    Carolyn Gold was born in East Orange, New Jersey and educated at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She married James Heilbrun and they had three children.

    She studied English Literature at Columbia University, New York, earning a Ph.D in 1959. She then taught at Columbia until she retired. She was the first woman to receive tenure at Columbia. She also wrote 14 detective novels as Amanda Cross, initially in stealth mode until 1970 when a fan outed her after researching copyright records.

    In 1973 Heilbrun published her Towards a Recognition of Androgyny, a text which on rereading today seems rather ordinary in its explanation that extremes of masculinity and femininity are unhealthy, and in providing examples from the literature of different periods of androgynous characters. She also uses 'androgynous' to describe novels where the female characters are as well drawn as the male ones.

    As innocent as her observations were, they drew two waves of criticism. First from those who believed in society's genders and who reacted with outrage that they should be criticized. Secondly a group of feminists, predominantly Mary Daly and Adrienne Rich, criticized the concept of androgyny as inseparable from patriarchal assumptions. As early as the special androgyny issue of Women's Studies in 1974 , which also contained criticisms of androgyny as patriarchal, Heilbrun was wondering if she had defined or defended the concept with 'proper vigor'.

    When she published Reinventing Womanhood in 1979 she did not use the word androgyny and talked instead of autonomy. However by 1986 when she wrote the essay 'Gender and Detective Fiction' she had used 'androgyny' again, although she has never returned to the androgyny debate.

    While she says in her last book, The Last Gift of Time, that she had envied men their clothes since young adulthood, it was not until she retired that she adopted trousers, shirts and flat shoes.

    She committed suicide at age 77 when she felt that her life was complete.

    *Not the comedian, Amanda Cross.
    • Carolyn G Heilbrun. Towards a Recognition of Androgyny. New York: Knopf 1973.
    • Anonymous (Camille Paglia). Review of Towards a Recognition of Androgyny.  The Yale Review, LXII, 4, 1973. 
    • Carolyn G Heilbrun. “'Gender and Detective Fiction”. In Hamlet's Mother and Other Women. New York: Columbia University Press 1990.
    • Carolyn G Heilbrun. The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty. New York: Dial Press. 1997
    • Pat Holt. “Remembering Carolyn Heilbrun: Feminist Scholarship and Suicide”. Holt Uncensored, reprinted in Frugal Fun

    When I first read Heilbrun's Towards a Recognition of Androgyny around 1980 I found it very disappointing. Like Bullough's books it promises an interesting topic but holds so much back. We had to wait until 1991 for Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae for a book on androgyny in literature that delivered on the topic, but Paglia was already writing her PhD thesis"The Androgynous Dream: the image of the androgyne as it appears in literature and is embodied in the psyche of the artist, with reference to the visual arts and the cinema" in 1971. Paglia quite rightly panned Heilbrun's book in The Yale Review: "Heilbrun's book is so poorly researched that it may disgrace the subject in the eyes of serious scholars". And Paglia, unlike Heilbrun, was androgynous in her lifestyle as well as writing about it.

    Heilbrun was obviously out of her depth when she came up against Daly and Co. It is as if she had been cossetted in her ivory tower and had not been exposed to the rough and tumble of feminist discourse. She wondered if she had defended the concept of androgyny with 'proper vigor'. Of course she had not. In the early 1970s there was a crying need for someone to champion the concept, but Paglia at that point was merely an unknown graduate student. Heilbrun, with tenure and a prestigious post at Columbia, was totally inadequate for the job. Daly and Co criticized transsexuals for not being androgynous, and also dismissed androgyny as patriarchal pseudo-wholeness. And, ironically, at the same time they were far more androgynous in their lifestyles than Heilbrun. There is a certain pre-post-modernist charm in the conventional wife and mother of three, in the conventional skirt and high-heels, trying to make her case without understanding what was then the new wave of feminism. A further irony is that Heilbrun was only two years older than Daly, but one feels as if she is of a previous generation.

    One of the criticisms of the tenure system, which is supposed to guarantee freedom of expression, is that those who need it don't get it, and those who get it seem no longer to have anything radical to say. Heilbrun, who taught at the same university where she did her PhD, a special privilege, would exemplify this criticism.

    24 October 2008

    Rachael Padman (1954 - ) physicist.

    Padman did a degree in Electrical Engineering in Melbourne, and then worked for two years in CISRO’s Radio-Physics Laboratory in Sydney. In 1977, he went to the then all-male St Johns College at Cambridge University because of the cutting edge radio-astronomy work at Cavendish Laboratory.

    Soon after arrival he got a referral to John Randell at Charing Cross Hospital gender identity clinic, as an NHS patient. He was put on a prescription of oestrogens. He dressed androgynously but was not out. After 18 months he informed his PhD supervisor, and things went well. His parents visited in 1979, on a round-the-world trip after his father’s retirement, and he was able to tell of the coming change. He had intended to take the name, Susan, but there were two Susans in the lab. He woke up one morning feeling that Rachael was the right name.

    Rachael changed her name by deed poll, in 1981, and she went full time at Easter on a trip back to Australia. She returned as female, and completed her PhD. She was the first female student at St Johns which was about to start admitting female students. She had surgery in October 1982 , and her PhD was approved while she was in hospital.

    Six weeks later she left for a two-year fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984 she returned to Cambridge.

    In 1996 she was offered the position of Director of studies in physical sciences, Newnham College, the sole remaining all-female college at Cambridge. While the Governing Body, in general, knew that Rachael had been transsexual, her fellow Australian, Germaine Greer, was also a fellow of the college. Greer, who is known as an anti-transsexual activist, made a fuss about it, and the issue was in the newspapers. Almost all the other Fellows did support Rachael, and she is still there.

    23 October 2008

    Felicitas Von Vestvali (1824 - 1880) tenor, actor.

    Anna Marie Staegmann was the youngest daughter of a high official in Stettin (now Szczecin in Poland). Her parents disapproved of her aspirations to join a theatre, and she ran away dressed as a boy.

    She studied voice with the composer Saverio Mercadante in Naples, and developed into a deep contralto. She was advised to study tenor parts, and as Felicitas von Vestvali sang Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and other trouser roles. Napoleon III presented her with silver armour for her Romeo when she sang in Paris. She went on to equal success in the US and in Mexico. In the latter she was chosen as the new director of the National Theatre.

    After bad reviews in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in San Francisco in 1865, she switched to non-musical acting and was again successful as Romeo and especially as Hamlet. She performed the roles in English, and at the Lyceum in London. Queen Victoria commanded a performance.

    She finally played Hamlet in Germany. Audiences came for curiosity and in antagonism, but were won over.

    She had a child, but her lesbianism was known, and was made public after her death.
    • Magnus Hirschfeld translated from the German by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash. Transvestites: The Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress. Prometheus Books. 1991: 348.
    • Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. Gender in performance. London, New York: Routledge, xvi, 540pp. 2000: 274-5.
    • Tony Howard. Women as Hamlet: Performance and Interpretation in Theatre, Film and Fiction. Cambridge University Press 2007: 56-9.
    • “Felicia Vestvali”. Mathew Brady Gallery.

    Thomas Dilverd (1837 - 1887) female impersonator.

    Thomas Dilverd (or Dilward) was a minstrel female impersonator. He was the rarity in black-face minstrelsy, an actual black man. He was also unusual in being only three feet one inch (0.93m) tall.

    He sang, danced and played the violin. He started with the Christy Minstrels in 1853, and later worked with the minstrel troupe run by Francis Leon and Edwin Kelly, and billed himself as 'Japanese Tommy'.

    He popularized the expression ‘hunky dory’ in the 1860s based on the earlier ‘hunkum-bunkum’ and’ dori’, a Japanese word for street.

    He later worked with black minstrel troops.

    His final home was the Colored Home and Hospital on East 65th St in New York where he died of asthma.
    • Anthony Slide. Great pretenders: a history of female and male impersonation in the performing arts. Lombard, Ill.: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 160 pp. 1986: 17.
    • “Thomas Dilward”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    21 October 2008

    Caroline Cossey (1954 - ) model.

    Barry Kenneth Cossey was born in Norfolk, with XXXY chromosomes, Klinefelter’s Syndrome. She started living as Caroline in 1971 at age 17, and began work as a showgirl and topless dancer.

    She had breast augmentation and Adam’s Apple reduction surgery, and then genital surgery in 1974, under Dr John Randell at Charing Cross Hospital.

    She developed a career as a model, using the professional name Tula. She was featured in fashion advertisements particularly. She was noted in Smirnoff Vodka’s “Well They Said Anything Could Happen” advertisement in 1981 that shows her water-skiing behind the Loch Ness Monster. She was a Page Three Girl for The Sun. This led to a small part in the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, 1981, and an associated article in Playboy.

    This exposure led to her being outed in The News of the World, a rerun of what had happened to April Ashley in 1962, which ruined her modelling and acting career. She responded with her first autobiography, I am a Woman.

    In the mid-1980s she was featured in music videos by Duran Duran and Power Station.

    In 1983 she and Count Glauco, an Italian, intended to marry, but UK law at that time did not recognize her as female. She applied to the Registrar General and to her Member of Parliament. She started appeals to the English courts for the right to have her birth certificate re-issued and to marry.

    In 1989 her appeal reached the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and the Court ruled in her favour. On this basis she married businessman Elias Fattal, whom she had known for four years, but press attention outed her to his family, and he left her.

    The Thatcher government appealed the European Court of Human Rights ruling, and it reversed its decision. This enabled Fattal to have their marriage annulled.

    In 1991 she became the first transsexual as such to be featured in Playboy, and also released her second autobiography which featured her legal battle.

    In 1992 she married a Canadian man, David Finch under Canadian law, and lives with him in US Georgia. She ranked #24 (1995) in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women.
    • Lynn-Holly Johnson and Robin Young photographed by Richard Fegley. “For Your Eyes Only (Bond Girls)” including Tula. Playboy. June 1981.
    • Bill Rankine. “James Bond Girl was a Boy” The News of the World 1981
    • Tula. I am a Woman. London: Sphere Books: Rainbird, 167 pp 1982. First autobiography.
    • European Court of Human Rights. Affaire Cossey: arret du 27 septembre 1990. Publications de la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme. Série A, Arrets et décisions, vol. 184. Strasbourg: Greffe de la cour, Conseil de l'Europe, French and English on opposite pages, numbered in duplicate. 54, 54 pp 1990.
    • Michael Binyon. "Sex Change Woman Loses Legal Case". The Times. 28 September 1990 Home News.
    • Jane Dunn. "How Barry Became Carrie". Sunday Times. 5 May 1991. Features.
    • Gretchen Edgren, photographed by Byron Newman. “The Transformations of Tula”. Playboy. September 1991.
    • Caroline Cossey. My Story. London & Boston: Faber and Faber. xiii, 225pp.1992. Second autobiography.
    • Jo Alexander. “I'm getting married ... and my sister's having the baby”. Woman 25 May 1992.
    • Sophie Goodchild. "New Hope for Transsexuals as MPs Move to Change Law on Birth Certificates". The Independent. 23 June 2002 (p. 13).
    • “Caroline Cossey”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


    The parallels with April Ashley:
    • Both were natural beauties.
    • Both became models.
    • Both had tiny parts in one the weakest entries in an ongoing film series, April in Road to Hong Kong,1962.
    • Both were outed in the News of the World.
    • Both lost their screen credit.
    • Both suffered in their modelling careers.
    • Both wrote two autobiographies.
    Are Caroline Cossey and other persons with Klinefelter's Syndrome intersex?   The question whether April Ashley had Klinefelter's Syndrome was raised during Corbett v. Corbett, but despite her blood being examined by Professor FTG Hayhoe, a chromosome expert at Cambridge, no clear answer was given.  Either way, the result of Corbett v. Corbett was to establish a legal criterion for intersex that was not the same as the medical criteria.   Because Klinefelter's Syndrome persons have a Y chromosome (no matter how many Xs) they are 'chromosomally male' and therefore concordant in their chromosomal, gonadal and genital sex.   

    Let us go to Stephen Whittle's Blog, posting of 14 July 2008, where he says that: "In English law, there has been *NO* change of the position of intersex people with the coming into force of the Gender Recognition Act. Since time immemorial, intersex people in the UK have been able to apply to have their birth certificates amended to better reflect the sex they are. This system is still in existence for those who wish to use it." Unfortunately this statement does not distinguish between the medical and the legal concepts of intersex.

    Therefore, Caroline Cossey, intersex by common sense and medical opinion, spent six years of her life going through the hassle of court after court because she was not intersex by Justice Ormrod's definition.

    It is to Caroline's credit that she is not hung up on these distinctions and in her autobiographies  uses the word 'transsexual' of herself.

    It is a nasty irony that although Caroline's appeal to the European Court paved the way for Press For Change and the Gender Recognition Act, person's such as herself with Klinefelter’s Syndrome are being given a hard time by the Gender Recognition Board.

    20 October 2008

    Alan Lucill Hart (1890 - 1962) doctor, roentgenologist, novelist.

    Alberta Lucille Hart was raised in rural Oregon by her mother and by a step-father that she did not much like. From an early age she expressed desires for male clothing and considered herself as the man of the family (her father being dead). She also developed an aversion for female chores such as cooking and sowing. As a teenager she developed crushes on the family's maid and on female teachers at school. She was an outstanding student and was prominent in the debating society.

    At eighteen she went to a local college and started an affair with Eva Cushman, a fellow student. Alberta provided the money for Eva, who otherwise could not afford it, to go with her to Albany College, Oregon (now Lewis and Clarke College). Alberta took up smoking, drinking and attending fast cafés, and had affairs with women. She spent the summer vacations working as a commercial photographer in the mountains dressed as a man. All this strained the relationship with the conventional Eva.

    The high living left Alberta in some debt and only with the financial assistance of one of her other lovers that she was able to go to medical school. The only woman in her class, Alberta graduated from the University of Oregon Medical Department in Oregon (now the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine) in 1917 with the highest honors in her class.

    Also in 1917 she consulted a physician-psychiatrist, Dr J. Allen Gilbert of Portland, Oregon about her phobia of loud noises which may have been caused by her hated stepfather's use of a pop-gun. Dr Gilbert established that her real problem was connected with her sex. He had initially tried hypnosis to get her to accept a conventional female role, but she had refused to continue in that. In February 1918, using the name Robert Allen Bamford, Jr. Hart married Inez Stark in California. She requested a hysterectomy from Dr Gilbert, and the operation was done late in 1918. This is a remarkably early cooperation of a doctor to supply as much of a sex change operation as then technically feasible. Dr Gilbert published an account of his patient, referred to as 'H' in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in 1920.

    Alan Hart, M.D. applied for and obtained a hospital appointment. He made good in this position until a chance encounter with a former colleague led to him being hounded out of the job. Inez Stark left him in 1923, and they were divorced in 1925.

    Later that year he married Edna Ruddick, a school teacher who became a social worker and administrator. Dr Hart was able to obtain a positions in Montana, New Mexico, Illinois, Washington State and Idaho. He specialized in roentgenology, X-rays. He did a Masters degree in radiology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1930, and a Masters degree in public health from Yale in 1948. In 1938 he became Tuberculosis Consultant to the Idaho State Department of Public Health, and in 1943 served with a army induction center reading chest X-rays. Also in 1943 he published These Mysterious Rays, a popular account of X-rays and radiation treatment. From 1946 he was head of the X-ray programs in Connecticut.

    Alan Hart was also a novelist. In 1935 saw his first novel Doctor Mallory, a tale of a doctor fighting poverty and ignorance in a Oregon fishing village. In 1936 he published The Undaunted, about a doctor who is hounded from place to place because of his homosexuality. This drew upon Hart's own experiences and the doctor was portrayed as an X-ray technician. He followed this in 1937 with In the Lives of Men about life and oppression in a lumber town. His last published novel was Dr Finlay Sees It Through about a struggle for health insurance. The reviewer for Saturday Review wrote of In the Lives of Men: “...for a doctor, he seems to know surprisingly little of women. His portraits of them are little more than profile sketches. Those he approves are colorless and negative, the others incredibly cold and selfish."

    Alan died of heart disease at the age of 72. His will specified that he be cremated and that ‘no memorial be erected or created’. Edna lived another 20 years. They left a trust to the Oregon Health Sciences Foundation for research grants in the field of leukemia.

    Jonathan Katz in his Gay American History, 1972, wrote of Hart’s hysterectomy as an example of unneeded medical mutilation forced on a lesbian. Gay/lesbian historians were unable to interview Edna in that they persistently alienated her by thinking of her husband and thus herself as lesbians. More recently Katz has said that he would not use the same language today.

    In 1984, The Right to Privacy Political Action Committee in Oregon established an annual “Lucille Hart Dinner”. This event was attended by Portland’s liberal elite, gay and straight both, and regularly raised more than $100,000 for charities. This of course in defiance of his chosen name, gender and the wishes in his will.

    This continued until Kay Brown with the aid of the Portland branch of the Lesbian Avengers organized protests in 1995 to get the event renamed. As Right to Privacy renamed itself to Right to Pride, the event was renamed the “Right to Pride Dinner”. Right to Pride dissolved in 1999, but the dinner was taken over by Basic Rights Oregon, which called it the “Hart Dinner”, but they still could not let go of the female pronouns.

    *Not the Controller of BBC1, nor the BBC writer on the Middle East.

    Alan Hart's publications:
    Doctor Mallory, 1935
    The Undaunted, 1936
    In the Lives of Men, 1937
    Dr Finlay Sees It Through, 1942
    These Mysterious Rays, 1943

    • Joshua Allen Gilbert. “Homosexuality and its Treatment”. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 52, 4. Oct 1920: 297-322. Identified the patient only as ‘H’. The article is a mix of the patient’s and the doctor’s writing. In line with the practice of the time, the patient’s condition is labeled ‘homosexuality’.
    • Jonathan Ned Katz. “1918-20: Dr J. Allen Gilbert; ‘Homosexuality and Its Treatment’ “. Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., Thomas Y. Crowell Co. 1976, revised edition 1992: 390-422. Credited as the first researcher to realize that Gilbert’s ‘H’=Alan Hart, but much criticized for declaring that Hart was a lesbian.
    • Jonathan Ned Katz. “1936, April 12: Dr. Alberta Lucille/Alan Hart: The Undaunted”. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary, Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. 1983, Carrol & Graf Publishers, Inc. 1994: 516-22.
    • Bair Henry, "Lucille Hart Story" and Brian Booth "Alan Hart: A Literary Footnote" in Right to Privacy Ninth Annual Lucille Hart Dinner Booklet. October 6, 1990.
    • Gerard Koskovich, "Private Lives, Public Struggles", Stanford, Vol. 21, No. 2. June 1993.
    • Janet Miller and Judith Schwartz, "Lesbian Physicians Sideshow", created for American Association of Physicians for Human Rights Conference, Portland, Oregon. August 19, 1993.
    • Thomas M. Lauderdale and Tom Cook, "The Incredible Life and Loves of the Legendary Lucille Hart", Alternative Connection Vol. 2, Nos. 12 and 13. September and October 1993.
    • Tom Bates, "Decades ago, an Oregon Doctor Tried to Define Gender"" The Oregonian. July 14, 1996.
    • Ken Morris and Kay Brown. “The Alan Lucill Hart Story”. Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex History. 1998-2000.  Archive.
    • Kay Brown. “Stolen History – Secret Lives”. Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex History. 1998-2000. Archive.
    • Brian Booth. “Alberta Lucille Hart / Dr. Alan L. Hart: An Oregon ‘Pioneer’”. Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission. 2000.
    • Margaret Deidre O’Hartigan. “Alan Hart” in Dean Kotula. The Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals. Alyson Books 253 pp 2002: 157-166.

    There is no mention of a mastectomy. It was probably done by a doctor other than Dr Gilbert and therefore is not mentioned in his writeup. Of course male hormones were not available in 1917. However Hart was a doctor, and one presumes that he would probably self prescribe in later decades.

    16 October 2008

    Dan Leno (1860 - 1904) pantomime dame.

    George Wild Galvin was born where St Pancras Station now stands. His parents were impoverished entertainers, and he made his first appearance at the age of four. His father died in 1864 at the age of 37, and two years later his mother married Will Leno the comedian, and they moved to Liverpool.

    George never grew taller than 5’3”. In 1880 in Leeds he won a world championship belt for clog dancing, even though the competition was supposed to be rigged.

    From 1888, using the name Dan Leno, he appeared annually in Pantomime, usually at Drury Lane Theatre, and usually in partnership with Herbert Campbell at a time when the Pantomime season continued until Easter. The rest of the year he appeared in Music Halls, never resting, performing up to 20 shows a night. He was the most famous comedian of his generation, and many regard him as the greatest Pantomime Dame of all time. His roles included: the Baroness in Babes in the Wood, the Queen of Hearts in Humpty Dumpty, Mrs Crusoe in Robinson Crusoe, the Widow Twanky in Alladin, and Dame Trot in Jack and the Beanstalk.

    Typical of his patter was: 'My first husband, he was a Spaniard. He said he was a Spanish Count in his own country. He didn't count for much in this. ... He said that the olive complexion was the colour of the people in his country. I found out that it was dirt.'

    In 1901 Dan was invited to give a special performance for the king at Sandringham. Etiquette being what it was, he felt obliged not to be en femme.

    Between 1900 and 1902 he appeared in seven short comedy films, mainly as himself in Mufti. Only in Bluebeard, 1902, did he appear in a female role.

    In 1903 he was admitted to a mental institution, although he did emerge to do a final Pantomime season in Humpty Dumpty.

    He died in October 1904 of a brain tumour - at the age of 43. “General Paralysis of the Insane” was entered on his death certificate. His funeral was a public occasion.

    He had been an active member of the entertainment charity, The Grand Order of Water Rats, and they still maintain his grave in Lambeth Cemetery.

    It is said that his ghost still appears at Drury Lane Theatre.
    • Raymond Mander & Joe Mitchenson. British Music Hall: a story in Pictures. London: Studio Vista. 1965: item 79-81.
    • Anthony Slide. Great pretenders: a history of female and male impersonation in the performing arts. Lombard, Ill.: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 160 pp. 1986: 48-9.
    • “Dan Leno”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    • Roger Wilmut. “Dan Leno”. Music Hall Performers.

    15 October 2008

    Simeon Solomon (1840 - 1905) painter of androgynes.

    Born the eighth and last child to a prosperous Jewish London family, Simeon Solomon grew up with elder siblings Abraham and Rebecca, as well as his father Meyer, already successful as artists. By the time he entered an art academy at the age of twelve to prepare for the Royal Academy he was already producing remarkable drawings.

    By his early twenties he was recognized for his unprecedented paintings, mainly on Old Testament subjects. He became friendly with the Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones, and moved in the same circles as Algernon Swinburne, for whom he illustrated the flagellation novel The Flogging Block. Swinburne and Solomon are said to have romped naked around Danti Rossetti's home in Cheyne Walk. Solomon was also a friend of the young, also gay, Walter Pater, and he became the lover of Oscar Browning, a master at Eton and also a writer.

    On 11 February 1873 he was arrested for cottaging in a public lavatory just off Oxford Street, along with a sixty-year-old stableman, George Roberts. They were charged "that they did unlawfully attempt feloniously to commit the abominable Crime of Buggery". Found guilty on 24 March, Roberts was sentenced to eighteen months hard labour (the same sentence that would be given to Oscar Wilde 20 years later), while Solomon, being of a different class, was obliged to pay a surety of £100 and walked away free. A year later he was arrested in France on a similar charge, with a nineteen-year-old. He was fined 16 francs and sentenced to three months in prison.

    The Royal Academy and similar places were now out of bounds to him, and not being able to exhibit, found it very difficult to sell his painting. Friends continued to buy, but he declined into drink and poverty. In 1880 he arrived at a hospital ragged and actually without shoes. He ended his life in the St Giles in the Fields Workhouse, High Holborn. He died age 65 of heart failure aggravated by alcoholism.

    After this his works were again exhibited: 122 works were shown at a major commercial gallery in December 1905, and a year later at the Royal Academy.

    As early as 1859 he had in his David Playing before Saul drawn the young harp player of ambiguous gender, in 1863 his Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could be taken as girls, and in 1866 he had painted the transgender Heliogabalus, High Priest of the Sun, but androgynous themes did not dominate his paintings until after his arrest. Afterwards, almost in defiance, they did. This was his expression of his gender variance. Signifying perfection, sexual and spiritual, his androgynes drew on the speculations about androgynes in his Jewish upbringing, and the non-physical sexuality of his androgynes was a pure love in contrast to his real-life homosexuality which had brought him into the courts.

    However his androgyne drawings were not viewed in a positive fashion. The poet and art critic, Arthur Symonds, discussing Solomon's reuse of the same face for Christ and the two Marys and for Sleep and Lust: "The lips are scarcely roughened to indicate a man, the throats scarcely lengthened to indicate a woman. These faces are without sex: they have brooded among the ghosts of passion till they have become the ghosts of themselves".
    • Solomon, a Family of Painters. Catalogue of the exhibition at the Geffrye Museum, London, and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. 1985-6.
    • Arthur Symons. From Toulouse-Lautrec to Rodin: with some personal impressions. London: John Lane 1929. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press 1968: 149-52.
    • Richard Dellamora. Masculine Desire: The Sexual Politics of Victorian Aestheticism. University of North Carolina Press. 1990:171.
    • Neil Bartlett. “Fallen Angel”. The Guardian. Oct 8, 2005.
    • Roberto Ferrari. Simeon Solomon Research Archive.
    • "Simeon Solomon". Gay for Today. Oct 09, 2008.

    Not all gender variant person express their variance through clothing and the body. Some express it through their art or their writings.

    12 October 2008

    José Sarria (1922 - 2013) caterer, drag performer, activist.

    José was born in San Francisco, the child of unmarried Columbian and Nicaraguan immigrants. He was raised by his mother and then by his godmother for whom his mother worked as a live-in domestic. They combined their households and moved to Redwood City during the Depression of the 1930s.

    They both indulged his fondness for dressing in their clothes, and encouraged his singing. He took lessons from a retired opera singer. In addition to English and his native Spanish, he also learned French and German.

    His first lover was Paul Kolish, an Austrian refugee whom he tutored.

    Sarria enlisted in the US Army during World War II, despite his short height, by seducing the major at the recruiting station. He was assigned to the Signals Corps. He was rejected for Intelligence for unstated reasons (probably for being fey), and was trained as a cook. He became a major’s orderly, and after the occupation of Berlin he managed an officers’ mess hall. He was discharged at the rank of Staff Sergeant.

    Back in San Francisco Kolish was killed by a drunken driver on Christmas Day 1947. José enrolled in teacher training, but after being arrested for solicitation in a police sting in a hotel, he was now ineligible for certification as a teacher.

    He found a lover, Jimmy Moore, who worked as a waiter and greeter at The Black Cat Bar, in San Francisco’s North Beach. José subbed for his lover at the bar. From there he started singing, moved onto the stage, and performed camp versions of operatic arias in drag. He continued performing until the bar closed in 1963. He would close the evening with a singing of “God save us Nelly Queens”.

    In the 1950s, when cross-dressing was still illegal he distributed badges stating “I am a boy”, so that fellow drag queens could not be accused of “intent to deceive”. The police regularly raided gay bars and charged everyone found inside. José urged that they plead not guilty which overloaded the courts and judges started demanding actual evidence.

    In 1961 he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, winning nearly 6,000 votes. This makes him the first openly transgender, and the first openly gay person to run for public office. His campaign helped later gay campaigns, in particular that of Harvey Milk.

    He was a co-founder of the League for Civil Education (LCE) which provided educational programs and support for those caught in police raids; of the Society for Individual Rights (SIR) which organized both social and political events; and of the Tavern Guild, the first gay business association which helped co-ordinate bar owners against police harassment.

    José was crowned Queen of the Beaux Arts Ball in 1964, and took the name the Widow Norton (a reference to Joshua Norton, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States in San Francisco,1859). This led to the founding of the Imperial Court System which now has chapters across North America and puts on balls and raises money for charity.

    Also in 1964 José went into partnership with restaurateur Pierre Parker who held the French food concession for the World’s Fairs. They worked the fairs in New York, 1964, Montreal, 1967, San Antonio, 1968, and Spokane 1974. Then they both retired to Phoenix, Arizona.

    José returned to San Francisco in 1977 to endorse Harvey Milk running for the Board of Supervisors.

    Mama José and other of the Court appear in the opening of the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
    Sarria's lifetime of activism was commemorated when the city of San Francisco renamed a section of 16th Street in the Castro "José Sarria Court".

    He died at age 90.
    • Randy Schilts. The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. New York: St Martin’s Press. Xvii, 388 pp 1982. London: Penguin 1993: 51-7.
    • “Interview with Jose Sarria, A.K.A. the Widow Norton, the first Empress of San Francisco and founder of the Imperial Court System”. Seattle Gay News, 2/21/92.
    • José Sarria as told to Michael Robert Gorman. The Empress Is a Man: Stories from the Life of José Sarria. New York: Haworth Press. xvi, 278 pp 1998.
    • José Sarria. “Oral History” in Nan Alamilla Boyd. Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. University of California Press 2005: 20-4, 57-62, 210-12, 220-2.
    •  Christine Sismondo.  "The Queen of San Francisco:The first openly gay U.S. political candidate works to save a slice of gay history".  The Atlantic, November 2011.
    • “Empress I Jose”. International Court System.

    It seems to me that José Sarria parallells Virginia Prince. They were both active in the 1960s, one in each of the two major California cities, they were both persecuted by the prudish legal system, they both founded a system of social groups for transgender expression, neither became post-operative, both groups came to be seen as slightly embarrassing by more out transgenders of later generations. Both are still living.

    Both Susan Stryker's Transgender History and Joanne Meyerowitz' How Sex Changed talk about Virginia Prince and are totally silent about José Sarria. Why is this? Is José Sarria not transgender enough? Are we discriminating on such a basis?

    A US company had a concession for French food at the World's Fairs! I wonder what the real French though about that. For some reason, all the World's Fairs 1964-74 were held in only two countries: the US and Canada.

    11 October 2008

    Liombee (187? - ?) priest.

    The Toraja (the people of the upland or of the north) people of Sulawesi (previously Celebes) in Indonesia are nowadays visited my many tourists who come to see unusually shaped houses, said to be inspired by the shape of a boat, and their elaborate funerals.

    In 1902, when headhunting was but recently suppressed by the Dutch authorities, there was anxiety that the ancestral spirits might eat the villagers instead.

    A woman named Liombee 'began a mejapi or religious retreat to the woods, and dressed in the evening like a male warrior, at which time the ancestral spirits spoke through her. Her prophecies did not come true, but this did not lessen her influence. It would be unnecessary now to plant the fields or care for livestock, and soon all the people would go to the upper-world without dying. Cultists built a long wooden structure on stilts to be rowed into the air, after the old idea that the tadu or shaman flew to the sky on a boat rowed by other spirits.'
    • Weston Labarré. The Ghost Dance: Origins Of Religion. Garden city: Doubleday 1970. A Delta Book 1972: 306-7.

    10 October 2008

    Whatever happened to ... Frances Carrick (1890 -?).

    Fred G. Thompson was born in Columbus, Ohio. At age thirteen, his father kicked him out, and he went to Chicago, started living as female and took a job as a chambermaid. Later Frances used her high soprano voice and became a singer in a cabaret.

    'Once I tried to be a boy and put on male clothing. The men would not believe me and told me to go home and put on proper clothes and not try to masquerade around.'

    In 1912 Frances married Frank Carrick, a chauffeur, in Crown Point, Indiana. The two of them were arrested on suspicion that there was something amiss in their relationship, but they were able to produce a valid marriage license and so were let go.

    Frances as Fred later married a female, Marie Clark, and they attempted farming on five acres outside Chicago, but the task was beyond her. She also dressed as a man whilst helping her family during the big floods in Ohio in 1913. Frank, Frances as Frances and Marie ended up all living together.

    In 1923, a Richard Tesmer was shot and killed by a woman assailant in a brown dress, with a male companion, while putting his car away. His wife was able to get a view of the woman’s face from the discharge of the pistol. She declared that it was a grin that she would know anywhere. The police after trying several female suspects, some of whom had been identified by Mrs Tesmer, ran out of clues, and then they got a tip to check out a 'female impersonator'.

    When arrested in the middle of the night, Frances dressed in a frock to be taken to be identified by Mrs Tesmer and then to the police station. She was examined by a male and a female physician, and then moved to the men’s ward. The police searched her apartment and arrested her husband. But they could not find a single brown dress. The neighbors refused to believe that Frances was a man, or that she would use a gun. The only odd thing about her was that she needed to shave. Frank, who had a drug habit, cracked after two days, but rambled on about nonsense. He was transferred to the Psychopathic Hospital. Frances gave interviews to female visitors who wanted her opinions on being a woman. The newspapers ran photographs of her as male and as female.

    She was charged as ‘Fred Thompson’ and was not allowed to appear at the trial in proper female clothing. The widow identified her as the bandit, but the defense counsel was able to concentrate on the fact that the widow described the assailant's eyes as 'blue' while the defendant's were gray. Her major defense was her performance under cross examination when she broke down and cried while insisting that she had been at home on the night in question, sick from drinking cheap moonshine. The judge addressed her as ‘lady’. Her husband took the stand to testify for the defense, but had to stand down following the State’s objection that a husband cannot testify for his wife. The jury acquitted her after two hours. Frances was surrounded by women who embraced her.

    With her new notoriety, she was engaged to appear in vaudeville as 'the Smiling Bandit Queen'. But the police stopped the show. She applied for an injunction, this time appearing in court in proper female attire. The application was denied.

    The Tesmer murder was never solved.

    *Not Fred Thompson the Republican Senator, nor the rower nor the silent movie actor.
    • C. J. Bulliet. Venus Castina: Famous Female Impersonators Celestial and Human. New York: Covici 308 pp 1928. New York: Bonanza Books. 1956: 234-8.
    • C.J.S. Thompson. The Mysteries of Sex: Women Who Posed as Men and Men Who Impersonated Women London: Hutchinson. 1938. New York: Causeway Books 256 pp 8 plates1974. New York: Dorset Press, 1993: chp XXVI.
    • Jonathan Ned Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary, Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. 1983, Carrol & Graf Publishers, Inc. 1994: 407-8.
    • Michael Lesy. Murder City: The Bloody History of Chicago in the Twenties. New York: W.W. Norton 2006: 157-167.

    Both the defense and the prosecution cases appear rather flimsy. The crime was committed with a male companion, but there was no co-defendant. It is very difficult to identify someone by the discharge of a pistol. See the alternate opening on the American Gangster DVD for an example. There is no way that anyone could identify colours by such a light. Also what was the supposed motive?

    What an amazing legal precedent that was never reused. The State of Illinois recognized the marriage of Frank and Frances.

    09 October 2008

    Della Aleksander (1923? - 2002) school teacher

    Revised September 2017, August 2018. 

    Derrick Alexander, had an adventurous early life in South Africa, worked with the European National Movement, and was an officer in the National Reserve.  He was a teacher in Bermuda in 1969 and paid to resign as the effects of administered hormones became apparent. 

    Alexander  was a client, and then a friend of Charlotte Bach, the pioneering but idiosyncratic Hungarian non-op transsexual living in London who was made famous by another of Derrick's friends, the writer Colin Wilson.

    Aleksander became a patient at Charing Cross Hospital and after a buccal smear, and EEG and several 10-15 minutes interviews was given a prescription for stilboestrol.
    "What is so amusing and tragic is that female hormones are given to quieten the male libido, but something much more insidious happens.  The patient feels more female. Oestrogens essentially convert a transvestite into a transsexual.  If I hadn't been on hormone therapy I would never have dreamt of changing my sex." (Jacobson p19)
    As Della Aleksander,  she had surgery in June 1970 from Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca.

    She and her wife were several times guests at the home of Colin Wilson, and Wilson was pleased to learn from them, but in his book, The Misfits, he reduced her contribution to a slightly mentioned:  "a forty-four-year-old TV called Derrick Alexander", as mainly a sidekick of Charlotte Bach.

    Della was the founder of GRAIL (Gender Research Association International Liaison), which campaigned for transsexual rights.

    In 1973 she co-produced a BBC2 Open Door program on transsexuals which featured the Member of Parliament for Pontypool, Leo Abse, who had introduced the private member’s bill to decriminalize homosexuality that had become law in 1967.  (See embedded video below)

    Della gave papers at the pioneering gender conferences at Leeds 1974, and Leicester 1975 (the latter was attended by the sociologist, Dave King, who would later write on transgender persons).  At Leeds she said:
    "Being a transvestite or a transsexual cannot, by its nature, be a social protest phenomenon, for it seeks to conform to accepted norms of the sexual division and the manner in which the sexes are distinguished by dress. In this it is very conformist and not to be confused with unisex of the David Bowie genre with which it is frequently confused. Unisex mirrors Man’s sexual ambiguity. Transvestism and transsexualism does something about this ambiguity."
    "Transsexualism is not, by itself, a viable life style, for it is a journey, and as such must have a destination. Though it is a truism that it is better to travel than to arrive, what makes it so is the knowledge of the certainty of arriving. To be robbed of that certainty would be to consign the traveller to a permanent limbo."
    She also wrote a pamphlet on Theocratic Socialism, which she dedicated to Charlotte Bach.

    *Not the first lesbian character in the BBC soap opera East Enders.
    • Bobbie Jacobson. “The Sex Changers”. World Medicine 9, 13 Feb 1974: 16, 19, 25.
    • Della Aleksander. ‘Outline Copy of Lecture’, reported in The First National TV.TS Conference, 1974. Transvestism and Transsexualism in Modern Society, sponsored by Leeds University TV.TS Group, Leeds, 15–17 March, pp. 11–12.
    • Harry Brierley. Transvestism: A Handbook with Case Studies for Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counsellors. Pergamon Press, 1979: 14, 235.
    • Della Aleksander. Theocratic Socialism Is Here! 1978-1979. A New Day Publication 1980.
    • Colin Wilson. The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders Grafton Books. 271 pp1988 Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1989:30-32.
    • FrancisWheen. Who Was Dr Charlotte Bach? Short, 2002: 108-9, 113.
    • Richard Ekins & Dave King. The Transgender Phenomenon. London: Sage, 2006: 3-4, 44.
    • Dave King & Richard Ekins.  "The First UK Transgender Conferences, 1974 and 1975".  Gendys Journal, 39, Autumn 2007.  Online.  
    • Ian Millard.  Review of  Colin Wilson's The Devil's Party: A History of Charlatan Messiahs, 28 July 2008.  

    06 October 2008

    Richard Ekins. Male Femaling. - a review

    See also Richard Ekins (194?–) jazz musician, sociologist, psychoanalyst.

    The first problem is the title. Very few trans women (a term that Ekins does not use) will relate to being described as 'male femalers' as Ekins does throughout the book. Fortunately his attempt at new jargon has not caught on.

    As one expects from the title, there is nothing in this book about trans men. The reader may not realize until the very next-to-last page that Ekins has excluded gay (ie androphilic) trans women. He give the contradictory reasons that "the material is sparse" and that "gay studies literature is a vast one". This slant should have been announced at the beginning of the book. This exclusion is all the more dubious in that some of his data wanders into the area where the definition of 'heterosexuality' breaks down, that is when an avowed heterosexual male has sex with another as long as either one of them is cross-dressed.

    The second problem is the price of the book. The book is short: 166 pages + 19 pages of notes, bibliography and index. The official price of £85.50 (hardback) £25.99 (paperback) is excessive. Presumably they expected only libraries to buy it.

    Richard Ekins is Professor of Sociology and Cultural Studies at the University of Ulster at Coleraine in County Derry. He spent 17 years hanging out with various groups of 'male femalers' before writing the book. Most of the UK transy groups are mentioned with the conspicuous exception of Press for Change, even though it started in 1993 and he wrote his book in 1997.

    He never says that he actually cross-dressed himself, and therefore I assume that he did not. Many cross-dressers are only too happy to have a male escort and that I assume is what he did. Participant observation is a well established tradition and a very useful tool in Sociology. Two outstanding examples are Marek Kaminski (not the polar explorer) who explored the prison subculture in Poland whilst being a political prisoner in 1985, and Bill Bruford (not the drummer in King Crimson) who explored football hooliganism by running with such young men 1982-90, and was beaten up by the Italian Police as part of his research. So what is the big deal about wearing women's clothes that sociologists, not just Ekins, find that they cannot do it.

    He presents three modes of femaling: body (as in transsexual changes), gender (emphasis on doing and passing) and erotic (self explanatory). He presents five phases that typically a femaler will go through: Beginning (often in childhood, the first time); Fantasying (sic) (he spends a lot of time on telephone sex-lines, but also pornography and the individual imagination); Doing (solitary, solo, dyadic or group); Constituting (the search for an explanation and maybe the adoption of a label) and Consolidating (a way of fitting femaling into one's life, e.g. by completing the transsexual change, by deciding not to change sex, but fitting into the transvestite subculture, or by finding an androgynous mix).

    Under Constituting he needs examples of femalers who have ignored or have no access to common terms like 'transvestite' or 'transsexual' and invent their own terms. Despite the many persons he spoke to over the 17 years he has no example of such a person that he has met, and falls back on the Daniel Schreber case made famous by Sigmund Freud and discussed in countless books. This example is unnerving in that it is the only example in the book of a schizophrenic trans person. He should either have discussed schizophrenics elsewhere in the book or have not mentioned this one. Schizophrenic trans-ness is a topic of great interest, but it belongs in a different book. To bring it in just to fill one slot in his schema is not reasonable.

    On p116-7 he presents Alan who starts on the transsexual path, and goes to a female psychiatrist who will not prescribe female hormones until he is living and working as a woman (as far too many psychiatrists do). Ekins interviewed the psychiatrist whom he calls Dr P. He tells us that he read her published work. I tried to identify her by looking under P in the bibliography, but that does not work. He presents her in a positive light as enabling transsexuals to accept themselves. He locates her position by suggesting two psychiatric approaches: the first co-operating with those who have proven that they can pass as a woman (as in Money and Randell), and the diagnosing approach that matches a patient against a theoretical framework (e.g. Stoller). She is in the former and better group. So why the anonymity? She is not a patient. However it is a false dichotomy. There are psychiatrists who will prescribe hormones to help one to begin to pass. His dichotomy is a cheat.

    Generally the persons discussed remain anonymous except for a first name. However three cases are given in detail with full names. Pamela Bird, who has been featured on this site, was reported in The News of the World when arrested in 1949. There is no indication that Pamela was heterosexual (ie gynephilic), and so the reason for her story being repeated in this book is not at all clear. Gail Hill who was later on the board of Gender Trust is profiled, as is Phaedra Kelly, who runs the International Gender Transient Affinity. Gail and Phaedra are favourites of Ekins and appear elsewhere in his writings, much as Virginia Prince reappears often in the writing of Vern Bullough.

    Another of Ekins theoretical distinctions is the interplay between scientific, member and common sense knowledge. That, and that his theoretical base is in grounded theory and symbolic interactionism, had lead me to expect a better book. What I am worried about is that perhaps this is the best that we can expect from an outsider. Books like Patrick Califia's Sex Changes or Kris Kirk's Men in Frocks do not have the theoretical gravitas, but they come across as understanding the issues so much better.

    Ekins does suggest that his approach could also be applied to male maling, female femaling and female maling. Now that would be interesting. Is Ekins, or anybody else actually conducting such a study?

    • Richard Ekins. Male Femaling: A Grounded Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing.  Routledge, 1996.  

    Some other reviews: David Urmson, Julie Peters.

    04 October 2008

    Michelle DuBarry (1931 - ) performer.

    Russel Alldread was born in Bowmanville, Ontario. His boy soprano won him first prize at the 1939 Port Hope Music Festival, singing “Cobbler, Cobbler Mend My Shoe”.

    He did his first drag on his uncle’s farm at age 9. His high school years were filled with operettas and stage shows. With a friend he attended a school dance in drag.

    His first job was at General Motors. His first relationship which lasted three years was with Stanley St John, the Toronto orchestra leader. He left to marry a woman, and for a job as a ladies shoe salesman. They married in 1957, Russel gave away all his femme stuff, and his drag mentor, Murray Burbidge made the bride’s gown. The wife left him for another man.

    From the early 1960s drag shows were being put on in Toronto coffee houses.  Murray Burbidge was one of the first to perform in full drag, and made Russel his first dress. Russel’s first stage name was Anita Modé. By 1969, he formed a touring group, Phase One, with Lonny Roberts and Jamie Durette. They renamed her Michelle (to be orally gender neutral) and DuBarry (from the 1943 film, Du Barry Was a Lady).

    Roberts and Durette moved to Vancouver, and DuBarry formed a new troupe with Rusty Ryan and Tammy Autumn as The Great Impostors, which toured Canada in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Michelle is an active member of the Trillium Monarchist Society: in 1992, she was crowned Empress VI of Toronto. She had a cameo in the film Fluff, 2003, and was Grand Marshall at Toronto’s Pride Parade 2007.

    In 2015, Michelle was proclaimed the Oldest Performing Drag Queen by the Guinness Book of Records.

    Bassem Feghali (1977 - ) performer.

    Bassem is a comedian and own-voice drag queen known for impersonations of Lebanese and world celebrities.

    He was born in Wadi Shahrour, and first performed at Studio El Fan, the Lebanese talent show. He won the Murex D'Or prize twice as the Best Imitator Of The Year in 2000 and again in 2003.

    He has performed in most Arab countries, and is known for his daily concerts during Ramadan.

    01 October 2008

    Lou Hogan (190? - ?) chorine,writer, cook.

    Lou was a native of San Francisco. In the 1920s using the drag name of Sonia Pavlijev and street name of Bubbles, he passed as female on the streets. He performed as a chorus girl in productions of The Desert Song and Varsity Drag.

    He wrote a novel of gay love in 1932 under the name of Robert Scully. In 1964 he wrote the very first gay detective novel as Lou Rand – which includes glimpses of the San Francisco drag scene at the end of the 1950s.

    As Toto le Grand he wrote a memoir spanning the 1920s – 1940s, and a gay cookbook. He was also a columnist for Gourmet Magazine.
    • Robert Scully. The Scarlet Pansy. New York:William Faro. 1933.
    • Lou Rand. The Gay Detective. Fresno, Ca: Saber Books 1961. Republished as Rough Trade. Los Angeles: Argyle Books 1964. New York: Paperback Library 1965.
    • Lou Rand Hogan. The Gay Cookbook. Los Angeles: Sherbourne Press 1965. Bell Pub 1965.
    • Toto le Grand (Lou Rand). The Golden Age of Queens. Bay Area Reporter. 1974. 6-part series. Now at San Francisco GLBT Historical Society.
    • Nan Alamilla Boyd. Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. University of California Press 2003: 35-6,37,44, 108.