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09 October 2008

Whatever became of ... Della Aleksander.

Derrick Alexander, a London school teacher, 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.

Derrick became a patient at Charing Cross Hospital where he was prescribed hormones. She transitioned to Della in 1970 with surgery from Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca.

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

In 1974 she also 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.

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.
  • 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.


Stephen Whittle said...

I did meet Della soemtime in the mid-a970s at an event in Leeds, I understood her to be teaching at a school in Leeds at that time

Stephen Whittle said...

Della Aleksander and her partner Carol were listed in the 2002 electoral register for London. However, Ian Millard, writes in his 28 July 2008 review of Colin Wilson's 'The Devil's Party: A History of Charlatan Messiahs' that Della Aleksander had died some 6 years earlier which would have made her death in approx. 2002. Millard writes:
"The last aspect I did not like about this book is that in going into his sex-as-motive-power theory, Wilson mentions someone I knew prior to her decease, someone I knew as Della Aleksander (thanks to the surgeon's knife in 1969 Casablanca!) and who had an amazing mind in many ways on the religious-philosophical level, but who Wilson dismisses as "a transvestite called Derrick Alexander", not explaining that he, Wilson, learned a lot from that person, as did some other famous writers (Roger Scruton, for one). Indeed, the book does not mention Della's weekend visits to the Wilson home in Cornwall alongside her (?) partner, Carol. I cannot say whether Wilson's facts about someone else he mentions (Charlotte Bach) are correct or not, never having met Bach, but by odd and apposite synchronicity (since Jung wrote a book about that) I opened a book very recently,(Man and His Symbols, by Carl Jung) in my library, having just read Wilson's book, only to see inside it a stamp "Ex Libris Charlotte Bach" and a reverse Swastika. That book was given to me by Della's partner after Della's death about 6 years ago."
Interestingly what Millard refers to as Wilson's 'sex-as-motive-power theory' is not that far removed from Charlotte Bach's theory that 'sex is all'.